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NBA Preseason Notes

Amar’e Stoudemire: Raring To Go This Season. After entering last season’s training camp with a recovering back and 15 pounds of added muscle, which ultimately led to his least productive season in years, Stoudemire asserts that his body feels great in anticipation of the upcoming season. Couple this with his offseason training sessions with Hakeem Olajuwon and Mike Woodson’s expected emphasis of utilizing Stoudemire more often from the low-post, and STAT could be poised for a bounce-back season, although it is yet to be proven that he and Carmelo Anthony can play cohesively together.

Blake Griffin: Knee No Problem. During the Clippers’ first team scrimmage of the season, Griffin led the starters in points against the reserves. The high flyer says he is back at 100 percent after recovering from offseason surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, a procedure that prevented Griffin from appearing in this summer’s Olympics. Given his history of knee injuries and his explosive athleticism, it will be worth monitoring Griffin’s preseason to see if there are any lingering effects on his game, but nonetheless, The Blake Show should prove to be in full effect this season, especially with a year of playing with Chris Paul under his belt now.

Chauncey Billups: Making Progress. Even though Billups is expected to miss the first month or so of the season while his Achilles recovers, he did participate in some contract drills during the Clippers’ practice Thursday. At age 36, Billups may be a shadow of his former self, but he can still contribute to a contender with his decision-making and shooting abilities. With Jamal Crawford now at shooting guard for the Clips, it appears that Mr. Big Shot will have the luxury of easing himself back into the rotation without much burden on the team, although his role this season appears to be a back-up one.

Gerald Henderson: Team Captain. Henderson was named as one of the Bobcats’ team captains for this upcoming season Thursday. The 24-year-old led Charlotte in scoring last season at 15.1 per game and has played for the team since entering the league in 2009, making him one of the Cats’ longest tenured players. With draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist entering the fold, Michael Jordan will hope Henderson can use his captaincy to nurture the rookie, since MKG presents one of the few hopes for the franchise going forward. But hey, it can’t be any worst than last season, right?

Derrick Favors: In Favor? Favors is part of a heated training camp competition with Paul Millsap for the Jazz’s starting power forward position. Still only 21, Favors saw his minutes increase by eight per game during Utah’s playoff series, something that may carry over to this upcoming season. However, the Jazz have a deep frontcourt and Millsap is a proven starter, so Favors may have to wait a bit longer to crack the starting lineup, but given Millsap’s current contract uncertainty, that wait may not be long.

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