Every season, the NBA world overreacts to every bit of information given to us.
One highlight play in a preseason game, you’re a sleeper for an all-star selection. One miscue and you’re the newest draft bust. A thirst for content and excitement for the season creates a neverending list of propaganda for and against certain teams and players. It truly is one of the most magical times of the year.
Here are the biggest overreactions through the start of preseason.
Tyrese Maxey is going to be an all-star
No player has done more for himself than Maxey this preseason. If he were in NBA Jam, the entire arena would currently be on fire. Through two games, the third-year guard has 41 points in 29 minutes, shooting 15-19 from the field. The numbers haven’t even shown how impressive he has been.
Maxey was joined by Joel Embiid and James Harden in his second preseason game for the first time this season and thrived on the new space the offense allows him. He’s been quick, decisive and aggressive scoring the basketball. His play has been gathering attention, as he opened the offseason at +2800 odds for the most improved player award, and has already moved up to +1700.
There’s been a lot of hype on the Philadelphia 76ers to make a run in the Eastern Conference. James Harden has apparently lost 100 pounds this offseason, and if Maxey continues to play this well, the Sixers could have three all-stars on their roster this season.
Malcolm Brogdon has unlocked the Boston Celtics’ bench
Without their head coach for the season, the Celtics quickly became a trendy pick to slip this season in the Eastern Conference. Rightfully so, because Ime Udoka was one of the more impressive head coaches in the NBA last season, guiding the team to the NBA Finals.
Through two preseason games, things appear to be… roughly the same. Boston flipped a switch last January, finishing second in the East on the back of a 17-5 record post-All-Star break and the second-largest point differential in the NBA. They weren’t just winning a lot of games, they were destroying opponents, including 16 wins by 20 points or more from January until the end of the regular season.
Through two preseason games, Boston’s key rotational players have been awesome. Boston beat the Charlotte Hornets by 41 in their first game and was up 19 over the Toronto Raptors before their reserves lost the game in the final quarter and overtime. Even more importantly, the key pieces added to the rotation have been awesome.
Malcolm Brogdon, Boston’s key offseason addition, has made the sixth-man role his early to start the season. He currently has 18 assists to five turnovers in two preseason games, providing the necessary ball handling and shot creation Boston lacked in the Finals. His biggest beneficiary so far has been sharpshooter Sam Hauser.
The duo has provided the offensive spark, and along with Grant Williams and the potential addition of Blake Griffin give the Celtics a legitimate bench rotation for this season. If they can hold up until Rob Williams III returns, the Celtics could have one of the deepest teams in the association.
Jabari Smith Jr. will run away with the Rookie of the Year
What a debut from the No. 3 overall pick. While it was against the San Antonio Spurs, who might’ve already started their tank to the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, Smith Jr. looked like everything we wanted on his draft profile. His final stat line was 21 points and eight rebounds on 8-15 shooting, including five 3-pointers.
He’s got one of the smoothest jump shots you’ll see from a 6-11 big man, while also possessing impressive defensive qualities in guarding the perimeter and at the basket. Houston has a fun basketball team, and Smith Jr. might be the key piece to make the surprise players for the play-in game in the Western Conference.
Charlotte might be worse than we thought
The Charlotte Hornets’ offseason has already been picked apart. It’s been the offseason from hell, with a mess of a coaching search and the loss of one of their rising stars. It was thought this team could be potentially one of the worst in the NBA. Through two games, it feels like a foregone conclusion.
The team has been so far below the low expectations it’s hard to tell how to fix things. They’ve been outscored 256-190 in two games, with one of the worst offensive showings so far. The Hornets are shooting 34 percent from the floor, 18 percent from beyond the 3-point line and have had some laughably bad moments, such as James Bouknight’s eight-second violation and Mason Plumlee switching from right-handed to left-handed on his jump shots.
Things are looking bleak in Charlotte. The Steve Clifford hiring was met with a fair amount of skepticism and he’s not showing an interest in giving the young players a chance early on despite bad performances from the other players. Their lottery pick, Duke center Mark Williams, played just eight minutes in the second preseason game. Last year’s 19th overall pick, Kai Jones, also played just eight minutes.
While I expect LaMelo Ball plays better in the regular season, there are not a lot of rotational pieces who will succeed in this system. Charlotte could enter a tank situation quickly, shopping players like PJ Washington and Terry Rozier.
Jaden Hardy was the steal of the NBA Draft
Within the span of one season with the G League Ignite, Hardy went from a projected top-five pick to out of the first round. Dallas, who traded out of the first round, traded back into the second round to nab the talented guard with the 37th pick. Through one preseason game, he looks like an absolute steal.
After a slow start, Hardy got hot and led the game in scoring with 21 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter. He showed the overall scoring ability that made him a five-star prospect in high school, scoring off catch-and-shoot situations, off the dribble and attacking the basket in the game.
Along with a strong debut game from the recently acquired Christian Wood, Dallas’ bench suddenly feels a lot more potent. The team felt a few players short without Tim Hardaway Jr. in the Western Conference Finals and desperately needed offense for the minutes without Luka Doncic on the court.
While there’s still plenty to improve for the rookie, Hardy’s instant offense could be key to a Mavericks team hoping to contend in a crowded West.