Thursday, 23 May 2024

4 Biggest Takeaways from the 2023-24 NBA Preseason

How was that basketball appetizer? Tasty? Well, enough with the scattered games played in non-NBA cities, constant substitutions, weird combinations, and laboratory coaching strategies. The annual October tune-up is over. The 2023-24 season is about to get real, starting Tuesday with championship ring night in Denver.

But before we dive into the new season, let’s take a quick look back at the preseason and the hints that were dropped during this sneak peek. The preseason focused on new players in new places, like Damian Lillard in Milwaukee, and gave us a glimpse of the incoming rookies and the teams who reshuffled their decks through trades and free agency. Overall, the warm-up lasted a bit more than two weeks. Now, 82 games await.

Victor Wembanyama Might Live Up to His Hype

Surely, you were curious enough to catch a few glimpses of the highly hyped incoming player, Victor Wembanyama, right? Well, Wembanyama did not disappoint in the preseason, showcasing skills that should be outlawed for someone who stands 7-4. He displayed shooting range, finger rolls, a decent dribble game (including a nutmeg!), and rim-protecting instincts. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is feeling good about signing that contract extension last summer.

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While it might be overreaching to expect Wembanyama to have an immediate impact this season, it’s not impossible to imagine him in the running for Kia Rookie of the Year and MVP. Only Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld achieved both in the same season. If Wemby doesn’t become the third, then we might not witness this feat again in our lifetime.

James Harden and the Sixers: A Shaky “Relationship”

How much longer will this shaky “relationship” between James Harden and the Sixers last? Everyone wants to know, especially Joel Embiid. Harden’s reported personal matter during training camp adds to the uncertainty. His previous comments about Philly GM Daryl Morey raised eyebrows, but now he seems focused on playing this season for the sake of his family and business.

The ball’s in Morey’s court. He’s not giving Harden away for scraps, to the Clippers, or anyone else. Harden chose to opt in to his 2023-24 contract, surrendering his right to choose another team. Now he wants to leverage an exit from his third team in the last two years. It remains to be seen how this situation unfolds.

Chris Paul’s Fit with the Warriors

The preseason doesn’t give us the complete truth about how Chris Paul will fit with the Warriors. While he showed seamless chemistry with Steph Curry on the court, their playing time together was limited. Additionally, the Warriors are missing their real point guard, Draymond Green, due to an ankle injury.

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While everyone involved is saying all the right things about Paul’s addition, the regular season will reveal the truth. Paul seems like a “fit-in” player for this system based on his passing ability. However, his previous partnership with James Harden in Houston didn’t jell due to personality clashes. Moreover, the Warriors’ real need is a quality big man. So let’s reassess by Christmas.

The Grizzlies’ Resilience Without Ja Morant

The Grizzlies aim to stay afloat until Ja Morant returns from his league-imposed suspension to start the season. The team has embraced the grit and leadership of Marcus Smart, and Derrick Rose showed flashes of his youthful self in the preseason games. If these two can hold it down in the backcourt, Memphis might surprise people with their resiliency until mid-December.

While Ja’s absence creates doubts, the Grizzlies have managed without him in the past, particularly two seasons ago when they went 20-5 during his injury/suspension absences. Former backup point guard Tyus Jones stepped up during those instances, and now it’s up to Smart and Rose to do the same.


FAQs

Q: Who was the most hyped incoming player in the 2023-24 NBA preseason?
A: Victor Wembanyama, standing at 7-4, lived up to the hype and showcased impressive skills.

Q: How are James Harden and the Sixers coexisting?
A: Their relationship remains shaky, and the duration of their partnership is uncertain due to personal matters and previous comments made by Harden.

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Q: What is the expectation for Chris Paul with the Warriors?
A: While the preseason showed promising chemistry between Chris Paul and Steph Curry, their playing time together was limited. The regular season will reveal whether Paul is a good fit for the team’s system.

Q: How will the Memphis Grizzlies cope without Ja Morant?
A: The team will rely on the grit and leadership of Marcus Smart and the youthful performance of Derrick Rose until Ja Morant returns from his suspension. The Grizzlies have shown resilience in the past without Ja.

Summary

The 2023-24 NBA preseason provided glimpses into the upcoming season, with new players in new places and teams adjusting their rosters through trades and free agency. Victor Wembanyama showcased his skills, leaving fans in anticipation of his impact. The uncertain relationship between James Harden and the Sixers raises questions about their future. Chris Paul’s fit with the Warriors will be revealed during the regular season, and the Memphis Grizzlies aim to stay competitive in Ja Morant’s absence. As the new season unfolds, these preseason takeaways will set the stage for an exciting year of NBA basketball.

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