The Charlotte Hornets’ Steve Clifford is two weeks away from his second training camp as an NBA head coach. He has a team that unexpectedly reached the playoffs in his first season and improved itself this summer with the signing of free agents Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams and Brian Roberts.
But there are still questions entering camp in Asheville in two weeks: How has Jeff Taylor recovered from major surgery? How will surgery for a sports hernia affect Noah Vonleh’s rookie season? Are the Hornets deep enough at center?
Clifford addressed all that and more in a question-and-answer session with Observer NBA writer Rick Bonnell:
He did a couple of summer-league practices. Medically he’s fine. So it’s just a matter of having more continuity, so that when he plants and cuts and jumps he’s confident (in his recovery.)
If you look at the early schedule (18 games before the end of November) we just don’t have many days to practice. In the preseason you can have double sessions and can do a lot of teaching. Camp is so geared to your game – both team and individual games. In the season you spend more time preparing for opponents.
In general, he looks more confident. He’s just had a phenomenal summer as far as (improving) physically and in conditioning. He, Kemba (Walker) and Gary (Neal) have been here all summer. They’re all in high-quality shape and ready to get started.
Some things you can overcome for a few games. But you never want to come up short on size in this league. Very hard to win like that.