NBA AM: 5 NBA Preseason Storylines
What the Preseason Will Tell Us
For teams that will have preseason games overseas next month, Media Day is this coming Friday. That means we can officially say that the 2013-2014 season starts this week, and there are plenty of things we’ll all be keeping our eyes on during the forthcoming preseason. The following are five storylines that should generate the most interest during the month of October:
How does Dwight Howard (and Omer Asik) fit in Houston?
Getting a hold of Howard means the Houston Rockets are in the preseason conversation for the NBA Finals, and very early on we should get a strong sense of whether the Rockets are getting the Dwight Howard from Orlando or the considerably less enthusiastic one from L.A. Houston is a young, exciting team, while last year’s Lakers were pretty much the exact opposite of that, so Howard should have a great time on his new team. Historically when he’s happy, he’s a better player. Also interesting in Houston camp will be how Kevin McHale works Omer Asik, one of the league’s top rebounders last season, into the rotation considering he’ll now be playing behind the best center in the NBA.
Does Brooklyn look unstoppable, or just overloaded with old guys?
Plenty of people are sort of shrugging off the Brooklyn Nets because, despite having amassed a ton of talent in the offseason, most of the new guys are on the back nines of their careers. But what if these guys all end up rejuvenating each other and looking as strong in real life as they do on paper? These old dogs probably won’t play a ton of minutes in the preseason, but we will get a sense of what the chemistry will be like, and that should be enough to clue us in on whether or not this group is for real.
Is Derrick Rose ready to roll?
As angry as the city of Chicago was with Rose last year during the playoffs, when he failed to return for the Miami series, they sure are excited about his return to the court now that the 2013-2014 season is close to getting started. The first time he’s announced at the United Center is going to be pure electricity for the fans, but those preseason contests will probably be a little shaky for Derrick as he rids himself of 18 months of rust. Whether he’s great right away or not, it will be interesting to see how explosive Rose is, and whether he takes a more conservative approach to the game after recovering from his injury.
Can Brad Stevens coach on this level?
Nobody expects much out of the Boston Celtics this year, primarily because they sent away their top-tier head coach and the overwhelming majority of their veteran talent, but new head coach Brad Stevens at least offers a little bit of optimism for the future. Teams don’t gamble too often on top college coaches, so it will be interesting to see how Stevens adjusts to the NBA game. It will take longer than the preseason to determine whether or not he’s got what it takes to make it on this level, but during the next few weeks we’ll at least get a sense of how his style of coaching translates to professionals.
How will Golden State balance Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala?
Easily one of last season’s breakout rookies, Harrison Barnes was probably a little surprised this offseason to see his team acquire another small forward in Andre Iguodala. Clearly, Iguodala needs to start, but no one is quite sure how Barnes will respond to a reserve role, or even how Golden State will split minutes between the two. As far as personnel battles are concerned, few will be as interesting as the small forward rotation in Golden State.
What other story lines do you think will be worth watching this preseason? Hit up the comments section below to add your two cents, or just use that space to share your excitement that the start of the new NBA season is only a few days away!
Bradley Beal Says Confidence is High
Almost everyone agrees that the Washington Wizards are a pretty good team as long as their best players are healthy, but the problem last season was that their best players were not, in fact, healthy. Rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal, who showed tremendous flashes of brilliance at times over the course of his freshman campaign, was one of those oft-injured players. After missing 26 games last year, however, he’s ready to step into 2013-2014 and make another leap as a professional.
“Everything has been good. My game has been improving. [I'm] putting the ball on the floor a lot more and my confidence is still sky high,” Beal told Michael Lee of the Washington Post. “I’m ready for this year and I couldn’t be more excited with the team that we have. And hopefully, starting next week, we’ll have a good start chemistry wise and we’ll go from there.”
The chemistry is already in some jeopardy, however, as Emeka Okafor and Chris Singleton were diagnosed with injuries of varying severity last week, which means that once again the Wizards will be forced to start the season at less than 100%.
“It’s tough, because those are two big keys to our team,” Beal said. “It will be difficult, because [Okafor] was our big five. At the same time, we have other bigs and they are going to have to step up from the jump and come in and be able to dominate. Chris is a big asset for us, because he was a mismatch on both ends of the floor. Hopefully, we’ll be able to figure it out.”
As far as his own health is concerned, Beal feels like his recovery has gone extremely well. He’s also optimistic that he’ll play his entire sophomore season.
“I started off slow [but] my recovery process was where I wanted it to be. Nice and slow,” Beal said. “Eventually, I got to where I am now. And I just have to continue that and continue to get better.”
When asked whether or not he thought he’d have the breakout season many seem to be predicting, he didn’t flinch.
“It could be the year,” said Beal. “I don’t pay attention to [preseason hype], but individually, that’s definitely my goal to be able to step up and be able to do well on both ends of the floor. My game has improved a lot and hopefully, I’ll be able to showcase that.”
Washington is kicking things off at less than full strength again this season, but Beal and his backcourt partner John Wall are at least healthy, and that’s where a lot of Wizards fans are placing their confidences this season. If those guys are good, Washington is seems pretty assured that the rest of the team will follow.
D-Rose “All In For Chicago”
Derrick Rose’s interview with SLAM Magazine has been quoted ad nauseum over the course of the last week, but between that article (he’s gained ten pounds of muscle!) and the recent release of his new adidas shoes, Rose’s name is on the tips of NBA fans’ tongues as we head into training camp. All basketball fans—not just Bulls fans—are excited to see Rose get back on the floor this season, but if all that buzz wasn’t buzzy enough, check out this adidas spot in which Rose says he’s, “All in for Chicago.”
If this doesn’t get you ready for the new NBA season, nothing will: