With Raymond Felton possibly on his way out of Charlotte (not to mention Larry Brown), next season could be D.J. Augustin‘s first at the helm of the Bobcats offense. After an impressive rookie campaign, Augustin struggled last year as he averaged just 6.3 points on 39 percent shooting. Entering his third season, it’s a huge year for the former Texas guard to establish himself in the League.
Yesterday I caught up with D.J. to chat about the playoffs, Kevin Durant, Charlotte’s new owner, and Drake‘s new album…
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DIME: What did you think of the Draft? You had a couple of Texas guys in there…
D.J. Augustin: Yeah man, I was happy for them. Damion James got drafted by Atlanta, but he got traded to New Jersey. And Dex (Pittman) is going to Miami. Oh yeah, and Avery Bradley got drafted also. I just got off the phone with Damion a few minutes ago, so I’m happy for those guys.
DIME: Yeah, so we really just wanted to catch up with you and see how everything was going into next year after making the playoffs. What was that experience like?
DA: Oh, it was fun. The organization has really never been to the playoffs before, so to be a part of that was special. It was fun to see all of the fans out there every night supporting us. The game is so much different. A playoff game is so much different than a regular (season) game. It’s more intense. The scouting reports are so detailed. It’s a lot of fun, man.
DIME: You lost and got swept, but all four games were pretty close. Some people were saying Charlotte needs more offense. With no real draft pick this year, what do you think the franchise needs to do to get better this summer?
DA: Really, I don’t know what they are going to do. I just focus on myself right now. I know my teammates are working hard also. But we had one of the best defenses in the NBA, so if we keep playing defense like we do and we just find a way to score more on offense, we’ll be solid. I know the organization is going to do a great job of doing something, but that’s on them. As far as playing, we all just work hard in the summer and try to get ready for next season.
DIME: There’s some uncertainty with Raymond Felton going into free agency. How does that affect you going into next year — your mental aspect going into next year?
DA: I mean, it doesn’t really affect me right now. I’m just focused on working hard and getting better and stronger and getting quicker. I’m just trying to make myself a better player. Like I said, the organization, whatever they do it’s on them. I just have to be prepared for whatever they do, whatever Coach Brown wants me to do next year. Raymond is a good friend of mine so I hope everything goes well with him at the same time. But I love playing with him, and whatever happens, I know it’s a business. I’m just focused on myself right now and trying to make myself better.
DIME: Have the coaches talked to you at all about their expectations for next year?
DA: They were just saying they want me to get stronger and just work hard and work on all of my weaknesses to become a better player. I’ve learned a lot from Coach Brown these last two years and I’m just trying to use that to become a smarter player next year. I just want to work on those things that he wants me to do.
DIME: Talk a little bit about Kevin Durant. I know you guys have some history together. Did you expect him to be this good this fast?
DA: Yeah, I always knew KD would be the player that he is because I’ve never met anybody that is so talented and has the body that he has. He’s 6-9 and can play like a guard. And then his mental aspect of the game, I’ve never seen somebody work as hard as he does. He doesn’t know when to stop. I know he has all of those abilities and then has that attitude to go along with it. He’s going to be unstoppable.
I’ve seen him work so hard, I had to stop myself like “Man, you need to chill.” He doesn’t know when to stop, man. He just loves basketball.
DIME: How have you seen that work ethic up-close?
DA: Actually, I went back to school last summer. Me, KD, T.J. Ford, Royal Ivey — all of us went back last summer to take classes. We would wake up early in the morning and work out with the team and then we would come back in the afternoon and play pickup. KD, he would wake up before everybody and work out with his coaches from Oklahoma City and then work out with us. Then, we would all go to class. In the afternoon, we would start playing. Pretty much everybody would be ready to stop and tired from working out all day, but he was like, “C’mon, man. Let’s keep going.” He just don’t know when to stop, man. He doesn’t know when to stop. I’ve never seen anyone (like that). I think we all love basketball. Every basketball player loves basketball, but I’ve never seen somebody love it the way he does.
DIME: So what’s it like having someone like Michael Jordan be around every day with the team?
DA: It’s cool. He’s the greatest player ever and to have him around practices and games, it makes you want to play harder and go hard. If you are out there being lackadaisical, he’s going to say something. He’s not going to sit back and let you do whatever. He’s going to say something. You can always hear him in the gym saying something to somebody. But, he’s also always trying to make us better at the same time.
DIME: That’s basically what I was going to ask you. Having him around, does that make it harder or put more pressure on you to go out there because you are playing in front of the best player of all-time?
DA: It might be a little pressure for some people. Sometimes, you might feel like that. But like anyone, you have to block all of the people in the stands out when you are out there on the floor with your team and just focus on that. In the back of your mind like I said, you know the greatest player ever is watching you and watching everything that you do. So you just want to show him that you are doing the right thing and playing well. But, you can’t let it get to you.
DIME: Yeah. What else are you doing this summer? Are you doing any traveling or doing anything crazy?
DA: I just came back from Paris with my girlfriend. We went to Paris for two weeks. We had a good trip and I am about to go to summer league and work out with the team to get ready for the season. Yeah, other than that I have been just working out, man.
DIME: That’s cool. Do you typically go back to Texas or do you stay around Charlotte?
DA: My family lives in Houston now. After Katrina, they have been living in Houston ever since. I come and spend time with them in the summertime. Then I’m back in Charlotte around the end of August and early September.
DIME: Going into next year, what are your expectations of yourself? You don’t know exactly what your role is going to be. What steps are you trying to take to make yourself a better player?
DA: Like I said, I’ve learned a lot from Coach Brown these last two years and I know what he wants me to do. So, I’ve just been working on my mid-range game and playing defense, getting quicker and getting stronger to play bigger guards. I’ve been working on a floater because I get beat up a lot going to the goal and I never get a foul call so…
DA: …Yeah, so I got to get a floater. I’m trying to get that floater like Tony Parker.
DIME: Yeah, I was going to say that.
DA: I’ve been working on those things. I just want to try to come in next year and help any way that I can. Like you said, I don’t know my role right now, but I am just focused on getting better every day.
DIME: Are you on Twitter at all?
DA: Nah, I don’t do any of that stuff, man, because they have people who have fake pages of me. MySpace pages and fake Facebook ones and Twitter, so I try to stay away from all of that stuff, man.
DIME: Oh yeah? Well, since we were talking about the Draft, do you remember the first thing you bought after you got drafted?
DA: I bought my mom and dad a house. Then I bought a car for myself and that was it.
DIME: Do you remember what kind of car it was?
DA: An Escalade.
DIME: How do you feel about the new Drake and Eminem albums?
DA: Oh, I love Drake’s new album, man. I just finished listening to it and working out to it. I love Drake. I didn’t get Eminem’s album yet. I like Eminem, but I don’t know….I like him, but I don’t know if I could listen to his whole CD. I could listen to him on remixes and stuff. But I don’t know if I could sit there and listen to his whole album. But I love Drake’s whole album.
DIME: Yeah, Em kind of fell off a little bit…
DA: Yeah, man. I mean I like him. He does real good on remixes and stuff, but I just can’t listen to his whole album.
DIME: What’s your favorite city to play in?
DA: I would say New Orleans, my hometown. For some reason, every time I play there, I play good.