THE NBA IS BACK TOMORROW!
Well sort of. NBA Preseason kicks off tomorrow in Los Angeles and lasts until the end of October with plenty of early looks at depth chart shuffles, rookie oohs and ahhs, and
scrubs that no one wants to watch play bench warmers trying to earn favor with the coaching staff. There’s plenty of interesting storylines to be had so we’ll break down a few of the early preseason games you’ll want on your radar to get your first real basketball fix since the finals in June.
Edit: The Chicago Bulls vs Milwaukee Bucks contest on October 6th would have been must see TV as the two clubs have established a new rivalry this past postseason. Due to Derrick Roses’ recent untimely orbital fracture, this game lost a lot a value. Nonetheless it deserves high honorable mention status as their will be plenty of bad blood to go around.
Friday, Oct 2nd, 2015 – Denver Nuggets @ LA Clippers
What To Look For: The integration of Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson.
After a proud and triumphant finish to their season as division champions amidst the Donald Sterling controversy, the Clippers ran out of gas against the Houston Rockets in the second round.
After the season, the Clippers shipped out Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes but retooled by resigning DeAndre Jordan, as well as acquiring Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, and Josh Smith.
There will undoubtedly be an adjustment period getting all of these wild-card additions on the same page but the Clippers have the luxury of one of the best floor generals in the game.
Chris Paul should have no trouble integrating Pierce into the offense, as well as setting up J-Smoove to be as successful as possible. It doesn’t hurt to have Doc Rivers controlling the reins as well.
Sunday, Oct 4th, 2015 – Utah Jazz @ LA Lakers
What To Look For: Kobe returns to the Staples center; #2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell makes his PG debut.
So the Black Mamba returns…again. Kobe is one player you pay to see whether it’s a scrimmage or a Finals game 7 clincher; this exhibition serves no different.
Kobe hasn’t played in an NBA game in 252 days and we all know he’s itching to suit up for the Lakers first matchup with Utah.
It’ll be interesting to see what type of lineups Byron Scott throws out there as there has been talks of Kobe playing a good deal of small forward this season to take some wear and tear off of him.
One has to wonder if we’ll see a more pass-first, low-post Kobe or the ultra-competitive getting 30 shots off a game Kobe. You would think he wouldn’t be in midseason form in October but you can never tell with the Mamba.
Hopefully D’Angelo Russell feels comfortable enough to run the team at the point knowing Kobe is analyzing his every move. However, you can expect Kobe to be one of the best mentors (albeit a bit harsh) Russell can find in this league.
Oh, and Metta is back!
Monday, Oct 5th, 2015 – Sacramento Kings @ Portland Trailblazers
What to look for: Rajon Rondo makes his California debut on a one year deal; Seth curry makes his Kings/official NBA debut.
Rajon Rondo signed with the Sacramento Kings this summer on a 1-year rental agreement. Rondo has burned quite a few bridges in the past couple of years with the Celtics’ organization and
Rick Carlisle management in Dallas.
Rondo’s fall from grace has not only been drama induced; he’s also become a frequent visitor to the injured reserved list.
These issues don’t make the best recipe for an all-star guard trying to revitalize his career in the Pacific Division, but on October 5th, we’ll get a glimpse at how that process will go when the Kings face off against the Portland Trailblazers.
There’s one side of the coin that this little experiment in Sac-Town may work, Rondo becomes best friends with Cousins and they develop an unstoppable 1-2 punch with Rudy Gay also in the mix. Then there’s the other side of the coin the screams utter disaster on account of too many strong personalities in the locker room. Time will tell.
This matchup also reeks a ton of value due to the large amount of minutes Seth Curry may receive. Curry absolutely lit it up in the summer league averaging 24.3 PPG on 45% shooting.
There’s a good chance Rondo won’t play a ton, and the Kings already know what they’re getting out of PG Darren Collison. This should carve out solid minutes for Curry to make an early splash on some scouting reports should head coach George Karl allow it.
Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2015 – Oklahoma City Thunder @ Minnesota Timberwolves
What to look for: Youngblood (Wiggins) vs. “Veteran” (Durant)
It sounds a bit bizarre to label 27-year old Durant as an elder-stateseman in comparison to Wiggins but that’s exactly what he is. Wiggins is roughly 7 years younger than Durant but is shaping up to turn into a very similar player.
Both won Rookie of the Year honors and have eerily comparable statistics in their first NBA season.
Wiggins will be entering this contest with a more confidence than ever now that he’s got his first season out of the way and will look to take it at Durant every chance he can.
Durant on the other hand is fighting his way back from three foot surgeries but claims to be fully healthy. Look for Durant to play it a bit easy as he literally tries to find his footing in his first game back since last March.
Via Fox Sports, this is what Wiggins had to say about his rookie campaign:
“There were points in the season when my body was tired. I felt like I went through my ups and downs last year. I was patient in whatever happened to me with my growth last year.”
Thursday, Oct 8th, 2015 – San Antonio Spurs @ Sacramento Kings
What to look for: LaMarcus Aldridge’s comfort in a new role; David West bench surge; how his teammates react.
With this night’s tip-off, we’re getting a glimpse at the beginning of a potential new chapter of a San Antonio Spurs dynasty. LaMarcus will officially don a Spur jersey against the Sacramento Kings and will get his first real live burn with his veteran savvy teammates.
This season has the potential to be quite reminiscent of 1999 when David Robinson metaphorically passed the baton to Tim Duncan, so look for the commencement of Duncan passing that very same baton to Aldridge.
Watch for how LaMarcus Aldridge integrates himself into the Spurs offense; he essentially took any shot he felt like in Portland but will be embraced by a larger sense of team in San Antonio. This preseason period may be fully used by Coach Pop to test out varying front court lineups with the added flexibility of a David West off the bench.
There’s plenty more exciting matchups to checkout this preseason but this list is starter-pack if you will; an introduction to another viable option for sports while you’re transfixed to NFL, NHL, and MLB happenings.