There are many questions that will need to be answered once training camp begins. Last year's team never really gelled because of Doc showcasing players for a trade, the mid year trade, and the assorted injuries that plagued the team all season. This leaves us with many questions about the team coming into training camp this season.
Let's start by looking at the injury question. We have a large number of players who are rehabbing from various surgeries this summer. Wally is recovering from a knee surgery. Tony Allen is recovering from a similar surgery. Pierce is recovering from surgery on his elbow. Perk had shoulder surgery. Al had surgery on his ankle when they finally found the problem that has been causing the pain there. Powe's knees will be a question mark until he proves they aren't. Ratliff hasn't had a healthy season in recent memory and is recovering from various ailments from last season. West had a groin injury toward the end of the season and may or may not have recurring problems with it. Hopefully all of these players will be healthy and ready to play when training camp starts, but we won't know until then if they will. We need only to think back to last season and the fact that it took half a year for Tony to recover from last summer's surgery. Al took a long time to recover from both sprained ankles last season. Even if the bone chips were causing the pain and are now removed, will he continue to have ankle problems? Can this team stay healthy for an entire year? Only time will tell.
Our next question should be what kind of team do we want to have? Do we want a running team from start of the game to the end? Do we want a first team of half court players and a second team of fast break players to match up with different teams? If we want a running team and utilize the speed of our two new point guards, will the rest of the team run with them? How willing will Pierce be to run down the court on every play? How willing will he be to allow the PG to control the tempo and run the team? Along with the tempo issue, will we play mostly small ball? Will we put 2 PGs on the floor at once? Will we allow the bigs to play under the basket? Most importantly, will we play defense? We will never win a championship without being able to lock down the other team with tough defense. Will Doc finally take defense seriously and insist on it?
Another question that needs to be answered is what roles will each of the players fill? Who will start? Pierce is the only one certain of being a starter. We have competition at virtually every position. Will West keep his starting job? Will Telfair or Rondo impress enough to take it from him? Will Wally start or come off the bench to save his knees? Will Perk or Ratliff start? Will Jones be in the mix at center if Ratliff can't play? Will Gomes or Al start? Will Powe and Ray get playing time or be sent to the D League? Will we play a small line up and go with Al at center? Will Doc insist on playing Scal over and above more deserving players as he did last year? Along this same line of thinking, will Al play the 4 or the 5? Will West play the 1 or the 2? Will Gomes play the 3 or the 4? Will Pierce play the 2 or the 3? Where will Green fit in? Competition is a good thing and I believe we will have a very spirited training camp as all these answered are ironed out.
What are our strengths? We have some good offensive players in Pierce, Wally, West, Green, and Jefferson. We have some very good defensive players in Rondo, Allen, West, Gomes, Ratliff, and Perk. We need to field a lineup that combines our offensive strengths with our defensive strengths. Last year, our second team gave up leads and there was no one who could score points. Doc needs to be sure that we have offensive players on that second team along with defensive stoppers on both teams. Doc must learn the strengths of each player and use them so that both the first and second teams are balanced.
Will Doc be any better this season at in game strategy and substitutions? If there are no trades, we will have a lot of young players who will need playing time. Can Doc manage it? Will he over play the veterans and slight the kids? Will he be able to manage the substitutions so that he isn't playing some players into the ground? There are just as many questions surrounding Doc as there are surrounding the team.
Finally, there is a question of chemistry. We haven't changed the team all that much but we have added 4 new Rookies and lost Raef. This team had great chemistry last year after the trade. Will the new players fit right in with that chemistry? Will the chemistry mean good team play?
There are a lot of questions and only 32 more days until training camp to get some answers. I can't wait...
Yes, they are all important. Injuries and how quickly our key players can recuperate from surgeries are a big deal.
Doc must preach defense and running. Seems like all the players we have are the obedient type. But if any player or players do not listen to Doc's urging of defense and constant running, he must sit them to make certain the urgency of this command.
I'm hoping Clifford Ray can work his magic and get us to be one of the better rebounding teams in the league. This will be a big step forward in our progress if we can rebound the ball well. Its an essential aspect of basketball for any good team.