The phrases “NBA Preseason” and “Must-Watch” are rarely used in conjunction. The NBA preseason is our first chance to adjust to seeing players who have swapped teams in new jerseys, and the new rookies that will take the league by storm over the regular season. It’s a time for fans, coaches, and players to figure out what the NBA regular season could look like.
However, often that unfamiliarity turns into some ugly basketball. This was on display during Wednesday night’s Philadelphia 76ers preseason game, as the Charlotte Hornets shot 36.8 percent from the field and had 30 personal fouls in a 106-82 Philadelphia win.
However, must-see preseason games do in fact exist, and they usually involve teams with tons of young talent showcasing that talent against each other. Young guys are usually the players that get the most playing time in preseason, and for all the mistakes that they are prone to making, talented young players are usually the ones that wow fans with their athleticism and highlight plays in this setting. Putting a ton of youth on the floor is a recipe for a very fun preseason game, and Friday night’s contest between the 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves will be one of those games.
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The 76ers will be without Michael Carter-Williams again, who is probably out for the preseason while continuing to rehab from a torn labrum in his right shoulder. However, if there’s anything the Sixers do have, it’s young talent, even if the player who should be their best scorer is out. Tony Wroten has been fire in the first two preseason games, shooting 50 percent from the field and posting totals of 19 points against Boston and 15 against Charlotte.
He’s looked like a more apt game-manager without MCW as well, and while he’s only 1-6 from three so far, he seems to be more focused on the drive-and-dish game, which is going to benefit him, both overall and in entertainment value. Nerlens Noel, meanwhile, looked iffy against Boston but had a great night against Charlotte, posting 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and three blocks, and generally being a nuisance for the Hornets while on the floor.
The Sixers can also look to Alexey Shved, K.J. McDaniels, and Casper Ware (He of the epic 60-foot bomb Wednesday) to provide some fun highlights.
The Timberwolves, meanwhile, match up with an outstanding crop of young talent as well. Andrew Wiggins looked sharp in scoring 18 points in his debut in a Timberwolves jersey, and he’s the obvious highlight reel feature for the T’Wolves. Gorgui Dieng helps him out down low by continuing to be a consistent nightmare on both ends, posting 16 and 10 against Indiana on Tuesday. Zach Lavine looks fun even if incredibly erratic, and even in limited minutes Ricky Rubio is absurdly fun.
Throw in that this is the first time Thaddeus Young will be playing the 76ers since his August trade, and this game has all of the makings of a fantastic preseason game. Noel battling Dieng in a showdown of two of the NBA’s most promising young centers. Young and Shved facing their former teams. Wroten and Rubio dueling with drives to the rim. Wiggins’s presence. Everything here is going to make Philadelphia at Minnesota, a matchup of two teams who might not be that good this season, into one of the preseason’s most intriguing battles.
However, this game won’t be televised, so go complain to the NBA for that one.