1. SERGE IBAKA (Raptors): I really like what I’ve seen of him in the first two preseason games and during training camp. I like his attitude, approach and intensity. Ibaka has been on winning teams during his time in OKC and Toronto. He gets it and has the habits that matter and lead to success.
2. MARC GASOL (Raptors): Nice to see him on the court Thursday in Tokyo playing a solid 18 minutes. He’s had an incredibly busy summer and past season and I think it’s smart to ease him in slowly. It’s all about opening night on Oct. 22 for veterans like him and Kyle Lowry. Slow and steady wins the race.
3. RUSSELL WESTBROOK (Rockets): Reconnecting with his old OKC teammate James Harden in Houston is obviously a work in progress. Both are ball-dominant guards who love being the guy. Watching Westbrook in comparison to former Rocket Chris Paul, it’s clear that he has a lot more firepower in his game. It’s just a matter of trying to get these two alphas to coexist.
4. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS (Mavs): He’s back on the court after a long absence due to knee surgery and recovery. The Mavs forward had 18 points and seven rebounds in a tidy 19 minutes during his preseason debut. There will be lots of excitement in the Big D for him and Luka Doncic. They are two extremely dynamic young players.
5. TOMAS SATORANSKY (Bulls): I was surprised that the Washington Wizards didn’t hang onto him. I’m a fan of his game. He’s a sound third guard who plays really hard, plays strong defence and makes good high-percentage plays for you in the backcourt. Satoransky is a steady influence when he plays. I think coach Jim Boylen will like having his positive plays in the nightly rotation.