Boston Celtics

2018 NBA Preseason: Five things to watch on opening night

NBA basketball is back!

At 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, Sept. 28, the Philadelphia 76ers will kick off preseason with a matchup against Melbourne United. 30 minutes later, the Charlotte Hornets will host the Boston Celtics in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for a battle between two Eastern Conference teams.

With that in mind, here are five things to watch in tonight's games...

Markelle Fultz in action

The No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Markelle Fultz was sidelined for most of his rookie season with a shoulder injury. Now that he's at full strength again, look for the 76ers guard to prove himself as one of the best young prospects in the league, especially if his new shooting form is for real.

Ben Simmons' jump shot

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown has said that Ben Simmons' jump shot isn't going to define him, but the reigning Rookie of the Year has been working on expanding his range this offseason. Preseason is the perfect opportunity for Simmons to show off a new part of his game.

The Celtics at full strength

This will be the first chance to see a Celtics team that is expected to finish the regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference and compete with the Golden State Warriors in the postseason.

With so much talent on the roster, it'll be fascinating to see how Celtics head coach Brad Stevens manages the rotation.

Gordon Hayward's return

One Celtics player in particular to keep an eye on? Gordon Hayward.

Hayward signed a four-year, $128 million contract with Boston last summer but missed all but five minutes of the 2017-18 season after suffering an ankle injury in the season opener. Hayward should have no problem fitting in with the Celtics if he can return to his 2016-17 form, when he was named an All-Star for the first time in his career.

Kemba Walker in a contract year

Kemba Walker has established himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA over the last two seasons with averages of 22.6 points, 5.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game.

You can expect more of the same from the Charlotte Hornets All-Star this season, as he'll be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019.

While Walker has said that he sees himself staying in Charlotte long-term, a number of teams will be interested in signing him next offseason if he can put together another strong season.

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