CEDAR PARK CENTER – The San Antonio Spurs have one of the best player development systems in professional sports, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that their D-League team is just an hour away. The proximity makes it easier for players to go back and forth to either quickly fill a vacancy on the San Antonio bench, or get more minutes and experience in Austin. Just this year players like Ray McCallum, Jonathan Simmons, and Boban Marjanovic have made the trip on I-35 and used their D-League experience to make an impact in the NBA. This world-class system will continue to find and develop talented players, and Cady Lalanne just might be one of the next guys to make a splash at the next level.
Cady (CAD-dee) was born in Haiti, and when he was seven years old he came to America with his family on a rickety boat in hopes of finding a better life. He was a stand-out at Oak Ridge High School in Florida, and went on to play four years at UMass. The 6’9” center is one of only three Minutemen to record 1,000 points, 800 boards, and 100 blocks in his college career. After graduating with a degree in sociology, the Spurs selected him with the 55th overall pick in the 2015 draft.
In his 37 games with Austin this season, Cady is averaging 12.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game; good enough to earn a spot on the Western Conference All-Star team. The 23 year old has been playing the center position, but he plays more like a stretch 4. He shoots 44% from the field and hits a third of his four 3 point attempts per game. Like so many other players in the Spurs’ system, he’s been working with shooting coach Chip Engelland to improve his jump shot.
Lalanne is young, and he’s only been playing basketball for 9 years, but this kid has a lot of potential. He’s clearly talented, and those that know him speak glowingly of his character and work ethic. He has come a long way and the perspective gained from his humble beginnings helps him appreciate his opportunities and not take them for granted. (Sounds like a Spur to me). I caught up with Lalanne after Austin’s 103-89 win over Idaho Sunday afternoon. We talked about his matchup against Boban-sized Tibor Pliess (RAN OFF ON THE PLUG TWICE) and the biggest difference between Massachusetts and Texas. Here are the highlights from his 15 point performance:
Question by Petrini: As a 6’9” center you’re probably used to playing against guys that are a little bigger, but tonight against someone 7’3”, what’s the biggest challenge of playing against someone that big?
Answer by Lalanne: Just being over on the help side, you know, to rebound, the ball comes off the rim so you gotta rebound, you gotta really gotta work to box out. You gotta do your work early on the defensive end too, make sure he gets hard post touches. If you give him some room, 7’3” he could do something with that so you just gotta make it hard for him, be physical with him a little bit and frustrate him.
Q: First half they were 8/12 from long range, second half 0/12 and in the 4th quarter you guys really put the clamps on and held them to 15 points. What was the adjustment at halftime?
A: First half they kinda surprised us cause they probably only hit 6 threes a game, so all of a sudden they start hitting threes and we just said we gotta close out and contest that 3 point line, make them drive to the paint and in the second half that’s what we did. In the 4th quarter we just made them drive to the paint and made sure they didn’t score in the paint. We really just talked a lot on defense, changed it up and went zone for a little bit, just tried to mix it up and frustrate them and I think it worked out pretty good for us.
Q: You went to school in Massachusetts, I go to school at Northeastern, what’s the biggest difference between Massachusetts and Texas?
A: (laughs) The weather. The weather’s the biggest difference. Right now at UMass I think they still have snow on the ground and here I haven’t seen snow all year, so that’s the biggest difference. Texas is just like Florida too, it gets a little chilly but the majority of the time it’s pretty warm so I enjoy that.