Victor Wembenyama crusading through the Miami Heat defense for the poster dunk.
As the official NBA season starts up again, we can finally get to see our favorite players suit up and play in the preseason. We can also see what team’s starting lineups will look like heading into the start of the regular season. We will finally see new signings and all the speculation will be proven wrong or right.
Some preseason games have become spectacles to watch, such as the Brooklyn Nets playing the Los Angeles Lakers in the Las Vegas pre-season stadium. Although the Lakers had a substantial 15 point lead going into halftime, Cam Thomas and Ben Simmons’ heroic efforts led them to make a big comeback. In other news, the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Atlanta Hawks game turned out to be a thriller, ending in a victory for the Hawks by one point. The game was close all throughout, but a late foul led to the game winning free throw by Trent Forrest.
Like in any game though, there was a bit of controversy. After the free throw was made, Cleveland’s standout center, Evan Mobley, inbounded the ball to new pickup Max Strus and seemed to get fouled. The Cavaliers’ bench erupted in response to a horrible no call on the basket. Another close game was between the Detroit Pistons vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, ending in a three point lead for the Pistons. Historic draft bust James Wiseman had a double double in 23 minutes, dropping 20 points and 10 rebounds. Along with these pre-season thrillers, we got to see everyone’s favorite rookie, Victor Wembenyama, silence all of the critics. In his first game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he put in a valiant performance, dropping 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in only 19 minutes. We must not forget that Oklahoma also has a 7 foot player on their team, who goes by the name of Chet Holmgren. Chet had a performance on par with Wembenyama, going back and forth trying to make sure that they were seen as the better prospect. Chet finished the game with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 assist all within the span of 16 minutes. Oklahoma won by one point, with a last second block by Oliver Sarr denying any hopes of a Spurs buzzer-beater. Webenyama’s second game against the reigning Eastern Conference Champions, the Miami Heat, was where he really shined. While the box score might appear the same (23 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists), Webenyama’s technical excellence and finishing made it seem as if he was a veteran player. For example, his euro step dunk had the Miami defense in shambles. He led his team to a blowout victory over the Miami Heat (120-104.)
Meanwhile, Boston Celtic’s new pickup, Kristaps Porzingis has been showing major upsides and could have amazing production on the offensive end for Boston. In his first game against Philadelphia within 23 minutes he already had 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist. He seemed to have fit in great with the other cast members of Boston’s roster. Jrue Holiday had a lackluster start to his Boston career, with 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist. With his main attraction being defense, it is hard to see what he is really worth in the pre-season, due to the absence of defense. In his next game, he put up a slightly better performance, dropping 11 points with 2 rebounds and 2 assists with better efficiency from the field.
On the other side of the country, the Los Angeles Lakers displayed their new signings of Gabe Vincent and Christian Wood both with mixed reviews. Recent news revealed Christian Wood’s ties to Laker Coach Darvin Ham. They had ties from Milwaukee all the way back to a summer camp in 2015, where the coach had scouted. Wood had a poor performance on all aspects of the ball in his debut with only 5 points, 1 block, 1 turnover, and 4 rebounds on abysmal efficiency. His performance against the Milwaukee Bucks might’ve been even worse. He had 3 points on 1-6 from the field and two turnovers and had a plus-minus of -16. In other light, Gabe Vincent had a better, yet still underwhelming performance. However, he displayed his undeniable playmaking talents with 5 assists and his inability to score with only 6 points in 19 minutes. Although he continued to put up similar numbers, he has fulfilled an important role within the Lakers' depth.
Throughout the offseason, we have seen some rookies and journeymen alike display great acts of heroism to help their team get the win. As insignificant as the pre-season might seem to most people, it is a great way to see a preview of your favorite team.