New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans nearly posted a double-double Friday, collecting 17 points (8-15 FG, 1-3 3Pt), two assists, and nine rebounds in 24 minutes of a 103-93 loss to the Atlanta Hawks .
Evans has apparently been slotted primarily as a point guard in 2015-16 as per head coach Alvin Gentry, and certainly outshined presumed starter Jrue Holiday in his first action of the preseason. The 26-year-old shot extremely well and was also highly productive on the defensive glass, with eight of his nine boards coming on that end of the floor. The New Orleans Pelicans starting point guard situation appears to be shaping up as one to monitor over the balance of the preseason, particularly if Evans continues to post quality outings similar to Friday's contest. Evans is expected to receive healthy minutes and round out the stat sheet on the majority of nights regardless of his regular-season role, making him a worthwhile mid-round selection in drafts.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis appeared in mid-season form Friday, amassing 20 points (8-15 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 2-4 FT), an assist, five rebounds, and three blocks over 26 minutes in a 103-93 loss to the Atlanta Hawks .
Davis had already gotten the preseason off to a fine start in last Saturday's victory over the Indiana Pacers , tallying 18 points in 16 minutes in that contest. The standout power forward was even better offensively Friday, shooting at a 53 percent clip, In what might be an ominous sign for opposing defenses, Davis also made two of his three-point attempts, an area in which he has already indicated that new head coach Alvin Gentry has encouraged him to be more aggressive in. Davis was no slouch in the defensive side of the floor either, collecting five boards and posting his first three blocks of the preseason. With his outstanding all-around skill set, and his apparent focus on stepping up his shooting from beyond the arc, Davis is a clear-cut top 5 pick in drafts of any format.
Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver collected 10 points (2-6 FG, 1-5 3Pt, 5-5 FT), an assist, and four rebounds over 19 minutes in Friday's 103-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans .
Korver was able to break the ice shooting-wise Friday, making his first two field goals of the exhibition slate, including one of his trademark buckets from beyond the arc. The 34-year-old is once again expected to man the starting shooting guard for the Atlanta Hawks , for which he has progressively increased his points-per-game average and three-point accuracy rate over his three-season tenure. Korver will undoubtedly be counted on for his outstanding production from beyond the arc, a category in which he tallied an incredible 49.7 percent success rate in 2014-15.
Atlanta Hawks guard Kent Bazemore posted 10 points (2-3 FG, 6-7 FT), an assist, three rebounds, four steals, and a block over 20 minutes on the court in Friday's 103-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans .
Bazemore has strong offensively over the first two preseason contests, tallying 64 percent accuracy on 7-for-11 shooting from the field, including two three-pointers. The 26-year-old shooting guard was also a frequent visitor to the free throw line Friday, sinking six of his seven attempts from the line. He was highly impressive on defense as well, with his four swipes representing a career-high. Bazemore is expected to once again serve as a quality guard off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks , as Kyle Kover appears firmly entrenched in the starter's role. His uncertain playing time makes Bazemore only a speculative add in deep leagues.
Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder poured in 11 points (3-8 FG, 1-1 3Pt, 4-4 FT, two assists and a rebound over 16 minutes in Friday's 103-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans .
Schroeder displayed his typical efficiency, making his most of his time on the court. Friday's stat line is one that will likely be seen from the 23-year-old during the regular season when he serves as the primary backup to Jeff Teague . Schroeder will likely tally an average number of minutes close to the 19.7 he posted in 2014-15, somewhat capping his offensive potential in fantasy leagues, despite his trademark productivity in limited opportunities.
Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap collected nine points (4-12 FG, 1-3 3Pt), eight rebounds, an assist and a steal in Friday's 103-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans .
Millsap matched the 21 minutes he played in the preseason opener, but had a much more productive outing overall. He shot slightly better from the field (33 percent) and also sunk his first three-pointer of the exhibition slate. The veteran power forward has rebounded well over the first pair of preseason contests--amassing 15 boards in 42 total minutes over that span--and was particularly active on the defensive glass Friday, the source of seven of his eight rebounds on the night. Millsap's ability to fill up the stat sheet and pivotal role in the Atlanta Hawks offense make him a solid early-to-mid round pick in most drafts.
Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford scored 10 points (4-9 FG, 2-3 3Pt) with 5 rebounds and 1 block in 21 minutes of action Friday night vs the New Orleans Pelicans .
While preseason stats for established stars like Horford are typically trivial, tonight's line counters that premise. There hasn't been much chatter about Horford shooting 3's this year, but he went 2-3 Friday night, and that qualifies as an eye opener. His value will have to be reconsidered if this trend continues throughout the preseason, as adding 3 pointers to his repertoire would significantly increase his value. Stay tuned.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Lou Williams registered 19 points (6-15 FG, 2-7 3Pt, 5-7 FT), two assists, and a rebound in 24 minutes during Thursday's preseason loss to the Toronto Raptors .
Williams wasn't particularly efficient while dominating the ball Thursday, and he also committed five fouls during his time on the court. That said, he's been able to give the Los Angeles Lakers the scoring spark their looking for off the bench, as he's provided 14 or more points in all three of the team's preseason games. He's been particularly adept at getting to the free-throw line during the exhibition schedule, already racking up 26 attempts while hitting 22 of those shots.
Toronto Raptors forward James Johnson (Achilles) made his preseason debut Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers , playing eight minutes and recording no points, two rebounds, an assist, and a blocked shot.
The sore Achilles knocked Johnson out of the Toronto Raptors ' first two exhibitions, but his return to the court Thursday will bump him off the injury report. Johnson is in line to serve in a reserve role in the frontcourt this season.
Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson has started at power forward in all three of the Toronto Raptors ' preseason games and is averaging eight points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 18.7 minutes per game.
It looks like the offseason departure of Amir Johnson will pave the way for Patterson to serve as the Raptors' starting power forward this season, at least initially. Lucas Scola, James Johnson , and Bismack Biyombo are the top candidates to see minutes behind Patterson, but the 26-year-old's ability to knock down three-pointers at a respectable clip will give the Raptors their most versatile lineup. Though it's difficult to see Patterson serving as much more than a third or fourth option offensively when he's on the court, the expected uptick in playing time that he'll receive may be enough for him to finish will career-highs this season in multiple categories.