Abdul Gaddy is a 26 year old 193cm guard from Tacoma, Washington that is playing his fifth professional season and first in Germany with s.Oliver Wurzburg. Last season he played with VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL) playing 26 VTB United League games averaging 5.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.5apg, FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 52.4%; In the Latvian LBL, he played 25 game averaging 9.7ppg, 3.5rpg, 5.4apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 50.0%. He played two seasons in Italy with Granarolo Bologna (Italy-Serie A) and as a rookie played with the Charlotte Bobcats (NBA), then moved to Maine Red Claws (D-League) playing 46 games averaging 9.0ppg, 3.2rpg, 5.0apg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 57.6%. He played at Washington(NCAA) from 2009-2013 and as a senior played 34 games averaging 10.9ppg, 3.2rpg, 4.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 30.9%, FT: 65.9%. He spoke to eurobasket before the game against the Fraport Skyliners in Frankfurt.
Thanks Abdul, for talking to German Hoops. Last weekend was the World Cup qualifying round and teams had a break. How did you use this time?
I went home for four days and was able to celebrate my mom´s birthday.
Your playing your first season with s.Oliver Wurzburg. After two seasons in Italy and a season in Latvia, what kind of experience has it been playing in the BBL?
It´s been good. The BBL is a defensive orientated league where you have to respect every team from top to bottom. It has been an enjoyable experience.
I had Wurzburg as one of my dark horse favorites before the season. Despite injuries and numerous guys coming and going, what do you believe has been key for still having a solid record.
We have a pretty good team. You have to credit coach Bauermann for picking a good team. We have a good mix of Americans and Germans. Our team chemistry has been good. We have had ups and downs, but we are headed in the direction of the playoffs.
The team started off hot with a five game winning streak, but then lost seven of eight games. But in those seven loses, you lost four games by no less than three points. How annoying was this period especially for you as the starting point guard?
It was super frustrating for me as the point guard. You never want to lose, but be defined by winning. I want to always to be able to direct guys, but I took this time as more of a learning experience. We didn´t close out those games well. All that matters at the end if you win and nothing else. We got out of that slump and now are heading in an upwards trend and not down.
You beat top teams Bamberg, Munich and Ludwigsburg. The massive potential is there. Where do you see the club going now in the stretch run. Do you see it being able to heighten it´s game?
Yes I believe that we can. We always want to get better and want to peak as it´s crunch time and each game is like a playoff game. This is an exciting time, but also be a fun time. We know that we can beat the top teams, but also know that if we don´t bring our best can lose to anyone. We understand that we have to bring our best in each game.
The next game is against the Fraport Skyliners whom you crushed at home 81-64. What memories do you have of that game?
That was a big game. We were really pumped after coming off a tough loss to Erfurt. We will be pumped for the game in Frankfurt on Sunday. It will be an interesting game and prepare well this week.
Frankfurt has been hit with injuries, but will have some a few guys back that you didn´t see in Wurzburg. What will be key to getting a victory on the road?
We know that Robbie will make shots, but everyone else will have to make shots. We have to do a good job on their number one scorer Scrubb and be solid in all areas of the game. There will be no room for error.
How much easier does it make your game when you have a guy like Robin Benzing on the floor? What have you learned to appreciate most about his game?
It is so easy to play with him because he has a high IQ and can score in so many different ways. My job is to get him the ball in the best position to score. If the opponents defense focuses more on him then I also know that I will get open shots. He has been such a great asset and has carried us the whole season.
Maurice Stuckey is a high energy player that knows how to score, but have you been able to defend at a higher rate just with him on the court?
He is a super competitive player. I have gotten better by guarding him every day in practice limiting his touches. But then again there is only so much you can do to slow down a talented player like him. Guarding him increases my competitive fire and makes it easier going into a game having to guard a Scrubb.
How refreshing has it been having a guy like veteran Cliff Hammonds who is the ultimate veteran. What have you enjoyed most from his game and what has been the most key thing that you have soaked up from his game?
He is the ultimate professional. He is rock solid in all facets of the game. He never complains and is always ready to go no matter if practice is at 8 am or 10pm. He brings the same mentality to every game and is a great defensive player. The most important thing that I have learned from him is how to be a professional. I pick his brain every day. He took me under his wing and always tells me to stay confident and aggressive on the court.
How challenging has it been playing for head coach Dirk Bauermann? Has your defensive game picked up a tad more just with his defensive philosophy?
It´s always a new and learning challenge playing for a new coach. He is a very unique coach in own way. He has an amazing track record as a coach. He is a very competitive and aggressive coach and feeds us with his high energy. I have improved my defense under him and learn every day from him. He gets on us every day and stresses that we should never be satisfied. He knows that we will have highs and lows and knows how to manage them. With our quest of reaching the playoffs, we have the right coach as he knows how to get there.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a pass first guard. To what NBA player would you compare your game best to?
It´s tough as now most point guards are scoring point guards. If I had to pick one or two I would be more in the mode of a Rajon Rondo or Chris Paul. I try to make plays for teammates and score when the opportunity is there. I never try to force anything. I find the most joy when my teammates know that they will get the ball in scoring positions and then being able to watch them score.
You don´t have the outrageous high assist average. How else do you feel dó you justify yourself being a good pass first point guard
I´m not a big stat guy. I never go into a game thinking I will get 12 assists. If it happens great, if not then not. I´m worried more about making the right play and helping my team win. Getting the hockey assists doesn´t count as an assist, but is just as important. I believe that if I played for stats that it would overshadow my competitive nature to win.
Do you feel like you could be a guy that could average 6-8 assists a game in a season?
I have had games where I have had 10 or 11 assists, but also games where I only had two or three assists. I know that I have to be on top of my game each night. I know that when I do get 2-3 assists, that I have to be better in the next game in getting my teammates the ball. I know that I have to keep working and never be satisfied.
You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet at ease, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get recognized right away?
A hidden strength is being able to draw fouls. I´m still improving as a free throw shooter. It´s all mental. You have to be totally focused at the line. I like to draw fouls and get my guy guarding me in foul trouble. It makes my game easier later in the game, because they can´t be as aggressive anymore on me when in foul trouble.
Last season you won the Latvian league title with VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL) playing 26 VTB United League: games averaging 5.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.5apg, FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 52.4%; He played 25 Latvian LBL games: averaging 9.7ppg, 3.5rpg, 5.4apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 50.0%. What was so special about this team?
It was a special year. We had great chemistry. We had a great leader in Latvian national player Janis Blums. We had great players and coach and I learned a lot from them. My coach Janis Gailitis used to be a point guard. He taught me to be a winner. It wasn´t the highest league, but it was a title. It was an experience that I want to take to Germany and use and help Wurzburg.
You were teammates there with Kris Richard who this season also played in Germany with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen. Was there a lot of trash talking going on leading up to playing him this season which Wurzburg won 84-69?
We had trash talk at the start, but it was in good fun. It got less as the game approached and it was obvious we would win. We became good friends. He is a good player. It is also nice playing against ex teammates. You can see how they have continued to develop.
What kind of experience was it playing in the VTB league? How was this league different than anything you had ever encountered?
The VTB league was something totally different. That league had so many high profile players from many Russian teams. The ball movement was good and the IQ was so high that you realized that it would always be tough to win.
You lost twice against top European team CSKA Moscow and in the second game lost 99-83 and saw Milos Teodosic score 13 points and dish out six assists. Did your pass game add anything after watching him play?
A little bit. He took a lot of risks. One realized that he isn´t afraid of anything, but was always calm and relaxed and knew exactly what he had to do at all times. His confidence came with experience. He knew that if he made a mistake he would get another chance in the game.
You played two seasons with Granarolo Bologna (Italy-Serie A). How do you feel did you develop your game further in those two seasons leaving as a player much different than when you had arrived coming from the G_league?
I feel that I have improved each season in some area of my game. My first year we made the playoffs and in my second year we were last. I had high and lows, but learned in those two years that I had to bring it on a nightly basis. Being prepared was key and that started the summer before and pre season. Understanding that I would experience pressure and having to bring it every night were the two most important things that I learned there.
You played two seasons with ex Boston Celtic Allan Ray. Did he become like a brother to you especially in the second season where he was out most of the season with an injury?
Yes he did. He is a great guy. He carried us our first year. He was a leader and I learn from him till this day. I admire just how much adversary he went through and was able to come back from tough injuries and is playing again today at age 33-34. I respect him for being a professional for 10-11 years.
In your rookie season you were with the Charlotte Bobcats (NBA). What kind of an experience was it battling Kemba Walker in practice? What did you realize then that you still had to do in your game after seeing how a Walker plays?
Kemba Walker is special You see why he is an NBA allstar. He is one of the fastest in the NBA. It was great competing against him at a high level. I learned a lot from Coach Clifford in that short time in training camp. I was happy that I was part of training camp and being part of my dream and being part of a roster. Maybe it might happen again. That was a stepping stone in my life to playing basketball for a living.
You then moved to the Maine Red Claws playing 46 games averaging 9.0ppg, 3.2rpg, 5.0apg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 57.6%. How was that whole rookie experience? Did you ever have the feeling that the NBA might be calling your name that season?
That was a fun experience and I got better there. It was a different style than in Europe. I did think that maybe the Celtics would call me up, but didn´t. It was a great opportunity being able to play against the Celtics and in front of Danny Ainge and to compete against one of my best friends Avery Bradley
You had a triple double against the Austin Torros and it was only the fourth in their history. How special was this achievement for you?
For me that triple double was a big achievement. It is hard to get a triple double in any game. Getting a triple double also shows that it was a team effort, because you need help from your teammates to achieve something like that. It´s hard for a guard to get 10-11 rebounds, but I was more concerned that we won. I walked into that triple double. Getting that triple double motivated me to keep getting better so I can put up numbers like that again.
There are player coaches and then there are the ultimate player coaches. How comfortable did you feel playing for head coach Mike Taylor? Have you ever come across a more positive guy?
No I didn´t. He is one of the most positive guys around. I remember him being so uplifting. I struggled at the start and didn´t get going until January. I fed off his positive energy and got better. Whenever I saw him years after at the NBA Summer League, he would comment how happy he was for my success. He is always so positive and it is really good to have a guy like that for a coach. It was really important having him as coach at the beginning of my career. I love coach Mike.
You came to Washington being one of the top point guards in the country with John Wall and you also played behind Kyrie Irving with the team USA. Do you sometimes wonder why your path went the way it did and not the way it went for a Wall or Irving?
I think anyone would wonder about that. I think this is an example that shows that life is not about being there and then automatically being there. You have to roll with what happens in your life and continue to get better. I had a different route then Wall and Irving. But they are two of the best point guards on earth. I definitely think about it. I know that I can compete with them and I know that they respect me. They are elite players and have proven themselves while I still have to prove myself. If I were to compete against them today, I would compete against them like against anyone else not worrying about their names.
You played at Washington(NCAA) from 2009-2013. What kind of overall experience was it? You reached two NCAA tournaments including a Sweet 16. Despite the overall talent you had the four years do you sometimes wonder why you didn´t have more success?
I am very thankful for my time there. I do wonder sometimes why we didn´t have more success at the tournament, but then again it is tough to win it. The tournament is one of those one and done things and anyone can win on any given night which is why it´s so appealing and why people love it.
What memories do you have of your freshman year coming in and playing behind Isaiah Thomas? As a pass first guard did your game pick up some of his scoring mentality?
Yes I did. I have known him since elementary school. I really had to mature when I got to college because I was entering a man´s game having to play at a faster level. He helped me a lot with that. He is a very fierce competitor My freshman year I was learning how to play at that level while in my second year we played well together and I fed off him better. He did a very good job lifting my competitive spirit,
How did head coach Lorenzo Romar groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He helped me most by preparing me to be ready for anything no matter if I was successful or not. He prepared me to roll on to next experience
Who won a one on one in practice you or Andrew Andrews?
Me of course. He was a real good scorer. I was bigger than him.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA right now
Allen Crabbe and Spencer Dinwiddie
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Shaq, Magic Johnson, Lebron James
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
Jordan is the best. He has 6 titles. Lebron has a chance to catch him. Lebron still has some years left and we will see if he takes the crown.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
No it isn´t. He plays so hard. He is one of those guys that just knows how to make plays. He can score 50 points in a game because he is so athletic. You have to respect a guy that plays so hard. His energy level is unreal. He is a special human to have achieved averaging a triple double.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I didn´t know that Donovan Mitchell was that good. He reminds me of a young Dwayne Wade. Ball will be good. He plays with a high IQ.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
They have enough. I don´t think that they will beat the Warriors because they are stacked at every position.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
It was a trade that featured a scorer for a scorer. It helped both teams and was more for money purposes. On the court the trade was even.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
They could make a run. They could get to seven games, but the question will be how well they will do when one of them gets in foul trouble. It is more of a depth thing, but they do have fire power.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Black Panther. It was a great movie.
Thanks Abdul for the chat.