The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the internet
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you’re an NBA fan. As an NBA fan, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not reading Zach Lowe on a regular basis. One of Lowe’s staples is his preseason League Pass Rankings, which he’s done for the last five years. The League Pass Rankings are an annual treat for NBA fans, outlining what makes certain teams more watchable than others.
The NBA preseason is mostly a useless exercise. Other than it being a sign that real basketball is right around the corner, the best thing that can happen is that players stay healthy. One positive of preseason basketball is that it gives us our first look at seeing how rookies play against actual NBA players. The Sixers and their long-suffering fans will be without No. 1 pick Ben Simmons for a few months, but they still got to watch the debuts of their first-round picks from 2014, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. After a couple years of being the NBA equivalent of Bigfoot, Embiid finally was able to play in an NBA game and showed why he may be very well worth the wait for the Sixers.
The Boston Celtics have been overachievers since Brad Stevens took over as head coach in the summer of 2013. For the past two seasons, one of the reasons they were able to exceed expectations was due to Evan Turner’s ability as a playmaker. Turner signed a $70 million deal over four seasons with the Trail Blazers, leaving a hole for a secondary playmaker. While many expect young guards Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier to pick up the playmaking in Turner’s absence, Kleen makes a convincing case that it could go to their new center Al Horford.
Coming into last season, the Utah Jazz were a dark horse candidate to emerge as a playoff team. Due to injuries to key players and a lack of depth, that never came to fruition. The Jazz were a preseason darling this season with the team adding some key veterans and coming into training camp healthy. That was until when wing Gordon Hayward suffered a injury that could keep him out of action for up to six weeks. Hayward will miss the start of the season, and how the Jazz start the season without him could make a huge difference as to where Utah stands at the end of the season. McDonald looks into if and how the Jazz can stay afloat without Hayward.
The Indiana Pacers might be the hardest team to peg going into the season. They changed their coach and added a hodgepodge of quality veterans who may or may not mesh well together. They do have Paul George, which means they can’t be too bad regardless of how well the team plays together. One of the things we do know about these Pacers is that they’re committed to playing fast and scoring much more than the “blue-collar” Pacers of the past few years. The Pacers scored 113 points in their first preseason game, leading to George’s statement that they can go for 115 points per game. The statement sounds ridiculous, as not even the 73-win and league-leader in points per game Golden State Warriors finished last season with that many points per game. In George’s defense, the Pacers did go for exactly 115 points in their game following George’s seemingly absurd claim. Whether or not the Pacers come close to 115 points per game, the point is clear: the Pacers are going to be different this season.