13 Biggest Takeaways from 2012 NBA Training Camp's First Week
We already knew that, but he told us anyway.
We also found out that Thomas Robinson is spending time at the small forward position in Sacramento. Damian Lillard mentioned that he isn't easily intimidated, and J.R. Smith said he'd prefer to start for the Knicks.
It was encouraging to see the Houston Rockets demonstrate their willingness to support Royce White as he looks to join training camp this week.
The NBA is also very serious about flopping.
Takeaways on each of the above and more are as follows, in no particular order.
Jared Sullinger Should Have Been Drafted Higher Than 21st Overall
The Boston Celtics traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, for their preseason opener against Fenerbahce Ulker. They lost 97-91, but that's not really important.
What is important, if you're a Celtics fan, is the way that Jared Sullinger has been performing over the first week of training camp. After falling out of the top 20 in this past June's draft, the rookie from Ohio State has been impressive so far with Boston.
He scored 16 points in his preseason debut and followed that up by earning the start from Doc Rivers in Game 2.
Against EA7 Milano in Italy, Sullinger finished with nine points and seven rebounds. He may end up being the steal of the draft.
James Harden's Contract May Not Actually Be a Distraction for OKC
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka have all received contract extensions from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
James Harden is supposed to be next.
With the Oct. 31 deadline to reach an extension looming, however, there is still no deal in place.
I thought this could be a bigger distraction for the Thunder, but Harden doesn't sound worried about it.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year spoke on the status of his contract, saying (via Royce Young, ESPN's Daily Thunder), “I have confidence in my agent and the organization to get it done. They know how important it is. I’m sure it will be done.”
If he's wrong about it getting done, there could be an issue. Until then though, it doesn't look like this will affect the Thunder during training camp.
Darren Collison Will Help Mavericks Fans Forget About Jason Kidd
Newly acquired Mavericks point guard Darren Collison will do much to help Mavericks fans forget about the recently departed Jason Kidd this season.
Rick Carlisle, for one, has been impressed with Collison so far in training camp.
According Bill Ingram at Hoopsworld, the Dallas coach said:
I think he’s a guy that can manufacture pace the way Kidd did, he can throw it ahead. I don’t think anybody in the history of the game can throw it ahead as well as Kidd did, but I think Collison can do it at a level that’s good for us. I also think he can motor it up on the dribble. I think he’s in a group of about five, six, seven guys in the league that can do it with phenomenal pace...
In the Mavericks' preseason debut against Alba Berlin in Germany, Collison finished with 14 points and nine assists in the 89-84 win. Last season, in Indiana, Collison averaged 10 points and five assists in 60 games for the Pacers.
Royce White To Join Houston Rockets in Training Camp
It's encouraging to hear that Royce White will be joining the Houston Rockets in training camp this week.
After informing the team that a plan to help deal with his fear of flying was needed, it appears that White and the Rockets have come to terms on an arrangement.
This according to the Associated Press over the weekend:
White stayed in Houston to work out details of the arrangement while the team held its first week of training camp in McAllen, the home of its developmental league affiliate near the Texas-Mexico border. The team is returning this weekend, and White will rejoin the Rockets on Monday. The Rockets haven't commented on White's absence, other than to say they are "committed to Royce's long-term success" and will "support him now and going forward."
You have to respect everyone involved here. White for proactively speaking up and raising awareness and the Rockets organization for responding supportively.
NBA Releases Video To Describe New Flopping Rules
Excessive flopping will no longer be tolerated. After discussing this rule change throughout the offseason, the NBA released a video defining the type of play that will be specifically penalized.
Or even fined.
The press release that accompanied this video, posted on NBA.com, included the following:
The main factor in determining whether a player committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would have been expected given the force or direction of the contact.
Under these proposed rules, players would be warned after their first flop. From there they'd be fined $5,000 for the second flop and $5,000 more for every flop after until the fifth violation. From there, it jumps to a $30,000 fine, and an increased fine or suspension could be issued in the event of a sixth violation.
Thomas Robinson Could Play Small Forward for the Sacramento Kings This Season
I assumed that Thomas Robinson would see time at power forward exclusively for the Sacramento Kings heading into training camp. If anything, maybe he'd also play some center.
But according to Jason Jones at The Sacramento Bee's Kings Blog, the fifth overall pick from Kansas could see time at the wing this season, too, for the Kings.
Don't rule out Thomas Robinson seeing time at small forward during the preseason. During one five-on-five session, Robinson was the small forward with Chuck Hayes and DeMarcus Cousins the other frontcourt players. Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton were the other players on the squad. That squad beat a team of Isaiah Thomas, John Salmons, Willie Reed, Francisco Garcia and Cyril Awere. The final score was 7-2.
You can't help but hear this and not be impressed with Robinson's overall athleticism. His ability to step out and play both forward positions at the NBA level is a good sign for Sacramento Kings fans early on in training camp.
Damian Lillard Isn't Intimidated by the NBA's Best Point Guards
Chris Haynes, who covers the Portland Trail Blazers for Comcast SportsNet Northwest, posted the following quote from Damian Lillard on Twitter this weekend.
#Blazers G Damian Lillard on playing against top PG's first 6 games of season: "I'm going to make them show me why they are who they are."— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 7, 2012
The rookie from Weber State is scheduled to find out why Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Jeremy Lin, Darren Collison, Chris Paul and Tony Parker are who they are, specifically.
Kyle Korver Will Start at Small Forward for the Atlanta Hawks
Kyle Korver is likely to win Atlanta's starting small forward job by the time Hawks training camp is over. Marvin Williams had started at small forward since 2007, but he's now in Utah.
Coach Larry Drew's candidates to replace Williams include James Anderson, Damion Jones, Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver.
Korver made the start on Sunday in Atlanta's 92-79 win over the Miami Heat and finished with five points and five rebounds in 17 minutes.
Not an overwhelming stat line for Korver, but certainly an indication that he's doing enough in camp so far to at least make that start.
Atlanta's starting five was rounded out by Jeff Teague, DeShawn Stevenson, Al Horford and Josh Smith.
Celtics Focused on Giving Darko Milicic His Best Chance to Succeed
The Boston Celtics may be Darko Milicic's best chance for NBA success.
According to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, coach Doc Rivers has been focused on building Darko's confidence throughout the first week of training camp. Said Rivers:
He just needs a chance; he just needs a team that wants him to do his job without asking him to be the No. 2 pick in the draft. We’re just asking him to be part of a group and part of a team. We give him roles on the team. I think he likes the roles that we’ve given him and he didn’t feel any extra pressure. So far so good. We just have to keep him in that frame of mind that he’s in now.
Milicic, who's on a minimum contract this year in Boston, finished with nine rebounds, four blocks and three assists in the Celtics' second preseason game this weekend in Italy.
Ty Lawson Will Anchor the Exciting Denver Nuggets This Season
The Denver Nuggets will be an exciting team to watch this season.
Defending the perimeter with Andre Iguodala and the paint with JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried, they will give themselves a chance to win every night.
From there, the lightning-quick Ty Lawson will provide that last-second chance to sneak up and beat anybody.
To open the preseason, Lawson offered a glimpse of that in the video above.
In a 106-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, Lawson hit that buzzer-beater while finishing with eight points and six assists.
J.R. Smith Wants To Be a Starter, but That's a Bad Idea for the Knicks
New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith would "prefer to start," according to Jared Zwerling from ESPN New York.
But that's not necessarily the best idea for New York.
Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire had a hard enough time dividing shot attempts between each other last season. That was, for the most part, without J.R. Smith in the starting unit with them.
Landry Fields averaged 7.8 field-goal attempts per game last season while starting all but four regular-season games at shooting guard. J.R. Smith averaged 11.6 field-goal attempts off the bench last year. He took as many as 13.8 shots per game two seasons ago while also coming off the bench for Denver.
If he starts, Smith will most likely increase on those attempts from last season. Which will leave fewer shots for Anthony and Stoudemire than there were a year ago.
Stoudemire averaged 13.9 shots per game last year, while Anthony averaged 18.6.
Kobe Bryant Didn't Need To State the Obvious
Kobe Bryant made it a point to let everyone know that the Lakers were still his team.
Of course they are.
Despite adding Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to the roster, there wasn't anybody in the world who thought otherwise.
"I got a question earlier about whose team this is," Bryant said. "It's my team."
Part of me wonders who actually asked him this question. The other part of me wonders why we spent so much time talking about it last week.
Andrew Bogut Wants to Inspire Toughness in Golden State
Andrew Bogut is trying to bring more than interior talent to the Golden State Warriors. He's also looking to bring some much-needed toughness.
According to Scott Howard at NBA.com, Bogut said:
If I can influence other people to step up their up games defensively, that’ll be mission accomplished for me. If there’s not one fight in practice during the season — you never want to fight just to fight — but if there’s not one little scuffle or one little verbal, something’s wrong. Guys aren’t competing, guys aren’t there for the right reason, guys are just punching the clock.
I'm impressed by Bogut's leadership during training camp. If he can match that by being Andrew Bogut during the regular season, the Warriors could be pretty tough to beat.
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