Time to take Wizards, Cavaliers seriously

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1) It’s more than simply the Westbrook trade, the Wizards are 7-3 after beating Dollars

We’re far enough into the season — around 10 video games for groups — that, while the sample size is still little, we can begin to draw some conclusions. We start to get a sense of which groups are, and which groups (that have actually been healthy) are not for genuine.

The Washington Wizards are genuine.

The Wizards are 7-3 to begin the season after beating the Bucks on Sunday. That’s the exact same record as the Webs and Jazz, and they have actually done it with the sixth-best defense in the NBA and a lot more depth on the lineup thanks to the Russell Westbrook trade. Washington has the seventh-best point differential in the league up until now at +4.3, and while possibly that returns to earth a little, they have actually done it versus a requiring schedule. This looks sustainable.

The Wizards are likewise off to this start in spite of Bradley Beal being excellent — 24.2 points per video game — however not his All-NBA, near the league lead in scoring self. Beal is shooting simply 25.4% on 3-pointers this season.

The Wizards have actually been a great defense in part due to the fact that they protect the arc much better than anybody — simply 32.8% of challenger shots have actually originated from 3, the most affordable portion in the league. Washington likewise has actually been fortunate, challengers are shooting simply 29.2% on the threes they do take, a number that will climb up with time. The Wizards likewise have actually safeguarded the rim will, just 18.9% of challenger shots are originated from there, once again the most affordable in the league. Washington is requiring groups into midrange shots.

That defense held the Bucks to a 94.9 offending ranking for the video game, well listed below a point per belongings (by means of Cleaning up the Glass).

The offense originates from all over now, although versus the Bucks it was Beal breaking out with 30 points (and he struck 2-of-3 from beyond the arc).

Then there are the men from the Westbrook trade. Montrezl Harrell had 15 points off the bench versus the Bucks and is playing like his Sixth Male of the Year self once again, balancing 17.7 points a video game on 63.6% shooting and including 9.1 boards a video game. Kyle Kuzma included 15 versus Milwaukee and has actually been a strong wing for Washington. The Westbrook trade likewise enabled Washington to sign-and-trade for Spencer Dinwiddie, who is balancing 15.9 points a video game and is effectively running the offense.

To be reasonable, this wasn’t peak Bucks, who are still without Brook Lopez (back) and Khris Middleton (health and wellness procedures). The Dollars are not themselves today, as evidenced by the reality they got a technical for 6 guys on the court Sunday.

That doesn’t take anything far from the Wizards. Washington is a legitimate playoff group and the East is going to need to change.

2) Cleveland has actually won 4 directly, consisting of beating the Knicks Sunday

The Cavaliers are excellent. Not terrific, however excellent.

That alone is a little a surprise; this was not a group numerous were high up on prior to the season. Nevertheless, there is no rejecting the Cavs have a 7-4 record, a +1.1 net ranking, and they have won 4 directly, consisting of beating the Knicks at Madison Square Garden Sunday 126-109 behind a career-high 37 from the scoring maker that is… Ricky Rubio? He was Sunday, hitting 8-of-9 from 3.

The Cavaliers’ roster construction is odd, starting three bigs in Jarrett Allen, rookie Evan Mobley, and Lauri Markkanen (who is out right now due to health and safety protocols). They start two smaller guards in Darius Garland (who has looked solid scoring and efficient 15.4 points per game) and Collin Sexton (who averages an inefficient 16 points a game and has struggled to find his offensive groove in a different role this season). Off the bench comes Rubio and, when he’s healthy, Kevin Love.

The Cavaliers appear to have something special in Mobley, who is averaging 14.9 points and eight rebounds a game, and showing incredible defensive versatility — he has been one of the most impressive rookies this season (in what has been a deep class). Paired with Garland (who the Cavaliers are very high on), we could be looking at the core of the future in Cleveland.

It will be interesting to see what players will be around them in two years. Sexton comes up in a lot of trade rumors and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Allen has fit in well, but if Mobley is ultimately a five do they keep a higher-priced, more traditional center on the roster? Love and Rubio are not long-term answers. Markkanen is, well, Markkanen. Isaac Okoro has not found his groove yet.

With all the questions, this was a Cavaliers team few expected to be in the play-in mix, and right now they are firmly looking like that. Staying in the top six all season seems optimistic, but this is still a young Cleveland team taking a step forward this season. They are good. And they are for real.

3) Portland expands, extends investigation into Olshey, which is bad news for the GM

As a general rule of thumb, when the investigator in any case wants to broaden the scope of the investigation and give themselves more time to dig into what they are finding, it’s a bad sign for whoever is being investigated.

Which is where Portland general manager Neil Olshey finds himself.

Last week, Trail Blazers owner Jody Allen opened an investigation into the workplace environment around the Trail Blazers. The complaints that sparked the investigation complained of bullying tactics and intimidation through things such as “profanity-laced tirades.”

Sunday came word that the investigation had been expanded to include people outside just those currently at the Trail Blazers practice facility, and that the law firm doing the investigation needed more time (via Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports).

Just reading the tea leaves from afar, that is not a good sign for Olshey.

If Olshey’s job as GM is threatened — again, we don’t know that for sure, but it has that appearance — it raises a lot of other questions about the future of team roster construction around Damian Lillard (the superstar other teams are still waiting on to ask for a trade, even though he has repeatedly said he would not). What about CJ McCollum and the rest of the roster? What about the job security of just-hired coach Chauncey Billups? New GMs tend to want their own person in the big chair.

All that is getting way ahead of ourselves. The current investigation will last weeks, and the report out of that will guide Allen in deciding the future of the franchise. But Portland remains a franchise to watch as it stumbles through the first part of the season (5-5 record).

Highlights of the night: Buddy Hield‘s jumper takes four spins around the rim

No shot in the history of the game has been more in before going out than Buddy Hield’s jumper Sunday night.

Hield had shots that went in, too — he had 17 points on the night in the Kings’ loss to the Pacers — consisting of a spinning half-courter to beat the buzzer.

Last night’s scores:

Brooklyn 116, Toronto 103
Cleveland, 126, New York 109
Orlando 107, Utah 100
Washington 101, Milwaukee 94
Indiana 94, Sacramento 91
Oklahoma City 99, San Antonio 94
Golden State 120, Houston 107
LA Clippers 120, Charlotte 106

Three things to understand: Time to take Wizards, Cavaliers seriously initially appeared on NBCSports.com

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.