The Lakers and the Clippers had extraordinary free agent acquisitions during the off-season. Heading into training camp there is a two-way NBA championship title mind-set and destination between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Both teams have improved,put on their boxing gloves on and are pointing to a championship bout against the Eastern Conference champions in the NBA Finals.
NBA training camps officially begin on Oct. 2nd, for the 2012-2013 season. Teams who have scheduled early international exhibition games were able to start training camp on September 29th. Some NBA training camps include “Two a Days” workouts to get players up to speed. During the “Two-a Days” there are two workouts that can be two or three hours long depending on the philosophy of the coach and the make-up of his team. Training camp can be a grueling, but the most important process for a team’s season going forward.
There are so many important elements involved in the NBA training camp process. Coaches evaluate players the minute they lay eyes on them on picture day. Day one of training camp begins the arduous process of evaluating, re-evaluating, with tough conditioning drills to determine the level of mental and physical conditioning of each player and the team as a whole. There must be an evaluation of the rookies, new players trying to make the team and new players that have guaranteed contracts.
There is a mixture of mind sets and situations connected with each player and team. The players trying to make the team should have come to camp in excellent condition. The coaching staff will notice right away if a non-guaranteed contract player is not in good condition on day one. Coming to camp out of shape could be a player’s demise or start them on the wrong side with the coach, in regards to making the team.
The veteran players pose a different set of circumstances because they many times would like to work their way into shape because in their minds they have a no-cut contract and will be on the team and will be paid no matter what. The try-out players should be just the opposite; trying to be first in every drill, working hard on every drill. These try-out players need to have a fast learning curve. The head coach will put in plays and sets offensively, while implementing their team and individual defensive alignments, spacing, philosophies, individual and team goals.
In training camp, the coaches constantly remind the team of the desired goals, while demanding the mindset required while effectively executing the team’s offensive and even more importantly the individual and the team’s defensive strategy.
Training camp is the foundation of every NBA team’s season. The spirit and execution of an NBA team’s training camp is a direct indicator of the success or unfulfilled goals the team may experience during the regular season and during the playoffs. A bad training camp and record at the start of the season, for a team with great expectations, can cause a firestorm or may get a coach fired. NBA coaches ultimately must be able to build a strong team first system, making the right decisions coming out of training camp that will begin the process of maximizing the strengths of each player and the team as they enter into the season.
Each NBA training camp has its own storyline, talent level and expectations for the coming season. Some teams have early injury(s) issues they must compensate for while maintaining the highest level of continuity, chemistry possible to win games early without the injured player(s).
Going into the 2012-2013 training camp season, many in the NBA, media and fans believe that the Eastern Conference Champion will be the Miami Heat for the third time in a row. The Lakers with the signing of Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison boosted themselves back into a contender status.
The Clippers have something to say about what the Lakers have laid claim to as they enter training camp with a fighter’s punch and a championship mentality. In the history of the Clippers organization this may be the deepest team, with the highest expectation level.
The Los Angeles Clippers re-signing of Chauncey Billups was major in the process of the Clippers becoming championship contenders. If Billups is able to perform anywhere near his previous level, the Clippers will have his continued leadership in the locker room and on the basketball court as a player. The Clippers’ off season acquisitions of Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Lamar Odom will make the Western Conference a slug-fest. The Clippers have positioned themselves to throw some haymakers, especially against their Staple Center neighbors.
Barring any injury to key players and a complete return to form for players such as Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Chauncey Billups, the seasonal bouts in Los Angeles between the Lakers and Clippers will be setting the stage for the NBA’s version of the “Thriller in the Manila” for the NBA finals in June 2013. This all sounds great but it all starts in training camp.