We all know by now that NBA preseason means next to nothing other than an extended warmup for players to get ready for the upcoming regular season. Still, these exhibition games can provide a good first look into some new players, new schemes, or new skills for veterans.
The game was neck-to-neck while the usual rotation members were still getting the majority of the run, as the two teams wrapped up the first half tied at 60. In the third quarter, the Warriors started pulling away.
Takeaways from Portland Trail Blazers – Golden State Warriors preseason game
The schematic adjustments that rookie Head Coach Chauncey Billups promised were visible and effective. The ball zinged around the court a lot more, players took a much more active pursuit in attacking the rim, and the hero ball was fewer and farther in between than in years past.
On the defensive end, the intensity and commitment that Billups spoke on has yet to rear its face, but years of bad habits can’t be erased in one training camp.
While it’s dangerous to look too far into a preseason game, here are a few notes I’m comfortable taking away from the Blazers defeat versus the Warriors.
Anfernee Simons can be a facilitator in the NBA
I’ve spent a lot of time questioning if Anfernee Simons could ever be the backup point guard the Portland Trail Blazers have needed, but he sought to answer those doubts in preseason game one.
Simons finished with six assists and zero turnovers in 19 minutes. Even on his scoring plays, he seemed much more comfortable with his handle than in his first three seasons.
Simons has always been a decent passer. The issue was always that he was too one-dimensional on offense to truly manipulate the defenders and open passing lanes.
With Billups’s new motion offense, off-ball attackers can create lanes on their own by finding holes in the defense.
Watch Simons direct the offense here before zipping a one-hand bullet pass to CJ McCollum for the easy deuce. It’s almost enough to make a grown man cry.
Not only will the motion offense create more assist opportunities for Simons, his new comfort with handling the rock and probing inside the arc will help him succeed as a facilitator as well.
Dennis Smith Jr. made the most of his 13 minutes last night and the Blazers would be wise to sign him on as insurance, but with the way Simons looked last night, DSJ’s services might not be needed.