The No. 1 pick looked like an instant difference-maker in the preseason, when he received rave reviews from opposing coaches and players alike. But before he can make an impact on the Clippers, Griffin will have to recover from a broken kneecap that is expected to sideline him for the first six weeks of the season.
2 of 12John W. McDonough/SI
Evans is a point guard in a shooting guard's body who will be asked to direct Sacramento's turnaround. The Kings love his versatility in being able to handle the ball, post up and finish in the paint. ''Once he develops his jump shot, he's going to be really hard to handle,'' assistant coach Mario Elie said.
3 of 12John W. McDonough/SI
On a team with as much drama as the Warriors, the 21-year-old Curry might end up being a steadying force. Most notable about his preseason is that he has demonstrated an ability to be a playmaker, averaging nearly five assists. Monta Ellis, who said at the start of camp that he didn't think he could play with Curry in an undersized backcourt, has been impressed. "He's better than I thought he was," Ellis said recently.
4 of 12Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images
Harden has been battling Thabo Sefolosha for the starting job at shooting guard. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Harden will give the Thunder some much-needed scoring punch at that position.
5 of 12Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images
With Flynn and Ramon Sessions, point guard appears to be a strength for the rebuilding Timberwolves. Minnesota star Al Jefferson is expecting big things from Flynn, who has started the entire preseason. ''I think he's got a chance to be just as good as Chris Paul,'' Jefferson told reporters at the start of camp.
6 of 12Andrew Hancock/SI
The 20-year-old has struggled with his shooting in the preseason, but he's also among the league leaders in assists and steals. Coach Scott Skiles hasn't ruled the possibility of starting Jennings ahead of veteran Luke Ridnour on opening night.
7 of 12Greg Nelson/SI
Blair, who fell to the 37th pick in part because of his history of knee problems, appears likely to be the biggest steal of the draft. During an eye-opening preseason, the 6-foot-7 forward-center has averaged 14.7 points and 8.2 rebounds in only 18.0 minutes.
8 of 12Greg Nelson/SI
No team is in search of offensive weapons more than the Rockets, who must replace Yao Ming, Ron Artest and Tracy McGrady (for at least part of the season). Budinger, an athletic swingman with deep shooting range, looks like he could be part of the solution: He's been Houston's third-leading scorer in the preseason.
9 of 12David E. Klutho/SI
Teague is staking his claim to regular minutes in a backcourt that features Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford. The combo guard is living up to his reputation as an explosive scorer: He is averaging 13.8 points in 27.0 minutes.
10 of 12Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Thabeet's shot-blocking ability is well known. The question is how quickly he can develop on the offensive end. He's averaged fewer than four points during the preseason.
11 of 12Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images
The 6-foot-7 shooting guard started throughout the preseason, but he'll have to hold off Antoine Wright to keep the job. DeRozan can score, but he's averaged only 0.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 26.4 minutes a game.
12 of 12David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
With an impressive preseason, Gibson is putting pressure on Tyrus Thomas, the Bulls' incumbent starter at power forward. Gibson, the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year at USC last season, has averaged 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds.
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!