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Preseason Roundup for Saturday, October 4

The NBA action finally opened up after what seemed like a long offseason. Actually, with summer league play in July, the offseason didn't seem that long, but it was good to see some starting players getting some court time for the first time since June. The bad news is that it wasn't just a flow of the most talented athletes in the world going up and down the court: there were stops, there were injuries ... already. Two Western Conference guards were felled with ankle and foot injuries, but let's start with some good news.

The Return of Derrick Rose
For many people, the return of Rose during the 2012-13 season was a fantasy tease that kept hopes of playoff runs in head-to-head leagues alive. Rose never came back and many of those hopes were dashed. The Bulls' guard returned to the court on Saturday and did not look limited by the torn ACL that caused him to miss the entire season. He scored 13 points in 20 minutes and looked like his old, fearless self. The first pick of the 2008 draft should be a borderline first round pick.

C.J. McCollum Breaks Foot Again
Dating back to the infamous Sam Bowie pick, Portland has had its share of problems with first round picks getting injured. While Greg Oden appears to be on his way back to the league, we will head into the regular season without McCollum who broke the same bone in his left foot (the fifth metatarsal bone) that caused him to miss the majority of his senior season at Lehigh. There was some talk last year of McCollum coming back around the NCAA tournament, but that was three months after the injury was sustained. The rookie will be out for a good deal of time. Mo Williams will likely get more playing time as a backup for Damian Lillard. Will Barton and rookie Allen Crabbe could also see playing time in the Blazer backcourt.

Tyreke Evans Hurts Ankle
In his Pelican debut, Evans turned his ankle after driving to the basket. He needed to be helped to the locker room and a serious injury was feared. The team took an x-ray of the injured ankle, but no broken bones were revealed. The next test is an MRI, which will show if there is any ligament damage. Evans scored seven points on 3-of-5 from the field in 10 minutes of playing time. He is slated to come off the bench for New Orleans behind Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon (who did not play in the preseason opener because of an ankle injury). Should Evans need to sit out for an extended period, Austin Rivers might get more playing time. The second-year guard from Duke scored 21 points and doled out five assists. Anthony Morrow started for Gordon and scored a team-high 26 points, including three 3-pointers.

Dwight Howard Makes His Rocket Debut
Howard, now on his third team in three seasons, made his preseason debut with Houston and looked quite good. He provided 19 points and nine rebounds, and looked comfortable passing out of the post. Howard hit 7-of-11 from the free throw line. If he could hit at least 60 percent of his freebies (career average of 57.7 percent), then the Hack-a-Howard strategy would not be as effective. The tenth-year pro did hit 67.1 percent of his free throws as a rookie, but has been below 50 percent in his last two seasons. If he is going to be drafted in fantasy leagues, owners may as well dump the free throw category.

Danny Granger Also Returns
Granger made his return to the Pacer lineup after being limited by a knee injury to five games last year. The Pacers desperately need some bench scoring to support their fine starting unit, and Granger could be just the man for that role. He only scored six points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field, but played 29 minutes. Prior to 2012-13, Granger had five straight seasons of 18-point scoring. His fantasy value as a reserve will be somewhat hard to guess. If he can stay healthy, he could be a decent late round flyer since he can provide points, 3-pointers, and free throw percentage.

Are These the Lakers?
The Lakers opened last season with optimism of having four stars. Dwight Howard flew the coop after one season, but the three others remain on the roster. None of the stars - Kobe Bryant (Achilles), Pau Gasol (coach's decision), and Steve Nash (coach's decision) - were in the Laker lineup for their preseason opener. The starting lineup consisted of free agent signees Chris Kaman and Nick Young with Jordan Hill, Steve Blake, and Jodie Meeks. Swaggy P led the Laker starters with 17 points and Xavier Henry had a team-high 29 points off the bench. Gasol and Nash should be back for the start of the regular season and Kobe will return eventually as well. In the mean time, players like Kaman and Young (and to a lesser extent, Henry) could have some fantasy value since they will get minutes for the Lakers.

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