Predicting 10 NBA Players Who Will Show Up to Training Camp Out of Shape
Inevitably, each season brings some disappointment in the first part of the season. It starts with training camp, when several players whom many fans call favorites show up unprepared and unready to start the season.
Last year, the lockout claimed the stamina of some of the league's key players. Dirk Nowitzki, usually the pinnacle of conditioning due to his lack of athleticism, came in admittedly out of shape and missed a week of action in the middle of the season to help his health going forward.
This year, several athletes will join that parade, either by injury or by their own selfish desires, or some combination of the two. Call it a lack of urgency or complacency, but these 10 athletes will need some side training to equal the level of their teammates early on in the NBA season.
Dallas dumped their former big man to the Bobcats in 2009 and never looked back, thanking Michael Jordan every chance they get for erasing his bad contract in a trade for Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins (ironically they would then trade Carroll back to Charlotte).
Listed now at 300 pounds, he lost most of his playing time to youngster Bismack Biyombo and now finds himself in a reserve role on a team that really needs to get rid of the dead weight.
What does he have to play for? He's auditioning for a new team, but it's going to get pretty obvious pretty quick that Charlotte needs more youth and less Diop next season. He'll cement that in training camp by taking time to get ready to play, while Brendan Haywood and B.J. Mullens make him irrelevant.
It's almost hard to believe the European big man is only 26. It seems like he's been on the team forever, and it seems like ages ago that he got the big contract that made him virtually untradable.
Now, he's facing tax evasion in Latvia, Golden State brought in two centers that are capable of completely erasing his playing time and he's likely on pace to be traded six or seven times in the media before the season starts.
It all adds up for a bad start to the season for Biedrins, who could be a serviceable big man on a team that needs his services. It would also provide a fresh start for the center, whom I just don't see being amicable to the situation at hand in California. He's a pro, but he's been dangled one too many times.
Hibbert just signed the biggest deal of his career, and he's poised to challenge Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum for supremacy at his position. It would be foolish to show up to training camp out of shape, right?
Well, that's what I think happens to Hibbert. He lost a lot of weight before last season, which was one of the reasons he was more mobile around the rim on defense and more active in the post.
I think Hibbert has another great season. But with the new contract and less motivation, at least at the start, he comes in a little out of shape and takes a few games into the regular season to get going.
Coming off the meniscus injury that forced him out of the Olympics, Griffin enters this list based on a combination of the injury and the lavish lifestyle he now lives.
Commercials and high-flying dunks are the norm for the budding star, and while there's no doubt he's emerged as a top-five player at his position, I get the feeling he's getting a little too much ego going into what's sure to be a critical season for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Chris Paul could be a free agent, and the Clippers will have heavy expectations for the first time in the last two decades. Griffin doesn't need to come to camp out of shape, but I think he does. It starts with the knee, but Griffin will have to vamp it up to keep up his torrid pace in the high-octane Clipper offense.
Randolph was supposedly over the phase in his career when he had trouble accepting the situations given to him by the coaching staff, lot in life, etc. But offseason trade rumors involving him and Pau Gasol might tip the scale back towards the old Randolph.
Whether or not these rumors were real, you can bet Randolph heard about them. You can probably bet he'll hear more like it this season, since he's owed close to $53 million over the next three seasons.
No guarantees that Randolph knows, or even cares, about all the rumors. He's a force inside when he's healthy, and just past 30 years old, he can still play ball at a high level. My guess is, though, he comes in a little overweight and not ready for the lumps of the full 82.
Glen Davis might have one of the most obscure careers of all time, so far. He's got playoff performances under his belt and some of the most clutch shots in both Celtic and Magic history.
But he underperforms at times, seems disinterested at others and doesn't have that go-to move or signature moment when he can take over a game.
Realistically, I think you could pick a name out of a hat and that player will show up out of shape to Magic camp. Aside from the rookies, this team is veteran talent that was assembled on a whim and doesn't have the league's best defender protecting the basket anymore.
They could very well be the worst team in the league, and that's hard to get up for. I'll take Davis to be out of shape early on, even though by midseason I think he'll also be one of the best surprises in the league.
Instead of getting better and trying to turn the talent-laden New York Knicks into a championship contender, he's taking roles on former Office star Mindy Kaling's new TV project.
Stoudemire used to be a force in this league, when he was running pick-and-rolls with Steve Nash and running the fast break like nobody's business.
Now, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to see Stoudemire suffer a preseason setback and miss some time from the Knicks' regular season. After seeing their results without him in the lineup, I'm not so sure that would be a bad thing, as Carmelo Anthony shouldered the load at small forward and made the Knicks one of the league's most dangerous offensive teams.
The NBA's newest bad boy could show up overweight, out of it mentally and even not be in basketball shape and probably still put up 10-10 per game.
That's the scary thing about Cousins. He's so talented, yet his shot selection and attitude have been so far off-base in his first two seasons that he can't seem to crack the national radar as a top player.
It's sad to predict that he won't do the job, but I think one more season of mediocrity and playing below his potential finally catches up to him. He shows up slower and overweight to camp after not being picked for Team USA. He pouts this training camp, then goes on to have a great season, and we never have to discuss the issues of conditioning and stability anymore.
Hamilton has struggled with injuries for the past couple of seasons. It's never been more pivotal that he play a big role for the Bulls this season, especially since Derrick Rose will be sidelined to start the year.
Although he's a pro, and knows the ins and outs of the training camp game, I think he's going to be in shape from a stamina standpoint. But his body has seen better days. One tough take to the rim or foot under his ankle on a jump shot and it could all be over for Rip.
The Bulls need to be careful with him, and that will make him a candidate for not being in game shape when the season starts, but could also help preserve him for a tough stretch without their MVP.
Coming off his second NBA Finals win, a new book and an offseason that kept him from being a part of Team USA's Olympic Gold, Wade has a lot going on.
He's on a book tour right now, and that is taking time away from being in the gym, no matter how you want to spin it. He's making his way across the country, and when you're a champion, you can do what you want.
But after a championship, is Wade satisfied? The injury and his book are good ways to recharge after what surely was one of the longest seasons in NBA history for the players, but is he doing enough to prepare for the 82-game slate?
It will take Wade some time to get back up to speed. But when he does, look out league. This Miami Heat team will have a wake-up call early on in the season, and part of it will be based on lack of preparation. They will face that challenge by waking up, though, and Wade's resurgence will no doubt be key.