10 Things We've Learned From The NBA Preseason So Far
Most teams have played a few games so far this preseason, with the Grizzlies being the only exception just playing one game so far. We have a small sample size to go off, but I am very excited for the upcoming season. It's only preseason and doesn't necessarily mean everything. Let's take a look at a few things we have learned from the preseason in no particular order.
10. Warrior will struggle to get in the playoffs
Kevin Durant has moved on to the Nets, and Klay Thompson will most likely miss the entire year. The Warriors are not the same team they have been the last few years. The Warriors still have 2 time MVP Stephen Curry, and signed D'Angelo Russel to go along with Wille Cauley-Stein. The Warriors still have a good starting lineup on paper to go along with Draymond Green. Steph Curry is putting up big numbers, and showing signs of taking games over long before Kevin Durant came to the team. With all of this said, the Warriors just do not have enough to outlast all of the other teams who have gotten better this past off season.
9. Tyler Herro could be a top rookie this year
I have watched this kid in summer league and seen his preseason highlights, and this kids game resembles Devin Booker and J.J. Redick. He can score inside and outside. Herro is a very good shooter off the dribble and coming off the screen. He got the start in Monday's game against the Atlanta Hawks, and he made the most of it! He finished with 23 points in 25 minutes, and at one point scored 14 straight points for the Miami Heat. I see Herro having to work his way into the rotation and eventually starting lineup. I don't predict Herro to win rookie of the year, but he will be in the conversation throughout the season.
8. Ben Simmons can hit 3 pointers now?
Ben Simmons, yes, Ben Simmons has finally made a 3 pointer in an NBA game. It was only preseason and does not officially count, but it was still great to watch. Ben Simmons has been reportedly been working on his outside shot in the off season, and we will have to wait and see if it transfers over to an actual NBA game. Simmons is a triple double threat each night, and a solid jumpshot is virtually the only thing missing from his arsenal. It was on October 8th, 2019 that the world went crazy reacting to Ben Simmons 3 pointer. Also that night Boban Marjanovic, and Steven Adams hit 3 pointers. All three of these men have never hit a 3 ball in their careers, but Ben Simmons completely overshadowed that night. Also on this past Monday night Javale McGee of the Lakers hit a 3 pointer after never hitting one in an NBA game. Could this be a new trend in the NBA? I highly doubt it, but we will have to wait and see what happens.
7. R.J. Barret can ball
R.J. Barret was taken third overall in 2019 by the New York Knicks. I had concerns with him due to his lack of shooting, but Barret can do everything else. He has done well for himself in the preseason, and is showing flashes of greatness. He has proven that he can get to the basket at ease and is a very good finisher. R.J. is not a freak athlete like his former Duke teammate Zion, but knows how to utilize his skills effectively. It is also being reported that Barret will spend some time at point guard. You now have a 6'7" point guard who will tower over smaller defenders. It's still very early, but R.J. Barret is averaging 16 points per game. I look forward to how his rookie season pans out.
6. New York Knicks could surprise some people?
On October 7, 2019 Marcus Morris is seen here being ejected out of a preseason game for throwing the ball off Wizards player Justin Anderson's face. Morris has stated in different words that the Knicks will not taking anything from anyone. I understand Morris' toughness and wanting to show the Knicks are a legit team. The Knicks missed out on huge free agents this year, and on the Zion sweepstakes. The Knicks have signed some good players, and have a young core developing. I don't think the Knicks will make the playoffs, but they certainly won't be one of the worst teams in the Eastern conference.
5. Lakers showing flashes of being a great team out west
On paper the Los Angeles Lakers have a great team and should be a top 4 team out west. So far in the preseason we have seen flashes of this. Lebron looks to be in fantastic shape for a man entering his 17th season. Anthony Davis looks hungry for a title and MVP award. Javale McGee finally hit a three pointer, solidifying the Lakers greatness (just kidding). I understand it is only preseason and the Lakers have played the Warriors injury plagued and lack of center team 79 times, but they look great! As soon as October 22nd rolls around, I look for the Lakers team as a whole to shift gears and barring injuries have a great season!
4. Lonzo Ball will thrive in New Orleans
Sometimes all people need in life is a fresh start somewhere else. Lonzo Ball is getting that opportunity in New Orleans, and will make the most of it. The media in Los Angeles and New Orleans are completely different, and will not have the spotlight on him as much as he did in Los Angeles. Early on in preseason Lonzo has shown amazing chemistry off the pick and roll with Zion. Ball has also shown a new jumpshot. It looks more effective, and I can already tell he will be able to get off his shot off the dribble a lot quicker. Ball had a lot of pressure in Los Angeles, but coming to New Orleans he will be able to come out and just play basketball. If he keeps his new jumpshot and continues working on it, he can go up for most improved player this season.
3. Is Markelle Fultz back?
Markelle Fultz is the former number one overall pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2017. He had high expectations being the number one pick, and after having a great collegiate season in Washington. Every since Fultz entered the NBA he has dealt with an undisclosed shoulder injury. In his 2 seasons with the 76ers he was hardly been able to get on the court, and didn't show much when he did play. Fultz is now with the Orlando Magic, and has worked tirelessly to get back to his Washington Huskies basketball days. Markelle in preseason has shown flashes of his unbelievable speed and finishing ability. His jumpshot form looks much improved, but will he be able to keep it up and actually improve on it? I am not yet sold on Fultz being back to his old days until he can play at a high level for a long time this season. The kid is only 21 years old, I hope he can establish himself in the league and have a bright future.
2. Zion is a bully down in the paint
A lot of eyes have been on number one overall pick Zion Williamson so far in the preseason. Listed at 285 pounds, Zion has proven he can get to the basket at will. His first preseason game he scored 29 points and only missed one field goal. Zion is an undersized power forward at 6'6", but his athleticism his off the charts. Teams will adjust to keep Zion out of the paint, but he has shown flashes of being a good defender as well. Zion is will undoubtedly be the rookie of the year, he even knocked down a three pointer as well. If Zion can add a consistent jumpshot he will be unstoppable in the league.
1. Houston Rockets will struggle
Over the summer the Houston Rockets traded Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is a huge upgrade from Chris Paul as the man has averaged a triple double for the last three seasons. Other than Westbrook, that is all the moves they made. The Rockets have very little depth outside of their guards. Early on Westbrook and Harden have struggled with their chemistry, but that is to be expected. I can see Westbrook and Harden meshing after they figure things out, and Houston will be in the playoff picture. Westbrook and Harden both need the ball in their hand to be effective, but both believe that they can be good teammates together in Houston. The Rockets can only go as far as Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker, and Danuel House will take them this season.