The door swings wide open at MSG Training Center and the 36-year old blasts out onto the court like a race horse out of the gate at the Kentucky Derby. This is just another pre-workout for Pablo Prigioni in the weeks leading up to a highly anticipated Knicks training camp.
Prigioni is not your average 36-year old. In fact, he is not your average 26-year old. The Argentine is a glowing example of the modern athlete and he takes great pride in a relentless approach to conditioning.
“My condition -- physical I think for me is very important to be 100 percent and my body to play with these athletes in the league, I have to be 100 percent in my body. So, I work all the time on this,” Prigioni explained at MSG Training Center last week.
The New York guard started his pre-workout by setting up the shooting machine that has an automatic rebounder to spit out balls while it rotates back-and-forth to provide the shooter with catch-and-shoot repetitions. Prigioni utilized this machine last year along with several post-practice shooting sessions directed by Knicks assistant coach Dave Hopla. In 2012-13, his arduous work in the practice gym correlated to improved form and an increasingly consistent long ball jumper.
“I continue to work on my shot, my 3-point shot,” Prigioni clarified. “I know that I have experience from last year, many times I have an open shot, so I have to be ready to knock down, so those were basically the two things I worked on this summer.”
After several rounds of hoisting perimeter shots, Prigioni ramped up the workout. Peering at his stopwatch, he then placed a basketball on the far left side of the half court line. Starting on the right baseline, Prigioni hit the green button on the clock and sprinted to half court in a straight line. He then immediately transitioned into a lateral shuffle to the rock where he quickly picked it up and dashed into the paint for a layup finish. This specific drill occurred over and over again until the onlooker (may or may not be the person writing this article) lost count and felt physically exhausted being in the same presence of the Knicks newly signed guard.
“I work a lot of the year with a Serbian coach in Spain and with the same trainer for condition. I took from them the excerpts that I feel is better for me, that work on me. I keep this routine and I use it in the summer all the time,” Prigioni emphatically stated.
It’s hard to quantify Prigioni’s impact on this New York squad. His traditional statistics do not jump off the page but his role as the second point guard in the starting backcourt during last year’s late season run was essential to the Knicks success. In fact, KnicksNow’s Charlie Widdoes appropriately pointed out that Prigioni and Raymond Felton registered the second-best net rating (+16.3) for all New York two-man combinations that played at least 30 games together.
Prigioni’s minutes increased to 22.1 per game last April along with his field goal percentage (56.3%) and 3-point percentage (50%). Interesting enough and quite possibly a direct outcome of his supreme conditioning, Prigioni logged 20 minutes and recorded his highest field goal percentage and most assists per game on zero days of rest.
One of the key pieces in New York’s pursuit of a title refuses to gaze too far into the future. Prigioni’s conditioning and basketball training plan is fairly simple, “I prefer focusing what I have to do today, tomorrow, so in that way I try to build my system.”
The result of Prigioni’s dedication should be a powerhouse option in the Knicks backcourt that will attack the opposition 94-feet. Not bad for a 36-year old.