After having churned out post after post through my green-tinted lenses, I’ve decided that my spirits are sufficiently boosted to permit me to contemplate some concerns. With three players coming back from surgery and Pierce rehabbing a knee problem throughout the playoffs, there is legitimate reason to worry. Not only must one worry whether they are completely recovered, there is the additional question of just how much their recuperation may have hampered their efforts to get into NBA shape. Beyond that, summer is the time work on weaknesses, hone existing skills, and add new moves to their repertoire—hard to do if you are just trying to regain range of motion or rebuild lost strength.
Dateline: September 20, 2012––10 days until the start of training camp!
Early reports suggest Avery Bradley will not be ready for camp, nor likely for the start of the season. With surgery on both shoulders he has been restricted from dribbling or shooting, two areas in which he needed improvement. In the three years since coming out early from the University of Texas, Bradley has missed out on almost all of the off-season activities that usually form the framework for improvement for young NBA players—no summer leagues, little or no training camp, limited or no basketball activities in the gym. He had something of a breakout year last season in spite of the lockout. When will this kid get a break?
Avery likely has been unable to even run much of this summer. With the shoulder surgeries I suspect he has been encouraged to limit his most strenuous workouts to the stationary bike to eliminate the jolt when a runner’s foot strikes the ground. While he has likely pedaled multiple round trips of the distance between Boston and his high school in Ohio and college in Texas, this will hardly have him in game shape. One of my most pressing questions is what state of conditioning he will be in when he gets off the plane in Europe, and how limited will he be in training camp activities?
In some respects I am even more concerned about Paul Pierce. He came into camp out of shape last year and took weeks to round into form. Then he limped through most of the playoffs with a knee injury. We haven’t heard much this summer—Aug.-Paul declared himself 90% healthy, July-Doc said he shouldn’t have been playing on it and that it needs rest, Sept.-Pierce expected to be healthy for training camp. The knee may be recovered but if the soon to be 35 small forward has been resting the knee all summer to get it healthy, how little conditioning work has he been able to do? Thirty-something’s don’t heal, or round into shape, like they did in their prime. If Pierce hits camp out of shape then he is going to be more susceptible to injury and he may not get into game shape until a month into the season.
Until last year Paul had been coming into the recent seasons slimmed down, apparently keen on lessening the effects that time imposes on all athletes. Never quick or a high flyer, Pierce can ill afford to concede another half-step or a little less lift to his opponents. If he comes into camp looking slow and old again, one wonders if he will find himself coming off the bench as he struggles to regain his form?
Late Update: I usually hate it when some breaking tidbit of news negates part of a post I am writing, but I welcome this one with glee. His twitter page has a video of the stairs he is running up. I would rather have seen his 15th roundtrip but he certainly is not JUST resting the knee.
As for our two cardiac surgical rehab patients, it is a legitimate question whether they will be “fixed” and hungry, or recovering and hesitant? I do believe that this will be a big year for both Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox, but it is a long road back just to normal health from major surgery, much less to the peak of physical condition of the NBA athlete. For both these players, that superb athleticism is a key ingredient, and a loss that would present significant problems for either one. Neither sports that one uber, NBA-level skill—their athleticism is that superior facet upon which their excellence is founded.
I suppose I could toss in Jared Sullinger’s bulging disc, Kevin Garnett’s odometer, or Rajon Rondo’s propensity for winding up in the triage unit—but I think I’ve given myself enough to worry about. Let’s not borrow trouble.
Boston, and all points beyond