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3 things you can learn from NBA preseason

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NBA: Preseason-Charlotte Hornets at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

NBA basketball returned to our world Friday as preseason action began. (That coincides with this newsletter returning to five days per week.) That got us thinking about what exactly one can learn from watching NBA preseason. Here’s literally everything.

1. Who is healthy/out of shape? If a player ended the previous season with an injury or had offseason surgery, you find out in preseason if that malady will linger into the new year. If a player spent his summer recovering from injury or enjoying life to the fullest instead of getting in the cliché “best shape of his life,” you find find out in preseason.

So far, Dion Waiters is not yet healthy or in shape and Kawhi Leonard appears to be fine. Alright!

2. Who will be starters? For teams with question marks at starting positions — which is pretty much all of them, even the Warriors need to pick a starting center until DeMarcus Cousins is ready — you get a sense within the first couple of preseason games who’s in the lead for those spots.

In the Lakers’ debut on Sunday, Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got the nod with LeBron James. Lonzo Ball will probably be there over Rondo or Caldwell-Pope when he plays. It’s worth monitoring!

The Pelicans started Elfrid Payton alongside Jrue Holiday in their debut. Gordon Hayward started with both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in Boston. It’s all very interesting.

3. What rules are referees going to annoying emphasis for preseason and the first three weeks of the regular season before abandoning? Here’s a preview.

Schedule Check

7 p.m. ET
Magic at 76ers, NBA TV
Knicks at Wizards, League Pass

7:30 p.m. ET
Pelicans at Hawks, No Listed TV

10 p.m. ET
Kings at Suns, No Listed TV

Raise a toast

I just want to call out a special toast to two special people with new jobs — something a little abnormal for GMIB but well-deserved in this case.

David Aldridge is leaving NBA.com and Turner Sports to be the editor of The Athletic D.C. Congratuations to The Athletic for the brilliant idea to put such a talented, smart, and devoted District sports fan in charge. It’s a little melancholy to lose his devoted NBA coverage — he’s a literal Hall of Famer! Good luck, D.A.

Dan Devine is leaving Yahoo! Sports for The Ringer. Dan is the nicest dude alive, and that shines through in his writing. He’s also really talented, and it’s nice to see good things continue to happen for him. A+ job, The Ringer! This also sort of ends the Ball Don’t Lie era for real for real. We miss you, Eric Freeman. We see you, Kelly Dwyer and J.E. Skeets and Trey Kerby.

Links galore

Paul Flannery on Al Horford’s sacrifices, which are about to get even bigger.

Seerat Sohi on the looser-than-ever Raptors.

Jimmy Watch: Sam Amick writes that frustration is mounting!

Oh no! Lauri Markkanen is out 6-8 weeks with an elbow sprain. That puts a lot of pressure on Jabari Parker to produce.

J.R. Smith has a Supreme logo tattooed on his leg. He says the NBA told him he’ll be fined under the league’s policy banning branded tattoos unless he covers it up. There is debate about whether the NBA looks the other way with other players. Also, how did Smitty beat Kelly Oubre to this?

Changes to League Pass that don’t really affect addicts like us blessed enough to be able to afford the full package but will allow people to purchase the ends of games for $2.

Uh, Luka Doncic looked really good in his preseason debut.

The Undefeated had Kevin Durant’s dad share his 30 most memorable moments of KD’s career for his son’s 30th birthday.

Quick reminder: Zendaya is Meechee, and LeBron James in Gwangi.

Hello, Breanna Stewart. Congratulations for accomplishing in the year of our Lord 2018 at age 24 the following: WNBA MVP, WNBA champion, WNBA Finals MVP, FIBA World Cup champion, FIBA World Cup MVP. She got all of this hardware within five weeks!

Hello, good morning, please give us more of this, Miles Bridges.

And finally: Lawrence Tanter introducing LeBron for the first time as a Laker, even in San Diego instead of at Staples, is pretty special.

Be excellent to each other.