Originally written on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 12/18/11

Kings 96 @ Warriors 107: When I say I don’t watch college basketball, I mean I don’t watch college basketball.  I don’t watch it once a week, or once a month, or when nothing else is on.  I don’t watch college basketball at all, ever… and even I came into tonight’s Kings game very much aware of Jimmer Fredette’s shot-making capabilities.  So, I’m not going to talk about his 4-6 shooting from three-point land.  I am going to talk about his four assists, six trips to the stripe, and three non-three-point FGs. 

Jimmer had a nice little “welcome to the NBA” moment early on.  After missing his first attempt at a jump shot, Monta Ellis snatched the long rebound and went the other way with it.  Jimmer was being hidden defensively on Dorell Wright, but was forced to pick up Monta in the transition situation.  The Mississippi Bullet proceeded to blow by him as if he was nailed to the hardwood.  I’m thinking Jimmer never saw someone shift gears quite like that in the NCAA, or even at Kings camp.  He continued to struggle on defense throughout his 35-minute experience, but he hardly missed another shot the rest of the way.  He finished with a team-high (tied with Marcus Thornton) of 21 points on 7-11, and he was able to do much more than just catch and shoot.  He created a couple of opportunities for himself (and his teammates) off the dribble, which, as far as I know, wasn’t advertised as being one of his tricks (was it?  Like I said, I don’t watch college basketball).  The other thing he did well was get out in transition and use his body to get to the line.  On a couple of occasions he wasn’t able to finish a fastbreak layup, but he was able to create enough contact to get to the stripe, where he’ll be deadly (despite some 3-6 clunking in tonight’s game).

Of the rookie debuts I’ve watched thus far–Knight, Irving, Shumpert, etc–Jimmer’s was the best.  He obviously doesn’t have the athletic or all-around abilities of those other guys, but as far as an ability to make an impact right now, he showed as much of that as anyone else.  I know, it’s just one preseason game against the Warriors (who still appear to be far from the defensive-minded team that Mark Jackson has the high hope of turning them in to), but hey, a guy’s got to start somewhere.  One preseason game is all we’ve got to go by right now, and Jimmer’s went very well. 

One thing that could be a problem for this young man is defense.  It’s going to be hard for the Kings to hide him all season long.  They matched him up with Dorell Wright for parts of this game, and that worked out alright because Wright does most of his damage from beyond the arc.  However, throwing a 6’2 dude on the three man isn’t going to work on most occasions, and trying to hide a guy can create other bad cross-matches.  He’s fortunate to be paired up with one of the league’s biggest PGs in Tyreke Evans; that’ll help, but he’ll still be a liability.  He tried to guard a few guys tonight and was taken to the cleaners at least once by all of them

Speaking of Tyreke Evans, he looked like his old self, which was a refreshing sight.  He scored 17 on just 10 shots as he repeatedly made his methodical drives to the basket.  Had he refrained from firing four three-pointers (still can’t shoot a lick) his numbers would’ve looked even better at 14 points on 6-7.  I think Tyreke is in for a big season if he can just stay healthy.  People have already kind of forgotten about the promise he showed in his rookie season.  That’s ok… they’ll remember soon.

Golden State’s most impressive player was probably Ekpe Udoh, who had 10/4 on 5-9 off the bench.  Well, Steph Curry and Monta Ellis combined for 40/14, but that’s routine.  They coasted most of the way and simply converted on damn near all their attempts when they did decide it was their turn to shoot (Monta went 8-11 from the field).  So yeah, I’m going with Ekpe for most impressive as he beasted in the first quarter with 8 points on 4-5.  They weren’t all garbage buckets either… he threw in a nice little baby hook in a post-up situation.  He also attempted one of the ugliest half hooks you’ll ever see (botched the footwork), but hey, one for two ain’t bad for a youngin’.  Ekpe only played in 58 games last season (was injured a lot), but I expect that we’ll see him more regularly this year.  I think he’s still far too raw to be counted on to produce offensively, but he’s an athletic player with pretty good size, and they don’t need him to score.  All they need him to do is hustle like Lou Amundson… if he can do that then he’s got himself a job, because anyone idiot can play offense better than Amunson.

One last thing from this game before I move along: what the hell were you doing out there, JJ Hickson?  TWO points in 32 minutes?  This was your Kings debut and I forgot you were even out there.  The only thing I recall JJ doing is getting called for three seconds after being stifled by Udoh in the post.  Dude was completely invisible out there.  Cleveland got Omri Casspi out of him, but I bet they wish they could do the whole Hickson expiriment all over again…

Spurs 87 @ Rockets 101: Jordan Hill sighting, and in a major way!  The 8th overall pick from the 2009 draft hasn’t done much but collect dust on the bench over his first three years in the league, but maybe this will be his year?  Houston doesn’t have anything at center, so if Jordan can continue to be even half as good as he was tonight then he’ll be on the floor.  He finished up with 17 points and 13 boards and was every bit as good as those numbers indicate.  He was very active (photo evidence of a dive to the floor) both offensively and on the glass.  He wasn’t credited with any shot blocks, but I recall some good defensive moments against Tiago Splitter.  His D weakened a little down the stretch (looked tired), but he was still gobbling up the rebounds and putting points on the board.  He was consistently impactful throughout the entire game–no stretches of bad play whatsoever.  I thought he was clearly the player of the game.  He looked really big out there, too… at least until Hasheem Thabeet stepped onto the floor.

Speaking of Thabeet, he had a good stretch in the first half.  Unlike Hill, he wasn’t able to put together a complete game, though.  His highlight of the night came when he hustled for a rebound, saved the ball to Scola for an easy score, and sprinted the other way to block a driving layup.  He kind of fizzled after that, collecting a bunch of fouls and finishing with 4/3 and the aforementioned block.

Terrence Williams followed up an awful first half with a very impressive second half.  Ever since his Nets days I’ve felt that T-Will needs to play with the ball in his hands.  To me he’s a point guard who’s spent the majority of his career playing out of position.  He doesn’t move well without the ball and he can’t really catch and shoot, rendering him rather useless off the ball, but as soon as he gets the rock in his hands you see flashes of brilliance.  You also see some ill-advised jumpers and questionable decisions, but the flashes of brilliance are always there.  After looking downright out of place in the first half, Houston let him handle the ball a little bit later on.  He suddenly exploded for 14 points… I believe 12 of them came in the fourth quarter.  He also grabbed 9 boards, some of which really showcased his incredible athleticism.  Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey talked about him a little bit during the game.  He emphasized how much Terrence loves the game, the excellent camp he’s had, and that he plays more pickup ball in the offseason than anyone else on the team.  Still, I have doubts that this will be “his year.”  He didn’t start putting it together until the ball was placed in his hand, and how often will they be putting it in his hands this season?  They’ve got Lowry, Dragic, and Flynn.  Terrence is going to have to learn to be more effective away from the ball if he wants to be on the floor. 

Nobody looked good for San Antonio.  I thought they looked alright early on… like, they moved the ball around and got some clean looks, but the next thing I knew they were shooting 20 percent on eight made FGs at halftime.  The only reason San Antonio had any points on the board is because Houston sent ‘em to the line 42 times.  Apparently Kevin McHale has been teaching his perimeter players to put their forearms on drivers, but he may want to re-think that strategy as the officials called a foul every single time. 

Knicks 93 @ Nets 82: This was certainly the ugliest of the three games I watched today.  The Knicks didn’t even play very well, they just have so much more talent than the Nets… it wasn’t even fair.  New Jersey’s looking real sorry headed into the regular season.  They haven’t re-signed Kris Humphries, leaving them with Brook Lopez, Shelden Williams, and a balding Johan Petro (did anyone notice his hair? Poor guy desperately needs Bosley) in the frontcourt.  They amnestied Travis Outlaw and signed Shawne Williams, but aside from he and Anthony Morrow there’s nothing doing at either wing spot.  I guess there’s Marshon Brooks, who had his moments today (10 PTS in 14 mins), but he’s a rookie.  Deron Williams and Jordan Farmar are a respectable PG rotation, but man, Billy King has some serious holes to fill without much time left to do it.  He’ll have to find a way to get it done if he wants to put a respectable product on the floor this year. 

A few of New York’s regular’s looked a little off.  Landry Fields looked downright awful early before redeeming himself a little bit later on.  He went 2-12, but you can forget the numbers because it’s not like he just had a rough shooting night.  He looked uncomfortable trying to do some pretty basic sh!t… like bounce the ball in a low-pressure situation, for instance.  Carmelo was another guy who clearly didn’t have his rhythm.  He made some tough jumpers, but airballed two uncontesed ones and botched a layup.  That, to me, is a sign of a guy who’s out of practice.  I’m not worried about him at all, though.  He looked to be in shape and will recover his touch in no time.  He did make a couple great passes after realizing his jumper was a little f@cked up.

 

Your eyes do not deceive you; that right there is a Renaldo Balkman sighting.  There were Renaldo Balkman sightings all game long as he led everybody with 20 points.  This indicates one of two things: preseason is a joke, or Renaldo is a better player than he’s given credit for.  I honestly believe it’s the latter–I’ve felt that way since the guy was a rookie playing under Isiah Thomas.  Despite a lack of skills he’s always contributed when allowed to play.  I like the guy because he works hard and plays within his limitations (did take and make a three today that had me rubbing my eyes).  Mike D’Antoni may be wise to consider finding a role for him.  He’ll do all the things that most Knickerbockers shy away from.  That’s what Tyson Chandler is for, you say?  Yeah, well, he had his moments today, but he isn’t turning a Pringles team into a defensive-minded squad all by himself.  Knicks fans, just accept that now so you won’t be disappointed later on.  Tyson will help, but it takes five guys buying in… and why in the world would I believe that’s gonna happen.  The f@cking coach won’t even buy in.  I guess it’s worth noting that Chandler grabbed 4 boards and swatted a couple shots today.  He looked pretty good on Brook Lopez, but at the same time you could tell that Lopez was just plain struggling.  Tyson didn’t even have to leave the floor, or move his arm, one of the times that he stuffed Brook.

Oh wow, I almost forgot: Iman Shumpert debuted with 16 points and quickly became the talk of the online basketball world earlier today.  Some feel that he’s got PG abilities that the Knicks desperately need and will make an impact from the get-go, while others feel that it’s just one preseason game against the Nets.  How do I feel?  Don’t know yet.  I’m not sold off of the one game.  I did like how he played, though.  I guess you could say I’m an Iman fan.  See what i did there?

Bucks 96 @ Wolves 117: Does anyone know who Jon Leur is?  Anybody at all?  Well, he scored 18 points for the Bucks.  Kevin Love–we all know who he is, but could hardly recognize him due to the wight loss–led the T-Wolves with 21/15.  Mike Beasley also had 21, and Derrick Williams debuted with 14.  Oh, and Ricky Rubio?  He only made one shot, but posted 6/6/7, which looks pretty good.  I’m a little confused as to why the NBA chose to make this the only game they didn’t play on NBAtv… one would think the first images of Ricky Rubio playing on an NBA floor would take precedent over the Tim Duncan-less Spurs facing off with the Yao Ming-less Rockets.  Oh well, the Houston game was cool.  I guess I’ve got no complaints.  Here’s a little Rubio for ya…

David Kahn was reportedly seen salivating in his executive box. 

Lastly, a little footwear news for you sneaker people!  Courtney Lee took the floor in a pair of black/cement Jordan IIIs, one of my favorite sneakers of all-time…

…and Dominic McGuire opted for a pair of cool grey XIs…

I was thinking during the Dubs game… I like Dominic McGuire for that squad.  He’s a tall, athletic guy who can guard multiple positions.  If Mark Jackson wants to turn corners defensively he’s going to need a guy like McGuire who can get the job done on that end of the floor.  I don’t think he’ll play a ton, but I expect he’ll have a role.

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