WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.--With the 53rd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Sir’Dominic Pointer out of St. John’s--a player many believed would not be taken that night. They saw his defensive strengths, how hard he played on the floor and the ability for offensive improvement. Pointer, in his first season, has played with the NBA D-League’s Canton Charge as he continues his quest to play in the NBA.
Pointer’s first season of professional basketball has been filled with hard work, adjustments, learning and patience as he continues to mold his game to what NBA teams are looking for in younger players.
"It’s a different role, I still play the same defense, but it is more of an open style so you have to shoot more threes" Pointer said, "that wasn’t my strongest suit in college so I’m just adjusting to that right now."
At St. John’s, Pointer was known for his defense, shot blocking, and efficiency from inside the three-point line. Pointer is in the Developmental League to improve the offensive side of his game, his jump shot in particular, and he knows that.
"That’s why I am here right now, to develop my offensive side" Pointer said. "My defensive game is fine. That’s why I got drafted, I’m a defensive player. I just need to keep working on my shot."
Pointer has received plenty of advice and support from people like assistant coach Damon Jones, who, according to SirDom, is "helping me and molding me into the product that I want to become."
Players from the Cleveland Cavaliers have even shown Pointer some support during his first year as a professional basketball player.
"I did talk to Kyrie [Irving] and JR [Smith] when I was working out," Pointer said. "They were like, if you put work in the gym, because I was hesitant to shoot the ball, they said if you put the work in, you got to shoot it so that is all it is. Just confidence."
Pointer’s teammate and former Duke star Quinn Cook believes that if SirDom improves that jump shot he will be in great shape.
"I think he knows his niches, being an athlete and defending the ball, but if he adds a consistent jumper, I mean he has a nice jumper, but I don’t think he believes it yet," Cook said.
"Once he starts believing in it, I mean he puts the work in every day and he has been shooting the ball a lot better. Once he knows he can shoot the ball then his muscle memory will take over and I think he will have a long pro career."
In Canton’s 115-112 loss against the Westchester Knicks on Friday, Pointer played 15 minutes and finished with two points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks. At times during his first professional season, Pointer has put up impressive scoring totals. However, he is still trying to be consistent.
For Pointer, there have been ups and downs during his NBA journey to this point. However, he continues to stay positive.
"It is very tough. You are down here playing for pennies, you have to think about that, but not focus on that and focus on your game," Pointer said. "Everyone in college is good, but everyone in the pros is even better so you have to just make adjustments. Find your little niche and it is hard to do sometimes because the minutes might dwindle. You are used to playing 40 minutes, but it might go down to 10. It is easy to get down, but you just have to stay up and keep it moving."
Pointer’s remedy is his love for the game of basketball and the hope that a 10-day contract from an NBA team will come his way at some point during his time with the Canton Charge.
"You have to [love the game], we are down here to work and we are chasing our dreams right now" Pointer said. "You can’t really support your family off of this, but you are down here chasing a dream and opportunities that come from call-ups and being able to make teams and finish the season with teams. We’ve seen it, a lot of players making teams, a lot of players getting call-ups and 10-days with different teams. It is definitely what we are working for right here."
Players may also have to cope with issues away from the court. For example, Pointer’s teammate Cook who scored 29 points to go along with nine assists, five rebounds and two steals was playing with a heavy heart. Cook played that game a day after the eight year anniversary of the passing of his father Theodus Cook Jr.
Earlier that day, Cook posted a picture on his Instagram account in remembrance on his father’s passing. Cook also ends every single one of his social media posts with "RiP DAD!" to honor his father. It seemed like anytime, Cook scored a basket or made a big play his teammates, including Pointer, would go out of their way to cheer for him.
Cook has also been helped by Pointer when it comes to improving his basketball game too.
"He is very versatile, he can guard one through four and we can throw him at guys. A lot of times when myself and [Canton guard Michael Stockton, son of Hall of Famer John Stockton] get in foul trouble he can guard the best guard" Cook said. "He has guarded Terry Rozier, Russ Smith and he has guarded a lot of guys so he has done a great job. I like going against him in practice because know I won’t see a better defender than him in the league so he helps me a lot."
Pointer also told BECB about his time at St. John’s. He misses his time there a lot, especially because he stayed there all four years. He misses the support of the fans, students and community in Queens. Pointer also talked about the current team and seems to be very optimistic about them going forward despite their current struggles this season.
"They’ll be alright in a couple of years you know they are young like [the Canton Charge] so they will be alright" Pointer said. "[Kassoum] Yakwe, I think he is going to be a good player for St. John’s, he just needs to develop a jump shot and he’ll be fine."
Pointer is also a supporter of head coach Chris Mullin and the job he has done this season trying to bring this young team along.
"I think he is great for the team right now. He is very patient with them and you know they are going to take some lumps and that is what he is taking right now some lumps and he is rocking with them" Pointer said. "All he has to do is restore some confidence in these kids and not get down on the season."
Pointer believes the future is bright for his Red Storm and a big reason why is Mullin’s status in basketball, which should help him to recruit great players.
"When you get a legend from the school to come back and coach who is not just a legend in college basketball, but a legend in the NBA game, you get him to come back and coach, you are going to get some recruitment and they are going to get better" Pointer said. "Chris Mullin is bringing New York back into the equation."
Now Pointer will continue to travel on the road with the Canton Charge for more NBA D-League games, but he will still be able to root for St. John’s at the Big East Tournament. Pointer plans on watching their first round game on Wednesday against Marquette at Madison Square Garden however he can.
"For sure, I have to" Pointer said. "I’m always going to be a Johnnie until I die no matter the good years, bad years, I’m going to come back and support them no matter what."
Much like his alma mater, Pointer is a work in progress when it comes to reaching his dream. However, with time, hard work and the opportunity, he plans on attaining that dream of playing in the NBA one day.