DeMarcus Cousins: Finishes Preseason Strong– Cousins put up 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting and had 13 rebounds in the Kings’ final preseason game Thursday night. Through two NBA seasons, his career field goal percentage sits at just 44|PERCENT|, a number that probably should be higher for a player of Cousins’ stature and talent level, but he still holds high draft value nonetheless. Last year saw Cousins improve his points, rebounds, blocks, and steals per game, while his turnovers per game decreased, to his fantasy owners’ delight. In year three, it appears Cousins will be the focus of Sacramento’s offense, which should equal a season of consistently high double-doubles like the one he produced Thursday.
Blake Griffin: Productive Night– The Blake Show was in full effect Thursday, as Griffin dunked his way to 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting. A number of those baskets came off lob passes from Chris Paul, who tallied 12 assists on the night, but Griffin also added 11 rebounds for good measure. He looks to be 100 percent after having offseason knee surgery and figures to be one of the league’s most productive and sensational big men for another season.
Nicolas Batum: Versatile– After signing a big-money deal this offseason, Batum appears to be poised for both his best season as a pro and as a fantasy player. At just 23-years-old, Batum’s impact for the Blazers has become more significant in each of his four NBA seasons and year five looks to be no different as he enters the season as Portland’s premiere wing player. The Frenchman contributes toward nearly every statistical category and his numbers of 17 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks Thursday night reflect this. While Batum did not make a three-pointer, his jump shot looks to have improved further over the offseason and in the Olympics, so prepare for a big season from Batum, who will be additionally boosted by the point guard play of rookie-of-the-year candidate Damian Lillard.
Derrick Favors & Enes Kanter: Big Off Bench– Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap may be more proven commodities that warrant bigger minutes on a nightly basis, but the Jazz also have the luxury of two blossoming big men on their bench in Favors and Kanter. The duo is just 21 and 20-years-old, respectively, and looks to be pushing the aforementioned elder statesmen for playing time across the Utah front line this season. Thursday night, both Favors and Kanter had 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, with the latter pulling down 12 boards and the former six. Numbers like those hint at both players’ potentials and the progress they have made since entering the association. Keep an eye on how the Jazz shuffle their power forward and center positions in the early going because Favors and Kanter are certainly making their cases for increased minutes.
Tobias Harris: 18 in 18– Milwaukee’s second-year player had 18 points in 18 minutes in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Bobcats. That total included three triples and Harris also grabbed five rebounds. He enters the season as the Bucks starter at small forward after an impressive summer league showing and a fairly good camp. Noted for the fluency of his game, Harris will be driven by competition from Mike Dunleavy Jr. off the bench. Thursday, Dunleavy Jr. had 17 points and five rebounds, while also making three triples. It will be interesting to see how Harris handles increased minutes and a bigger role on the team. He figures to go through some rough patches, as most young players do over the course of a full season, but if Thursday night is any indication, the talent is there.