Sep 4 2012 4:49AM

4 Weeks Til Preseason


Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

We are four weeks away from NBA camps opening and Steve Nash above isn't the only one who can't wait to get busy again.

It's not so much about winning games. After all, the last 10 NBA champions went 40-29 in preseason games for an average record of 4-3.

Preseason is the time where teams work on new schemes and things.

With that in mind, HOOPmag thought it would take a quick look at the four teams that have the most to gain from this particular preseason that begins in October.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS: With new assistant coach Eddie Jordan putting the Princeton offense into Mike Brown's Lakers, this year's preseason is actually important to the veteran L.A. squad. Princeton offense originator Pete Carrill recently told Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick that he thinks his offense will work in L.A. because Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol are really good passers. Carril says the offense hasn't worked well in other places when one of two things happen: 1. players treat the offense like a robotic thing; 2. simply put, the players don't want to do it. This preseason is important because we will get a good idea how the offense created by Coach Jordan's mentor suits the Lakers.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: Perhaps the main reason why the Thunder could not beat the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals is because they couldn't play zone defense against the Heat. Remember, the Mavs gave Miami all kinds of problems in the 2011 NBA Finals with a wide assortment of zone defenses. As Mavs owner Mark Cuban later said, the zones had more of an effect on LeBron James' teammates than it did on LeBron, who served as the initiator of the offense. It's tough to blame Coach Scott Brooks for not putting in the various zones, due to last season's lockout-shortened camp and a compressed season where practice time was pretty much non-existent. But this preseason, expect OKC to work on many schemes of D.

BOSTON CELTICS: Boston so far has added five new Celtics to the first- and second-string depth chart and those new cats have to immerse themselves in the KG School of D this preseason. Kevin Garnett is still one of the game's best defenders, while definitely maintaining the reign as the game's loudest competitor. Wise vets Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jason Collins should make a quick transition to the program, but this preseason, we shall see how quickly and how well rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo adjust to the monumental task of playing Doc Rivers' defense at the highest level, as demanded by KG. Remember, it took years for Glen "Big Baby" Davis to adapt. If Sullinger or Melo master it faster, Boston may be able to get out the gates in strong fashion.

CHICAGO BULLS: Nobody thinks the Chicago Bulls will have the NBA's best record in 2012-13, because: 1. they've lost Derrick Rose to injury for most of the season; 2. Luol Deng has not had surgery on his bad hand; 3. the team has waved bye-bye to beloved Bulls Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and John Lucas III. But you know what? Nobody thought Coach Tom Thibodeau would lead the past two Chicago teams to the NBA's best record. Tibbs just has a way of getting the most out of his players and he uses training camp as the training grounds for developing strong foundation for his renowned defense. Thibodeau, along with defensive genius assistant Ron Adams, have a history of bringing along players slowly in camp during the beginning, while getting them to play starters' minutes by preseason's end. That kind of progression will be especially important for point guard Kirk Hinrich--who replaces Rose for awhile and has experience running the Bulls two years ago--and former Thunder and Spur center Nazr Mohammed--who will be asked to replace Asik, now well paid by Houston for his defensive exploits. If rookie teen Marquis Teague can adapt too, then the preseason will become a major success for the Bulls.