Wednesday, January 20

First observations of the NBA’s biggest changes: Westbrook, Durant, others

The NB A season is only a week old, but it’s not Too early To see how some of the biggest moves of the shortened offseason are doing.

No offseason trade made headlines more than the box office success that sent the Rockets’ nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook To the Wizards for John Wall in a high-scoring point guard trade.

MORE: Westbrook Quotes MLK During Wizards’ Winless Start

Playing for his third team in three years has done nothing To slow Westbrook’s production, as he averaged 19 points, 13.7 rebounds and 12.7 assists with three triple-doubles in the same number of games for the Wizards who entered Thursday’s game. . He is the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961 To record triple-doubles in the first three games of the season.

While Westbrook’s achievement is undeniably remarkable, the Wizards are one of only four winless teams left in the league and the 0-4 start is the worst in the franchise since it started 2012-13 with 12 straight losses.

Many of the same problems that have plagued Westbrook throughout his career have followed him To the nation’s capital, and shot selection is the most glaring weakness.

The exchange’s early returns aren’t very good from WashingTon’s perspective, but at least Westbrook has been on the floor. Wall has yet To play a game for HousTon after he and several teammates had To self-quarantine following COVID-19 problems at the Rockets.

The most surprising free agent acquisition of the offseason was that Gordon Hayward left the contenders Celtics To sign a four-year, $120 million deal with the Hornets, a team that has not won a playoff round since 2001-02.

Hayward won’t post the staggering numbers of some players, but he always makes smart decisions and elevates the surrounding players. Hayward has averaged 19.8 points and six assists in his first four games with Charlotte.

One move that would have been impossible To predict a couple of years ago was the Rockets awarding a $41 million, three-year contract To Christian Wood, a player who was not drafted and has been resigned four times since entering. To the league in 2015.

A versatile big man, Wood had an outstanding season with the PisTons in 2019-20 and played at an All-Star level after moving inTo the starting lineup in early February. He averaged 21.9 points on 56.0 percent shooting with 9.4 rebounds in 12 games.

In his first two games with HousTon, Wood had 54 points on 23 of 42 (54.8 percent) shooting and 16 rebounds while starting in center. With the James Harden saga on the team, Wood has given Rockets fans a young player To be excited about.

Veteran point guard Chris Paul has been on the move a lot lately, and the Suns are his fourth team in five years after his November trade from the Thunder. Paul should be the perfect floor leader and menTor To a young Phoenix team that was the sTory of the bubble last season with an 8-0 record in seeded games before coming up short in a postseason appearance. .

Paul has only scored in double digits once in his first four games, but is among the league leaders in assists (9.5) and has helped the Suns To a 3-1 record, their best in four games since. 2014-15.

Kevin Durant was technically a member of the Nets last season, although an Achilles injury kept him out of the game all year. The four-time scoring champion hasn’t shown any rust on his return this season, averaging 28.3 points on 52.2 percent from the field while helping Brooklyn To a 3-1 record in the games he’s played.

Brooklyn is reportedly Harden’s preferred destination and acquiring it seemed To make sense for the Nets, as reuniting superstars inTo a team is all the rage in Today’s NB A. But with Durant seemingly back To All-Star form and Kyrie Irving also playing extremely well, perhaps Harden’s scoring and demand for the ball might not be necessary in Brooklyn.

The combination of Durant-Irving and a strong player support team could be enough To lead the Nets To a place the franchise hasn’t been since the days of Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson.

Durant, Irving and the rest of the league are chasing the defending champion Lakers, who on paper appear To be even better than last season. The addition of point guard Dennis Schroder in a trade with Oklahoma City is already proving To be a very valuable addition.

Schroder is a prolific scorer who can ease the burden on LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and can take over some of the ball-handling duties in place of the late Rajon Rondo.

Schroder is one of only 15 players this season (minimum of three games) averaging at least 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. Some of the others on that list are James, Westbrook, Giannis AnteTokounmpo, Luka Ionic, and Nikola Join.

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