Life as an NBA player offers up a never-ending cycle that some simply are not prepared for. The grind of an NBA season, the preparation that goes into training camp and the summer that falls in between all play an equally important role in the progression of either a career or franchise.
Unfortunately, there are a strong percentage of players that fail to put the necessary work in during the offseason. As a result, they enter training camp out of shape and discover that not all NBA players take time to rest.
The great ones work all year 'round.
For the following five players, training camp has offered a glimpse at how poorly they've maintained themselves this offseason. For some, there is the excuse of injury. For the most part, however, these are simply instances of an inability to maintain physical health.
Follow the slides to see who has an uphill battle ahead of them.
It appears as if James Harden followed up his Olympic gold medal by spending a great deal of time relaxing continuously, with no momentary thoughts of honing his skills and preparing for another run at an NBA title.
Struggling to get up and down the floor, shooting the basketball with poor form, committing countless turnovers and consistently finding himself out of position should be evidence enough. The fact that it came against a handful of rookies and the Houston Rockets is cause for further concern.
In 21 minutes of play, Harden shot 3-for-11 from the floor, committed three personal fouls and coughed the ball up on three separate occasions. To say he was out of basketball shape is an understatement.
Although the preseason is about finding your rhythm, Harden appears to be farther away from his than the average player. In fact, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year nearly played as poorly as he did in the 2012 NBA Finals.
Hopefully those malicious words are motivation for the best season of his young career.
Roy Hibbert will have a phenomenal 2012-13 NBA regular season. He will further establish him as a dominant defensive force and prove to the league that he is one of the most skilled offensive big men.
Unfortunately, Hibbert failed to get off to the start he had hoped for and being out of shape is to blame.
Hibbert looked sluggish on the floor during the Indiana Pacers' preseason opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Hibbert was bullied by Nikola Pekovic and committed five fouls and three turnovers in 21 minutes.
He also grabbed just four rebounds, which virtually canceled out his two blocks.
As previously stated, Hibbert will turn it around. At this point in time, however, it appears as if he is not as slim, strong or balanced as he'd like to be. He is moving slowly and losing low-post battles, which is quite uncharacteristic of the former Georgetown Hoya.
Time to act fast and prepare for a season of high expectations in Indiana.
When the paparazzi sees you more than an NBA fan, you're not doing well for yourself.
For the second consecutive year, it appears as if Lamar Odom has showed up to his new team as an out-of-shape celebrity with little care for his basketball career. Much like he did with the Dallas Mavericks, Odom has entered the Los Angeles Clippers' rotation as an out-of-shape big name.
Such was the display in Beijing, China when the Clippers played the defending-champion Miami Heat.
During this preseason game, Odom performed well from a statistical standpoint. Although he finished scoreless, the big man secured eight rebounds in 16 minutes of playing time.
That being said, he also committed two turnovers and two fouls. This came as a result of what appeared to be discomfort with the ball in his hands and playing team basketball, which he hasn't done in over a year.
And yes, that was a shot at what he did to the Dallas Mavericks.
Odom doesn't appear to have the basketball abilities that once made him a Sixth Man of the Year. He has not played NBA-caliber basketball since 2011 and appears to be shaken from a mental standpoint.
If he doesn't turn things around quickly, he may find that Los Angeles can be just as cruel as Dallas to those who underperform.
Before Miami Heat fans flock to the comments section to voice their disdain, take a look the surrounding factors.
Dwyane Wade is coming off of surgery on his knee and hadn't seen a minute of basketball since the Miami Heat won the NBA title in June. That's almost four full months of inactivity, which resulted in D-Wade appearing to be severely out of shape.
In 23 minutes of play during his preseason debut, the former Marquette star shot just 2-of-9 from the floor and missed a breakaway dunk attempt. Although he failed to dazzle Beijing with his performance, he gave himself a great feel for where his body currently stands in the recovery process.
As we all know, that translates to trouble for his opponents.
D-Wade has an extraordinary work ethic and possesses basketball abilities that most NBA players could only dream of securing. For that reason, his current physical shape should be of no concern to Heat fans looking to see their team win a second consecutive NBA championship.
Given time, Dwyane Wade will be right back on top of his game.
Go ahead and tell yourself that Rasheed Wallace isn't a star. Then remind yourself of how much this man has accomplished and the fact that glory transcends time, even when it is blatantly obvious that it should not.
Before I tear into Wallace and the New York Knicks' reasoning for signing him, it should be noted that this could work. Wallace is as tough as they come and would certainly bring the swagger the Knicks have lacked in recent years.
He may even help Amar'e Stoudemire to play more physical on defense.
Unfortunately, Wallace did not travel to Washington for the Knicks' first preseason game. The reason for his absence was because he was not in basketball shape and needed to continue working out to reach that level.
Head coach Mike Woodson had this to say about it (via NJ.com).
"We’re still monitoring him and training him off the floor. Eventually he’ll be ready to go. It’s all geared towards conditioning," [head coach Mike] Woodson said, noting the inventive ways Wallace is getting into shape, including a boxing regiment.
If 'Sheed is able to get into shape and contribute, the Knicks will be all the more dangerous. They'll also be able to add another veteran with a championship pedigree.
The question is, why would they pull a player out of retirement who isn't even in game shape? With NBA-ready alternatives available for the same price or cheaper, one has to scratch their head and wonder why it is the Knicks signed 'Sheed in the first place.