In the other preseason games I said to assume everything comes with the asterisk is preseason but this game was on another level. The Hawks brought literally zero starters to Detroit (as in not even in the building) and played a freaking zone defense most of the game. NBA teams almost never play zone defense because NBA players are just too good for it, then when a zone defense is being played by a bunch of scrubs who have no idea what they are doing. Yeah, this game was another level of "literally means nothing" because it doesn't. Neither team wanted to run much of a real set on either end of the court because they open against each other in less than a week. (not sure why the heck they scheduled that.) As such I am going to make this more of a preseason wrap up more than anything else. Little will be said about tonights game because once again, it was another level of incompetence.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Got the start tonight and played fine. There was even some proof that he now understands that you only get points for shooting a jump shot inside the little orange circle and not for style points of creatively bouncing the ball off the rim.Really good preseason, and also it was hugely important that he have a good one. Outside of a couple times he mostly looked lost last year and he did not look very good in the summer league. If he had played like crap in the preseason it would officially have been time to worry about him as a player. However he played pretty well. He is a real problem for opposing point guards on defense, and he looked more comfortable on offense and there is something there with his ability to get to the line. (he hit the 3rd most free throws on the team in the preseason) He is starting to shape up into a way that it is possible to see the makings of a solid NBA player. Even if he is not quite there yet, for the first time some real progress was obvious. Now if he could just learn to freaking shoot....
Reggie Bullock: Started tonight(!) and did exactly what he did all preseason. Look really good. How useful he is/playing time he ends up really getting will depend on how well he ends up shooting once the season actually starts. However he will get a chance to shoot because he did all the other little things right. He competed on defense, and actually looked pretty good. And he was active on offense, he scored so many easy points on good backdoor cuts it was ridiculous. Obviously it will be harder to get wide open threes and back door cuts against actual NBA defenses. But he is clearly a really smart offensive player. His cuts, passes, and off ball movement were all really good. If he does not shoot well from 3 (lower 30s) he still has some value as a back end of the rotation wing. If he shoots well from 3 (upper 30s/low 40s) he looks to be a killer role player.
Marcus Morris: Almost never did his posting up stuff tonight, likely because SVG did not want to give the Hawks any free reps against him. Instead he played off the ball a bunch and nailed spot up looks. He had a really good preseason. The vision of him as a killer 3rd option taking advantages of the right match ups was seen. And while his less useful tendencies of chucking terrible shots popped up, it was not a lot. He also competed on defense and the boards. Whether as a starter at either forward spot or a bench cog. He looks poised to have a really nice season. As long as Bullock does not completely bomb out once the regular season starts, the trade this off season which got these two could well be the best sneaky good move of the offseason. And is the type of smart trade that is good to see the front office make.
Stanley Johnson: Started tonight, Shot some threes, played some defense. Shot some free throws. Stanley Johnson is ready. That is the best way I can think of to put it with him. He will almost certainly not shoot super well (from 3 in particular) this season or at least hit some terrible slump at some point this year simply because he is a rookie and thats what rookies do. And he will also often have problems trying to play defense, because once again, rookie. But this dude can freaking play. And he should be a decent player for the team this year. It will be interesting to see how long a leash SVG gives him now that the games will count. SVG will let him spread his wings a little because SVG is not stupid and Johnson has clear potential. But SVG also is trying to win games this year. Even if he struggles some in different areas, it seems clear that there will rarely be points at which we will think "he does not look like he belongs on an NBA floor." And that alone would make him unique among rookies.
Andre Drummond: He only played a little, and did his thing. Ditto for the rest of the preseason. I would however like to see him face people up a little bit more (like he did tonight a couple of times.) Mainly because it could actually be useful, but also because I think it might help him with his confidence in his free throws. If he faces up more then he gets to make actual basketball plays. It would allow him to be a basketball player as opposed to an athlete. (although I think I will do a separate post on this. So put a pin in that thought.)
Jodie Meeks: Shot lights out tonight. He had a pretty good preseason. He did not shoot very well but I am going to assume he will be fine there. He also can become a bit of a matador on defense, but he also generally competes so that should not be a huge issue. He showed that he still has that ability to drive inside and draw contact, which is really helpful when you shoot free throws as well as he does. However his usefulness begins and ends with his shooting. I am assuming that he will shoot well this season and that it is preseason so no need to worry. As such everything else he does looked just fine, so he will be a good player for us. However, if he gets off to a slow start shooting, It could be time for legitimate worry about him. He heated up to end the season last year but even with that, he had a down year. He is as good a player as he is shooting. So as long as the preseason is not a sign of poor shooting this year, he will be just fine. If it is a sign of things to come tho.....
Steve Blake: First playing time(!) he looked pretty sharp, picking apart the poorly run zone defense that the Hawks ran. Obviously it is a tiny sample size, HOWEVA. Don't get too excited by tonight. He is not Steve Nash. The biggest worry (I have at least) is that he might not be able to guard anyone anymore, and he did nothing tonight to ease that fear. The other fear is that he may not be able to really score anymore. Tonight did nothing to help there either. Just to put things in perspective. Despite his 12(!) assists and generally looking like freaking Steve Nash passing the ball, his plus minus was still the exact same as Spencer Dinwiddie. It would be foolish to make any sort of judgement before the actual season starts, but right now I want Dinwiddie getting the bulk of minutes at backup point guard. It was still nice to see him look pretty sharp passing tho, and even if he does only manage to be a 3rd guard, he at the very least can fill in the "Veteran locker room leader guy" role on the team. And he might actually be better than Dinwiddie still. So we will see with him.
Anthony Tolliver: If you watched the team last year, you know what he did this preseason. Just in case you are new, he shoots spot up 3s, and goes 110% at everything else, even if he is not all that good at a lot of the other things. Think of him almost like if Matthew Dellevedova was a power forward. Plays balls out and everyone loves him. Just don't ask him to do too much. (Tolliver is not as good a defender at this point in his career as Delly is FWIW)
Joel Anthony: Same thing as Tolliver, just minus the shooting. He will be just fine as a 3rd center. He is always ready to go out there and try and block everything that moves. He does pretty much nothing else, but he's a 3rd center. He will only be playing when something has gone wrong. (speaking of which)
Aaron Baynes: He went down tonight, I have not seen any word yet on if it was anything serious or not. He had been a little banged up and been on a minutes restriction. So hopefully it is nothing bad and he will be ready to go full speed for the opener. He did not play enough to get a great read on him, but he seems to be as advertised. He is a real hard nosed, dirty work kind of guy. But also has a decent little jumper. How good that jumper is will likely be the biggest decider of how useful he is. If that jumper is actually good, then he can play alongside Drummond for short stretches of games or when the match up calls for it. (here's looking at you Memphis!) But that is something only time will tell.
Darrun Hilliard: Actually played a decent amount tonight and hit a couple of 3s. Still a pretty disappointing preseason though. Not because he did not look very good in his very limited time (although he did not look good) but because the total lack of playing means that he most likely is not anywhere near ready to be a contributor in any capacity right now. That is not some huge disappointment because he is a 2nd rounder. But it still would have been nice to see something more. Hopefully SVG lets him play in Grand Rapids for a while rather than have him warm the bench. (Also send him here because I would like to see him play lol)
PEOPLE WHO DID NOT PLAY TONIGHT
Reggie Jackson: Pretty good preseason, although not a ton new to report. He was generally pretty good but not great. He will need to be more efficient with his passing and scoring in the regular season but that should not be a terribly hard thing to do. He attacked the rim and dished a lot of assists. Those are the most important things for him to do. But he is definitely a "wait till the regular season" guy.
KCP: The injury is allegedly not serious. He is expected to play opening night. He was pretty good this preseason. It was a little disappointing because there was some hope he could make a leap into being a ball handler/being able to create his own shot. He clearly is not making that leap this year. HOWEVA, his release looks a little quicker and he looks confident. He also looked real sharp on D. I will take him making a step instead of a leap. If that step is a step to being a killer role player.
Ersan Ilyasova: Needs to shoot the damn ball more, but his activity is great. And he does not ever stop the ball. He should be a really good fit. Just cross your fingers that he does not have one of his random horrible seasons shooting the ball.
P.S. Pour one out for Adonis Thomas. This was his first real chance to make a team and he got hurt and never really had a chance. Hopefully he clears waivers and comes back and plays with Grand Rapids. But man that has to stink.
Overall: Its the preseason. This meant largely nothing. Reggie Bullock could shoot 30% from deep and looked overmatched on D. Reggie Jackson might shoot 38% from deep. Andre Drummond might figure out free throws. Actual basketball is coming, and thank goodness for that.
What did you think of the team this preseason? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!
P.S.S. Just figured I'd do a little PSA here. I am planning on doing these recaps al season long. Last year I kept wishing someone would do it and this season I said screw it I'll do it. Just so it is known, I am in no way a pro writer and I do not pretend to be. There will be grammar errors and such without fail. If you have any advice for a better way to format or anything like that go ahead and say so, you won't offend me I promise. With the recaps themselves. The hope is to over-analyze the games essentially. And also give some insight into HOW the game was actually played.