TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on the intelligence of Bradley Beal, the debut of Canadian Kelly Olynyk, the versatility of Andre Iguodala, former coach Doug Collins going back to TV and the creativity of Ricky Rubio.
1. BRADLEY BEAL (Wizards): I'm looking forward to seeing a full season of John Wall and Beal in the Washington back court. If both stay healthy, they can be a dynamic young guard tandem. Guard play in today's NBA is so critical on both ends of the floor. I saw some solid improvement in Wall last season and I love the pace and intelligence that Beal plays with. He's got a smooth shooting stroke and plays like a savvy veteran. Randy Wittman's squad has a chance to make some noise if we see them both play 75+ games.
2. KELLY OLYNYK (Celtics): Really liked what I saw from him in his pre-season debut vs. Toronto on Monday night. Forget the stats, he knows how to play and will fit in their system over time. Yes, he's got to get a lot stronger and the stamina will be challenged for the rookie keeping up with the up-tempo pace and grind of a long NBA season but he's got a definite skill set that jumps out at me; his passing being the most advanced at this stage. He's got good vision and reads/reacts to plays in a quick fashion. He delivers the ball to teammates and puts them in a position to make a positive play. He'll be a guy that they'll be able to utilize at the high post and run some plays through him there. They'll definitely be some tough nights along the way and he'll be asked to do a bit too much on a team in a rebuilding situation but the fact that he gets thrown to the fire right away will benefit him down the road if he keeps the right outlook.
3. ANDRE IGUODALA (Warriors): Golden State will be a matchup nightmare at times for folks when Mark Jackson goes 'small ball' with him, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. Good luck guarding this crew, they'll be entertaining. He brings them the ability at the wing spot to defend opposing scorers and has the respect of the referees in these matchups. He is a guy that doesn't seek out the limelight, a good teammate, unselfish and finds ways to make his team better. His versatility will be an interesting addition to their team.
4. DOUG COLLINS: Was thrilled to hear that he'll be back on TV after his stint as the coach of the 76ers. I have a lot of respect for him. He's an outstanding basketball man who is a very passionate, straightforward guy. I think he's a top-notch analyst and gives you the 'why's' that an ex-coach can provide better than anyone. He's prepared and gives you the goods. He's not some ex-player looking to hang out. He elevates the level of a game with his insights. If not on the sideline, then no better place for him to be. Good for the game of basketball and all intelligent fans of the sport.
5. RICKY RUBIO (Timberwolves): Always enjoy watching this young man play. Fingers crossed that he has a full season of health and takes that next step as a player that I have no doubt that he can take. He brings a flair to the game with his creativity and is a gym rat who loves playing and improving. This year, the T'Wolves will be one of those teams trying to make the big push to be a playoff team in a brutally competitive Western Conference. His leadership and development will play a major role if they can take the next step.