The NBA preseason still has a week left to run and players are fighting for roster spots while starters rest in advance of the regular season. Which teams have been the most and least impressive on the NBA odds so far? Let’s have a look.
Most Impressive: Chicago Bulls, Utah Jazz
The focus in the preseason is generally on the bench players and the young guys trying to carve out roster spots, but with the Bulls, the one consideration that trumps all others is how the team’s superstar is holding up. Derrick Rose looks stronger – that’s the news from the Chicago Bulls to this point in the preseason. Rose’s durability, strength and help will all be looked at throughout the season. No Bulls fan will view any other issue with the same level of urgency or importance. How Rose fares is what will determine whether the Bulls have a shot or not in the playoffs. Rose looks good right now, so Chicago’s preseason is very much on schedule.
The Utah Jazz are sharing the ball and getting their rookies involved, especially in Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Utah, under new coach Quin Snyder, is showing signs of being a much more complete and blended team, one that has a better understanding of how to run halfcourt offense and get the most out of a stable of talented players, especially in the backcourt. If Utah can get its guards to run the floor, the Jazz could make some noise in the Western Conference, much more than a lot of analysts are currently expecting in such a cutthroat part of the NBA.
Least Impressive: Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers
The Thunder and Lakers are on different sides of the tracks in the NBA and the West, but they’re both facing problems that have emerged in the preseason. Reggie Jackson has suffered a right wrist injury within the past week, and Jeremy Lin suffered a sprained ankle that has kept him out of multiple preseason games. These injuries are so bad because they compound the problems these teams have already experienced in relation to the injury bug. For Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant was already sidelined by an injury, forcing him to miss six weeks. For the Lakers, Steve Nash suffered another back injury, quite realistically putting his flagging career in jeopardy. More immediately, the Nash injury is a problem because with Lin now also hurting, the Lakers have no real answers at point guard. A team in a dire situation and a nondescript roster other than Kobe Bryant needed to have all hands on deck this season. Obviously, two point guard injuries destroy whatever continuity the Lakers had hoped to build.
With Jackson being injured, Oklahoma City knows that the player who stepped up when Russell Westbrook got injured last season must now be nursed through the early part of the season, presuming he’s able to play. If Jackson’s not 100 percent, Westbrook will have to dominate the ball in Durant’s absence. Westbrook might get a chance to take the early lead in the NBA’s MVP balloting. On the negative side, opposing defenses are going to focus their attention more than ever on Westbrook, which will probably limit his offense.