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NBA | Oct 18

Countdown to Tip-Off: Preseason Games Give Us a Taste of What’s to Come

Plus An Update On the James Harden Trade Situation and the Amazing Connection Between CP3 and Steph Curry

Countdown to Tip-Off: Preseason Games Give Us a Taste of What’s to Come
Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors runs the ball up court between Taurean Prince #12 and D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers as Chris Paul #3 trails in a preseason game at Crypto.com Arena/Harry How/Getty Images

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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