With all of the new pieces that the Clippers added over the summer, Chris Paul didn’t hesitate to call this season’s training camp one, if not the best, he’s ever had.
“I probably haven’t been in a more intense but also efficient camp,” said Paul, who is entering his 11th year in the league, on Tuesday in Irvine.
The second unit has even won a scrimmage against a first unit that includes one of the best point guards (Chris Paul), power forwards (Blake Griffin) and centers (DeAndre Jordan) in the NBA.
The Clippers made some much-needed improvements to their bench over the summer, adding former NBA champion Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith among others to a group that includes two-time, sixth man of the year Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers.
“Our second unit has been rolling in this training camp,” Rivers said. “We were really going after the starting lineup, just pushing them to get better.”
The Clippers are overloaded with ball handlers entering the 2015-16 season. Paul, an eight-time All-Star, said he’s looking forward to playing alongside the new slew of guards, and perhaps even getting a chance to play off the ball for the first time in his career.
“I never really had that all these years,” Paul said. “I tell Doc all the time, I feel like sometimes I’m dribbling the air out of the ball, so to have the opportunity to get the ball out of my hands and move around is going to be a lot of fun.”
Paul said he’s really impressed with Rivers, who stayed with him for a week over the summer at his home in Winston, North Carolina, to do workouts. Paul added that Stephenson has “been amazing.” And he said that Pablo Prigioni is a pest on defense, and a guy who can make big shots, calling him “just a guy we really need.”
The players have said that the team’s scrimmages over training camp have been so competitive that they’ve nearly felt like real games. Though with all the new pieces, building chemistry and getting to know each other will undoubtedly take time.
Luckily (or unluckily) for the Clippers, they have an exhibition season chalk-full of travel, in which they go from playing at Staples Center on Friday, to playing in Vancouver on Sunday, to playing twice in China.
“If we’re going to go, I guess, this year would probably be the right year to go,” Rivers said of traveling to China, “because we have so many guys -- it will give us a chance to get to know each other a little bit better.”