One of my favorite parts of the preseason is seeing the rookies make their debuts in the league. So far in this week-old preseason, several first-year players have already made a noticeable impact on their teams. Here are a few rookies who are making a good first impression.
James Johnson (Bulls): Not a lot of people talked about Johnson coming into the preseason, but you can bet they are probably talking about him now. The 6-9 forward out of Wake Forest has been an absolute beast in his first two games averaging 16 points and 7.5 boards per game, while getting to the line and average of 8.5 times per contest. In the exhibition game against the Jazz in London, Johnson sank a game-winning, fade-away shot at the buzzer.
Stephen Curry (Warriors): The modern day baby-faced assassin has shot the ball horribly (8-32) in his first three preseason games. But on the flip side, he has impressed everyone with his playmaking skills – he’s averaged 7 assists. In his last game versus the Suns, Curry had 18 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds. The Warriors are also 3-1 so far in the preseason.
Brandon Jennings (Bucks): Going into the draft, there were a lot of questions surrounding Jennings. Was he mature enough to play in the league? Does he have an adequate jump shot? Through his play in the summer league and preseason, Jennings has shown he can contribute on this level right now. In a game against the Pistons, Brandon went for 18 points, 6 assists and 6 steals. He’s also averaged 5.5 dimes so far.
Jeff Teague (Hawks): Teague was part of that cluster of point guards selected midway through the first round. A lot of people feel Teague should have been drafted a lot earlier. So far, he is proving his worth by averaging 15.5 points and 4.5 assists per game. Teague has been aggressive taking it to the hole and getting to the line. He’s played big minutes so far, but when Jamal Crawford comes back from injury, it will be interesting to see if there will be a lot of minutes left for Teague during the regular season.
DeJuan Blair (Spurs): Like we said in our 5 Second Rounders Who Will Make a Difference article, DeJuan Blair will play an important role for the Spurs this season. In just 26 minutes against the heat, Blair exploded for 28 points, while shooting an incredible 11-13 from the field. In the opener versus the Rockets, DeJuan scored 16 points and grabbed a Rodman-esque 19 boards (8 offensive).