It’s going to be sloppy. There are going to be missed passes and non-existent defensive rotations. There are offensive sets that will fall apart into isolation basketball.
No summer workouts followed by a condensed training camp with just two preseason games is just not enough time to make things run smoothly.
Don’t take my word for it, listen to former coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, who coached the Knicks during the 1999 lockout and talked about it on KTAR in Phoenix with Doug and Wolf (via Sports Radio Interviews).
“Well I think just like we saw in 1999, I think initially you’re gonna see a product that is not what you’re accustomed to seeing. I think Greg Popovich with the Spurs always says this with his team, you can’t skip steps in your preparation for a game or within a game and it’s the same thing now. What we’re basically asking players to do is skip steps and still be good because most every team now uses the summer extensively and then in September they use that month as a pre-training camp and the month of October is 28 days of practice and eight preseason games. There’s a build-up of chemistry, conditioning, system, and all those things that need to be installed and the repetitions needed to be good. Now we’re saying in two weeks we’re gonna cram in four months and then go at it. Anybody who is surprised that the play will not be high quality I think is just kidding themselves on what they need to do to be playing at your best in a highly competitive game.”
Things will get better as the season wears on. But this is going to be the kind of season that players love and coaches hate — lots of games and not a lot of time for practices. It’s an advantage (especially early) for teams that have had their core together in the same system for a while.
By the way, if you want to read how Van Gundy isn’t exactly sure what is going on with LeBron James, read the rest of the interview.