October isn’t the NBA fan’s favorite time of the year by any means, but at least the preseason ends the lengthy boredom of the offseason and gives basketball fans something to look forward to with a preview of what to expect from their favorite team.
Here, we take a look back at the preseason and determine the best of the best with the first installment of the new season’s highlight reel.
Best Team: Toronto Raptors
The Raptors aren’t expected to leave the basement of the Atlantic Division any time soon, but a preseason record of 6-1 shows that they could be more competitive in basketball’s toughest division than people think. The offseason acquisitions of Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields combined with draft pick Terrence Ross and last season’s first round pick Jonas Valanciunas are coming together help the franchise recover from the loss of all-star Chris Bosh. It will be a while before Toronto comes together to realistically have a shot at the playoffs, but the 2012 preseason offers at least a glimmer of hope to fans.
Best Player: Anthony Davis-New Orleans Hornets
Every year, the No.1 pick in the NBA draft is closely watched and heralded as the likely Rookie of the Year candidate, but three of the last four players to win the award have been point guards. In the case of Davis, he’s only the second big man in the last seven years with a real chance at winning the award. The 2012 preseason has only built up the hype that began with Davis’ inclusion in the Olympic team that won gold in London.
Best Dunk: Jeremy Evans-Utah Jazz
This one could have gone down as the best dunk or the best block, but the finish is so sublime we had to give the dunk award to last year’s Slam Dunk champ.
Best Block: JaVale McGee-Denver Nuggets
Now that the Washington chapter of his career is over, McGee seems to be excited about his future in Denver and has a lot to prove to head coach George Karl. Here, McGee does his thing, getting up to protect the rim against another quality big man in DeAndre Jordan.
Best Assist: Luol Deng-Chicago Bulls
With Derrick Rose missing from the lineup for a while still, the Bulls have to be creative in finding ball movement from any source they can get it. Here, Deng finds an unusual way to get the team an easy basket.
Best Trick Shot: Blake Griffin-Los Angeles Clippers
He’s known as an unstoppable force going to the rim and here he lives up to his reputation in the sense that, even if obstructed, Griffin can still score.