In general, you can’t read too much into what happens in the preseason. Star players are rested or play limited minutes, coaches experiment with lineups, effort is inconsistent at best, guys who will be buried on the bench or in the D-League get big run, and nobody game plans much.
What you can see sometimes is players who make the leap, who excelled and showed off what they had been working on all summer. We had some of that this preseason.
Here are three that caught our eye.
1) Derrick Rose. He is back. You didn’t need Sports VU cameras to see it, you just needed the naked eye for a few minutes. He is back and maybe better than ever. Rose was taking the ball end to end, showing off crossovers that broke ankles, attacking the rim like his MVP year and generally looking like the elite scorer he is.
But here’s what should really scare the rest of the league — in the preseason Rose shot 47.6 percent overall, up from 43.5 percent his last NBA season; plus this preseason he shot 44.4 percent from three, up from 31.2 percent a couple years ago. If he is knocking down threes and has an improved jumper, he becomes nearly impossible to guard.
2) Bradley Beal. When the Wizards drafted him it was to be a shooter they could place next to John Wall and make the backcourt of the future. Well, he’s fast becoming that. This preseason Beal shot 51.9 percent overall, up from 41 percent overall last season. He didn’t finish well at the rim and was pedestrian from the midrange, but he seems to have improved in both areas. Last season he shot a respectable 38.3 from three (he was particularly hot from the left corner where he shot 57 percent) but this preseason he has knocked down 47.2 percent.
Look for Beal to have a strong season, but to make it work his backcourt partner heeds to find his shot, too.
3) Anthony Davis. Last season Davis finished well when attacked the rim — he shot 64.2 percent inside 8 feet. This preseason he is doing more of that, he is facing up and taking one hard dribble then shooting over his defender. He’s also shown an improved midrange game, but that has a ways to go yet. Still, the Pelicans big man scored 19.9 points a game this preseason shooting 55.2 percent (up four percent from last season). He is going to have a big year in the Big Easy.