Dekker headed in right direction in NBA

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


SAM DEKKER Photo courtesy of the L.A. Clippers SAM DEKKER Photo courtesy of the L.A. Clippers MILWAUKEE – Doc Rivers, the head coach for the Los Angeles Clippers, is high on Sam Dekker and his abilities as an NBA player.

Dekker, a 6-foot-9 forward for the Clippers, was a standout in college basketball at UW-Madison and an allstater at Sheboygan Lutheran High School. He’s in his first season with the Clippers after being a Houston Rocket the previous two years.

“He’s developing. We’ve played him inconsistent which has probably made him inconsistent. He’s a hell of an athlete. That’s what we’re trying to get out of him – be an athlete more, to be a slasher and really one of those type of players,” said Rivers about Dekker before the Clippers’ game versus the host Milwaukee Bucks last Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

“He’s just getting used to adapting to that [being an athlete more and a slasher] but he will.”


SAM DEKKER, a Sheboygan native, of the Los Angeles Clippers drives to the hoop against the host Minnesota Timberwolves in NBA action March 20. – Photo courtesy of the L.A. Clippers SAM DEKKER, a Sheboygan native, of the Los Angeles Clippers drives to the hoop against the host Minnesota Timberwolves in NBA action March 20. – Photo courtesy of the L.A. Clippers Rivers was asked if there is anything in particular that Dekker needs to work on to get more playing time.

“There’s guys in front of him. He’s at the 4 spot where we have pretty good guys, but just play hard. One thing Sam does every night when you throw him in is you know something is going to happen. He’s going to play hard and try to create stuff, and that’s what is good about him,” said Rivers.

Before the game, Dekker was asked about his play this season.

“Obviously, there’s things you wish you could do better but it’s been kind of a roller-coaster season but I feel I’m now immersed in this team and my role,” he said.


SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD of the Milwaukee Bucks tries to score over Sam Dekker of the Los Angeles Clippers in last Wednesday night’s NBA game in Milwaukee. – Photo courtesy of the L.A. Clippers SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD of the Milwaukee Bucks tries to score over Sam Dekker of the Los Angeles Clippers in last Wednesday night’s NBA game in Milwaukee. – Photo courtesy of the L.A. Clippers “You just have to patient whenever things aren’t going your way, and when they are going your way you just try to continue to do those things as well as possible. I’ve gotten more and more comfortable over the season and I’m looking forward to finishing the season strong.”

As far as what he needs to work on with his game, Dekker said, “Just be ready, play my game and do what it takes for our team to win.”

Dekker came off the bench and scored six points against the Bucks – going 2-for-2 from the field and 2-for-2 at the free-throw line. He also grabbed two rebounds and had an assist on an alley-oop pass to Montrezl Harrell for a dunk. Dekker played 12 minutes in the Clippers’ 127-120 victory.

Rivers was pleased with his bench’s contributions.

“The bench was good. I thought Sam and the guys just played terrific basketball. We just need their energy and I thought they did that tonight,” said the coach.

“I did as good as I could do when I was out there. Our bench guys did a very good job,” said Dekker.

“Our starters set the tone for us, so we have to go in there and try to match it, and I think we did a pretty good job tonight.”

Dekker enjoyed coming back to Wisconsin and having family and friends in attendance at the game.

“It’s always cool to come back [to Wisconsin]. The crowd was very nice to me tonight. I got a good, little cheer when I checked in, and that was nice of them and I appreciated that. It was good to see a lot of familiar faces again,” he said.

Sam’s parents, Todd and Carol Dekker, and his brother, John, and sister, Hannah, attended the game. Sam and his fiance’, Olivia Harlan who attended the game, plan to be married in early July.

“We had a nice visit with Sam. He had a lot of support at the game which was neat to see,” said Todd who was Sam’s head coach at Lutheran High.

Todd said his family travels to Los Angeles sometimes to watch Sam play and they go to the Clippers’ games in the Midwest like in Chicago.

“We see the games on TV and haven’t missed a game. It’s a thrill to be able to continue to watch him play basketball. It’s truly been a good ride,” said Todd.

“He’s been doing well with his role [on the team]. He wants more time. I like his energy and I think he provided that at the Bucks game. I hope he gets more playing time.

“His development as a player is improving each game. It’s been a positive year for him. He’s turning into a good NBA player. I think he’s going in the right direction. It’s a process,” said Todd.


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