NBA 2018-19: 5 Early Impressions from Preseason
The NBA preseason is a great chance for rookies to get their feet wet playing against actual NBA players, newly acquired players to get to know their new teammates and vice versa and players on unguaranteed/summer contracts to fight for a roster spot.
But it is also our chance to get an early glimpse of what the upcoming season might look like.
New plays and lineups are tried out for the first time and will reflect partially to what will actually happen on the court in the regular season, players show us how they worked and improved upon different aspects of their game.
Even though the NBA has gradually shortened the preseason in order to reduce the load and start the regular season earlier, we still get around three to five games from each team. This amount of basketball action is enough to teach us several key notes ahead of the new season.
Here are 5 early impressions from preseason games played thus far:
#1 Coming back from a long-term injury will take longer
Tough injuries plagued some of the league's best last year. The most memorable one is probably Gordon Hayward's, five minutes into the Celtics' season opener. Hayward worked all season long on his rehab process, returning to the court for the 2018-19 preseason. So far, Hayward is shooting just 25% from the field, including an even more underwhelming 1 of 10 from three-point range.
Another All-Star who missed most of last season is Kawhi Leonard. For him, it wasn't only about coming back to basketball shape, it was also about incorporating into a new system.
In his two preseason games with the Raptors, Kawhi slowly showed signs of the player he was before the injury, but displayed a sharp decrease in two specific fields. He struggled shooting from beyond the arc (1 of 6) and from the free-throw line (52.6%). While his three-point struggles are understandable and should improve when he will find his rhythm, low percentage from the free-throw line shows how unengaged he was in basketball during his rehab process.
Even though these struggles are comprehensible, it would be worth checking up on their stats as the season progresses.