NBA Preseason Notes

Stephen Curry: Makes Preseason Debut, Leaves Game Early -- After sitting out the Warriors' preseason opener Sunday, Curry was able to take to the hardwood Monday against the Jazz. He only played in the first half, finishing with two points and six assists in under 12 minutes of run. Curry opted to sit out the second half after experiencing soreness in his oft-problematic ankle. The Warriors star point insisted he felt "great" after the game, though, and he didn't appear hampered while on the court. Given his consistent struggles with ankle injuries the past two seasons, this is somewhat worrisome, but it looks like Curry and the Warriors are just being understandably cautious at this point. A move down your cheat sheets will be in order if Curry continues to deal with ankle problems, but I'll wait to see how his ankle responds over the next couple of preseason tilts before issuing a downgrade here.

Another Start for Brandon Rush -- For the second consecutive preseason game, Rush earned the start at small forward for the Warriors. The fourth-year swingman finished with 14 points (6-of-12 FG, 2-of-6 3Pt) and two blocks in 28 minutes. The presence of lottery pick Harrison Barnes is worrisome, but Rush isn't getting nearly as much love as he deserves. A former lottery pick himself, Rush has shown flashes of value in the past, even ranking as a top-100 player last season despite his reserve role. Most of Rush's value figures to come from his three-point shooting, but his per-36 minute career averages of 12.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 threes, 0.9 blocks and 0.8 steals hint at well-rounded production. He might not be able to hold off Barnes from taking over the starting small forward gig all season, but even as a reserve Rush should still see an increase in playing time from the 26 mpg he averaged last year. Don't hesitate to grab Rush as a three-point option late in your drafts.

Klay Thompson: Man-Crush In Full-Effect -- Wrapping up notes on the Warriors, I'd like to declare my undying affection for Thompson and his fantasy upside. After being promoted to the starting lineup last season, Thompson averaged 18.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.1 threes and 1.1 steals in 29 starts. He also proved to be a very efficient player, shooting 44.1 percent from the floor, 38.1 percent from downtown and 90.6 percent from the line as a starter. Aside from his obvious value on the offensive end of the court, Thompson could also turn into a quality producer on defense. At 6-7, he has good size for a shooting guard, which causes problems for players he defends. He swatted away a couple of shots in Monday's preseason game and was an adept blocker (0.8 bpg) throughout his college career. Don't expect multiple blocks per game, but a shooting guard who has the ability to average close to one swat per tilt holds nice added value.

Tristan Thompson: Starts at Power Forward -- Thompson started at power forward in the Cavaliers exhibition against Siena Montepaschi on Monday. He finished with 12 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of run. The 2011 fourth-overall pick had an up-and-down rookie campaign, but he showed flashes of his upside when in the starting lineup last year. In his 25 starts, Thompson averaged 10.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 0.6 steals. At 6-9, Thompson doesn't have prototypical height for a power forward, but he makes up for it with energy, athleticism and a 7-1 wingspan. The lengthy wingspan is especially intriguing as it allows for Thompson to be a terror on defense at times, as evident my his 20 mult-block performances as a rookie. His upside probably falls somewhere between Tyrus Thomas and Josh Smith, and while that's an awfully big spectrum, I'm intrigued enough by Thompson this year to invest a late-round pick on the Cavaliers new starting power forward.

Dion Waiters: Impresses Off Bench -- Another Cavaliers' lottery pick whom figures to garner late-round interest is Waiters. The Cavs are making Waiters earn a spot in the starting five, and he looked up to the challenge in Monday's exhibition. Waiters played just 15 minutes off the bench, but he still managed to pour in 11 points while going 3-of-6 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. His primary strength is his aggressiveness on the offensive end of the floor, as he attacks the basket with reckless abandon at times. He's also able to step back and drain threes, but Waiters does need to work on his ability to finish better. Keep tabs on Waiters to see if he's able to nab the starting shooting guard gig in training camp, as he could develop into one of the better scorers in his draft class.

Enes Kanter: Strong Play Off the Bench -- Much of the talk about the Jazz's frontcourt in training camp has involved Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors, but it was Kanter who put together the best performance in the team's Monday night preseason tilt against the Warriors. Kanter posted a double-double off the bench, finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes. With Al Jefferson manning the center spot, and Millsap and Favors getting run at the four, Kanter's value will be limited at the start of the season. But keep Kanter's line from Monday night in mind should the Jazz frontcourt suffer a rash of injuries, or if the team opts to trade Jefferson and his expiring contract later in the season.

Kyle Lowry: Sits Out Exhibition -- Lowry sat out Monday's exhibition against Real Madrid due to the strained abductor muscle in his left leg. He's also scheduled to sit out preseason games on Wednesday and Friday. Despite Lowry's absence for this week, Raptors coach Dwayne Casey has stated the injury isn't considered serious and the team is just being cautious. Casey even said that Lowry could have played Monday if it were a playoff game. At this point, we'll take the coach's word that Lowry will be ready in time for the season opener, but should a setback occur, make sure to downgrade Lowry while bumping Jose Calderon up your cheat sheets.


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