Training camps open later this week. Give me a player and a team who might best use training camp to their advantage.
I will choose Dwight Howard and the Nets. Howard, who joined the Rockets, is the biggest superstar to change a team as a free agent this summer. The combination of Howard and James Harden is enough to put Rockets among the Western Conference's elite. Howard’s arrival also means that the Rockets must make changes both in the offensive and defensive end. Therefore, the training camp will be crucial for Howard and his teammates to find a groove. The Nets now have Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry in their roster, and will be the most serious challenger for Heat in the East Conference. The Nets' title window won't be open long, so they have to get a team concept down in training camp and carry that into the regular season.
Player: Andrew Bogut. He’s been injured for a while, but is now back to 100 percent and is hoping for a huge year. He obviously needs training camp to get in the best shape possible, and if he stays healthy he can be a game-changer for the Warriors. Team: Minnesota Timberwolves. They’ve had a bunch of injured players and have brought in new guys to help them make the Playoffs. To get all those guys to be a cohesive unit, they need to get a lot of practice under their belts. Same goes for the Mavs and Trail Blazers, of course.
Every training camp is really important for teams that are in a transition mode or trying to build something new. Like the Nets. It should be a be a very interesting training camp for the team from Brooklyn. A rookie coach has to set the tone for a team that landed great veterans and now has to define its roles both in back-court and front-court. As for the players? I'll go with Danny Granger. Before his injury he had the leading role in the Pacers. During his absence the team found a new star (Paul George). Now Granger has first of all to retrieve his form and then try to establish himself as one of the key players in a contender team.
Derrick Rose. If Rose is 100 percent fit, as he now claims to be, he will be itching to go at full throttle from the beginning to return to MVP form and make the Bulls a contender again. Team pick, however, would be the Brooklyn Nets. They are looking to contend immediately, but have a host of new faces in their roster, including a new coach, Jason Kidd. They need to click as soon as possible and training camp would be where it all starts for them.
I think the Lakers will take advantage of this training camp: coach D'Antoni will model this team to his will while Kobe will try to recover from his injury. Yeah, the Lakers won't be contenders this year, but getting a better understanding of the D'Antoni system could be the difference between a playoff team and a total failure. Among players I pick Deron Williams: working with natural leaders like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd will definitely help him out in becoming the leader of the Nets.
John Wall -- he just signed a new maximum contract and the Washington Wizards have somewhat improved their talent level. If they can stay healthy, led by their anointed franchise player, they could have a big year. Last year, Wall was injured in training camp and started the season late, so if he can stay healthy they could sneak into the Playoff race. For a team, I'll go with the Brooklyn Nets: they have new players and a new coach. The Nets desperately need the training camp to improve their chemistry and familiarize themselves with each other. Jason Kidd will have his work cut out for him with a new coaching staff while Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry will adjust to established veterans and core of the team in Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson.