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The Hype/Concern Index: NBA Preseason Edition

All the good, bad, and Kuzma from the first round of warm-up games

Philadelphia 76ers Media Day Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Hype: Ben Simmons

O’Shaughnessy: Memphis coach David Fizdale said what all of us were thinking about Simmons after the Grizzlies faced the Sixers rookie for the first time.

“Oh my God,” he said. “I don’t want to see that for the next 15 years. That kid … they’re not talking about him enough.”

Welcome to the hype index, Fiz! We can’t blame anyone for forgetting about Simmons; he missed what would have been his first season because of a foot injury, and he’s on a team with Joel Embiid, who is pretty hard to outshine. But Ben is back, and so is all the “once in a generation” player talk from his draft. If point forwards aren’t the future, I don’t wanna go.

Hype Meter: 7.5/10

Concern: Markelle Fultz

O’Shaughnessy: A fact: Fultz opened his Sixers debut against the Grizzlies by scoring four points on 2-for-13 shooting.

More facts: Fultz is 19 years old, played mostly off the ball, and, very relatably, might be eating a lot of Chick-fil-A right now.

The no. 1 overall pick made his first shot, then missed 10 straight. Mike Conley Jr. called the rough opening game “a stage” all NBA rooks go through, and honestly, it’s preferable to the other phase Philly’s fellow top picks have gone through—i.e.,a year or two on the bench.

Concern Meter: 2/10

Hype: Carmelo Anthony

Uggetti: When has an athlete ever attached himself to a piece of clothing so seamlessly as Melo has to his hoodie? Jay-Z and his Yankees hat? David Beckham and H&M underwear?

This is the Hoodie Melo era we’re all living in, and thankfully, it looks like Carmelo brought the magic to OKC.

This dude is rocking that double-layer getup like he’s in Antarctica with a facial expression that reads “dad bod being forced into a family holiday photoshoot.” This is the best Melo, released from his Knickerbocker chains. Anthony played just one half Tuesday in the Thunder’s preseason game against the Rockets, scoring 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, and 3-of-5 from 3. Maybe he was wearing an invisible hoodie.

Hype Meter: 6.5/10

Concern: The Cavs’ 3-Point Shooting

Uggetti: LeBron James didn’t play against the Hawks in the Cavs’ preseason game Wednesday, but his 3-point percentage was the same as that of Jose Calderon, Jeff Green, and Richard Jefferson, all of whom combined for zero makes on seven attempts in 51 total minutes. Kyle Korver shot 1-for-7, Channing Frye shot 1-for-5, J.R. Smith shot 1-for-4, and only Kevin Love made more than two 3s. The team as a whole shot 27.9 percent from behind the arc on a whopping 43 attempts.

It’s one preseason game, but the 3 was a big weapon for last season’s Cavs, who finished third in offensive efficiency. But the key here is the spacing, and with lacking shooters Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade now in tow, Cleveland will need all of the extra room it can get. It’s going to fall a lot on Love, who will now start at center and need to become both the lead spacer and knockdown shooter. No pressure, Kev.

Concern Meter: 4.5/10

Hype: Kyle Kuzma

O’Shaughnessy: The first time I witnessed the Kyle Kuzma experience was at Las Vegas summer league, at which the Lakers rookie went on to win MVP of the title game. The sold-out crowd had gathered for Lonzo Ball; it left pleasantly surprised with the tatted 6-foot-9 forward. The second time I watched Kuzma make an audience swoon was at the Lakers’ preseason opener against the Timberwolves. Many unusual things happened: Minnesota held onto a lead (and won!), and LaVar Ball drew a bigger horde of supporters than some of the players. But the retinue was all about Kuzma, who in doing this ...

.. and this:

.. and this:

... has created a preseason hive of purple-and-gold crusaders. His legend (after being drafted 27th overall by the Nets) is made up of the same sleeper stuff that produced Rudy Gobert and Giannis fandom. An underdog story on the Lakers feels a bit unnatural, like that Starburst contradiction commercial from 2010, but Kuzma is an easy player to get behind.

Hype Meter: 11/10

Hype: Malik Monk

Uggetti: If you’re reading this, Knicks fans, it’s too late.

The story coming out of Hornets training camp was that second-rounder Dwayne Bacon had beaten Monk, the 11th overall pick, in a 3-point contest, downing 19 3s in a minute. Monk made only 16.

But on Wednesday night against the Pistons, Monk dropped 19 points in 23 minutes off the bench in a hype-worthy performance. He shot 10 3s and made four of them in a glimpse of what the knockdown shooter from Kentucky might be able to bring to the NBA stage.

Depending on the development of Frank Ntilikina, what Monk can and will do may make the Knicks regret what they didn’t do: draft him.

Hype Meter: 7/10

Hype: Joel Embiid

Uggetti: Embiid back!

Hype Meter: [Prayer hands]