Dekker stays positive, mentally ready

Sam Dekker has had his ups and downs during his NBA career but he remains upbeat and is dedicated to helping his team any way he can.

Dekker, a Sheboygan native, is a 6-foot-9 reserve forward for the Los Angeles Clippers. He was traded to the Clippers before the season by the Houston Rockets who he spent his first two seasons with. Dekker overcome a back injury during his rookie season in 2015-16.

“In my first three years I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been through injuries and surgeries, playing big minutes and playing no minutes. This year it’s been a mixture of both – playing 30 minutes, then playing two minutes,” said Dekker before the Clippers’ game in Milwaukee March 21.

“It’s just been one of those seasons and that’s part of the journey of the basketball player. Not every year is going to go the way you want, not every game is going to go the way you want but you have to get up and go after it the next day.

“It was a challenge and it is a challenge sometimes but you gotta stay positive and you gotta stay ready, and who knows, Doc [Rivers, the Clippers’ head coach] is the type of coach who changes his lineups around, changes guys and gives everyone a chance. So, it’s been one of those years and I’ve learned a lot,” said Dekker.

“I’ve gotten more and more comfortable over the season and I’m looking forward to finishing the season strong.”

Dekker led Sheboygan Lutheran High School to the Division 5 state basketball title in 2012 and was a standout for the Wisconsin Badgers. He contributed six points, two rebounds and an assist off the bench in the Clippers’ 127-120 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

“I just try to come in and do my job. I’m not going to play 25 or 30 minutes. I just try to come in and play with energy and add something to the team. We got out of here with a win and that’s the most important thing,” said Dekker after the win over the Bucks.

Rivers said after the game that the Clippers’ bench, including Dekker, played terrific basketball and brought energy which the team needs.

Dekker said it’s been fun learning the game from Rivers.

“He’s a legend in the NBA. People respect coach Rivers. He’s a great basketball mind. I get to learn the ins and outs of what he sees in the game and it helps me grow as a player a lot,” said Dekker.

Rivers coached the Boston Celtics to the NBA championship in 2008.

Dekker was asked what motivates him as a player.

“You’re going to have your ups and downs but you can’t let that change your mindset. You gotta try to get better every day and put in extra work so you can be ready for that next opportunity out there,” he said.

“You have to be mentally ready and when your name is called you have to go out there and be ready to perform.”

Dekker is focused on what he can control.

“I’ve forced myself not to worry about the outside noises. That’s been my mantra this year – to control what I can control. I have a very tight-knit group of people around me and that’s all I need,” he pointed out.

“He just wants to improve at every level,” said Todd Dekker, Sam’s father. “His head is in the right place. With his different abilities, he just wants to improve on ever part of his game – working on his quickness and his moves and trying to be consistent.”

Todd was the head coach for Sam’s high school basketball team.

“I’m really proud of what he’s done on and off the court. It’s been a great experience for him and people around him, and I think he has handled it very well,” said Todd.

“He is very dedicated. He understands the grind in basketball and he just wants to get better. He keeps things in perspective with his faith and family, and handles this which helps keep him grounded.”

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