I'm not sure how much you can learn from training camp. I suppose you should hope for some serious conditioning during two-a-days, to stay injury-free, and to avoid massive jet lag and traffic jams (thinking back to Moscow last year).
So what happened for the Clippers in 5 days in Santa Barbara? There was some good news and some bad news.
All of the local papers wrote about Brevin Knight's conditioning, or lack there of. This doesn't really seem like that big a deal to me. Maybe I'm just looking at the treadmill as half moving instead of half stopped, but let's face it, if MDsr went to the trouble to call out Knight's conditioning, it implies that everyone else was in solid condition entering camp. Brevin Knight, a 5'10" point guard who went to Stanford, hasn't stayed in the league for ten years by being out of shape. He'll be fine. My guess is that MDsr was trying to make a point by calling him out.
Of much greater concern to me is the fact that Chris Kaman missed all of camp with back trouble. Certainly no one is going to take any chances in training camp, especially with something as dicey as back spasms, so this is probably very minor and he likely sat out of contact drills as a precaution. But as we've pointed out before, Chris has pretty much NEVER entered the season completely healthy, and there's always some excuse. This needs to be the 'no excuses' season for Chris Kaman.
The other injuries that were reported (Cat Mobley missed the entire camp with a muscle pull and Sam Cassell sat out one day in Santa Barbara and again yesterday in LA) don't concern me as much. Maybe I should be hoping for more from Cat, but since he's been a Clipper he has been consistent, if not spectacular. That's my expectation this season as well. A nine year vet and 32 years old, I'm sure he was happy to miss those two a days.
As for Cassell, he will be taking days off all year long. He's almost 38, and his body is just going to need some rest. My guess is that he'll rarely practice with the team this season. They'll be happy to have him game days, and they'll let him rest on practice days. Sam's a gamer - the fact that he participated during camp at all is a big plus as far as I'm concerned. He worked hard to get in shape this summer, and he says he feels great. Resting his tired legs one day out of five during training camp means he played four out of five - that's great in my book.
The LA Times reported briefly (in the article on Knight's conditioning) on Dan Dickau's ruptured Achilles from 2 years ago, calling his recovery period 10 months. I know that prospect had some Citizens of ClipsNation worried about EB's recovery. Let me say a couple things about that: (1) Everyone's recovery is going to be different. The Clippers have said all along that there's no time table for Brand's return. We'll all hope for the best, but recognize that we'd much rather have him miss the entire season than try to come back too soon and incur another injury. (2) Calling Dickau's recovery 10 months is disingenuous. He was injured in December 2005. He was in training camp in October 2006. So that's 10 months all right. But he had no reason to play basketball before then. His recovery was 10 months because he had 10 months to recover. It only made sense. The same thing with Dominique Wilkins in 1992. His recovery was widely reported as taking 9 months - but he got hurt in January, and he was ready to play on opening day of the following season. His recovery could have been four months for all we know - but there wasn't any basketball for him to play after four months. He had nine months to get ready. I remain hopeful that EB will be back sooner rather than later. Of course there's nothing I can do about that, but I do feel confident that he'll be doing everything he can to get back on the court.
The other rehab-in-progress is of course Shaun Livingston. There's still a long way to go before we see him playing in an NBA game, but how many of you thought he'd be at camp - walking without a limp, shooting jump shots - when you watched him crumple to the floor last February? I know I didn't. His recovery thus far is encouraging, if not amazing.
As for other good news, it's certainly not unusual for the coaching staff to rave about some youngsters in camp. This year, those accolades went mostly to Al Thornton and Josh Powell. If even one of those guys can make significant contributions this year, it will be a major plus for the team.
And finally, camp and pre-season are supposed to be there for sorting out the roster. The Clippers have 15 players signed to fully guaranteed contracts, plus two other recent draft picks (Korolev from lottery in 2005 and Diaz from the second round in 2006). Clearly the other players in camp (Douthit, Ffriend and Donell Williams) have no hope of making the team. But what about Diaz and Korolev? Joe Stevens of the Press-Telegram has, on more than one occasion, implied that it's a forgone conclusion that the team will keep the guaranteed contracts and cut the youngsters. (Maybe Stevens knows something, or maybe he's making an assumption.) Diaz would certainly appear to be the odd man out among the guards - Dickau is probably a better shooter, and certainly a better point guard. So Diaz' only advantage is athleticism, and MDsr has never shown a tendency to choose athleticism over solid point play. As for Korolev, unless the Clippers are considering waiving Aaron Williams, there just isn't any room on the roster. However, if MDsr is serious about playing uptempo this year, a 6'10" small forward with ball skills would seem to be a better fit. It will be interesting to see what happens with playing time in the pre-season games.