June 23, 2024

When Robert Covington arrived in Hawaii last week, delayed behind his Clippers teammates by a personal issue, the forward asked what he’d missed during the first day of practices.

“A couple veterans was like, ‘That’s the hardest training camp I ever had,’” Covington said.

The first day featured two practices and one message as impossible to miss as the outline of Diamond Head from the Clippers’ beachfront hotel.

“It’s time to wake up,” coach Tyronn Lue told The Times.

In one drill, four teams of five were given a 12-second shot clock in which to make at least one pass, and get all five members to cross halfcourt. Mistakes added time to the drill. What began as a six-minute drill often grew longer, the Clippers running nonstop.

In another drill, five offensive players stationed outside the three-point arc sprinted toward the basket, where they met five defenders in violent collisions for a rebound. That evening, they returned to the University of Hawaii for a second practice, the first time the Clippers had held two-a-day workouts since Lue’s first training camp in 2020, he said.

The conditioning work, physicality and second practice wasn’t an accident.

“With the new NBA, things are a lot different, but I just think we got to go back to the old way of working hard,” he said.

Don’t think the Clippers didn’t notice that they became the face of nearly every story written about the NBA’s new player participation policy, each headline accompanied by a photo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in street clothes. Don’t think they haven’t heard the criticism — about the team’s unreliable health, about its unreached championship ambitions — and even noted that in many cases it has been fair. It drove the team’s decision-makers to reiterate during the offseason the Clippers’ need to “compete harder, more consistently, and we have to earn it,” as president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said last spring.

That mandate has been evident throughout training camp, with observers describing the tone as more business-like than previous years, pointing to a raised intensity and stripped-away sense of contentment. Understanding that Leonard and George were starting a season healthy for the first time since 2020, and knowing that starting guard Russell Westbrook would prod teammates to match his fervor, the Clippers designed a no-excuses camp with the aim of a strong start to the regular season. It extended beyond drill work, even discouraging players and staff members from flying their families to Hawaii until later in the week.

“I think it’s the toughest one for sure, ever since I’ve been with the Clippers,” said center Ivica Zubac, in his fourth camp with the team. “We’ve been doing a lot, we’ve been running a lot, we’re mentioning physicality a lot. We want to be the most physical team every single night and that’s how we’re going to get into being one of the best defensive teams.”

A few days later, with the 21-man roster surrounding the three-point arc, teammates yelled and cheered as a coach stood at each elbow with a large pad covering their forearm, using it to bump and push players as they went over the top of screens in pick-and-roll defense. Lue had never run that drill before as Clippers’ coach, but had learned it from the famously demanding Tom Thibodeau.

“We have a chance to be really good, a chance to be really special, but we got to put the work in,” Lue said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. I just want to make sure we’re working hard every single day so now when we work hard, we play hard every single night, it becomes natural. It doesn’t become a thought or who we’re playing, or ‘let me get down by 10 or 15’ — we want to come in and establish playing hard every single night.”

It marks a contrast to last year’s training camp held primarily in Las Vegas, where many came away concerned about the lack of intensity, focus and execution during practice. It was a harbinger of things to come: Just one week into the season, George said the Clippers needed to practice harder.

Last year, Lue challenged the team to start with purpose, asking them not to wait to increase their intensity until Leonard was fully healthy. It didn’t always take, their focus sometimes correlated directly with the length of the team’s injury report.

“Last year, I think everybody was a little excited just by me coming back,” Leonard said. “I didn’t feel like we really — we skipped some steps, I would say. And that’s on all of us in here, front office, me included, and the coaching staff.

“I think that now you see what we got and hopefully we can start from square one building steps, like the transition drills, and going over rotations on the defensive end. You need all those coming into a season, so I think [Lue] is doing a great job of making us build our foundation and get our basics of basketball.”

The Clippers’ preseason schedule opens Sunday against Utah, with every player available. The day before, they held two more practices. The team arrived in paradise in a certain kind of NBA purgatory: The franchise built to win now but perpetually left to wait until next year. Don’t think they don’t notice that teams with title ambitions get only so many opportunities to realize them before stars age, before salary cap limitations begin to take their toll.

Lue sees a roster with championship potential. As camp opened, he also wanted the team to see the work that will take.

“We always took a serious approach” last season, “but I just think we got to approach it differently,” Lue said. “This is my mindset: We come back and just know we’re going to put the work in every single day. We’re going to execute on both sides of the basketball every day. And if we don’t, then we got to pay the consequences, and they understand that.”

Bingo Blitz Credits Farming Strategies: Success Tips
Coin Master Spins Farming Strategies: Insights from Pros
genshin impact redeem codes january 2023 mobile matters
Get Free Zems on ZEPETO: Tips and Tricks
match masters arena 7 funny game like paper clash royale what
TikTok Coin Generator Safety Tips
Unlimited Gems in Brawl Stars: Myth or Reality?
new cheats dragon city free gems mod generator freemind
free family island hack cheats unlimited rubies and energy
how to get diamonds in hay day tips tricks youtube
tutorial how i get unlimited diamonds in litmatch app youtube
myths of moonrise codes september 2022 g7r
Boost Your TikTok Influence with Free Coins
Unlocking TikTok Coins: Insider Techniques
Comment obtenir légalement et rapidement des pièces gratuites sur TikTok
Maximiza tus Ganancias de Monedas TikTok con Estos Consejos
Coin Master Free Spin Generators: Fact or Fiction?
Insights from Pros: Coin Master Free Spins Farming Strategies
Avakin Life Avacoins Farming Demystified

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *