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NBA season is fast approaching, with teams gearing up for the regular season by playing preseason games. And while star players already have a place on their respective teams solidified, here are plenty of players using these games to prove that they are capable of playing serious minutes to help their squads for the upcoming 82 games and beyond. Out of all of those impressive player performances, these are the most noteworthy of the bunch in the NBA preseason.
Since joining the NBA from Vanderbilt, John Jenkins has been looking for a place to establish himself as a potential asset to a team. This preseason, he has done just that as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, scoring 20.6 points per game in the exhibition portion of the season. Those numbers put him in second place in the preseason in scoring, just behind Most Valuable Player candidate Anthony Davis at the top of the scoring charts.
This season, the Mavericks will rely on a continuously aging Dirk Nowitzki along with aging guards such as Ray Felton and Deron Williams. Along with Chandler Parsons, Jenkins could fill an important role for this team, spreading the floor and providing a much needed set of fresh legs for one of the more talented but more aged squads in the NBA.
The Chicago Bulls have become known for their rebounding and defense, with Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and Taj Gibson making up one of the most difficult front courts in the NBA to deal with. With the way Bobby Portis has played this preseason, that vicious front court will be even harder for NBA teams to cope with, with there being a seemingly limitless supply of talent to overcome.
Portis is averaging ten rebounds per game for the Bulls in the preseason, and has the potential to be a very valuable component for the Bulls. If he can play this way in the regular season when the games count, his productivity would allow the team to rest the older Gasol and Noah to keep them healthy and at the best possible energy level come the playoffs, a luxury that is not to be overlooked given that playoff teams have to play over 100 games to win a championship.
Sure, Kevin Durant is an established star in the NBA, but given how long it’s been since we’ve seen him on the court in a meaningful capacity, it’s worth giving him a nod here. Durant missed the bulk of last season due to injury, with his Oklahoma City Thunder missing out on the playoffs as a result. This year he will not just be tasked with getting them back to the playoffs, but with playing at a level that has won him Most Valuable Player awards in the past. This preseason from Durant is a great step toward those goals.
With Russell Westbrook also healthy and ready to play at the level he played at last year, this could be a huge turnaround season for the Thunder, led by Durant.
By: Jason M. Sanin