Training camp is upon us, and there are several players and teams that will benefit immensely from the practices and workouts before the start of the season. Things are back to normal in the NBA, without a shortened season and lack of preparation, as was the case last year. We can expect better performances and results from rookies, summer free agents and superstars switching teams.
Training camp allows players to get into a groove, work themselves into game shape and in general find their niche on the team before the grind of the 82 game schedules.
Chris Paul is coming off an injury this summer, which forced him to miss the 2012 Olympics for USA basketball, but he should recuperate in time to have another all-star type season. As he gets back into game speed, he can build on the chemistry already established with Blake Griffin to lead the ``other`` LA Team into the playoffs.
Last season Paul had a MVP type season, leading the team in points and assists and turning the fortunes of an organization marred in the bottom of the league. If he can fully recover from his injuries and stay healthy this season, the door is open for a MVP trophy on his mantle in 2013. Furthermore, the Clippers could be an outside contender for a title this season if they can use training camp to become a more defensive sound team and take care of business on both ends of the court.
Staying in the City of Angels, the Lakers, with their new additions, are a team building a new identity. Steve Nash goes from being the face of a franchise in Phoenix into just another option on a team loaded with talent. A tantalizing mixture of future hall famers and all-star players are looking to take on the all challengers in their much hyped journey to a NBA championship.
With so many great players and their egos to contend with, training camp becomes unprecedented in its importance for creating a functioning team unit. Kobe will be the leader and number one option on the team, but the rest of the assembled roster may need this time to find their roles. If all the talent can gel with each other and with the coaching staff, then show-time Lakers are back and another dynasty may be brewing in Southern California.
Alas, a few others looking to take advantage of training camp are veterans and their counterparts, the rookies. Teams laden with veterans or youth need these weeks for a variety of different reasons.
For the older players, it’s the time to gradually bring the body back into game shape and recoup from any lingering injuries. Teams like the Spurs and Celtics can use this time to see how their ageing stars are holding up or what other pieces are needed to keep them in the Championship fight.
Meanwhile, rookies need training camp to become familiar with the NBA game and lifestyle, to learn from the established players on what is needed to survive the regular season and to realize where improvements are necessary.
Training camp is feeling out process for the players, coaches, management and fans on what to expect for the upcoming season. Each team approaches camp in a slightly different way depending on their circumstances and goals. It is the first impression of a new season, and like first impressions what is gained in training camp can last a season or more.