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Which NBA Players Are Going To Dominate This Pre-Season?

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Victor Wembanyama NBA

The NBA pre-season tipped off on October 5th, so you know what that means. We’ve officially had our first look at talented rookies, grizzly vets, and superstars.

Ultimately, you can tell a lot about how a team and player is going to perform throughout the regular season and even in the playoffs based on their pre-season performance. Here are some NBA players we are expecting big things from in these warm-up games!

Victor Wembanyama

We haven’t seen such hype around a player since LeBron entered the league back in 2003. The 19-year-old French baller is considered a cheat code! Wemby stands at seven feet and five inches tall with a monstrous eight-foot wingspan.

People have been waiting for this basketball prodigy to play in the NBA since he was only 16 years old. Naturally, the hype has only continued to build as the young French superstar continues to evolve his playing style by adding new elements to his game.

Despite being so tall, Wemby has exceptional handles and dribbles like a guard. He’s also comfortable pulling up from behind the arc and draining threes. Unsurprisingly (thanks to his wingspan), he’s already an elite blocker. However, there are some questions about his durability, and he definitely needs to bulk up because despite being well over seven feet tall, he only weighs 210 pounds. 

Wembanyama was drafted first overall in the 2023 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs, who hope to build a dynasty around him. It’ll be exciting to see if Wemby can live up to the hype. We just hope he isn’t a bust like another teenage seven-footer, Kwame Brown!

Chet Holmgren

The first time Chet Holmgren caught our attention was when a video emerged of him crossing up Steph Curry in a game before unleashing a ferocious dunk. He then decided that wasn’t enough and blocked Curry when he drove to the rim. He was just 16 years old at the time.

When you usually think of big men, the image of slow-hulking players who are only good for dunks comes to mind. In contrast, Holmgren is nothing like that! Holgrem has god-like handles and a pretty jumper. It’s amazing the fluidity and speed with which he moves on the court. 

This Gonzaga alumni was drafted in second place by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2022. Unfortunately, he picked up a foot injury and was ruled out of the whole 2022/2023 season. We’re certainly eager to finally see him hit the NBA courts this year.

Paolo Banchero

Paolo Banchero was the number one draft pick in 2022, and boy, did the Orlando Magic select the right player. Banchero had a fantastic first season in the NBA, averaging 20 points per game and winning the Rookie of the Year award.

It’ll be interesting to see if the 20-year-old power forward can build on his successful first season and make a bid for all-star selection. The Magic are definitely expecting big things, and Banchero will need to be on fire if he’s going to take the struggling team to the playoffs.

Brandon Miller

During the 2023 NBA Draft, everyone was focusing on Victor Wembanyama, but the Charlotte Hornets managed to score an exceptional player in Brandon Miller with the second draft pick.

Miller was a big-time star at Alabama – he only played one season but averaged just under 19 points, eight rebounds, and over two assists per game. After a disappointing NCAA tournament, he decided to declare for the NBA Draft. 

Miller is very athletic and can do virtually everything on the basketball court, including sawing above the rim and draining threes. Analysts are tipping him to become the next Paul George.

Scoot Henderson

No, that’s not his real name! Sterling Henderson was selected third overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2023 NBA Draft. Henderson was born to play basketball, as his father runs a successful training facility, and all three of his sisters played in the college. The six-foot-two-point guard is super explosive and is a master at running the fast break.

In addition, he’s known to drain threes of the pick and roll. Expect Henderson to make defenders look silly this pre-season.

The NBA 2023/2024 season is gearing up to be a classic. Make sure you tune in to the pre-season to see the different lineups and strategies teams are experimenting with. Also, keep an eye on the Spurs, Thunder, Magic, Hornets, and Trail Blazers to see potential future all-stars in action!

A lifelong Liverpool supporter with a passion for storytelling and an unhealthy obsession with Anime, NFTs, and Web3. When not cheering on the Reds or diving into the latest crypto trends, I'm busy crafting engaging content that'll keep you up-to-date on all things sports.

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NBA Finals Drama: Porzinģis’ Injury Shakes Up Celtics’ Strategy and Dončić Worries

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NBA Finals

On Tuesday, the Boston Celtics announced a new injury to former All-Star center Kristaps Porziņģis: a torn medial retinaculum allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon in his left leg. The team described the condition as a “rare injury” and stated that his availability for the remainder of the NBA Finals would be determined day-to-day. A few hours later, Porziņģis was officially listed as questionable for Game 3, with Boston leading the Dallas Mavericks 2-0 in the series.

How Does He Feel?

“I’m optimistic,” Porziņģis told reporters in Dallas on Tuesday. “As I said, I will do everything I can to be out there tomorrow. Nothing’s going to stop me unless I’m told I’m not allowed to play. That’s the only reason I would not be out there, but tomorrow we’ll see.”

The Celtics said the injury occurred in the third quarter in Game 2 during a box-out collision with Mavericks center Dereck Lively II. After the collision, Porziņģis appeared to move more gingerly on his left leg, particularly on the next several possessions as he attempted to close out on shooters. He stayed in the game for another 2:45 before subbing out and retreating to the locker room, then returned to play an additional 3:26 in the fourth quarter.

“He’s doing everything and anything he can to be ready for the game tomorrow,” said Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla. “It’s a serious injury. At the end of the day, our team and the medical team are not going to put him in any bad situations. We’ve taken the decision to play out of his hands because of the importance of him. He’s going to do everything he can to play, and we’re going to leave it up to our medical team.”

How likely is Porziņģis to play in Game 3?

“I have no idea,” said Mazzulla.

Before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Porziņģis missed 36 days, including both the Eastern Conference semifinals and finals, due to a soleus strain in his right calf. The team stated that his latest injury is “unrelated.”

The Celtics are +25 in Porziņģis’ 44 minutes over two games of the NBA Finals. They are even with Dallas in the 52 minutes he has been on the bench. During the regular season, Boston outscored opponents by 11.2 points per 100 possessions in Porziņģis’ minutes; that number increased to 11.8 with him off the floor.

If Porziņģis is absent, 38-year-old Al Horford, who started at center in Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals, would see increased minutes. Additionally, Luke Kornet might get his first playing time off the bench in the series.

Dončić Injury

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Dončić is expected to receive a painkilling injection before Game 3 of the NBA Finals to manage a thoracic contusion, according to multiple reports. He received the same treatment before Sunday’s Game 2 loss in Boston.

Dončić sustained the chest injury during Game 1. The Mavericks listed him as questionable for Game 2 due to the contusion, but he ultimately played through the injury, finishing with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in the Mavericks’ 105-98 loss to the Celtics. Now, with the series shifting to Dallas for Game 3 on Wednesday, the Mavericks find themselves down 2-0.

Despite playing in Game 2, Dončić was visibly laboring, especially in the fourth quarter, where he appeared fatigued. When asked about the injury on Tuesday, Dončić said he “feels good,” indicating he isn’t overly concerned about the chest pain limiting his performance.

This injury is just the latest in a series of ailments Dončić has been dealing with throughout the Mavericks’ postseason run. He has been managing a knee injury since the first round and also picked up an ankle injury, but has not missed any time. The Mavericks can’t afford for him to sit out either.

Given that Dončić received the same injection before Game 2, getting one ahead of Game 3 is unlikely to impact his production significantly. However, he will need his teammates to step up so he doesn’t have to shoulder the entire offensive load. This is a role Irving should naturally fill, but he has struggled against the Celtics’ multiple lengthy and strong defenders. Dončić may have another 30-plus-point game, but if Irving can’t get going and the role players don’t start making shots, the Mavericks could be facing a sweep if they aren’t careful.

Read more: The Zach Edey Effect: How He Could Impact NBA Teams Next Season

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Patrick Beverley Says EuroLeague Coaches Are Better Than Their NBA Rivals

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Patrick Beverley EuroLeague

Nikola Jokić and Luka Dončić are arguably the best players in the NBA. What they both have in common is that they grew up playing basketball in Europe and played professionally abroad before coming to the NBA.

Jokić and Dončić are hardly the only Europeans giving American players fits in the NBA. Other top players include Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kristaps Porziņģis, and Domantas Sabonis. 

All of these ultra-talented players may soon be overshadowed by Victor Wembanyama. The 20-year-old French player is 7 feet, 3.5 inches tall without shoes, and can do things other players his size can only dream of, including crossing up opponents, draining three-pointers, and throwing laser-accurate cross-court passes. 

In the last 10 years, there’s been an explosion of European players in the league. In the past, Europeans were largely role players, with few like Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker achieving superstar status. However, that has all changed; now, arguably, three of the best five players in the league hail from Europe.

Due to this shift, fans are curious why this has happened. Recently, Patrick Beverley, who has played all over Europe and had a very successful career in the NBA, shared his thoughts. The Milwaukee Bucks players had some very interesting insights into American and European Basketball.

Role Players in the EuroLeague and NBA Are Very Similar

Patrick Beverley said that apart from the NBA superstars who are in a league of their own, the skill level between the leagues is very similar. He said that if NBA and EuroLeague role players swapped, nobody would be able to tell the difference. Players from both leagues have similar skill sets and are all-round professionals. 

Beverley said that the EuroLeague is lacking superstars. You won’t find players like Luka Dončić, LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant in the EuroLeague. These players are so rare and are drawn to the NBA due to the massive salaries that the EuroLeague can’t compete with. 

Shane Larkin is the highest-paid player in the EuroLeague and is reportedly earning $4 million per year. While it may sound like a lot, wait until you hear how much Steph Curry is earning. The greatest three-point shooter of all time is pulling in $51,915,615 annually.

EuroLeague Players Compete Harder

According to Beverley, there are no off days in Europe. Players are expected to give their all in every single game. This is very different from the NBA, where coaches regularly rest star players, and due to the amount of travel and number of games, teams take games off.

In the EuroLeague, players are expected to play through injuries. They only miss games if there’s a serious medical issue. On the other hand, in the NBA, coaches want to protect their star players and keep them healthy for the playoffs. They won’t risk playing superstars, even if they only have a minor injury. 

Defense is also a source of pride in the EuroLeague. Coaches are very strict about players being physical, while in the NBA, many teams only get serious about defense during the playoffs, and if it’s just a regular season game, won’t push themselves that hard. 

European players have a deep connection to their clubs, and there’s a strong team atmosphere where all players are meant to sacrifice for the good of the collective. It’s different in the NBA, where the focus is on superstar players interested in padding stats, signing huge contracts, and winning championships at any team. 

The EuroLeague Has Better Coaches

Even after playing over a decade in the NBA, Beverley says the best coach he ever played for was Jure Zdovc. The legendary Lithuanian coach helped Beverley improve his fundamentals and showed him how to play proper team basketball.

Zdovc was also incredibly tough on Beverley. Despite the American being the MVP of the league, the Lithuanian would regularly get in Beverley’s face and demand perfection.

The veteran NBA player thinks that NBA coaches are hired to be fired and are tossed aside whenever there’s a dip in form. Beverley thinks the coaching is more sophisticated in Europe, with coaches taking pride in the plays they run and the ability to win with multiple teams. In contrast, NBA coaches are more focused on how big their salary is.

Read more: Isaiah Collier Is Likely to Go Number 1 at the 2024 NBA Draft

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Bronny James’ Agent Says He’ll Be Drafted

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Bronny James playing basketball

When Bronny James first came out of high school, everyone was claiming he was going to be LeBron 2.0. However, after a decent but not great college season, expectations have cooled. Public opinion even swung the other way, with many experts predicting that Bronny wouldn’t be drafted at all.

After a strong pre-draft showing, LeBron’s son is now ranked 54 out of 100 prospects by ESPN, and many analysts have him picked up in the second round. After seeing his stock slide so much while playing at USC, many expected Bronny to return to college in a bid to improve his skills and then declare for the 2025 NBA Draft.

His agent, Rich Paul, has come out and said that Bronny will take part in the 2024 NBA and forgo his remaining collegiate eligibility. Paul is quietly confident that James will be picked up by an NBA team.

Bronny is an interesting proposition because the team who drafts him isn’t just getting a player. They’re getting the son of one of the greatest players of all time. Bronny is already more famous than the majority of the players in the NBA, and the team that signs him will see a big uptick in fan attendance and merchandise sales based on his name recognition alone.

The other x factor is that LeBron has stated that it’s his dream to play alongside his son. So the team that drafts Bronny will likely end up with LeBron on their roster, too, even if it’s only for one season.

Bronny James Proves Haters Wrong at NBA Draft Combine

Bronny has been under immense pressure since declaring for the draft. Many critics are convinced he’s not good enough to play in the NBA and is only receiving attention due to his father. This is partly true; at USC, he averaged just 4.8 points per game. He spent most of his time on the bench, starting only six games.

Even Bronny supporters don’t see him becoming an NBA All-Star. At best, they see him as a role player. If he does manage to be drafted, he’ll have a very different career compared to his father, who was one of the most hyped prospects to ever come into the league and immediately became an All-Star.

Following his lackluster college season and his medical emergency where the 19-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest, analysts ditched Bronny from their draft boards. 

However, the USC player didn’t give up. After being medically cleared to be drafted, he had a very successful pro day and turned heads at the NBA Combine. 

During the Combine, which took place in May, Bronny let his shooting do the talking. The young prospect came second out of 71 players in two 3-point shooting contests. He made 19 out of 25 shots – many teams would be interested in a knockdown shooter like that. Then, in front of his dad, he dropped 13 points as the draft hopefuls battled it out in a tightly contested scrimmage.

There are some concerns about Bronny’s height as he measured 6-foot-1.5 inches without shoes, which is well below the NBA average of 6-foot-6.5 inches. On the positive side, he does have a 6-foot-7 wingspan and a very impressive 40.5-inch max vertical jump. Then, he showed his elite speed, recording a time of 10.96 seconds in the lane agility test.

Bronny James’ Draft Stock Increases, But Is It Enough?

Everyone admits Bronny James is an unfinished product. By drafting him, teams are betting on him turning into a bonafide NBA player. In a perfect world, Bronny would spend another two years at college developing. However, he doesn’t have that luxury. His father probably only has two seasons left. So if they’re going to play together, then Bronny needs to declare for the 2024 NBA Draft.

While Bronny may not be an NBA-level talent, it looks like he’ll be drafted in the second round based on his potential and name value. The front runners are the Los Angeles Lakers, where LeBron plays, or the Phoenix Suns. Despite having the nepo baby tag, it’d be cool to see the first-ever father and son duo in the NBA, so let’s hope a team takes a chance on him! 

Read more: LeBron James Continues to Extend His NBA Scoring Record

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