(Shelden Williams, get crammed on.)
I watch preseason NBA games for many reasons, none having to do with the quality of play: I love seeing the Stephane Lasmes of the world earn their headlines; watching preseason is more fun than NOT watching basketball; I’m entirely addicted to the NBA (I have a problem); it’s interesting to see how offseason additions fit; and I love getting a look at the new rookies.
That last point might be the reason I most enjoy the NBA preseason. I dare you to watch this 40-second clip of John Wall and not be enthralled. I dare you. It’s not going to happen. Talents like Wall enter the NBA and make you think, “What’s possible?” With established players, you know what their ceiling is, or you at least have an idea. But with rookies? Until we find out otherwise, the rafters are the limit. Wall could become the NBA’s best point guard within three years, Blake Griffin could become an electric mix of something in between Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and Dwight Howard, and Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins could be the next great low-post threat. Before those guys play a single game, nothing’s out of play.
Even less-heralded rookies inspire the imagination. Can Avery Bradley become the C’s next defensive stopper? Does Luke Harangody have what it takes to be Danny Ainge’s latest diamond in the rough? Could Semih Erden potentially displace one of the O’Neals in the lineup? Even with the picks who have less upside, the preseason is a time for hope. I can remember last preseason, reading about Lester Hudson: He averaged 27.5 pppg in college! He has a 6’9″ wingspan! He’s got 3.4% body fat! This kid could be a keeper! Alas, Hudson was cut midway through the season after hardly making any impact on the Celtics. But before the season, there’s always hope.
With that in mind, I handicap the Rookie of the Year race. Read more »