NBA preseason stats are notoriously unreliable especially if there is only a game or two to draw from. But there are still important things to watch for.
Just a handful of teams began their preseason schedules over the weekend and only the Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards have actually played multiple games. But even from this tiny sample size there are a few data points to take note of and see if they expand into a pattern over the next few games.
Here are a few NBA preseason stats that caught my eye
James Wiseman — 7.7 fouls per 36 minutes
Wiseman got the NBA preseason off to a rousing start, putting up 20 points and 9 rebounds on 8-of-11 from the field in the 96-87 win over the Washington Wizards in Japan. He followed that up with a quieter 8 points and 3 rebounds in the second game but that worked out to an impressive 28 points and 12 rebounds on 10-of-18 shooting in just over 42 minutes of preseason action.
However, he also racked up a whopping 9 fouls in those 42 minutes — 7.7 per 36 minutes. It’s not surprising for fouls to be a problem for a young big man — remember he’s just 21 years old and has played only 836 NBA and 69 NCAA minutes over the past three years. Wiseman fouled a lot in his abbreviated rookie season (5.2 per 36 minutes) but that was just the 43rd-highest from a rookie over the past two decades and plenty of eventually solid players fouled more often (Roy Hibbert, Jusuf Nurkic, Al Jefferson, Steven Adams, Paul Millsap, Mitchell Robinson, Draymond Green, Serge Ibaka and Jaren Jackson Jr.).
However, fouls are worth watching as a key indicator of Wiseman’s development. He desperately needs meaningful reps if he’s ever going to approach the ceiling of his talent and excessive fouling could limit his minutes and keep him from developing a rhythm during extended on-court stretches. For now, managing his fouls is ultimately just as important as anything else he does in the box score.
Malcolm Brogdon — 9 assists
The Celtics’ offense absolutely dominated against the Charlotte Hornets, putting up 134 points in their preseason opener. They spread the scoring around and it was heartening to see fringe rotation players like Sam Hauser (4-of-5 from 3), Noah Vonleh (9 rebounds) and Mfiondu Kabengele (perfect 5-of-5 from the field) combine for 31 points.
But the most inspiring stat for Celtics’ fans has to be seeing Malcolm Brogdon dish out 9 assists. Boston finished 16th in the league in potential assists per game last season and only had 17 games during the regular season where a player recorded 9 or more assists — seven for Marcus Smart, four for Jayson Tatum, three for Jaylen Brown, two for Dennis Schroder and one each for Robert Williams and Al Horford.
Eight of Brogdon’s nine assists went for 3-pointers and layups. There was nothing overly flashy in the execution, just pushing the ball in transition, simple drive-and-kicks and reading where open space would be as teammates came off screens. But having another scoring threat who can keep the ball moving and create for others off the dribble is going to make things so much easier for everyone else on this team.
Jeremy Sochan — 4 stocks in 17 minutes
In the grand scheme of things, this one may not be all that meaningful. Sochan is one of three rookies likely to be a part of the Spurs rotation this season as they race to the bottom of the standings and a chance at the No. 1 pick.
Sochan, the No. 9 pick in last year’s draft, missed all of Summer League after testing positive for Covid-19 and this was our first real look at him against NBA competition. He finished with 4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks and 1 steal in 17 minutes, even knocking down a 3-pointer. Sochan is an electric wing with huge defensive and playmaking upside, although his scoring and shooting are a work in progress. Seeing him come right out of the gate and create chaos all over the floor is just big-time fun.
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The Step Back 25-under-25 is back
For the sixth year in a row, The Step Back is rolling out our selections for the 25 best players in the NBA, under the age of 25. We’ll be revealing five a day this week, building up to the top spots on Friday. Check out the first batch of reveals today and follow along for the whole list.
- No. 21 — Tyler Hero
- No. 22 — Jarrett Allen
- No. 23 — Josh Giddey
- No. 24 — Collin Sexton
- No. 25 — Herbert Jones
- The best of the rest: Grant Williams, Franz Wagner, Keldon Johnson, Jalen Green and Anfernee Simons.
Content around the FanSided NBA network
- Andrew Hughes at Hardwood Houdini on why Blake Griffin could be a better fit than Danilo Gallinari or Carmelo Anthony.
- Mike Luciano at Raptors Rapture on a much improved Precious Achiuwa showing out for Toronto.
- Peter O’Keefe at Blue Man Hoop with more James Wiseman and where he fits into the Warriors’ rotation this season.
Tyler Herro gets the bag
Yesterday it was announced that the Miami Heat had signed Tyler Herro to a four-year, $130 million extension. What you need to know:
- This may be a sign the Heat could be prepared to punt on an uninspiring 2023 free agent class.
- Herro is likely still coming off the bench but there could be some rotation tweaks that get him more minutes and more high-leverage minutes. He’s also an important part of Miami’s plans to get more points from Bam Adebayo.