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Around the NBA: December 11th

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The crazy, compact, and wild offseason is officially over, as the NBA began the preseason on Friday night. It was a five-game slate that gave fans plenty of enjoyment in who they got to see in action. Here were my five biggest takeaways from the opening night of the NBA’s preseason as we go ‘Around the NBA: December 11th’.

John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins Flashed the Talent they have Every Time they Step on the Court

Well, the Rockets couldn’t have asked for a much better debut out of either Wall or Cousins. With James Harden not ready to play, his new teammates flashed their skill set in what they hope will eventually be enough to keep him around long term.

Cousins played 14 minutes and racked up 14 points (5-7 shooting) to go with five rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals. He was 3-4 from long range. Wall, the key player in the recent Russell Westbrook trade, also arrived in Houston in style. He played 19 minutes and totaled 13 points (6-10 shooting) to go with nine assists.

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It was better than anyone could have been expecting in game number one, given their lengthy absences entering this season. it’s a small step, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. As was always the case, health will be the biggest factor in how Wall and Cousins impact the Rockets this season.

Harry Giles III Among Trail Blazers to Start off on the Right Foot

Giles didn’t have to wait at all to get what some would call a ‘revenge game’. In his preseason opener with his new team, Portland, he faced his old team, Sacramento. It’s safe to say he was ready for this one.

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Giles finished the game with 18 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes on the court. Last year with the Kings his season-high on the glass was 12. Additionally, he scored more than 18 points just twice last season in 46 games played. Giles was clearly motivated, but if he can carry the energy he brought in this one consistently, he’ll be a real contributor.

Carmelo Anthony led Portland in scoring, finishing with 21 in 23 minutes. He shot an impressive 8-13 from the field. After him, it was Gary Trent Jr. and CJ McCollum tied with Giles at 18 points, followed by Damian Lillard and Derrick Jones Jr. at 15 apiece.

It will mean little for the team within a few days, but this offensive performance is very promising for their potential in the upcoming season.

Jerami Grant Did not get off to a good Start after Joining the Pistons Partially because he Wanted to Play a Bigger Role Offensively

It’s hard to knock a player who does what Grant did this offseason. Yes, he sacrificed years of competing but he did it because he believes in himself to be a bigger contributor. It’s a bold move, but the self-confidence and desire to do more has to be respected.

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Unfortunately, he did not start off on the right foot with the Pistons. His desire to be more involved offensively led him to a debut in which he scored just six points in 21 minutes. It gets worse, as he shot 1-11 from the field and 0-5 from deep. He’ll bounce back in no time and obviously won’t be that bad on offense during the regular season.

Still, what a brutal start for him given his exact reason for joining the Pistons was to do more on offense.

As Expected, There was a lot of Sloppy Basketball Played

This would be expected in a normal preseason opener, but it was taken to a new level due to the unusual circumstances of most things these days, including the NBA.

The Knicks and Pistons combined to shoot 15-62 (24.2%) from three-point range in their game. The Lakers and Clippers didn’t do much better, combining to go 17-58 (29.3%) from deep themselves. Additionally, the two contenders committed 42 turnovers combined, against just 30 combined assists.

Most rookies didn’t look comfortable at all, which is fair. Still, it’s not ideal. Teams will look to get into some sort of rhythm as the regular season approaches.

Billy Donovan needs some time to Turn Around the Bulls

This might seem like an overreaction after just one preseason basketball game, but I feel confident saying it. Billy Donovan needs a fair amount of time before he can even be expected to have this Bulls group headed in the right direction. That became very clear out of the gates last night, as the Bulls no-showed the early minutes. It was like they didn’t expect to be playing yet.

Bringing the energy required at the NBA level isn’t usually on the coach. Every player should be able to do that, naturally. Donovan will be reshaping the teams’ culture early on. Instead of results on the court, he needs to focus on players building habits that will help them succeed. Practicing right, showing up nightly, and playing smart basketball.

In the preseason opener, the Bulls looked to be still feeling the effects of a Jim Boylen hangover.

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Main Image Credit: 
Embed from Getty Images

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Check us out on our socials:   
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
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