NBA teams started training camp last Tuesday. Here are a few things that we have found out and seen from the first seven official days of the season.
Carlos Boozer is hurt again. Boozer, who signed a $75 million deal to be the Bulls’ power forward for the next five years, recently tripped over a bag in his house and fell, breaking his right hand. He’ll be out for the next two months, meaning he’ll miss approximately the first 15 games of the year. Over the past six seasons, Boozer has missed a total of 13 games throughout three of those seasons combined (not bad) but his games played totals for the other three seasons are 33, 37, and 51 (quite bad). Boozer is expected to bring a strong rebounding presence to Chicago plus very good inside scoring capabilities that have been sorely lacking for the club. With his signing, the Bulls were expected to rise up and become the Eastern Conference’s #4 team behind Miami, Boston, and Orlando.
Nets’ rookie Derrick Favors performed quite well in his preseason debut against Israeli club Maccabi Haifa. Sure the New Jersey squad cruised to an easy 108-70 victory on Sunday, but people were already murmuring about Favors’ potential only being long-term with expectations that he wouldn’t accomplish much this season after being the #3 selection in June’s draft. Against Maccabi Haifa, however, Favors had a team-high 14 points (the majority of which were on dunks – in case you forgot, his offense and athleticism has been compared to Amar’e Stoudemire’s for a while now), a team second-best 9 rebounds, plus the reports indicate he played smart and active defense. Another new Net, SG Anthony Morrow who signed as a free agent in July, also had 14 points, including hitting four 3-pointers, his specialty.
Amar’e Stoudemire and the Knicks showed they are capable of scoring lots of points. In Sunday’s other international contest, New York won a 125-113 track meet in Italy against local club Olimpia Milano (the Nets played in NJ). Stoudemire poured in a game-high 32 points, but the fan favorite was clearly Italian national and current Knick Danilo Gallinari, who scored 24 points (including five 3-pointers) and grabbed 7 rebounds. It’s obvious that New York may still have issues defending against the fast break (sorry, Stoudemire doesn’t really help in that regard). Russian rookie big man Timofey Mozgov (barely known to NY fans but supposedly a very promising prospect) was one of only five Knicks to score in double figures, registering 10 points.
John Wall’s athleticism has already resulted in the most watched lay-up of the pre-preseason. In Washington’s inter-squad scrimmage before fans, #1 draft pick Wall pulled the above beauty from up his sleeve to bank in two points. As much as he’s lacking a lot of necessary PG skills, his fast and reckless style of play will keep Wizards’ fans interested and in the seats for a little while. Keep in mind that this highlight came against the Washington defense (easily confused with that of the Washington Generals), so don’t go counting on 20 ppg worth of 360-degree lay-ups just yet.
The Celtics’ Nate Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal are two funny guys. As should have been predicted earlier but wasn’t, these two jokesters already get along famously on the East’s most veteran squad. Here’s the little guy dunking on the big guy to lots of laughs.
It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Ricky Rubio really does not want to play for the Timberwolves. With Minnesota in Europe this week, owner Glen Taylor hoped to meet Rubio’s parents over dinner in Paris where his team will take on the Knicks on Wednesday. Rubio, the Wolves’ top draft pick in 2009 at the #5 slot, currently plays in Spain and has been both subtle and overt about his desire to play for other NBA teams, notably the one in New York. Rubio’s parents turned down Taylor’s offer and will not meet with him. Why Minnesota hasn’t aggressively sought out trades for one of the most-hyped PG prospects in some time is unknown, especially since everyone is quite aware by now that he’ll never be a Timberwolf.
Gilbert Arenas is already kinda hurt, which is kinda bad considering how many games he’s missed over his career. Arenas didn’t practice on Friday due to soreness in his leg and then didn’t scrimmage on Saturday due to a tweaked ankle. He’s played a grand total of 47 games over the past three seasons—barely more than half of what we’ve gotten from Greg Oden—because of recurring knee injuries. (What’s that? He missed a bunch last year because he tried to kill a teammate? Well that makes me feel better.) Arenas hasn’t missed less than 50 games in a season since 2006-07, so anything that makes him sit out of practices, scrimmages, games, promo pieces, whatever has to be met with a raised eyebrow and an “oh really…?” by Wizard fans.