for providing countless, priceless updates in the comments throughout the day yesterday. It was required reading. The day was filled with information in need of digestion.
The "starting" lineup
Collins' A team on opening day of camp was Jrue Holiday (PG), Andre Iguodala (SG), Thad Young (SF), Elton Brand (PF) and Spencer Hawes (C). Could've been better, could've been worse. I'm not a fan of handing the job to Hawes at center. I would've liked to have seen Turner at SG, but it's a lineup with good size. I thought there was a chance we'd see a small lineup, something with Thad a the four. If this is the lineup on opening night, I won't be heartbroken. If this is the lineup in January or February, I won't be pleased.
The Turner Plan
Turner ran the point with the second team today, I think I've got the logic behind it down. Basically, Collins recognizes Turner has a couple of significant hurdles to overcome: (1) The NBA game is a completely different animal than college ball. He has to adjust to the speed and athleticism of the defenders, the shorter shot clock, the longer three-point line, the size of opponents. You name it. (2) Last year, at Ohio State, Turner played with the ball in his hands a vast majority of the time. He's not comfortable playing off the ball.
If you look at the path ahead of Turner, this move makes some sense. First, you get him past the talent-level hurdle, you keep him comfortable in his role and ease him into playing off the ball. While I get the logic, I'm not exactly thrilled that the "most NBA-ready player in the draft," needs to be coddled like this. I'd like to see him starting from day one. I'd like to see him placed into the role the team is going to need him to play. I'd like the evaluation of whether he's capable of playing that role to begin immediately, because honestly, this team doesn't need him to be a point guard, they have one of those. Best-case, Collins is simply managing expectations to keep the pressure off his rookie and let him concentrate on playing basketball instead of answering questions constantly. It's day one, so I'll go with that, for now.
TK76 brought it up in the comments, and I shudder at the thought, but yes, what I saw of practice
looks a whole lot like the Princeton Offense. If you watch the 6 hours of video from day one, you'll hear multiple people talking about how the bigs are making plays, reading and reacting, playing backwards, etc. It all leaves me feeling queasy. There was also the report last week about Rod Thorn trying to stockpile bigs who can shoot, to open up the lane.
None of this makes me the least bit happy. When you have Jrue, Iguodala and Turner on your team, I don't want Brand, Hawes and Speights making the plays, setting guys up. I just don't see the point. Of course, that's the hand Collins has been dealt with this roster. He's got bigs who prefer to shoot from the outside, smalls who - for the most part - cannot. It's honestly a horrible situation. With a physical big who could score on the inside, traditional, simple sets would be an easy solution. That's just not a viable option. I'm hoping Collins is playing the hand he's been dealt, and ultimately, he won't settle for these offensive sets exclusively.
Collins knows what he's doing. You can see it on the floor. He's not standing on the sidelines licking his braces, he's on the floor, reinforcing spacing. Paying attention to details, making guys do it until they get it right. That type of attention to detail simply wasn't in Eddie Jordan's toolbox, and I doubt any of these players have encountered a coach like this in their careers. In my book, that's a huge positive for a young roster and this team in particular, which spent the entire year completely rudderless last season.
The players appear to be in shape, the team appears to be giving unprecedented access to the press and the fans. Most importantly, though, the players appear to be buying in. Again, it is only the first day, but I think Collins is the type of guy they all can believe in.
All told, I'm feeling a bit better than I did yesterday. Things aren't perfect, but they really couldn't be with this roster. Collins knows what he's doing and we've got a long way to go. The benefit of the doubt is still alive and well.
What did you guys think about day one?