5 NBA Players Who Are Training Camp Nightmares
With training camps for the 2012-13 NBA season just weeks away from opening across the league, the excitement for the impending season is palpable.
For players on contending teams, training camp is the opportunity to meet new faces and gel on the court. The hardest working players come into camp in playing condition and ready to prepare for the 82-game grind beginning at the end of October.
Other players, on the other hand, use training camp itself as a mechanism to get in shape. Teammates and coaches alike find these particular talents the most grating, as an out-of-shape player can put the whole team's development in jeopardy.
Who are some of these training camp nightmares? Here's a look at five guys that will give coaches a lot of sleepless nights before camp kicks off.
Raymond Felton (PG, New York Knicks)
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After what can only be considered a lost season with the Portland Trail Blazers, Felton comes into the 2012-13 NBA season with high expectations.
The Knicks, which allowed fan favorite Jeremy Lin to walk in free agency, have tabbed Felton as their starting point guard. While analysts will need to wait until the regular season to make final judgment, the team will get its first indication of whether it made a good decision in training camp.
In his only season in Portland, Felton showed up to training camp way above his playing weight, and admitted as much to the New York Post's Tim Bontemps.
“I wasn’t at the weight I normally [am],” Felton said. “I am the first one to say, ‘I wasn’t in shape.’ I don’t make no excuses, I don’t blame anyone else.
The entire situation marred his relationship with the coaching staff before it began, and could do so again if the 28-year-old doesn't enter camp in playing shape.
Andray Blatche (PF/C, Brooklyn Nets)
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The Nets' agreement with Blatche is a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, so if the big man makes even the slightest negative wave, he will have a one-way ticket out the door.
Nevertheless, Brooklyn is hoping it found hidden treasure with Blatche. At just 26 years old, he still has a ton of untapped potential and is just one season removed from averaging 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
It just so happens that the one season was so bad that it almost single-handedly submarined Blatche's career.
After the lockout, he showed up to Washington Wizards camp out of shape before spraining his calf early in the season. Following his return, Blatche's conditioning was so far gone that the team shut him down and he wasn't seen for the rest of the season (per Michael Lee of the Washington Post).
For Blatche to have any chance of making Brooklyn's final roster, he'll have to reverse his recent trend and prove he's committed early on.
Lamar Odom (PF, Los Angeles Clippers)
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Before last season, Odom was widely considered among the NBA's most eccentric players, but was never considered a bad teammate.
That all changed during his 2011-12 campaign with the Dallas Mavericks, where the 32-year-old showed up bloated and disinterested.
Coming off perhaps his best season in 2010-11, Odom's numbers tanked across the board into career-low territory. The forward actually set career lows in all of the following categories in Dallas: PPG (6.6), RPG (4.1), APG (1.7), BPG (0.4), SPG (0.4) FG% (35.1) and PER (9.26)
Granted, there were a plethora of personal problems that followed Odom into Dallas. Nonetheless, his presence was so toxic that he was deactivated following a heated exchange with owner Mark Cuban (via ESPN's Marc Stein) and was excluded from the team's playoff payout.
He arrives back in Los Angeles for the 2012-13 season, and the Clippers are hoping for a renaissance. For Odom to deliver, he will have to fully recommit to basketball and show his competitive force in training camp.
Glen Davis (PF, Orlando Magic)
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Though Davis carries his weight relatively well for a big man, he's still among the league's most oft-criticized for his playing condition.
Every season it seems that Big Baby says this is the season where he'll come in slimmer and more ready to take on the rigors of an 82-game season.
Well, it looks like new Magic coach Jacque Vaughn is actually going to hold him accountable. Speaking with the Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins, Davis recalled what Vaughn said his expectations were for the 26-year-old this season.
Via the Orlando Sentinel:
Just making sure that you’re ready. You’re going to have the opportunity to be a contributor here. You’re going to have the opportunity to do big things, and you just be ready, making sure that you come in [to training camp Oct. 1] the right way, in the right shape, and just holding me accountable.
For a player who has historically played his way into shape during the season, Vaughn's emphasis on preseason conditioning could spark a breakout year. Or Davis could simply come into training camp in a couple of weeks out of shape again and earn himself a place in the doghouse before the season begins.
Boris Diaw (PF, San Antonio Spurs)
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After coming into the league as a svelte point-forward with a penchant for the spectacular (can you believe this is what Diaw used to look like?), Diaw's NBA career has seen him balloon into mostly a plodding player with perhaps the most unique skill set in the league.
Though listed at 6'9" and 235 pounds (according to ESPN), a quick search will show a massive fluctuation in reports—the most jarring of which is a massive 264.6-pound report that sits atop the Google search.
Even Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has come out and given an honest evaluation of his weight.
"Boris has never been in shape," said Popovich to the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro. "He won't agree with me, but just trying to keep it real."
Packing on the pounds with age is nothing new for athletes in any sport. Nonetheless, Diaw's numbers have taken a significant nosedive over the past couple of seasons, and it's not unreasonable to blame his extra tonnage.
Diaw just signed a two-year deal to stay in San Antonio this offseason. The team will expect big-time contribution coming off the bench, especially with the championship window closing.
If Diaw comes in and commits to staying in shape through the season, he could be among the reasons the Spurs shock the Western Conference. Unfortunately, history tells us not to expect much from the 30-year-old forward.