Every summer, trainer Chris Brickley’s star-studded Black Ops Open creates buzz on social media. For basketball fans, this is an opportunity to not only see what their favorite players are doing, but to watch them shoot and compete against other top players in the game.
I originally named these runs “Black Ops” because I wanted the workouts and open runs to be done discreetly. Here, Brickley brings you an inside look at another year of Black Ops Basketball.
2023 SLAM x BlackOps Awards
Breakthrough Season: Bones Hyland
This is my first time working with Bones in the offseason. He impresses every time we train. I was amazed at how well he shot the ball and his positive attitude. I think the Clippers are a great place for him and I’m ready for him to have a breakout year.
Mentor Award: Donovan Mitchell
The past few offseasons, the Mentor Award has gone to Carmelo Anthony. Dovan Mitchell is now the new recipient of the award — a mentor not only to young players in the NBA, but to some of the most elite players in the country. After training he would talk to the likes of Ian Jackson and Elliott Cardo and give them some real gems on their way to becoming pros.
Draft Day Awards: Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore
The Houston Rockets had a strong showing in the NBA Draft. I think both Amen and Cam can make an immediate impact this season. Both players play hard and have a strong desire to get better. Shout out to Houston’s scouting department, they did their thing.
Future Award: Cooper Flagg
I think Cooper is one of those eleven generation players. He’s very versatile and can finish above the rim with both hands. He has always been a problem for opponents on the offensive end and is also very good on the defensive end. He is a beast. His shot-blocking skills are as good as I’ve ever seen at the high school level, and there’s something about him that you can’t teach. He had that dog on him.
Prior to reclassification, Cooper was one of the most impressive players at the Brickley Invitational.
Best Black Ops Duo: Klay Thompson and Kevin Love
Klay Thompson and Kevin Love grew up together, but they never played on the same team. It was special to watch this offseason when they were on the same team competing in Black Ops. They’ve won five games in a row, which I think is the first time in BlackOps history that a team has done that. The way they compliment each other, you’d think they were teammates from the past.
Klay passes the ball and K-Love finds him and vice versa. It seems that neither of them missed a beat.
Shooting Award: Paige Bueckers
We went through a bunch of shooting drills, but Page hit 29 three-pointers in a row. That’s the most consecutive 3-pointers we’ve made all offseason. I’m excited to see Paige play at UConn this year and she’ll remind people how good she is. The last time she played a full season, she was college basketball’s Player of the Year.
Surprise Player Award: Ty Jerome
Tai has been in the league for four seasons. The Cavaliers will be his fourth team. I think given the right opportunity, Ty is going to shock a lot of people around the league. From a technical standpoint, he’s very elite. There’s nothing he can’t do: his shooting is elite, his ballhandling is elite, his decision-making is elite. I think he could be a bright spot off the bench for the Cavaliers this year.
Early Bird Award: Jimmy Butler
No one works out early in the morning like Jimmy Butler. In the morning he would bring a different type of energy; he would have either country music or heavy metal playing from his speakers, and the gym would feel like a sauna. I think I still dream about the number 78 – that’s what the gym needs to be set up for every time Jimmy works out. Not only did he get a great workout, but everyone in the gym also worked up a sweat.
Jimmy is ready for one of the best seasons of his career! He had a great summer.
Best Black Ops Matchup: Donovan Mitchell vs. Trae Young
It’s fun to see two of the best guards in the NBA go at each other. Originally, Donovan just went to practice and watch the game, but after Trey arrived, he convinced Donovan to play. Both sides had wins and losses, and the series ended 3-2. Donovan’s team won the day.
Outstanding Person Award: Obi Toppin and Jacob Toppin
Every time the Toppin brothers ran, they were always on top of the rim. They both eliminated a lot of players this offseason. I’m excited to see Obi play against the Pacers.
Most popular image: Jan (Russell Westbrook training)
Thanks to our intern from Vietnam, Jan. Jan has had the difficult task of guarding some of the best players in the NBA all offseason. It’s really hard for him to guard Russell Westbrook! I don’t blame him, but the photo went viral around the world. We joked with him today.
Hooper Award for Football Players: Tom Brady and Stefon Diggs
If I were to form a basketball team made up of NFL players. I would definitely have Stefon Diggs as my point guard and Tom Brady as my shooting guard. Both men are extremely talented on the basketball court. I’d say Tom Brady is a better shooter, but Diggs is a better playmaker. Diggs bounced back, too.
Most Amazing Shooter Award: HER
Grammy award-winning artist HER You’ve developed a great jump shot! ! In the past, the award for Best Artist Shot would have gone to J. Cole, but I think Gabi will be in contention for that award now. She can really shoot. Just ask Jimmy Butler.
“He’s Next” Award: Keyon Anthony
Keyon Anthony not only grew a few inches this summer, but also made a name for himself on the EYBL circuit. He inherited some of his father’s footwork that made him one of the best grassroots players in the country. The sky is the limit for Kiyan.
Most viral moment: Tom Brady
The hottest moment was definitely Tom Brady’s practice. Within 48 hours of going live, the video had been viewed 34 million times across all platforms. On my page it has been shared 58,600 times. That’s the most of any video this summer. Tom Brady is the GOAT!