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Players who have impressed early in preseason: Wembanyama, Ben Simmons, more

San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder
San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder

It's just preseason, so proceed with caution. Any evidence of strong play is subject to verification once games that matter — and defenses that care — are involved.

Still, a few players have stood out early in preseason and it could be a sign of things to come. This is not a comprehensive list, just some things that have stood out to me watching early preseason games.

• Victor Wembanyama was everything Spurs fans could have hoped for in a first outing. More than the twisting, acrobatic layup or other offensive plays that stood out (he finished with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting), it was a handful of defensive plays that showed he is going to have a bigger impact on that end of the court — and be a force as a rookie.

Chet Holmgren was impressive himself with 21 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder. He very well could be in the middle of the Rookie of the Year mix, and the theory of his case will be that he's playing important minutes for a team in the playoff/play-in mix, impacting meaningful games (something Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson likely will not be able to claim).

Ben Simmons looked good for Brooklyn. The “Simmons is back” hype machine has been going strong all summer and most fans and media members looked at that and shrugged (*raises hand*). However, against the Lakers in Las Vegas Monday he moved well, finished with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, had some impressive finishes (see below) and looked like his old self at points. It was enough to have us thinking he could be much closer to the All-Star Philly version of Simmons than we have seen in a long time.

• Also for the Nets, Cam Thomas is a bucket and never forget that. He finished with 26 points. My prediction: He is a future Sixth Man of the Year. Watch Thomas and the Lakers Austin Reaves put on a show for the Vegas crowd.

• Rookie Ausar Thompson did a little bit of everything for the Pistons in their preseason opener: 12 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and he knocked down a left-corner 3 under pressure to send the game to overtime. Thompson was seen as more polished (but not quite as athletically gifted) compared to his brother Amen coming out of Overtime Elite, and in his first game Ausar showed how well he might fit in the league. Thompson and Cade Cunningham could make the Pistons worth watching this season.

Jonathan Kuminga scored 24 points in the Warriors preseason opener against the Lakers. That's a good sign for the Warriors, who need his athleticism off the bench to be a spark for an otherwise aging roster.

Chris Paul's fit with Golden State may be smoother than some of us thought, based on that same game.

• Another name to watch on the fringes of the Rookie of the Year race is the Kings' Sasha Vezenkov — the 28-year-old reigning EuroLeague MVP. He's the kind of player the Kings expect to walk in the door and help right away and in his preseason debut he looked every bit that part with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including a couple of 3-pointers. He is going to be a solid part of Sacramento's rotation.

With James Harden’s role on the 76ers in limbo (to put it kindly), Philadelphia will need a lot more out of Tyrese Maxey this season. He looked ready to deliver with an efficient and impressive 24 points in the team's first preseason game.

• Some things pick up where they left off — the Grizzlies' Jaren Jackson Jr. and the Jazz's Walker Kessler each had five blocks in their first preseason games.