The Oklahoma City Thunder outlasted the Dallas Mavericks Friday night, 118-109. Jeremy Lamb led the Thunder with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists. Jae Crowder and Al-Farouq Aminu each led Dallas in scoring with 14. A whopping 27 players saw game action in a surprisingly entertaining pre-season game.
Writing about a preseason game feels so strange and not because it's actual basketball instead of basketball as a concept. Instead of examining how the Mavericks got to the final score, we're all looking for flashes of what could be in the games to come.
Of course, this could be making excuses for the fact that I missed chunks of the third quarter because Dirk Nowitzki was talking to the announcing crew or because my dog needed to go for an extended walk to start the fourth. At any rate, I came away from this game pretty darn excited about the season to come.
So, in place of a play by play, here's a list of observations:
- Chandler Parsons is going to be a ridiculous weapon for the Mavericks. Since he was the marquis signing of the off-season, this seems a bit obvious, but he's perhaps a perfect match for the offense Rick Carlisle runs. Though he shot the ball poorly against the Thunder (just 4-12), putting up a line of 9 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in just 20 minutes bodes exceptionally well. The Mavericks ran a number of SF-C pick and rolls with Parsons and Tyson Chandler that caused the Thunder defense to panic. And this was all without Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki. Parsons's ability to do anything on the offensive end will result in some really exciting basketball this season.
- It's really nice to see Tyson back in a Mavericks uniform. His anticipation defensively is just so much better than Dalembert's. I don't think he's going to be enough to paper over how horrible the backcourt is defensively, but I'm not sure it matters with how many points Dallas may score this year.
- Jameer Nelson is too small. I know it's a one game sample and Russell Westbrook isn't really the best guard to judge a guy like Nelson against, but assuming Monta Ellis covers the other backcourt player to start games, the Mavericks are going to have to get mighty creative defensively. We gave Calderon a lot of crap last year about being slow, but he's 6'3 compared to the 5'10" of Nelson (I don't care what he's listed at). That sort of length matters.
- Devin Harris looks healthy and confident. The Mavericks are going to lean on him a lot this year.
- Richard Jefferson and Al-Farouq Aminu give Carlisle an abundance of riches at the small forward spot. Neither should play too much and Aminu may end up playing more power forward, but they each bring a skill set that's going to be useful as the season rolls along.
- Jae Crowder, the player I irrationally whine about, looked pretty good against the Thunder. His shot looks good, it just won't go down ever. His defense is solid though, and when he finally started attacking the rim in the third, good things happened. He's bound to get minutes this year, mainly because Rick trusts him; I just hope he can show some semblance of an offensive game.
- Ricky Ledo is a whole lot of fun. He's not fast. He's not quick. He's not a great shooter. It's not clear where he fits with Dallas. But he plays hard. Good things seem to happen when he's on the court. I really look forward to seeing what happens with Ledo this season.
- Former Maverick Anthony Morrow can hit shots, apparently. The "big" signing of the summer for OKC looked pretty good, but compared to the Maverick additions he looks really paltry. The Thunder are still absurdly good, though.
- I hate how much I love Steven Adams. He'd be fun to root for.
- Felton's injury sucks. I need to understand why Knicks and Trail Blazers fans loathe him
- Dirk was on the mic for most of the third quarter. Every time he talks at length it's so low key amazing.
- The Mavericks have a lot of guys on their roster at the moment. Some of them, like Eric Griffin, are probably bound for the Texas Legends. Charlie Villanueva is apparently challenging for a roster spot. Ivan Johnson and Doron Lamb look better than a lot of guys signed to multi-year deals around the league (hey there 76ers!). The roster decisions that will come these next few weeks are going to be very interesting.
What did you think of the game? Which fringe players are you hoping to see more of (or less of)? Did I miss anything big? Dirk comes back Sunday, so everyone get excited!