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What we learned: Preseason takeaways

Preseason results are meaningless but blowing a 12-point fourth quarter lead and losing by 46 isn’t exactly encouraging.

NBA: Preseason-Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason basketball is difficult to evaluate. On one hand we’re just over a week away from the season so there’s reason to believe that the level of play isn’t going to change much. On the other, it’s important to remember that each player has different goals and motivations for preseason. Winning games isn’t one of them. With that said, here’s what we learned from the first week of preseason basketball.

Collin Sexton looks much more confident.

Sexton’s progression last season was borderline unbelievable. He started the year scared of shooting anything except midrange jumpers and ended it with the confidence of a three-point specialist. Sexton started this preseason right where he left off by knocking down 5 of his 13 attempts from deep.

Sexton’s work ethic will hopefully begin to impact his play on defense as well. He spent the summer putting on muscle and studying defensive film of Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Time will tell how much better he gets, but at the least defense isn’t a blind spot anymore. That in and of itself is encouraging.

Tristan Thompson looks like his old self.

Thompson looked great in his first two preseason games as he finished with 14 and 15 points each. He showed flashes of the athleticism he displayed before dealing with multiple injuries during the 2017 season.

A healthy Thompson will do wonders for this young team on the court. He is easily one of the Cavs best interior defenders. He’ll need to cover up a lot of weaknesses on that end of the floor in order to keep the Cavs competitive.

His offensive impact wrongly gets overlooked. Thompson is the best screener on the team. His ability to get shooters like Garland and Sexton loose off screens could go a long way in opening the offense.

Kevin Porter Jr. is far from ready.

Porter showed flashes of his insane talent in camp and in the preseason. He has the rare ability of being able to his shot off anytime. His natural handles, ability to change speeds in traffic, and overall shiftiness are attributes only a few have. It’s easy to see why many thought he was a top ten talent in the draft.