Observations from Training Camp

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Published: October 4, 2008

No – I'm not there, unfortunately, but NBA TV broadcast about two hours of the Hornets training camp a couple nights ago, putting mikes on Chris Paul, James Posey and Byron Scott during the workout.  As you'd expect, most of the two hours wasn't all that exciting, since it was a lot of running, weaving, and shooting drills.  In fact, some of the more entertaining scenes were unintentional comedy when the NBA TV announcer  would say, "Chris Paul is magnificent, the best point guard in the league . . . that's why today, we have him MIKED UP!!!"  The camera would then cut to Chris Paul, who is lying on his back, stretching his groin muscles, and we'd get a few grunts.  Thanks for the mike, guys.

Anyways, there were a few things  I thought I should mention, so here goes:

  • Byron likes to challenge his shooters to $100 bets.  He tells them the number of misses they are allowed, and then badgers them while they shoot.  He had apparently challenged Peja earlier, saying he had to hit 40 of 46, then challenge Mo Pete while we were watching, saying he had to hit 40 of 48, and then got Paul with a 40 of 50 bet.  Byron won all three bets, and was smug as could be to the players. His mike, however, was still on when he went to talk to assistant coach Charlie Parker.  His take – "I got em today, but by the end of the season, I'll owe Peja, break even with Paul and Mo will owe me.  Mo Pete is scared of me.  I'll get six – seven hundred out of him by the end of the year."
  • Byron sent Mo Pete, Posey and Peja to one side of the floor to shoot deep shots, one shooting while the other two rebounded.  Some shooting coaches commonly say it's only partially about the shooting form of a player, but more important is whether or not the player can repeat that form every time.  When Peja was shooting, he always looked the same, and 8 out of every 10 shots would hit the exact same spot inside the rim.  Only one guy usually had to rebound, because the ball ended in the same spot every time.  It was eerie.
  • One of the first things you saw was Chris Paul going to the sideline and talking to Posey, involving him in various jokes and teaming up with him to poke fun at Morris Peterson about a missed dunk the year before in Training Camp.  Paul could also be heard at certain times talking off camera to Courtney Sims and Devin Brown.  The mark of a leader – Paul's already bringing the new guys in and trying to make them comfortable.
  • One of the drills involved taking a medicine ball and then sliding from side to side and backpedalling behind portions of the half-court, ending with the player holding the ball over their head and trying to jump straight up and tap it against the backboard, then finishing with a layup with a regular basketball.  Paul carries himself so large on the court, you kind of forget how small he is until you realize he's a good foot and a half short of even being able to touch the bottom of the backboard during that part of the drill.  For good measure, Tyson Chandler dunked the Medicine Ball – and then hammered down the regular ball.
  • Hilton Armstrong showed his athleticism all day long.  On the weave, he was always well out ahead of everyone, during the windsprints he was first among the big men by half the court, and after Tyson dunked the Medicine Ball, Hilton slammed it home too, and then once more for good measure.  That athleticism is what he was drafted for.  I just hope we see something else from him too this year.

It must have been Hornets day on NBA TV that night, because they then had a half-hour special on Chris Paul, and then played three Classic NBA games with the Hornets involved.  The first one was an old game during the first year of the Hornets existance versus the Bulls, the second a New Orleans JAZZ game where Pete Maravich scored 60+ points, and the last was a 2003 game vs. the Memphis Grizzlies when they were winning 50 games a year.  I watched the Grizzlies games, and two things popped out at me:

  • When Jamal Mashburn wasn't injured, the guy could really handle the ball like a point guard, and was an amazing scorer.  As time goes by, sometimes I forget that.
  • We think we have depth issues on this year's Hornets?  The 2003 team had one player out with injury – Baron Davis – and as a result it was starting David Wesley at the point and George Lynch at the shooting guard.  George was a small and fast power forward or a slow and big small forward . . .  a guard, he was not.  The first guy off the bench was Jerome Moiso, the second a 34 year old Robert Pack, and the third the famed Kirk Haston.  Now that is a cringe-worthy bench, especially for a team headed for the playoffs.  At least we're sure Julian Wright, James Posey and Devin Brown belong in an NBA rotation.

Pre-season game tomorrow!  Be sure to drop in and tell us what you see!

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