Pre-season is finally over. Thank God. At this point, we are entering the final weekend before the big night. Did I mention Pre-season was over?
This pre-season was one of the weirdest I've ever experienced. It was one of the first time in my life where I asked myself this question, "Ehh, do I listen to a Sixers pre-season game on the radio or watch the World Series?" Most of the time, I could care less. This year was different though; I was dying to see the new team play. The pre-season was finally intriguing to me. We finally had something new, something to be excited about. We went though a frantic period of time which included, "We're gonna beat the Pistons!" to "Josh Smith! Yes!" to "Elton Brand! Championship!" to "Mo Speights?" to "Iggy and Lou are locked up!" to "Hooray for veteran players I've never liked, but now I do." I wanted to see the re-amped team play. I wanted to see EB, Lou, Iggy and Thad. I wanted to take my man-crush with M16 to the next level; I was robbed.
Out of the seven pre-season games, only one was for my viewing plesure. One! I saw the second half of that game. Trying to follow the rest of the pre-season games was a mess. I watched half of a game. I listened to two and a half games and I followed the play-by-play for the other four. To top it all off, NBA.com didn't even have highlights available for most of the games. Anyway, here's what I got out of the underwhelming pre-season:
Thaddeus Young-He's the real deal and looks like he's ready to take that proverbial "next step". His jumpshot is much improved, especially from downtown and he has a certain confidence to his game that was missing last season. He was the team's third leading scorer in the pre-season, shot 47% from the field and hit 8 of his 22 three's. The only thing still in question is his ball handling. Watching half a game and listening to bits and pieces of others don't give me enough evidence. When I saw him in the Summer League, his dribbling looked just as bad, if not worse than it did before, but so did his jumpshot, and that obviously didn't mean anything. I guess we'll find out in 4 days.
Marreese Speights-He's developed the nickname M16. It's not very original, but it's easy to write and sounds like some type of weapon or airplane, so I like it. It sure beats typing Marreese all the time. M16 didn't disappoint me after I fell in love with his game at the Summer League. He shot 53% from the floor and 81% from the line, which is always a plus for a big man. His minutes were limited; although he did start two games. None of his numbers really jump out at you, but everybody from the Sixers Radio guy to SBNation's Knicks' blogger was impressed with him. It doesn't hurt that he ended the pre-season with a bang, scoring 18 and grabbing 7 boards in the finale. Get this guy some minutes! I'm prepared to get my "Free M16" sign out if he rides the pine the entire season. Some have gone to the extreme saying he's going to take over for Sammy D sometime this season. I don't see that happening, but Cheeks should definitely consider giving him more PT over Evans and Theophilus.
Andre Iguodala-Nothing spectacular, nothing disappointing. He was 8-20 from beyond the arch which is encouraging. Other than that, no surprises.
Andre Miller-See Above.
Elton Brand-Our big, bad free agent signing. The dude that's supposed to lead us to bigger and better things. Well... he wasn't very good this pre-season and when I say wasn't very good, I mean, he was terrible. Check this: He ended the season shooting 39% from the field, on 56 total shots and in one of the games against the Knicks he was 10-13 from the floor. If we take that game away, he was 12-43 shooting this pre-season. That's 27%. Ouch. I know, I know, it's just pre-season, he's coming off Achilles surgery and he's getting acclimated to a new team, but don't those numbers have to worry you just a tiny bit? I'm a little worried. As a sports' fan it's almost impossible to be 4 days away from opening night and have no worries at all. And if you happen to be one of those fans that don't worry, you're in for a rude awakening. Just ask 2008 Dallas Cowboy fans. Like I said, I'm just a little bit worried, but I'm sure he'll be fine.
Lou-Will-No real surprises here either. He did have 3+ turnovers a game (so did Iggy), but I still love him.
Sammy D-He sat out a couple games with a bum right knee, but wil be fine. While he did play, he seemed kind of lost next to Elton. He had a whopping one block in 76 minutes of pre-season play. That's unacceptable.
Rest of the bench:
Willie G-Yep. Still sucks.
Kareem Rush-Surprisingly solid.
Donyell Marshall-He had 7 threes and 6 steals in only 3 games. He had a very nice pre-season and slightly out-performed my expectations.
Royal Ivey-I don't really have an opinion on the dude yet. Hopefully he rides the pine enough, where it'll stay that way.
Reggie Evans-Still my favorite role player. The energy. The hustle. The passion. The inappropriate touching of big, white, goofy centers. You can't get it anywhere else.
Theo-Ehh. I'd rather see Speights get his minutes. He'll be more valuable come playoff time... if we're lucky enough to make it. I can't jinx us this early.
Overall-I am a little more nervous about the season that I should be. For some reason, all of a sudden I'm having doubts. Maybe it's just nervous energy; either that or I've developed some sort of sports related mental disorder. I swear it's been like a month since I last said this, "Only 8 days until the season." It's a lifelong Christmas Eve.