NBA News: Breaking Down the Latest Training Camp Chatter
Training camp has finally arrived for the NBA, and there are multiple rumors coming out during this time period.
Whether it is a player trying to come back from injury, who is trying to improve his game or who is just playing for a particular team, there is quite a bit of interesting chatter coming out of these training camps.
Some of the biggest stars in the game are in the news, so I’ll break down exactly what the rumors is and give you the commentary you need on it. Read on to find out what is going on with some of the most important players on some of the most important teams in the NBA.
New Era of Amar’e Stoudemire
During the 2011-12 season, Amar’e Stoudemire proved that it was difficult for him to operate outside Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced, run-and-gun offensive system. That difficulty was compounded by his continued injury history and the emergence of Carmelo Anthony as the No. 1 offensive option for the New York Knicks.
However, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Stoudemire has finally learned how to be something other than a system player. He worked with Hakeem Olajuwon in the offseason and says that he is ready to “step into a new era of [his] career.”
This is great news for Knicks fans. Berman writes that Stoudemire looked very good using his new post game and looked “armed with new weapons.” The power forward struggled last season in the iso-heavy offense that centered around Anthony. This was the only way he could work as a Knick, and it looks like he has really put the work in to make it happen.
Gustavo Ayon Will Play for the Magic
After a rumor from the website Sportando had Gustavo Ayon possibly headed to Spain to play during the 2012-13 season. However, that rumor now appears to be completely unsubstantiated and false.
According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, Ayon will not be in Spain:
Ayon will compete with Nikola Vucevic for the starting center job for the Orlando Magic, and it appears he has the edge to win the job. In his Magic debut in Mexico, he accounted for 12 points, six rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes of play. The lack of depth at that position for Orlando makes Ayon all the more important.
Blake Griffin’s Dislocated Finger and Free Throw Shooting
The biggest things that have held back Blake Griffin during his career so far are his free-throw shooting and his injury history. There has been news on both fronts recently.
Griffin has been working on his free-throw shooting and has suffered a recent finger injury, per Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times. Apparently Griffin has been working to eliminate the pause he takes in his free-throw shooting motion. He also dislocated his finger twice over the weekend, but it is not expected to be a big deal.
Despite working on his free throws, Griffin looked about the same in an exhibition match against Denver. He shot 52 percent last season from the charity stripe, and he still has a lot of work to do if he wants to improve that mark. According to that same report, Griffin implied that he was not at 100 percent yet physically, but that he believed he would get there.
Marcus Thornton on the Bench
The Sacramento Kings have a ton of young talent on their team. While that is a good problem to have, it also means that someone who is talented enough to start is going to have to ride bench. It looks like Marcus Thornton is that guy, at least for now.
According to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, Thornton played with the second team during practice earlier last week. He will compete against Tyreke Evans, who will start for now, for shooting guard minutes.
This Kings team really needs some kind order for all of their talent to fit into. Evans has been a difficult player to place, especially since Isaiah Thomas replaced him as the starting point guard. Thornton may end up beating him out eventually, or starting in his place if Evans is eventually moved to small forward.
One good note from that report: “Thomas Robinson’s energy stands out, regardless of who he is playing with.”
Chauncey Billups Does Contact Drills
Chauncey Billups has been out of commission since he tore his Achilles tendon back in February. It was previously reported that he would not be able to return until December, but now it looks as if he could be back sooner.
According to Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles, Billups participated in contact drills last Thursday for the first time since his injury. Billups has also been working out on the side with Chris Paul, who tore a ligament in his thumb a few months back.
Losing Billups during the 2011-12 season obviously hurt the Clippers in terms of competing in the Western Conference. The team was nearly unstoppable with Billups starting alongside Paul at shooting guard, and it will only improve their chances if he can come back sooner rather than later.
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