After a longer offseason than they’re used to, the Portland Trail Blazers got their 2022-23 campaign in earnest on Tuesday morning with their first training camp workout at Robertson Gym on the UC Santa Barbara campus. A few notes from the first day of camp…
• Unsurprisingly, no one at the Trail Blazers, be it players, coaches or staff, seems to mind spending a few days in Southern California for training camp.
Sure, the Pacific Northwest is usually sunny this time of year, and spending time away from family and friends can be tough, but between the ocean breeze and the excitement associated with the start of a new season, beginning with the 2022-23 season at the UC Santa Barbara campus was hosted.
“I think it’s been going really well so far,” said head coach Chauncey Billups, who made the decision to take the team on the road for training camp. “We had a really good meeting and a great dinner last night, we’ll see each other again tonight. Obviously practice, everyone is obviously very happy to wake up looking at this water every day. So the Atmosphere is good. Everything is going well so far.”
A team like the Trail Blazers, with four new players and a number of returning players who weren’t able to play side-by-side due to injury last season, obviously have a lot they would like to accomplish on the field. this week before facing the Clippers in their first preseason game on Monday, but these tasks can be done at most gyms. However, the ability to forge relationships in an environment with fewer distractions might not be as important, but at least a useful feature of going out of town for camp.
“We got along,” Damian Lillard said. “We go home to our families and our private lives and I think being here is almost like a retreat. We play basketball, we train, we go out to eat together, we hang out together in a kind of bubble. This creates many opportunities for us to bond, come together and be connected as a team.
• In the past, players used training camp as a way to get in shape before the start of the season. But these days, you’re expected to show up on the first day of camp ready to practice, allowing teams to skip most physical drills and focus more on teaching. And since most of the team spends time at the training center long before training camp, the need to train twice a day and/or use a lot of time to build endurance doesn’t is not necessary.
However, the nervous energy that accompanies the first official training is a mainstay even for the veterans and the players have faced off on their own for most of the past month.
“The first few days of training camp are really about trying to put on some of your stuff,” Billups said. “Put in some of your offensive elements, some defensive elements, and then let them go up and down and play and start implementing those things. Usually the first day you implement things and you start going up and down, everyone is so anxious, it’s sloppy. It’s a little sloppy at times, but it was okay today. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. »
But unlike physical fitness, which can take weeks to develop, day one jitters disappear by the second workout.
“It was just to get your feet wet, it was kinda sloppy,” Lillard of Day One said. “The first game one team took shots, the other team was sloppy, our team was pretty sloppy. And then the next day we had subs and it rocked. Overall, good day. We didn’t have enough live action for something to really kick off like that. It’s a good day to put stuff in, get back into the rhythm of things. I think tomorrow will be a day calmer.
• While Trail Blazers rookies took part in practices during Portland’s championship run at the Las Vegas 2022 Summer League, the first day of training camp is a little different. The quality of play is higher, expectations are higher, and everything is moving at a much faster pace.
All things considered, rookies Shaedon Sharpe and Jabari Walker received high marks from their teammates and coaches on their first day of training camp, at least on the curve.
“They just looked like rookies,” Billups said. “It’s a lot to take on. Everything is new to them. Everything – every cover we have, every concept we have, every piece – everything is very new. So they’re going to be a bit slow on a lot of actions because you can see them thinking instead of just playing. But that’s part of the process.
For rookies, their first practice at their first training camp is the culmination of years of painstaking effort. After investing thousands of hours preparing and making significant sacrifices along the way, to finally achieve that goal of making the NBA a big hit. And that weight can slow you down a bit on the first day.
“When I think about my time back then, I understand how they feel, that excitement to prove myself and show that I’ve improved,” Lillard said of his freshman teammates. “This is a new opportunity for them to take a new step in their career. It’s a lot of energy, it makes you emotional, it speeds you up a bit.
“I remember it, so it’s normal. You can just tell the excitement is there, but it’s kind of like that emotional energy. This is a good thing.”