NBA Preseason Notes

O.J. Mayo: The New Jason Terry In Big D -- With Dirk Nowitzki (knee) sitting out Monday's preseason game against the Rockets, Mayo assumed the role of the Mavericks' primary scorer. He finished the night with 20 points (7-of-12 FG, 3-of-6 3Pt, 3-of-4 FT) in under 24 minutes while working as Dallas's starting shooting guard. Dallas brought in Mayo this past offseason after losing Jason Terry to the Celtics. Despite starting the first three preseason games, it's still uncertain if Mayo will start or be asked to play the same sixth man role Terry held for the past eight seasons. Mayo was deployed as the Grizzlies sixth man with mixed results this past season, but as we've seen with Terry over the years, Dallas likes to rely more heavily on their sixth man than other teams. Regardless of Mayo's role as starter or reserve, the big takeaway is he'll be leaned on to be the Mavericks' No. 2 offensive option. Mayo is coming off a couple of somewhat disappointing campaigns, but he should be given a chance in Dallas to carry a bigger share of the scoring load and live up to the potential he showed during his first two seasons in Memphis.

Jae Crowder: Deep Keeper League Flier? -- Crowder was the other big performer in Dallas's preseason win on Monday night, finishing with 20 points, five rebounds, four treys and two steals in 15 minutes off the bench. The second-round pick didn't get much love on draft day, and he his name is rarely bandied about in fantasy circles, but he could end up holding surprise value in deep keeper leagues. By deep keeper leagues, I mean the type that allows you to draft and stash NBADL type players. While he doesn't have prototypical size (6-6, 235) for a forward, it's hard to argue with the on-the-court production from last year's Big East Player of the Year. Color me, intrigued. I'll be keeping an eye on Crowder all season.

Brook Lopez: Rediscovers What It Feels Like To Haul In a Rebound -- Aside from his health issues, the biggest gripe with Lopez the past couple seasons has been his lack of rebounding. I remain at a loss how one of the most talented young seven-footers in the league pull down under six boards per game over his past 87 appearances. After all, this is a guy who boarded decently in college and pulled down 8+ boards in each of his first two professional seasons. Well, whatever ailed Lopez the past two seasons might have passed, as he's averaging 10 rebounds through his first two preseason appearances, and that's in only 27 mpg. If Lopez can carryover those improvements into the regular season, he could easily return to being the potential top-25 player we saw during his sophomore campaign.

Spencer Hawes: The Sixers Version of Pau Gasol? -- First and foremost, we need to establish that Hawes is nowhere near as talented as Pau Gasol, who has been one of the better big man in the NBA for the past 12 seasons. That said, it's still intriguing to hear Sixers coach Doug Collins say he wants to use Hawes in a "Gasol-type" role. The role that Collins is referring to is a big man who can excel on the perimeter due to his shooting and passing ability. Hawes played the role effectively Monday night, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 18 minutes. While it's asking a lot for Hawes to match Gasol's 3.7 apg from last year (which is elite for a big man), we have seen the Sixers' seven-footer display his passing ability before, including a near triple-double effort (10 points, 14 rebounds, nine dimes) in the season opener last year. Hawes was already an intriguing fantasy option this season, but he deserves even more attention given the way Collins plans to utilize him this year.

Damian Lillard: Your 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year -- Yes, the Unibrow is going to be great for what will likely be a much-improved Hornets squad this year, but Lillard is my favorite to win ROY and make the biggest fantasy impact of the 2012 draft class. He continued his solid preseason on Monday night, finishing with 20 points, four three-pointers, three assists and a steal in 28 minutes. That pushes his preseason averages to 16.3 points, 5.0 assists and 2.3 treys through three contests. We already know that Lillard will be the Blazers' starting point guard this season, and as we've seen with rookie floor generals in the recent past (Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, John Wall), immediate success can be had when the player is talented and the team is committed to their development. Lillard might not be coming into the league with as much hype as some of his predecessors, but I believe the upside is there for him to match the year-one production seen from the likes of Rose, Wall or Irving.


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