The NBA Lockout has been a treacherous, begrudging process for all parties with no apparent end in sight. The players want money that the owners aren't no longer willing to give, and though I'm no lockout expert, it seems as though this extended vacation may do more damage than it seems.
This lockout has nothing but a negative influence on the progression and development of the 2011 Draft Class. Not only are the incoming rookies missing out on crucial practices and summer training, but there's no indication of an actual season taking place anyhow. This type of setback for the rookies hinders them in three crucial ways.
1. Developing Chemistry With New Teammates
Though it may have been considered weak, the 2011 NBA Draft definitely contained some talented point guards, and without time to develop a bond with their new team, it will be like throwing guppies into a shark tank. Players like Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette will essentially be tossed into the lineup and expected to lead a team they're unfamiliar with.
Not only will they not have enough time to fully learn the offense, but they won't be able to familiarize themselves with their teams by the first game, whenever that is. How could Irving know that J.J. Hickson wants the alley-oop off of the baseline spin if he never practiced with him before?
And it's bigger than just point guards, too. Players like Derrick Williams and Klay Thompson, rookies who are expected to immediately make a huge contribution, will have no clue how to play within their respective offenses.
2. Adjusting to the NBA Game
Without access to prime NBA facilities and trainers, there's no way that the rookies will be able to fully adjust their game to the NBA level. The NBA contains some of the fastest, strongest and most skilled players in the world.
The offseason is also a transitional phase. Several things have to be beat out of incoming rookies, especially point guards. There's eight seconds instead of ten to advance the ball up-court and a 24-second shot clock, as opposed to the 35 they get in college basketball. There's four, 12-minute quarters instead of two, 20-minute halves, and the three-point line is two feet deeper.
For a rookie to get fully acclimated to the new, faster style, they'd have to be tossed into the Summer League and practice with the team, which are two things they can't do with this lockout in place.
3. Staying in Prime Shape
You know why players are always itching to get back onto the court during the offseason? They start seeing that potbelly developing after months of lounging around the house and eating good.
But all jokes aside, the only way to fully prepare yourself for an NBA season is by running full length scrimmages. Sure, you can get in a gym and work your body until it's limp, but the different activities players do on the court can't be found at a station at the local YMCA.
Until this NBA Lockout is lifted, the 2011 Draft Class will be deprived of the bare necessities it takes to fully transition to the next level. The players won't be worse off, but it'll surely take them longer to acclimate themselves to the NBA game.
And as we all know, there's absolutely nothing that can make up for lost time.
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