The NBA is officially back as pre-season got underway today with 10 teams in action.
From John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins making their debut for the Houston Rockets to rookies Obi Toppin, Killian Hayes, and Cole Anthony suiting up for their first games, there was plenty of action on Day 1 of NBA pre-season and we've got you covered with the biggest storylines of the day.
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Obi Toppin looks ready to reinvigorate the Knicks
The New York Knicks got their pre-season off to a strong start, securing a 90-84 win over the Detroit Pistons, but it was rookie Obi Toppin who stole the headlines.
The No. 8 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft showed plenty of energy and athleticism in the frontcourt taking on defenders and attacking the rim with confidence.
In just 20 minutes on court, Toppin recorded 11 points, seven rebounds, and a block on 4-of-9 shooting from the field.
Just too strong 💪 pic.twitter.com/IjrkLfDAau- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 12, 2020
After a quiet first half, shooting 2-of-10 from the field, sophomore guard RJ Barrett came to life after the break, shooting 5-of-6 to finish with a game-high 15 points, five rebounds, and two assists.
Trae Young dimes on repeat
It took just one game of pre-season to remember exactly why Trae Young and the Hawks will be must-watch TV this season.
Young left Nikola Vuceivc bamboozled as he threaded the ball between his legs to Clint Capela for the easy bucket.
Trae threads the needle! 🔥@ATLHawks x #NBAPreseason pic.twitter.com/b4RDLBY57Y- NBA (@NBA) December 12, 2020
Bacon right at home in Orlando
Free-agent signing Dwayne Bacon made a fast start in his first game for the Orlando Magic, with a dynamic first quarter performance en route to their 116-112 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
The Lakeland-native and FSU alum, made his first five shots, scoring 11 of his 14 points in the first quarter.
🥓 Sizzlin' 🥓- Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 12, 2020
1Q | 11 points | 5-for-5 pic.twitter.com/wTjJ6RGxoE
After limited opportunities in his first three seasons in Charlotte, Bacon has a chance to earn solid rotation minutes under Steve Clifford.
Meanwhile, rookie guard Cole Anthony showed exactly why he was such a highly-touted recruit, giving the Magic a playmaker who can create his own shot off the dribble.
Anthony got to the rim, knocked down jumpers, and showed an aggressiveness desperately needed in the Magic backcourt.
Who wanted @The_ColeAnthony highlights?#MagicTogether pic.twitter.com/qBH2Y2Vx1W- Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 12, 2020
John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins return after lengthy layoffs
While James Harden undergoes coronavirus testing protocols, the Rockets got their first look at their new-look squad, namely the two big additions of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who made their return to the court after lengthy injury layoffs.
The Kentucky combo looked good in their first outing together, with Wall showing bursts of athleticism and speed off the dribble, fresh off an Achilles injury, and two seasons on the sidelines.
Wall finished with 13 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and two steals in 19 minutes, while Cousins added 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 15 minutes, connecting on 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
Almost two years since his last NBA action... now playing for the @HoustonRockets, John Wall is back!#NBAPreseason on @NBATV pic.twitter.com/6N5ElPNtzy- NBA (@NBA) December 12, 2020
The Rockets took a flyer on Cousins in the off-season and Wall's physical health was uncertain, but after one game, the pair look like they could be on their way back to their best this season.
Lakers' new additions impress
With his first game in the purple and gold coming against his former team, the LA Clippers, Montrezl Harrell impressed in his first outing for the Lakers.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year brought his trademark energy and hustle, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 31 minutes on court.
HELLO, TREZ- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 12, 2020
(📺: @SpectrumSN) pic.twitter.com/bQV6Pw5tPS
Wesley Matthews added eight points and five rebounds, while Dennis Schroder chipped in 10 points, with all three new signings starting the game, with Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope sitting out their pre-season opener.
Second-year swingman Talen Horton-Tucker made the most of his start, leading the Lakers with 19 points, nine rebounds, and four assists, while Kyle Kuzma added 18 points in the 87-81 win over their local rivals.
While the Lakers reinforced their bench in the off-season, Tucker could well earn some solid rotation minutes with the second unit.
Talen shows off the handles and Bron approves 💪💪- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 12, 2020
(📺: @SpectrumSN) pic.twitter.com/E6vk8tLUYD
Carmelo Anthony.....Sixth Man of the Year?
Maybe not, but the early signs of Carmelo leading the Blazers bench looked great in their 127-102 win over the Sacramento Kings.
After starting 58 games for the Blazers last season, Anthony said accepting his role on the second unit was a "tough pill to swallow" but ultimately what was best for the team.
It didn't take long for him to not only adapt but excel in his new role, leading the Blazers with 21 points in just 23 minutes. He added four rebounds and two assists, shooting the ball efficiently, going 8-of-13 from the field and 3-of-3 from the 3-point line.
Melo making an impact on both ends of the floor pic.twitter.com/NLvlKVJCwP- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 12, 2020
Alongside Harry Giles III, Gary Trent Jr., and Anfernee Simons, Anthony was the clear leader on the floor and while the bulk of his minutes will likely come with the reserves, he looks set to still be a key piece closing games this season.
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