Training camp Rumors
Team USA, not far removed from the disastrous 2004 Olympics, needed to reimagine their roster-building approach. The team needed Bryant, who was in the middle of his prime. “I said, ‘Kobe, what if I said to you, I’m interested in you playing for us, but maybe you have a different role. You’re not going to be a scorer, you’re going to be a distributor,’” Colangelo said. “And he looked at me. He says, ‘I’ll do whatever you want because I want to be on that team.’” Two and half years later, Bryant showed up at training camp a week early, at 5:30 a.m. Bryant set the tone for the group.
What has your first NBA season been like? Lamar Stevens: “I think for me it’s been just a lot of learning. Just trying to be a sponge because everything happens so fast for me — really I think for all the rookies without summer league, a shortened training camp and jumping right into the season. It’s just been trying to adjust, trying to learn as much as you can really, really fast. Luckily I have great vets and great coaches that have really spent a lot of time in helping speed up my process. I would say the biggest thing for me is just trying to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can.”
Questions about Ball’s shooting form will linger. Ball admitted the Hornets tried to tweak his shot in training camp. “This is how I shoot,” Ball shrugged. So far, it’s been effective. Ball made seven three’s against Houston earlier this month. He’s shooting 35.4% from three, a more than respectable number. Borrego understands the value in reworking a shot. Borrego is an alum of the Spurs system. In San Antonio, assistant coach Chip Engelland—a noted shot doctor—reshaped the shot of Richard Jefferson. And Kawhi Leonard. Leonard was a non-factor from three in college. In the NBA, he’s a career 38.3% shooter. With Ball, Borrego says, “I don’t want to touch his shot.” When the season is over, the staff and Ball will look at ways to improve all areas of his game—including his shooting.
Most of the top American talent has signaled interest in playing at the Olympics, and also, players such as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown of Boston (who were on the 2019 team) are now among the best in the NBA. Colangelo said Team USA is continuing to hear of interest from the best the U.S. has to offer, with no whispers of anyone backing out, in part because it’s too early — who knows which teams are going to make deep playoff runs? The Americans are targeting a training camp starting about July 4 in Las Vegas.
He said he spent much of his time last offseason in the gym working on his 3-point shot. He kept training, hoping that one day he’d get a real opportunity. Finally, on a training camp contract with the Raptors, he did enough to warrant a closer look. “I never knew I would get an opportunity like this,” he said. “In training camp I worked hard every day. I was able to show what I can do to coaches, front office, and teammates, I got the two-way and now I’m getting the opportunity so I’m really proud of myself and what I’m doing right now.”
Meanwhile, Kerr says the Warriors focused the “vast majority” of their initial practices this preseason on defense so they can compete in early games while beta testing the offense on the fly. “Training camp before was just about getting in shape,” Curry says. “Now we gotta do that and figure out who needs to be where, what sets are going to be our bread and butter, defensive chemistry and communication — everything that makes a team great.”