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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Daye looks up to Prince

AUBURN HILLS — The second Austin Daye was drafted by the Pistons No. 15 overall, the comparisons to Tayshaun Prince began. Daye and Prince have similar builds and coming out of college, the main question was, “Are they strong enough to play in the NBA?”

Prince has no doubt answered those questions during his seven years as a pro. He has not missed a game due to injury and his current consecutive-game streak of 494 is second only to Andre Miller (531).

Daye still has to deal with those questions, but is excited to have a guy like Prince around for advice on how to make it in the NBA.

“He’s always been a guy I looked up to when I watch basketball because he has the same kind of build as me,” Daye said. “He’s so strong mentally and physically because I’ve never seen him hurt, knock on wood. He’s been one of those guys that’s in every game, every season. He’s a grinder. I want to have similarities to that, too.”

The 6-foot-11 rookie has been playing mostly small forward through training camp and matching up directly against Prince. Daye said almost everyday he has picked up things from Prince. Small things like how to get around a pick and roll better, to big things like what the team is trying to accomplish this season.

“To play against him every day is just showing me how to get better,” Daye said. “With my body like his, how I can adjust to the game, how he’s done (it). If you look at all the rosters and a lot of the games, basically every year he should be an All-Star, but that’s just the process of elimination. To have an All-Star caliber small forward playing with you every day is just going to make me better.”

The comparisons to Prince are there, but there are also a number of things Daye can do differently than Prince. Daye comes into the NBA with a reputation of being a solid outside shooter at 6-11. He was a 42.2 percent 3-pointer shooter at Gonzaga. Daye can also put the ball on the floor and create his own shot.

“We got similarities and we got differences,” Prince said. “I think one thing he can do a lot better than me is, he can handle the ball a lot better. Obviously everyone always talks about the strong factor and what not. … I think as he continues to mature and get experience on the court, the strength factor will come, so we can’t worry about that.

“I think what he can do is help us. He can score the basketball. His length is obviously a problem at 6-11. Once again, he’s another versatile guy, that can do several things on the basketball court, so there is definitely similar things that we can do.”

Daye has been working with the Pistons renowned strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander to add strength. Daye said he is up to 202 pounds, from 192 on draft day. But it’s been a long process, and the key for Daye is maintaining it.

“The thing is I’m progressively trying to get stronger as the season goes on,” Daye said. “We are not trying to go crazy right now and then let it die down. We are just trying to gradually let things progress. … It’s a process. I’m not going to lie to anyone and say, ‘I’m going to gain 15 pounds in two weeks.’ It’s going to be a process for me and I understand that. It’s been a process for Tayshaun and other guys like him. I think I’ll do fine.”


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