The big news from Playa Vista today is that Baron Davis had his first full practice. And according to Eric Bledsoe, he put some nasty moves on the rook, perhaps exacting some revenge for Bledsoe's 'old' comment at his introductory press conference back in June. Baron was doing some extra running and shooting when I was there, so it seems like he's rounding into shape.
I will say this about Baron's shooting (apropos to Hollinger's player profile today): Baron is not a bad three point shooter, he just takes bad three point shots. Standing around in practice, he shoots as well as anyone on the team with the exception of Eric Gordon and maybe Rasual Butler. I watched him make something in the neighborhood of eight straight today at one point; and overall, I'd estimate the he made seven of ten in practice. The problem isn't that Baron shouldn't shoot threes - it's that he shouldn't take bad shots. He's not a great shooter by any stretch, and he does many other things better and I agree that those are the things on which he should concentrate, but if he gets an open three in the flow of the offense (as opposed to a pull up early in the shot clock) he should take it.
Coach Vinny Del Negro was duly impressed with Bledsoe's performance at Camp Pendleton, and said the the rookie had an even better practice today. The key (and this is something I harped on during Summer League) is that Bledsoe is beginning to understand the importance of changing speeds, as opposed to pure speed. If you're going at top speed at all times, (a) you're going to tend to make mistakes and (b) the defender only has to defend you at that speed. The key of course is the change of pace, get the defender to relax, and then put on the after burners. Bledsoe is a work in progress, but he does seem to be figuring some things out.
I got a chance to talk to Ryan Gomes for the first time today, and while all the 'change the culture' talking points are getting a little old in Clippertown (at least in the absence of basketball games), there's not denying that this is an impressive dude. We talked a little about his charity, Hoops for Heart Health, which raises awareness for Sudden Cardiac Arrest in High School and college athletes. What I like about his organization is that it is helping in a very concrete way - by purchasing defibrillators for High Schools and Colleges that don't have them. We also discussed his experience with the Triangle offense in Minnesota, and why other NBA teams don't run it. This is definitely a very cerebral guy.
VDN was pretty tight lipped concerning who would or wouldn't play in Portland. As you would expect, he wants to get minutes for the rookies and free agents in these early games. Depending on how many healthy bodies he has for practice, he'll proabaly make his first cut next weekend, before the team heads to Meixco City to play the Spurs.