T-Minus One Week!
This whole “trade for Chris Paul” thing might actually work out for the Warriors…
There’s officially less than one week until the start of the 2023-24 NBA season, which means as preseason winds down, the hype behind some of the biggest teams will only pick up even more steam ahead of regular-season NBA games.
Ahead of tip-off, we’ll see mass overreactions to slow starts, a ton of unwarranted hype for a few random teams who emerge hot out of the gate, and arguably the wildest NBA Rookie of the Year race in NBA history.
Let’s look at the final week of the (preseason) NBA countdown to tip-off.
Victor Wembanyama Making Noise
When 19-year-old rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama took the floor for his first NBA game, albeit a preseason one against the Oklahoma City Thunder, it had plenty of hype and some added sidebars worth talking about. This matchup pitted Wemby against another NBA Rookie of the Year candidate, Chet Holmgren, who missed all of last season due to a foot injury.
HUGE WEMBY SLAM.
CHET AND-1 IN RESPONSE.
The 2023 #1 pick and 2022 #2 pick are TAKING OVER in their #NBAPreseason debuts!
📺 NBA TV pic.twitter.com/Ty8RnSiPv9
— NBA (@NBA) October 10, 2023
Both players looked exceptional, and Wembanyama tallied 20 points with five rebounds on 61.5 percent shooting while also knocking down 2-of-5 three-point attempts in just 19 minutes. But it was Holmgren who pulled over a bit of that Wemby spotlight, scoring 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting with nine rebounds in just 16 minutes.
This Rookie of the Year race, while adding in Portland Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson, could be one of the most fun we’ve seen in a long time.
Damian Lillard Makes Bucks Debut, Lakers Coach Wishes NBA Good Luck
The Milwaukee Bucks’ blockbuster move to acquire Damian Lillard from the Blazers marks the highlight of the NBA offseason. But what the duo of Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo could do together during the upcoming season could set the league on fire.
The Dame swipe ➡️ a Giannis hammer 🔒🔨 pic.twitter.com/5uUTqICqzb
— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 15, 2023
While Lillard and Antetokounmpo played just 22 and 15 minutes in the 108-97 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, they both made their presence felt, finishing as two of the three high scorers for the game. Antetokounmpo had 16 points with eight rebounds on 70 percent shooting while Lillard finished with 14 points, four steals, three assists, and two rebounds. Dame struggled to get his shot to fall, shooting 30 percent from the field, but the Bucks had more than enough firepower to still get the job done.
And beyond that, it’s obvious having the Bucks’ new star duo on the floor together made things tough, which Lakers coach Darvin Ham essentially pointed to after the game while wishing the rest of the NBA good luck.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham on Dame/Giannis duo: “Best of luck to everyone else, the other 28 teams besides from ourselves that have to figure out how to stop that. I’m just happy we only have to see them twice in the regular season.”
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 15, 2023
Clippers Trying to Figure Out How to Get James Harden
Considering Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey appears to be hellbent on either getting an astronomical package back for James Harden, or just flat-out making life hell over the entire situation, I’m shocked the Los Angeles Clippers are even still here.
But they are, and the latest NBA Rumors appear to signal that they’re trying hard to find a way to persuade the Sixers to make a deal that brings Harden to California.
As NBA expert Shams Charania reported, the Clippers have “continued to pursue additional draft assets from other teams in order to improve their offer to the 76ers.”
Adrian Wojnarowski also confirmed recently that there’s been “little movement” on the deal.
Teams have talked in recent days but a sizable gap remains in 76ers and Clippers negotiations on a James Harden trade, sources tell ESPN. There’s been little movement for months on a deal.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 18, 2023
Unfortunately, unless the Clippers figure out how to swing one or two more first-round draft picks, I don’t see how this helps their case. Unless the picks offered to Morey start with the letter “f” and end with “irst,” I can’t imagine him seeing three second-round picks and shipping over the paperwork to send Harden to his preferred destination.
But it’s the NBA, after all, so who the hell knows?
Chris Paul Might Make Steph Curry’s Life Drastically Easier
In other NBA news, this whole “trade for Chris Paul” thing might actually work out for the Golden State Warriors.
The bad news? That could be for the rest of the NBA to figure out if it does, but this preseason clip was a bit daunting to see because it literally appeared like Paul didn’t have to try and knew exactly where to drop this pass and when to do it, giving Curry arguably the easiest 3-pointer he’s had over the past few seasons.
Steph Curry x Chris Paul connection. 🔥
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) October 14, 2023
I mean, Curry literally was on his way back down the floor and showing love to Paul before the ball was even ¾ of the way to the hoop. Jesus.
Giannis Couldn’t Even Make Sense of What Playing With Lillard Was Like
In a quote that seems to perfectly sum up the impact that Lillard’s addition to the Bucks could have on Antetokounmpo, the dominant forward spoke about what it was like teaming up with his fellow superstar. As Sportsnaut’s Mark Medina detailed, Antetokounmpo was shocked at how open he was but also surprised that Lillard was double-teamed literally on the first possession (of a preseason game).
Giannis Antetokounmpo on Damian Lillard’s debut: “I’ve never been this open. First of all, I’ve never seen somebody be double teamed from the first possession of the game.” My dispatch for @Sportsnaut https://t.co/WkoxOaCIPW
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 16, 2023
For what it’s worth, I have no idea why Lillard was double-teamed on the first possession of a preseason game either. But it is what it is, although Giannis is absolutely spot on about the fact that his life is about to get a whole lot easier this season.