Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fake Observations From The Fake Games


So we've now had a solid week of NBA Preseason Basketball, which I figure is enough time to start making irresponsible conjectures, criticisms and prophecies. Preseason is really only interesting in terms of rookies or other potential surprises, since established stars often don't play for more than 20-25 minutes anyways and coaches are spending so much time tinkering with their lineups that it's pretty difficult to get a read on how a team is actually going to be performing a month from now. But anyways, here are a few notes from various whirlwind trips through box scores and highlights (it's a Saturday morning and I'm bored, alright?):

Kevin Durant is enthusiastic. In the prohibitive ROY favorite's first game, he scored 12 points on 5-9 shooting and picked up 3 rebounds and 4 fouls in a loss to Sacramento. Not an incredible showing, but certainly respectable for a first-timer. In Durant's second game, he scored 15 and grabbed 7 boards in a win over Cleveland, even outscoring LeBron James. He also took 22 shots in a little over 25 minutes, of which he hit five. Now, I'm not sure if PJ Carlesimo pulled KD aside and told him to shoot more, or if he just decided on his own, but hoisting up twenty-two shots in your second NBA game is pretty awesome. I picture Durant with the ball in his hands, looking at an open Wally Szczerbiak and thinking, "fuck it, I'm better than him" and just letting fly. What I do know is that if Durant's got that kind of green light, we might see the highest-scoring NBA rookie in recent memory. We also might see the Sonics lose a ton of games.

Yi Jianlian's learning curve is astronomical. You may recall my post the other day, speculating that the Bucks might have purchased a lemon in this year's draft. Well, I'm not sure if Yi reads the Headband (I see no reason he wouldn't), but he's apparently out to prove us wrong, as his second NBA game was far more successful than his first. On Wednesday Yi rang up 12 points and 4 boards in a win over the Jazz... at this rate of improvement he'll be hanging 60 on someone by Thanksgiving. Watch out, Durant.

Don't sleep on Kelenna Azubuike. Who's that, you ask? He's the 23-year-old London-via-U of Kentucky shooting guard who's aiming to take Jason Richardson's vacated post in Golden State. In the Warriors' two postseason wins (both against the Lakers) Azubuike has scored 27 and 22, respectively. If he keeps playing like this (and if Brandan Wright manages to contribute anything at all this year), the Warriors will look like geniuses for the Richardson trade.

Don't sleep on the Orlando Magic. Alright, this one might be a stretch, but I've just got a feeling about these guys this year. Maybe it's the 30 and 11 that Dwight Howard threw downthe other day, or maybe it's that a super-young team that snuck into the playoffs last year added (albeit grossly overpaid for) a 22ppg guy in Rashard Lewis, but I just get the feeling that Orlando's going to surprise some people this year, so C's fans should consider themselves warned. Make no mistake: if Dwight Howard puts it all together this year, he has the potential to rival KG for the most dominant big man in the Eastern Conference. Jameer Nelson's a much better PG than most people know, and even J.J. Redick's been blowing up recently (yes, I feel as disgusting typing that as you do reading it).

Anyways, that's it for now. There's other stuff to talk about--one could dedicate any number of words to how well David Lee is playing for the Knicks, leading one to wonder if Eddy Curry might be the odd man out in that vaunted Knicks front line--but it's a long preseason and we'll need more fodder soon. Go Sox and Pats this weekend.

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