Training Camp – Day 2 News & Notes: LA Taking Full Advantage of Camp In Hawaii
While speaking to gathered media following the Clippers’ second day of training camp in Honolulu, Doc Rivers made a point to emphasize the unique opportunity this trip provides his team.
“We are here because Steve (Ballmer) allowed us to be here. A lot of teams are having training camp at home and that’s fine, but I don’t believe in that. I think you should always get away. You’re at home for the entire season, so I think when [a team] makes a lot of changes, it’s really for your guys to team build,” said Rivers. “Last night nine or 10 guys went out to dinner together. You don’t get that when you’re at home. When you’re at home doing training camp, you go home after. You don’t get a chance to spend time around each other, so it’s really nice to get that.”
Rookie point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has noticed the benefits of an off-site training camp almost instantly. “[Practices] have been really good. I feel like the guys are meshing. I’m getting more comfortable with the guys on the team. That’s the most important thing going into the season, getting a feel for each other and working on all cylinders.”
Rookie and the Vet
Both coach Rivers and veteran guard Patrick Beverley each made a point to commend Gilgeous-Alexander’s progress early in camp.
“[Shai’s] vision, his size, his competitiveness, you know he’s got a chance to be a really special player,” said Rivers.
Beverley echoed his coach’s sentiments and relishes the opportunity to contribute to his young teammate’s development, “Shai is going to be special in this league for sure. There’s a lot of things he still has to learn of course, but he’s been having a real good training camp and I’m excited to be in the position where me, Lou, and Avery are able to be that mentor to him,” he said. “He can be potentially a star in this league, And I get first dibs at him [defensively], so that definitely helps for sure.”
For his own part, Gilgeous-Alexander is enjoying his early NBA education against two of the league’s elite backcourt defenders. After today’s morning practice, he commented, “It’s been challenging, but it’s been fun. Obviously with defenders like that and players like that, you get better every day. That’s my ultimate goal, just to get better every day, and I feel like I’m doing so.”
Given the team’s depth and the versatility of the talent on the roster, Beverley expects LA to compete night in and night out in 2018-19 but knows that does not come easy.
“We’re tough as nails. We can fly under the radar, we’re fine with that. I’m not saying we’re going to win every game, but we will be in every game,” said Beverley. “We have to understand that nothing is going to be given to us. It’s going to be hard and we will need to accept that challenge.”
Wednesday’s practice marked just the second official practice for Beverley after sitting out the bulk of last season due to right knee surgery. “For me personally it’s been a milestone, my first couple practices in the last 8-9 months. It has truly been a blessing to be out here and to be able to compete at the highest level with some of the best athletes in the world, my teammates. I’m just happy to be back out here.”
Keep It Flowing
From a strategic standpoint, coach Rivers highlighted a shift in the team’s offensive philosophy for the upcoming season. He expects the team to run a “read-react” type offense, where the team eschews set motion plays in favor of a flow-based system that empowers players to make decisions based off of what the defense provides and uses a healthy mix of ball-handlers.
“We don’t want to be a point guard-oriented offense. If the [point guard] gets the rebound, he pushes it, but if the [power forward] gets the rebound, he’s bringing it up. The only one that’s not dribbling and bringing the ball up is the [center],” said Rivers. “Other than that, any of the four guys can start the offense and make a read. Everything is reads, there are no calls. We had a silent portion of practice where you play basketball, and no one can say a word. You just read and react, and I thought it was one of our better points of practice.”