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NBA Preseason Notes

LeBron James: He’s Good. With a ring to his name, James has picked up where he left off last season thus far this preseason. In the Heat’s first game, he stuffed the box score in limited minutes against the Hawks (10 points. six rebounds, and six assists), and did so again versus the Clippers Thursday morning in China, with 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in 26 minutes. This season, James may not give owners as many three pointers than in the past, but his field goal percentage figures to increase as a result of his added emphasis in playing in the paint, and his assists could rise even further with Ray Allen to pass the ball to now. So yeah, you should be safe if you pick him or Kevin Durant with the first pick in pretty much any league format.

Jrue Holiday: Stock Up. After averaging a stellar 15.8 points, 5.2 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game during the post season last year, Holiday posted 27 points on 12-14 shooting (3-4 3PT), three dimes, and four boards Thursday night in the Sixers’ first preseason game against the Magic. He looks to be an emerging point guard in the league and could have his biggest statistical season this year with Andre Iguodala now out of his backcourt. Additionally, lobs to Andrew Bynum could inflate Holiday’s assist numbers, since he has proven he can use his athleticism to get into the paint routinely. Monitor his preseason form, and don't be afraid to pull the trigger on Holiday in your drafts.

JR Smith: Strong Early Season Value. Although Knicks coach Mike Woodson recently said that Smith would continue to occupy the team’s sixth man role, the shoot-til-you-miss/make guard could be poised for increased fantasy value this season. That’s because the Knicks are banged up at the two-guard with Iman Shumpert out until perceivably January and free agent addition Ronnie Brewer recovering from knee surgery. While Brewer is expected to be ready come opening night, and be the Knicks’ starter, Smith has established himself in Woodson’s rotation after displaying increased effort on defense. He played 34 minutes per game down the stretch last season, which caused him to re-sign with the team this offseason.  But don’t get it twisted, Smith is definitely an offensive player, and his stat line Thursday against the Wizards reflected this, as he dropped 20 points on 8-11 shooting (1-1 3PT) in 28 minutes. He also had six assists and four rebounds, so keeping an eye on Smith as we approach the season could prove beneficial.

Bradley Beal: Solid Off Bench. The third overall pick made had an impressive 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists coming off the bench in the Wizards’ second preseason game. Noted for his shooting ability, Beal could mesh well with John Wall in the Wiz’s backcourt given the latter’s penetration capabilities. However, Beal is not just a one-dimensional player, and his numbers Thursday night reflect this. He may be a rookie, but Beal is worth considering in most leagues due to his upside.

Stephen Curry: Running The Point. Curry produced very point guard-esque numbers Thursday night, with 13 points (4-8 FG, 2-4 3PT), 10 assists, and just one turnover. Granted, the Warriors played Israeli team Maccabi Haifa. Curry is likely to assume more ball handling duties now that Monta Ellis has left the Bay, but his oft-injured ankle is something you must consider before drafting him.

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