Interview: Thabo Sefolosha
by: Jonathan Givony - President, E Weiss - Sports Aptitude
June 23, 2006
Jonathan Givony: How have your workouts been going so far?

Thabo Sefolosha: I feel ok. I was a little tired because I just had a lot of workouts in a row, but theyíve been good I think. So things are going well.

Jonathan Givony: Which teams have you worked out for so far?

Thabo Sefolosha: I worked out for: Golden State, Phoenix, Orlando, Chicago, Minnesota, and Indiana.

Jonathan Givony: What workouts do you have coming up?

Thabo Sefolosha: New Orleans, Houston, Seattle, UtahÖIíve got a couple more.

Jonathan Givony: Which workout did you think was your best so far?

Thabo Sefolosha: The best one? It was either Chicago or Minnesota, I did pretty good there. I didnít do too good in Indiana, but I was real tired then.

Jonathan Givony: What are the differences between your good workouts and your bad ones?

Thabo Sefolosha: Well, all the workouts Iíve shot fairly well except Indiana and Golden State, which was my first one. The rest of the workouts I shot well and in all of the exercises I did really well.

Jonathan Givony: What type of feedback have you been getting after the workouts? What have they told you?

Thabo Sefolosha: They tell me they like the intensity that I put into it. But, they donít tell me much. I think theyíve liked what theyíve seen so far though.

Jonathan Givony: Which players have impressed you out of those you worked out with?

Thabo Sefolosha: Brandon Roy. I like his game. I think heís really good. Cedric Simmons. Heís very big, he can run, jump, heís very athletic. Also, Louis Amundson.

Jonathan Givony: It seems like youíre one of the hottest names in the draft right nowÖMost draft experts besides DraftExpress had you in the 2nd round or undrafted up until just 2 weeks ago. What have you done to change peopleís minds?

Thabo Sefolosha: I just donít think people really saw me that much, especially with the differences in the game coming from Europe. But, I think Iíve competed very well against the players who Iíve gone up against, players like Rudy Gay and Brandon Roy. So, those players can go top 10 and I think I can compete with that type of player, soÖ.

Jonathan Givony: What do you think are the differences between the skills you use the most in Europe and the skills they test you on in these NBA workouts?

Thabo Sefolosha: Well, the main thing is that most of these other players have had two months to prepare for the draft. Coming over from Europe, I just finished the season and have only had one week to prepare for the workouts. During the season I donít really have time to work on my own game. With practice and the games there is really no time to prepare.

Jonathan Givony: Do you think there is more of a focus on individual skills in the NBA as opposed to Europe?

Thabo Sefolosha: I think that in the NBA it is more based off one-on-one skills, where in Europe it is more based off of the team. So, I think in these workouts the teams are really looking at how you do with those things; how you dribble the ball, one-on-one, two-on-two, how you beat other peopleÖso for me its very different, but itís still basketball.

Jonathan Givony: So do you think you are able to show what youíre really good at in these type of workout situations?

Thabo Sefolosha: Not really. Iím good at the five-on-five, reading the defense and the offense and all that. I think I can show my athleticism and my ability to dribble the ball and things like that. But, I think Iíll do much better in the five-on-five.

Eric Weiss: Earlier you were talking about the differences between the NBA and Europe as far as team play. Do you think there are some teams in the NBA who are playing more of a team game?

Thabo Sefolosha: Yes. Youíve got teams like Dallas with Dirk Nowitzki and the other players who move the ball around a lot. Phoenix that runs and moves the ball a lot. Thereís more and more of that type of game I think.

Jonathan Givony: Coming off such a grueling season in Italy with the playoffs, is it really tough coming straight into the pre draft workouts? How are your legs?

Thabo Sefolosha: Well, I try to do my best and prepare myself, but to be honest I am a bit tired. I havenít had a chance to rest in months, but hopefully Iíll have a chance to rest afterward.

Jonathan Givony: How do you feel about Summer League? Thereís not much of a break between the draft and the start of games there.

Thabo Sefolosha: Iíll be ready for that for sure.

Jonathan Givony: It seems youíve really improved over the last two years, what happened over the last two years?

Thabo Sefolosha: I think itís just more exposure. I also just improved a lot. I got a lot of experience going from 1st division France to Italy. I also work hard and that comes with it. As long as I work, I improve.

Jonathan Givony: Is the plan to come over right away or wait a year?

Thabo Sefolosha: Depends on the team and the situation, but I think Iím ready next year.

Jonathan Givony: Is there a big difference shooting the NBA 3 as opposed to shooting it from International distance?

Thabo Sefolosha: Itís a little bit difficult because of the distance, but with some work it should be ok. Thatís not what Iím worried about right now.

Eric Weiss: Talking about your daily routine, what have you been working on specifically and how long do you work at it?

Thabo Sefolosha: Shooting mostly. Coming over from the season in Italy I only had one week to prepare. So Iíve mostly worked on my shot, spotting up and from the NBA 3 point line.

Eric Weiss: When you say you are working on youíre shot, what are you doing? Are you putting up 600 shots a day, are you working on technique? What goes into that?

Thabo Sefolosha: With such a short time to prepare itís not good for me to change anything right now. So, Iíve just been putting up a lot of shots, working on catch-and-shoot and off the dribble.

Jonathan Givony: Watching the NBA growing up, is there any player youíve tried to pattern your game after. Maybe some of the European players who made it, like Boris Diaw or Manu Ginobilli.

Thabo Sefolosha: Not really. I watch a lot of games and I try to take something from many different players, not one or two specifically.

Eric Weiss: Looking at yourself right now, what do you think you bring to the table immediately? What are you best at?

Thabo Sefolosha: Just giving my best effort every game and helping the team anyway I can. If itís rebounding, Iíll rebound. If itís pushing the ball up the floor than Iíll do that. I just play with the team. Defense, I can help with that. Hit open jump shots.

Eric Weiss: Do you feel you can play multiple positions defensively?

Thabo Sefolosha: Oh yeah. I think I can guard a lot of different positions on the court. One, two, or three.

Eric Weiss: What areas do you think you can improve in?

Thabo Sefolosha: Everything. My shot. My body: Iíve got to work a lot on that. My dribble. I mean, every aspect of my game can be worked on.

Jonathan Givony: What are some of the main differences youíve seen in the workouts between European and American players?

Thabo Sefolosha: More athletic. But mainly, there are a lot of 19 and 20 year old kids that have a manís body. In Europe, if youíre young they say ďheís got to work on thisĒ, but here there are a lot of guys that come ready to play physically.

Jonathan Givony: What do you think of the Italian prospects Bargnani and Belinelli?

Thabo Sefolosha: Bargnani is good, he can play. He can shoot the ball and do a lot of other things real good. I think heís got a chance to be a really good player over here in time. Belinelli is a great shooter, thatís what he does. But, he needs to work on other areas of his game because heís mainly just a shooter.

Eric Weiss: Personally, coming so far away from home and going through all of this, do you plan to bring anyone with you to help you make the adjustment? Are you going to live alone?

Thabo Sefolosha: Right now it is a little difficult because I havenít gotten to see my family due to the season ending and me having to come here right away. But, next year I plan to bring my girlfriend with me to stay. My mother will probably come over and help me move, sheíll stay for a few weeks.

Jonathan Givony: Isnít your mom an artist or something like that?

Thabo Sefolosha: Yes, she paints and she has some galleries in the States, including New York.

Jonathan Givony: Your background has got to be one of the most interesting of all the players in this years draft. Tell us something about that. Doesnít your father play music?

Thabo Sefolosha: Yes, African music. He plays saxophone and drums.

Jonathan Givony: His band is pretty famous, no?

Thabo Sefolosha: He used to have a well know band in South Africa. But now he plays with some blues musicians, heís got a CD coming out.

Eric Weiss: Coming from a family of artists, how did you find basketball to be your avenue of expression?

Thabo Sefolosha: One day my neighbor was going to play basketball and he asked me and my brother to come along. We ended up playing all day until the sun went down and just loved it. Iíve been playing ever since.

Jonathan Givony: How old were you?

Thabo Sefolosha: I was 11 at the time.

Jonathan Givony: Do you have a following in Switzerland?

Thabo Sefolosha: Yes, basketball isnít the main sport in Switzerland, but theyíre interested to see the first Swiss-born player make it in the NBA.

Jonathan Givony: Well, good luck the rest of the way. We look forward to seeing your success and weíll speak again in the future.

Thabo Sefolosha: Thank you.

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