Ivan Rabb had plenty of reasons to join Jaylen Brown in declaring as a freshman to join the NBA Draft. He chose not to. What were the reasons for deciding to return for his sophomore season?
There were a few. Connor Letourneau got all the good stuff in his recent Chronicle piece.
1. He wanted to improve defensively.
The second-team All-Pac-12 selection was more concerned about making a rotation than going in the lottery. To play as a rookie, Rabb recognized he needed to establish himself as a reliable defender.
"I know I'm not terrible defensively," Rabb said. "But at the end of the day, I don't want to be the person people in the NBA go at every time."
Rabb is probably shortselling himself. Cal had the best defense in the Pac-12 particularly due to Rabb's ability to help at the rim and defend the post one-on-one. Rabb is probably hoping to get stronger and become more effective at NBA defensive responsibilities though, which will involve more switching and defending smaller and quicker guards.
2. Rabb feels like he needs to develop more.
"Everyone's looking at it from a financial perspective, and everyone's an expert," said Lou Richie, Rabb's coach at Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland. "But everyone that is telling him to leave hasn't been there themselves. It's never been about the money for Ivan. It's about him growing as a person, developing. He wants to be happy."
Ivan definitely wants to try and put on more size, but as a big man doesn't want to come in fully undeveloped and get thrown on an NBA bench. Rabb wants to be in the league. Right now he's at a certain point.
3. Rabb wants to add more dimension to his offensive game.
Many nights, Rabb pores over YouTube clips of LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett. It is those big men's versatility — the way they can block a shot one play and hit a mid-range jumper the next — that he hopes to emulate next season.
Right now at this point, Rabb is pretty much a post player, which would have done wonders in earlier decades. But defenses are much smarter and faster to trap and double Rabb constantly while recovering on jump shooters. Rabb's biggest focus seems to be on developing that midrange shot that will allow him to pick and pop more effectively. It's unclear if he wants to get out to three point range, but any sort of efficient shot outside of the paint will allow his offense (and by proxy Cal's) to grow substantially.
4. Rabb enjoys school!
"That's one of the the best classes I've taken, ever," Rabb said of his course on peace and conflicts. "I'm definitely looking forward to taking more classes like that."
Here's to more great classes ahead for Ivan.