The NBA preseason kicked off Friday, September 28th and I couldn't be more ecstatic that basketball is back. Even though it is just the preseason we get a look at chemistry and ideas teams are coming up with for the regular season. So far we've seen a variety of teams play and these are a few of the takeaways from the games I've seen so far.
Starting off is the Celtics and man, we are in for a treat this season. Gordan Hayward is back and looking healthy and ready for the regular season. Even though he missed a few free shots he is healthy and the Celtics are happy to have him back along with Kyrie. Both were out for the playoffs last year and are a key part of the Celtics system. With them back and healthy, the Celtics are looking like a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference.
Another promising team in the east is the Sixers and with their already impressive young core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embid, and Markelle Fultz who are all finally healthy and playing well together. Especially for Fultz who suffered a shoulder injury last season that took him out indefinitely for the last season, it was a big question mark if he would be able to come back from injury healthy or end up a bust. Luckily for the Sixers, he was back on the court to play the Orlando Magic draining 3's and grabbing rebounds for the team. With the Sixers young core, they have a lot to learn and chemistry to work out but when it is all said and done they look like the other big contender in the East.
Finishing up the Eastern Conference I'd like to talk about two players that have really impressed me so far: Kevin Knox and Hassan Whiteside. Kevin Knox who is a rookie for the Knicks and was selected 9th overall last year is looking amazing dropping a double-double against the Wizards. Even though his shot selection was not the greatest his ability to secure rebounds was definitely noticed. Hassan Whiteside has also impressed me in the Miami Heat's first preseason game he was doing things no one knew he could even do! Taking it up the court and euro stepping for a basket was completely unexpected. He was stepping out and knocking down 3's which is completely different from what he showcased last year. With his shot and newfound dribbling ability, it will be interesting to see the Heat will make use of these abilities throughout the season. Definitely keep an eye on Hassan Whiteside.
Moving on to the West we have the overhyped Lakers. The Lakers are being blown out of proportion this year with some people saying they will be a top seed in the West which seems like wishful thinking. LeBron James did his thing but only played a few minutes giving us a small idea of how the chemistry is looking so far. With that so far the Lakers look good but not great. Maybe next year and a few more pieces or maybe other players stepping up they can be a huge threat in the West but so far I don't think LeBron can take them to a top 3 seed in the West. They have a great foundation to make a run in the next few years but not this year.
Moving on to the big dogs in the Western Conference the Warriors are still looking good despite their loss to the Timberwolves the Warriors are still looking champs with their big four still intact and Durant and everyone getting better. They definitely look just as good as last year and will more than likely be going for their 3rd championship in a row. However, I wouldn't call it a definite win for the Warriors the East has some teams brewing that can definitely give them a better challenge then what the Cavaliers did last year.
Finally, my favorite team, the Rockets are looking as great under coach Mike D'antoni with a few other pieces added. Michael Carter Williams has definitely been a wow factor unexpectedly fitting great into the Rockets system and working extremely well with Chris Paul. Then we had what was my biggest worry in Carmelo Anthony and how he performed in the first game. And, I gotta say that I am impressed with how Carmelo as willing fit into the Rockets system and is working well with D'antoni despite their track record together in New York. Carmelo looked solid most of the game taking good shots that were given to him from Paul. There were a few hiccups on defense but as the season progresses I think he can work on his defense a bit more and become a lot better. I also hope that he comes off the bench with the eventual return of NeNe and Tucker as I think he will be better off the bench.
This is what has impressed me so far this preseason and it makes me excited to have NBA basketball back and see how all these teams are growing.