After the Trail Blazers acquisition of wing Rodney Hood became official on Tuesday, Hood spoke with the media for the first time here in Portland. He started off his interview expressing his excitement and how he is ready to play “freely” and “really move the ball.”
Hood’s skill set and demeanor is going to work out just fine
Over the past few days since the Super Bowl Sunday trade went down, players and Blazers head coach Terry Stotts have talked about how they believe Hood can excel in the Blazers’ system.
After Hood’s first full practice with Portland on Wednesday, Trail Blazers captain Damian Lillard discussed how his newest teammate is already fitting in, “He’s quiet," Lillard said. “I think if he had like this big, wild, crazy personality it would be like, take a little bit more time, but he’s kinda just blending in… I think he’ll be good for our team.”
Hood worked on half court sets before practice started on Wednesday morning since the main focus of Wednesday’s practice was on team defense.
The 26-year-old shooting guard has been studying videos of the Blazers’ sets since Monday morning and he has already picked up how this team likes to play after sitting on the bench during Tuesday’s matchup against the Heat.
Two players that stood out to Hood during Tuesday’s game:
Jake Layman and Jusuf Nurkic.
“The guys really play the right way. Guys really play hard… They trust each other. You see a guy like Dame, who doesn’t try to force a lot out there; it’s a great way to play… Jake is a really good cutter and guys know that. Nurk is a better passer than I thought before I got here,” Hood said.
The biggest goal and challenge for Hood now that he is a part of Rip City, does not depend on his stat line.
“I just want to be a part of winning. Just throw myself into it. I’m not worried about coming in and trying to score X-amount of points or getting some notoriety and things like that, it’s just about being competitive and being whatever the coaches need from me to do and then try to do it to the best of my abilities,” Hood said.
Duke Blue Devils blood runs strong
With the addition of Hood, Portland now has three Duke University Men’s Basketball alumni on its roster including Seth Curry and rookie Gary Trent Jr.
Hood was a redshirt during Curry’s final year as a Blue Devil.
In Curry’s mind there’s no doubt that Hood will fit in well with this Blazers squad, “he’s a pretty chill guy, always composed," Curry said. “He’s professional. He’s a mature guy and he’s smart, he knows the game, been around the league so, like I said he knows me, knows a few other guys that are already here.”
The two had many battles on the scrimmage court at Duke.
“He was always on the scout team and I would always have to guard him,” Curry said. “He was in the same position as me because a couple of years before I was redshirting and I think I was the third transfer that Coach K ever had and he might’ve been like the fourth, so I guess that’s elite company to be in.”
Now, it may sound a little out there, but after having a full practice under his belt, Hood isn’t the only one believing he is already making strides to get himself situated in his new role in Portland.
“For him being here a day already it looks like he feels comfortable. Curry said after Wednesday’s practice. He hit the ground running. We’re excited to have him.”
Lessons from the NBA Finals and King James
After being a member of the Utah Jazz from the 2014-15 season until right before his 40th game of the 2017-18 season, Hood was traded to Cleveland.
During the end of the 2017-18 season, Hood got to experience the NBA Finals with LeBron James and as you might imagine, he takes a lot away from his Finals experience.
“I learned a lot from the guys there. You know, LeBron, K-Love, Kyle Korver, just how to be professional, how to win at a very high-level… Those guys had a machine going, obviously going to four straight Finals and be a part of the one last year I learned a lot from him,” Hood said.
Even though he has only been in the league since 2014 and on just two different rosters before making his way to Portland, Hood realizes that it was not a bad situation for him Cleveland, it just wasn’t the perfect situation.
“I look at it different now that I’m out of it—I got a chance to experience going to the Finals, I played with one of the best players to ever play the game… Sometimes it’s just things just don’t fit… It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, that’s just how it is. Sometimes you go to a job and something just might not fit,” Hood said.
It looks like a change of scenery will be just what Hood needs.
“I was excited to get a chance to play some competitive basketball,” Hood said. “This is a really good opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to it… Coming here I think it will be an easier transition for me (than the previous trade from Utah to Cleveland) – personal wise and playing wise,” Hood said.
What it comes down to is this…
After talking to Hood over the past two days, you can expect him—to be dialed in and be himself.
“Just be me. Get back to being me like I did a couple of years ago, just play my game. Coach Stotts lets you play your game and that’s a big reason why I was attracted to here,” Hood said.
He will get his chance to showcase “his game” on Thursday night at Moda Center when the Blazers host the Spurs at 7:30pm.