Training camps are in full swing around the NBA, and that means it’s time for some unbridled optimism. There’s nothing like the dawn of a new season, and for all 30 teams, this is going to be a great season.
Now, there are different measures of success for the various teams and some truly do have some unique situations, but for the most part, the same stories appear out of most every training camp around the league. No matter who you are a fan of, you’re likely going to read some version of six camp stories, because the dirty secret is, there really isn’t a ton to talk about the first week of camp. If the roster and coaching staff are the same as a year ago, well, it’s business as usual. If there’s been turnover on the roster or with a new coach, everyone’s trying to find their footing and understand new roles.
So, within that dynamic of no one really knowing anything about their team until the season starts and they play in live NBA game action, you see many of the same lines popping up around the league.
1. “Everyone Is On The Same Page”
This is a standby for new coaches, old coaches, longtime teammates, and brand new teammates. By the end of the first week of camp, everyone is starting to feel really good about the chemistry they’re showing and all those new parts (or old parts) are really firing on all cylinders together. Everyone’s on the same page and has the same goal in mind, which always means the season is going to go great.
2. [INSERT TRADITIONAL BIG MAN] Is Now Shooting 3’s
This is a newer one, but happens without fail. The positionless revolution has arrived and now those traditional centers better provide some spacing, too. Every team has a big man who is now really working hard on his threes, at minimum stepping out to the corner. The bonus with this storyline is that it comes with great cell phone video of said big man showing off that new-found range in post-practice shooting drills, proving they are serious about it.
Mitchell Robinson wasn't kidding about shooting more 3s. Here is at Knicks practice curling into corner 3s, shooting with Kevin Knox and Julius Randle pic.twitter.com/MgMABBCbVi
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) October 1, 2019
Will it work in the regular season? Who cares. Rest assured right now your big man is on his way to being a marksman from downtown.
3. Someone Has Added 20 Pounds Of Muscle/Lost 20 Pounds Of Fat
It’s MUSCLE WATCH SZN! Shouts to the great Lang Whitaker, formerly of NBA.com and now with Grind City Media in Memphis, who launched Muscle Watch to poke fun at this yearly phenomenon of guys bulking up and getting into The Best Shape Of Their Lives™ in the offseason. There are, truly, a lot of guys that have put in tons of offseason work to get in shape and it really will help them this year, but it’s never not funny hearing the endless parade of “guy added 20 pounds of muscle” stories that pour out of camp.
Your star player is a vegetarian now. He doesn’t even miss burgers.
4. Perpetually Injured Player “Feels Great”
The guy that’s averaged 50 games played the last three years? That won’t be the case this season. He’s playing 70 games at least and is going to be a major contributor because his knee/shoulder/wrist/back/ankle has never felt better. The training staff’s done a great job and he’s ahead of schedule in rehab. There will be some load management, but that’s just precautionary because he is back, folks.
5. Young Player Is Making “The Leap”/Rookie Is Ready To Contribute In A Big Way
That young guy that struggled to find the floor most of last year, but had one really good game late in the regular season when your main guys were hurt/resting? Well, that was a sign of things to come. He’s been in the lab this summer and has all kinds of new tricks in his bag. He’s more confident and is really showing his stuff on the practice court, so expect him to contribute big time this year.
Oh, and the rookie? He’s ahead of the curve. I can’t believe that many teams passed on him, because he’s showing out and balling in scrimmages. He’s picking up the system faster than expected and is ready to come in and help out right away.
6. “We’re Going To Play More Up-Tempo This Year”
Everyone’s legs feel great in October, so why not expect to play with more pace this year? Last year when you finished 24th in pace? That’s going to change. We want to push the pace, maybe even press a bit on defense to create some turnovers. We want to run on offense and wear them out because we believe in our athletes. We’ve been practicing with a 14 second shot clock in scrimmages to make sure we’re accustomed to getting into sets fast and getting the defense on their heels. This will for sure be sustainable and last into February and March. (NOTE: This does not apply to the Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz.)