Login NowClose 
Sign In to chronicle-tribune.com           
Forgot Password
or if you have not registered since 8/22/18
Click Here to Create an Account

Blackmon Jr. looking for next path to NBA career

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

To say James Blackmon Jr. is just busy chasing his dream of playing in the NBA, that wouldn’t give justice to the pursuit the 2014 Marion High School graduate is giving.

Not even close.

Blackmon is currently back home again in Indiana, working with the “Shot Doctor” Joey Burton in Indianapolis for a couple of weeks while also getting in daily lifts and cardio-training, still waiting to figure out the next road to take to the league.

He’s now got one year of professional basketball under his belt and a clearer picture of what it will take for him to reach that dream.

“I’ve grown more in terms of learning things about the way the NBA is played, using a ball screen, defending a good ball screen and just how to use my body,” Blackmon said Monday evening. I think that this summer I’ve improved a lot more in one-on-one offensive work and things like that. I think I’m able to get my shot off on anyone whenever. I take a lot of pride in that and I think I’ll show that going into summer league.”

One of the next steps in Blackmon’s journey is to figure out just where and with who he’ll be playing in the summer league, and he’s working with a Miami-based agent to figure that out. 

Blackmon’s taste of pro ball was 47 games in the G-League, the first 29 with Philadelphia 76ers affiliate Delaware, then 19 more with the Wisconsin Herd, the Milwaukee Bucks development team.

The change in scenery from the late January trade provided Blackmon with over 32 minutes a game, seven more than in Delaware, and he went from averaging just under 13 points a game to nearly 17. He also increased his three-point percentage from 38 to 43.5. Blackmon also shot 58 percent from inside the arc and nearly 93 percent from the free throw line.  

“There was a lot of ups and down,” he said of his first professional season. “But at the end of the day I stayed level headed and I got a good opportunity with Milwaukee and Wisconsin and I took advantage of it.

“Going into this year I feel like I have a good chance to add to a team’s roster and be able compete at the highest level,” Blackmon added.

Just where that will be will be answered very soon before the NBA’s summer league season starts on July 6. Blackmon went through the NBA’s showcase in Chicago and then spent some days working out with the Orlando Magic this spring.

“I still have a lot teams interested so I’m getting ready to make that decision,” Blackmon said. “As soon as I do that, I’ll probably have to join the team wherever I decide to go.”

While he’s devoting time to both getting stronger and skill development during the summer, Blackmon said the weight room takes on a bit more importance. 

“During the season you don’t really get a chance to lift and work on your body as much because you play so much,” Blackmon said. “It’s very important in the offseason to get that work in and that’s been a big deal for me.”

If there is such a thing as downtime for Blackmon this summer, some will come Friday and Saturday when he returns to Marion to host the inaugural JBJ Basketball camp in Bill Green Arena. The camp is open to fourth through 12th graders and Blackmon is looking forward to sharing the pursuit of his dream and hoping to inspire dreams in the campers. 

“This whole summer I’ve been working for me, trying to get where I want to go and prove what I can,” he said. “But I feel like this is a time where I can decompress and get back to giving back and just having fun with the game.”