Training camp is the first chance for teams to evaluate their personnel changes. There is a long NBA season ahead and training camp gives front offices their first opportunity to see how their acquisitions (both young and old) mesh with their new teams.
Each team has new rookies to develop, and almost half of the teams have a new head coach. Regardless of if a team is contending for a championship or in the midst of rebuilding, training camp offers answers to some of the most important questions for their futures.
Here are the four biggest questions that will be answered (at least partially) during training camp.
How Are Stars Recovering from Injuries?
The 2012-13 season was marred by injuries to NBA stars. Training camp will give teams a better idea of whether those stars are fully recovered or how long it will be until they take the court this season.
Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles in April, but he has been vocal about his desire to “shatter the recovery timetable” for the injury. CBSSports reports that he still isn’t sure when he will return, but he’s targeting the start of the season.
For some teams, their championship and playoff hopes rest on the swift and successful recovery of their injured stars.
How Well Are Offseason Acquisitions Adapting to Their New Teams?
Nothing is more exciting during an NBA offseason than big-name free agents changing teams, or blockbuster trades that shift the balance of power.
It makes Houston a legitimate title contender and training camp will give Howard his first chance to play with James Harden and his supporting cast. How quickly he can build chemistry with Harden and Jeremy Lin will go a long way to determining the ceiling of that team.
Likewise, the Golden State Warriors signed Andre Iguodala with the hopes of pushing themselves into title contention. They have a ton of talent on the wings but figuring out the rotation will be a challenge for head coach Mark Jackson. Getting it wrong could negatively impact their season.
Finally, the Brooklyn Nets dismissed the notion of a salary cap and acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to round out a starting lineup that looks like an All-Star team. Can those five stars coexist, and how much do Garnett and Pierce have left in the tank?
How Do New Head Coaches Adjust to New Circumstances?
The offseason saw an NBA-record 13 coaching changes made, so there will be 13 teams that will be getting acquainted with a new philosophy and system.
Doc Rivers becoming the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers was one of the biggest moves because it went hand-in-hand with re-signing Chris Paul. More personnel changes have made the Clippers one of the deepest teams in the league, and a championship is the only thing on their mind.
How can coach Rivers change the mentality of the team from “Lob City” to a gritty, defense-first mindset that wins playoff games?
One of the most interesting transitions will occur in Brooklyn. How will first-time coach, Jason Kidd, handle a team that is built to win now, with players that he was playing against only last year.
Those two coaching changes were made with championship hopes in mind, and it is imperative for both coaches to quickly gain the trust of their players in order to be successful.
Which Rookies Are Ready to Contribute Right Away?
The Summer League is useful for rookies, but training camp is their first real taste of life as an NBA player. Moreover, it’s the first chance teams have to work with their rookies and determine whether they can contribute this year.
For example, the Orlando Magic will get an idea of whether Victor Oladipo can handle playing point guard or whether they should keep him at the 2.
Will Cody Zeller be able to play big minutes from the beginning, or does he need a year or two to fully develop?
We won’t be able to evaluate the draft class until much later on, but training camp will give us our first look at the rookies and which ones are ready to have spectacular rookie seasons.