Preseason Winners & Losers
In a lot of ways, the NBA preseason doesn't mean much of anything when it comes to statistics. These games are opportunities to get warmed up, get back into the swing, and do whatever it takes to prepare for the season. Numbers from these first seven or eight exhibition games are not to be taken too seriously, but they still can point towards some interesting trends that could spill over to the regular season.
Now that the exhibition games are all over and done with and the NBA starts official play on Tuesday, let's take a look at what got accomplished during the preseason—who did well, and who might still have a few kinks to work out in practice the next few days.
Top Scorer: Carmelo Anthony, 23.6ppg. Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant also averaged over 20 points per game, but perhaps the most surprising player in the top four was Golden State's Anthony Morrow, who finished second in the league's preseason with 20ppg.
New York's Danilo Gallinari was a bit disappointing, scoring only 8.6ppg in 24 minutes per game despite being touted as a potential breakout star in 2009-2010. Also, Ron Artest chipped in just 7.9ppg in 25 minutes. He doesn't necessarily need to score a ton of points on such an offensively gifted Lakers team, but one expects more than 8 per night out of him.
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Best Rebounder: David Lee with 11.1 per game. The Knicks may rue not giving him an extension if he keeps those numbers up. Perhaps most surprising among the top rebounders are Chicago's Joakim Noah with 8.5rpg and Sacramento's Jason Thompson with 9rpg. Both have been very impressive early on.
Atlanta's Josh Smith underperformed a bit early on with only 5 rebounds per game, and second overall draft pick Hasheem Thabeet, brought in specifically to rebound and block shots, finished with only 4rpg.
Most Assists: Steve Nash & Russell Westbrook with 7.7 per game. While Nash isn't necessarily a surprise, Westbrook atop the assists list is. If Kevin Durant is legitimately going to contend for the scoring title this season, Westbrook will have more than enough opportunities to dump the ball off to him and reap the benefits in the stat book
Also somewhat surprising was that there were two rookies in the top eight—Brandon Jennings with 6.2apg and Stephen Curry with 6.1apg. Jennings was expected to be a top distributing point guard among rooks, but Curry's ability to find the open teammate has been a bit more of a pleasant shock for Warriors fans.
Mike Bibby in Atlanta, however, only dished out 2.7apg in the preseason, and even worse was Detroit's Rodney Stuckey with 2.5apg.
Blocks: Roy Hibbert with 3.6bpg, far and away the best shot-blocker of the preseason. Many expected a big jump from him this year, and if he's going to block shots like that it's all but solidified he ends up the team's starting center. Second-year stud Brook Lopez came in second with 3 per game, and of course Dwight Howard was right behind both of them with just over 2 per game.
Josh Smith, who is usually a shot-blocking animal for the Hawks, must be conserving his energy because he finished with only 0.9bpg. Tyrus Thomas of Chicago, another player expected to be among the league's top swatters, dealt with some injuries and blocked only four shots in a total of four preseason games.
Steals: How about Phoenix's Jared Dudley with 2.9spg? By far, this is the most pleasantly surprising statistic of the preseason. Also interesting is that there are five rookies in the top 12 for steals: Stephen Curry, Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor, DeJuan Blair, and James Harden.
Chris Paul hasn't been terrible with 1.2spg in about 2/3 the playing time he'll see in the regular season, but his career average is 2.4spg and he had 2.8spg last year. A little behind, but nothing to freak out about.
Worst Record: New Jersey Nets (1-6). This is just a young team that absolutely is going to struggle to win games this year. Luckily they have a few really nice young pieces that they can develop, even if the win column doesn't reach particularly lofty heights.
Best Record: Orlando Magic (8-0). Conversely, this is a team expected to perform very well this season. Vince Carter clearly has been a solid acquisition, even if they do miss Hedo Turkoglu at times, but an undefeated preseason is exactly the sort of momentum you want heading into a year where you can defend your NBA Finals loss like (potential) champions.
seems only some fans on here think curry isnt gonna be able to handle being a pg
cant play defense?..what rookie comes in being a good defender?..right now rose is a bad defender so should we jut go shead and say he cant play defense?
I think Luc Richard Mbah a Moute comes into mind when ask about a good rookie defender...
of course theres exceptions..thats common sense there are rarely absolutes.
You're definitely right Q... Most players need work on their defense and it takes time... It's not something that comes along... They gotta work for it and see the fruits of their labor.