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Hawks in the NBA - Opening Night


NBA: Preseason-Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The 76th season of the National Basketball Association tips off...TONIGHT! YES! This year, Iowa actually has a former player in a prominent role. Let’s go!

Keegan Murray

Iowa’s highest-ever draft pick had himself a summer - he was the star of Summer League in Las Vegas, winning MVP while averaging 23 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. Not bad! He then carried that form into preseason, averaging 16 points a game in his two preseason appearances. He’s easily been one of the big stories of preseason as Sacramento looks to break their postseason drought (with the Seattle Mariners making the playoffs this year, Sacramento now owns the longest postseason drought in North American sports; hell, they haven’t won 40 games in a season since that last playoff appearance, in 2005-2006).

Here is a quick highlight package from Keegan’s first preseason game, against the Los Angeles Lakers:

Keegan finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals in 21 minutes off the bench. That’s an excellent line rounded out by 7-11 shooting (2-4 from 3) for a cool +19 on the evening in a 105-75 rout.

In his second and final preseason game, Keegan came off the bench and delivered another 16-point game, going for 16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 1 block while shooting 5-6 from the field (5-6 from 3 - YO) in a 126-94 stampede of the Portland Trail Blazers.

It’s not clear if Keegan will be a starter or a bench player for the Kings - we’ll find out Wednesday night - but head coach Mike Brown has already said he’ll get heavy minutes either way. It won’t matter, given Brown’s comments. He’ll be in for legitimate minutes all year.

Because we’re such great friends with DraftKings, we have to talk Rookie of the Year. Murray is absolutely in the hunt here. The top overall pick, the Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero, is the front-runner at +180, and given this award is usually a “best stats” award, he could easily win it. However, this might be a situation where Banchero has slightly better stats but Sacramento makes a real playoff push, which could tilt this from an individual award to a team award and it goes Murray’s way (he’s at +550 and the second favorite for the award).

Oh and that Kings over/under is 33.5. HAMMER THE OVER. It would be a huge disappointment if Sacramento isn’t at least making a run for a play-in spot. Do that and they sail past 33.5.

Wager at your own risk!

Luka Garza

Unfortunately, Luka Garza was cut by Detroit June 29. After a brief stint with Portland’s Summer League outfit, Garza was picked up by the Minnesota Timberwolves in August then signed a two-way deal October 15.

He’ll go back and forth between Des Moines and Minneapolis. Our own Bartt Pierce will have the opportunity to meet Luka Wednesday as the T-Wolves open the season against Oklahoma City. That is better than anything I’ll do Wednesday.

Joe Wieskamp

This is the disappointing section of this story. I figured Joe Wieskamp would make the San Antonio roster, but he was waived by the Spurs yesterday to reach 15 players - the final cut.

That’s a bummer for Wieskamp, who was destined to be the quintessential Spurs guy that makes big 3s off the bench in a crucial playoff game that leaves everyone screaming, “WHO IS THAT?????” Unfortunately, he shot poorly in preseason and if he’s not making shots, he doesn’t have a job. Wieskamp played in 3 of San Antonio’s 5 preseason games and had as many made field goals as DNPs (2-14 from the floor in his 3 appearances).

Tyler Cook

Cook also finds himself out of work in the last 3 days, as he was waived by the Utah Jazz on October 15. Cook’s played in 65 games over his career, suiting up for Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Brooklyn, and Chicago.