26 days until the first NBA Preseason Game. 44 days until the NBA Season opener.
It’s been a long and eventful offseason. From the dramatic Kevin Durant trade saga to big time talent finding new places around the league, NBA fans are ready for the season to return. While we can’t tune in to any games airing on TNT or ABC, we scroll through our phones, searching for new basketball content to fill the void that 48 minutes of poetry in motion takes up in our heart. Luckily, we’ve been able to find some things to keep us entertained.
The Pro-Am scene has been incredible this summer with elite NBA talent playing with some of the city’s best hoopers. Whether you’re in Seattle watching The Crawsover Pro AM league or in Los Angeles at the Drew League, high quality basketball was always being played. Big names like LeBron, DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray, Trae Young, John Collins, Norman Powell, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero were consistently pulling up to these games and were putting on for their respective cities which was really special to see. For the first time ever, the NBA decided to stream these Pro-AM games for the public to watch live which is huge for the exposure of these respective leagues. As someone who personally went to the Drew to watch top-end hoopers go at it, I can say with certainty that the atmosphere is unparalleled. It feels like watching basketball in its purest form, which is special in itself.
For the basketball addicts out there like myself, there’s been another way I’ve been able to stay in tune with basketball: Rico Hines runs. If you know what I’m referring to, then you don’t even need an explanation. However, to those who are unfamiliar, allow me to put you on. Rico Hines is the best of the best when it comes to NBA player development. He was recently hired by the Toronto Raptors as a player development coach, which, in my opinion was one of the best moves the organization made to develop their young core. Every summer during the NBA offseason, he hosts private runs at the UCLA rec center drawing elite talent from around the league. Players that hoop in these runs include the entire Toronto Raptors roster, James Harden, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Trae Young, Cade Cunningham, Lou Williams, and many many more. I could watch these Youtube videos all day. There’s nothing like seeing your favorite hoopers’ favorite hoopers go at it in a game of pickup with a 10-second challenge. The shot-making and ball-handling is at such a high level that it helps you understand how good these guys really are.
For Clipper fans specifically, these Rico Hines have been awesome to check out some of our own guys. Paul George frequented the runs along with Jason Preston, Moussa Diabete, Moses Brown, and the most highly anticipated new Clipper, John Wall. That’s huge. We haven’t seen John Wall play in a minute and there’s been a significant amount of speculation about how he looks. If you read my last article where I broke down the addition of John Wall, I mentioned that we fully understand that John Wall isn’t who he was on the Wizards, and that’s okay. We don’t need him to be like that. What we do need is for Wall to be aggressive, a drive and kick maestro, and become a reliable catch and shoot presence. After watching these runs with Wall, our first real look at how he moves and functions, I must say that I cannot wait for the season to start. Wall was attacking without hesitation and pulling from deep with confidence. He even showed off some bounce with his signature left-handed tomahawk slam. Yes, I am well aware that he was playing in pick-up games and not actual NBA games. With that being said, my excitement is still just as high.
Recently, John Wall was interviewed and what he said was truly bigger than basketball. It’s no secret that Wall has had a rough past 2-3 years with his mother and grandmother dying along with tearing his achilles. “I thought about committing suicide,” Wall said, “Me going to chemotherapy, sitting by my mom taking her last breaths wearing the same clothes for 3 days straight.” This is exactly why the Clippers are the best possible destination for Wall. He deserves the utmost respect and props for opening up about such a vulnerable experience and feeling, and there’s no organization in the league better at creating an inclusive home where Wall can thrive like the LA Clippers. Look at Reggie when he said the Clippers “saved him” or Batum who completely revived his career with the Clips. I genuinely cannot wait for Wall to experience his new home and I cannot wait for Clipper basketball to start.