The NBA Season is here!!! Well, not yet…the Wizards first preseason game tips off in a little more than an hour. They will taking on the Chicago Bulls on the road at the United Center. Remember Derrick Rose, the former MVP? Well, he’s back from another devastating injury. The Bulls and Wizards both made a few key off-season acquistions, both in free-agency and via the draft. These two teams lock horns tonight, here’s what you should keep an eye on during this game.
*This is a new series starting this year, the goal is to highlight several keys or points of emphasis in the game to be played.*
1. The Backcourt Matchup – There’s been a monsoon of conversations and debates about who the best backcourt is in the NBA. One of the key units in that discussion is the brilliant duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal, they’ll be facing a backcourt that has been on hold for a few years now. Due to Rose’s injuries, he hasn’t spent much time with Jimmy Butler. This should be a joy to watch on the defensive end as Rose and Wall are two of the NBA’s most gifted athletes at their positions and Beal is on his way to becoming one of the league’s best two-guards. Butler is known as one of the better perimeter defenders in the league as well. Wall and Beal are pretty good on that end of the floor as well, they will certainly be a great test for Rose & Butler.
2. The Bigs – In their playoff series, which was only last season. Washington’s bigs destroyed Joakim Noah and company on both ends of the floor, the only effective big for the Bulls was Taj Gibson. That is exactly why Chicago went out and signed Pau Gasol, he’s one of the most skilled big men in the league and has been for some time. The Wizards didn’t stand pat on the block either, adding DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries. Giving Washington a stable of bigs for opposing teams to contend with. It will be interesting to see if Gasol can fare better than Noah did against the duo of Gortat & Nene, or how Humphries and Blair fit in for Washington
3. Offense – This game features two top ten defenses from last season, it’ll be interesting to see which team can get rolling in the half court, if at all. Both teams are known for getting stops on that end of the floor and finishing in transition with their dynamic guards. There have been subtle and not so subtle hints by Wizards players that there have been new wrinkles and or schemes on the offensive end of the floor, so definitely keep an eye on how the offense flows. As for Chicago, it’ll be interesting to see how they go back to playing WITH Derrick Rose. They have been two separate teams during his time there, the Bulls with their superstar and the super role playing version. Rose had shown glimpses of his explosiveness during the FIBA World Championships, but it’ll be great to see other things he worked on during his time off as well. He talked about being a better point guard, specifically about the nuances of the position earlier this summer.
4. Youth on the Wings – Both teams have gone younger as far as depth goes on the wings, as the Spurs have shown us over the past 15 years or so, having a great second unit works wonders. Chicago drafted Tony Snell a couple of years ago and followed that up by selecting Creighton’s Doug McDermott in this year’s draft. Snell and McDermott give the Bulls size and shooting off the bench, it’s imperative that they are able to produce in their minutes. Unlike Chicago’s duo, Washington has a pair of kids that are coming off huge summer league performances. Otto Porter and Glen Rice (they have dropped the Jr.) are expected to play a lot this year, per starting shooting guard Bradley Beal. They also possess great size and versatility, with it being preseason…they should get some extended minutes.
5. Paul Pierce – It was a struggle to find the fifth talking point or view point in this case, but sometimes things are right in front of you the whole time. The veteran swing man has been talked about at nauseam to this point in training camp, reporters asking daily about his impact on the team to any player or coach they can get their hands on. Wall did allude to how Pierce would fit in during one of his media sessions, so this is the first chance for everyone to see how Paul will fit in with these Wizards