The curtains have finally been drawn on the NBA preseason. As the anticipation builds for the official season commencement on Tuesday, with all eyes on Denver’s championship ring night, let’s backtrack and dissect the events that have set the stage.
Gone are the sporadic games in unfamiliar arenas, ceaseless player rotations, unexpected lineups, and the experimental coaching methods that characterize the preseason. With these behind us, we’re left with lingering impressions of debut performances, trades, and the forecasted game-changers for the season ahead.
A salient feature this preseason was the spectacle of players suiting up for different jerseys, with Damian Lillard’s relocation to Milwaukee stealing the limelight. Additionally, the curtain-raiser offered a preview of freshly drafted rookies and the changed dynamics of teams following trades and free-agent acquisitions.
The brief but intense span of the preseason has culminated, making way for the marathon of 82 regular-season games. So, what vital cues did we pick up from this basketball preamble?
Highlighting the Preseason’s Defining Moments
As the NBA preseason wrapped up, certain moments and narratives emerged that are poised to shape the upcoming regular season. From standout rookie performances to intriguing team dynamics, these pivotal moments not only entertained but also provided a glimpse into the league’s future trajectory. Let’s dive into these game-changing episodes that left an indelible mark on the basketball community.
Victor Wembanyama: The Next Big Thing?
Undoubtedly, the league and fans were buzzing with curiosity about Victor Wembanyama, branded as the most electrifying newcomer since LeBron James. The preseason was a stage for Wembanyama to validate or debunk these high hopes. Tall at 7-4, his gameplay exhibits an array of skills typically unmatched for his size. From shooting abilities, nuanced finger rolls, commendable dribbling, to assertive rim defense, Victor gave us a promising glimpse, especially during his face-off with OKC’s Chet Holmgren.
While it might be audacious to predict Wembanyama’s contention for both Kia Rookie of the Year and MVP titles, the mere mention evokes legends like Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld, who achieved the double feat.
The Harden-Philly Saga Continues
The NBA preseason wasn’t just about the on-court action. Off-court drama, primarily the tense dynamics between James Harden and the Sixers, also took center stage. With the uncertainty around Harden’s commitment to Philly, especially after an unforeseen training camp exit and past confrontations with GM Daryl Morey, there’s much speculation about his future.
“I’ve got to make a decision for my family … this is a business” – James Harden on his commitment to the Sixers
The future course of this Harden-Philly relationship remains to be seen, with many awaiting Morey’s next move.
Chris Paul and the Warriors: A Perfect Match?
Another significant highlight was Chris Paul’s integration with the Warriors. With limited preseason minutes alongside Steph Curry and the absence of point guard Draymond Green, it’s too soon to pass a verdict on Paul’s fitment within the Golden State setup. While his past disputes with James Harden in Houston raise eyebrows, only time will divulge the nature of his chemistry with the Warriors’ core team.
The Grizzlies’ Resilient Aura
As Ja Morant serves his suspension, the Grizzlies face the task of holding their fort. The preseason displayed encouraging signs, as the squad leveraged the tenacity of Marcus Smart and the rejuvenated energy of Derrick Rose. Historically, the Grizzlies have demonstrated an ability to thrive even in Morant’s absence. The spotlight is now on Smart and Rose to echo these resilient performances.
What Lies Ahead?
The NBA preseason is a window into the league’s evolving storylines, showcasing emerging stars and brewing team narratives. As we stand on the brink of a new season, these insights set the backdrop for the roller coaster of emotions, triumphs, and challenges that await basketball enthusiasts.