As the NBA regular season gets underway next week, teams are starting to wrap up their preseason and making the final preparations before their first game that actually matters. On Wednesday night, the Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets in their last preseason game to finish the preseason undefeated. Sure, the undefeated record may not look like much on the surface, especially when they only played the Hornets and the Philadelphia 76ers twice each.
These games give people a first glimpse of how this team will look when they begin the 2017-2018 campaign next Tuesday in Cleveland. Especially when only 4 guys remain from last season’s roster, these games let you get a good look at all of the new faces and see how they will fit into the organization. Let’s take a look at three players who stood out from these
The first thing that stood out the most is that Kyrie Irving is a very special player. Now that he is out from Lebron James’ shadow, Kyrie will have more opportunities to score and to carry the ball up the floor and help facilitate the offense. He showed some great potential as the number one guy in the offense, shooting 50 percent from the floor (8-13 from deep) during the entire preseason.
In the last game, he was showing off his distribution skills, racking up 10 assists in only 27 minutes of work. Although he only played 72 total minutes over the preseason, these moments have shown us why Danny Ainge made the blockbuster trade for the 25 year old.
Another player that showed a lot of energy during the preseason was Marcus Smart. Now the longest tenured member of the Celtics, Smart will be seen as a leader coming off the bench to provide these team with a lot of energy and defensive tenacity. With Avery Bradley gone, look for Marcus to take over as the defensive leader of this team, and he loves to lead by example. He led the team with six steals in the preseason, and also racked up 15 rebounds and eight assists.
But aside from his defensive ability, Smart spent a lot of the offseason working on his shooting, and it really showed. Marcus shot 57 percent from the floor, including 7-12 from three-point land, which is much better than any of his previous seasons. I am expecting Smart’s fourth season to be the one where his offensive game explodes and he shoots easily over 40 percent from the field, and over 30 percent from behind the arc.
One last players that stood out during the preseason was the guy who spent the most minutes on the floor during the four games, and the youngest guy on the roster by over 15 months. Jayson Tatum, the first round draft pick from Duke, will be expected to provide a lot of minutes and points off the bench, which is a lot for a 19 year-old kid.
He may not have been an amazing shooter in the preseason like Kyrie and Marcus, but you shouldn’t be surprised when you see that from a rookie. It may take him a little more time to get adjusted to the faster pace of the NBA. But the overall energy that he brought out on the floor, on both the offensive and defensive ends, showed that this kid belongs in the NBA and can grow a lot over the next season. Luckily for him, he has a lot of great, young veterans on his team that will help him develop into a scoring machine in this league.
These weren’t the only guys that stood out in the preseason, but they were some of the most fun to watch during these four games. Brad Stevens was experimenting with his lineups, looking at who works well together on the floor and who he can put out there in certain situations. We will have to wait until Tuesday to see what Brad and the rest of the coaching staff have decided to do with this young lineup, and it may change as the season goes on. These preseason games made me very excited for the upcoming season, and you should be excited, too.
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