Chris Paul

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Russell Westbrook traded by Thunder to Rockets for Chris Paul and picks, per report

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Russell Westbrook traded by Thunder to Rockets for Chris Paul and picks, per report

Russell Westbrook has been traded by the Thunder to the Houston Rockets, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Houston is reportedly sending Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025 to the Thunder.

Westbrook will be united with former Oklahoma City teammate James Harden in Houston, giving the Rockets two of the last three NBA MVPs. 

This trade completes an almost total teardown for the Thunder, who dealt Paul George to the Clippers last week. Oklahoma City has acquired eight first-round picks since the 2019 NBA Draft. 

For Wizards fans, the consolation is simple: Westbrook is not joining an Eastern Conference rival.

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James Harden, Rockets offer ultimate test for Trevor Ariza, Wizards' three-point defense

James Harden, Rockets offer ultimate test for Trevor Ariza, Wizards' three-point defense

Much of the reasoning for why the Wizards traded for veteran forward Trevor Ariza this past weekend was to plug the holes in their three-point defense. After 31 games this season, Washington ranks 26th among NBA teams in three-pointers allowed per game and 27th in opponents three-point percentage.

On Wednesday, the Wizards will receive the ultimate test for their revamped perimeter defense in the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

The Rockets are not simply a good three-point shooting team in the context of this era, they rival some of the best outside shooting teams of all-time. Their 14 threes made per game are top in the NBA and are tied for the third-most in league history. 

The top two teams ever in made threes were also the Rockets. They set the all-time record in 2016-17 with 14.4, then beat their own mark last season with 15.3 threes per game.

It's a similar story for threes attempted. Houston leads the league with 41.1 three-point shots per game. That would rank second all-time behind only last season's Rockets (42.3/g) and ahead of the third-most ever (40.3) set by Houston the year before.

The difference this season has been their percentage. After ranking 13th in the NBA last year at 36.2 percent, this time they are shooting just 33.9 percent, good for 24th. Still, no team takes or makes more threes, and the Wizards will be charged with stopping them.

The Wizards know the Rockets' three-point shooting prowess well. Houston has made at least 12 threes in the last seven meetings between the teams. Four times in that span, they have hit 15 threes or more. No team has done that more often against the Wizards since the start of the 2015-16 season. Considering they play each other only twice a year as members of different conferences, that is telling.

Ariza is also familiar with what the Rockets are capable of. After leaving Washington in free agency in the summer of 2014, he signed with Houston and spent four seasons there before joining the Suns this past summer. He was a key cog in the Rockets' 65-win team last season, as they fell one win short of the NBA Finals.

The Wizards and Rockets also saw each other less than a month ago in Washington. The Wizards pulled off a 135-131 victory in overtime, one of their best wins of the season, even with Houston off to a disappointing start. 

Chris Paul didn't play in that game, but James Harden dropped 54 points and Eric Gordon and Clint Capela were a handful. John Wall had 36 points and 11 assists and Bradley Beal put in 32 points, as well as some timely defense down the stretch on Harden. He helped force several of Harden's 11 turnovers.

Now comes the rematch, this time with the Rockets fresh off four straight wins and with Paul set to play. It won't be easy beating Houston twice in one season, something they haven't done as a franchise since 1988-89. Perhaps Ariza can help make the difference.

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Seven crazy NBA storylines in a wild first week of the 2018-19 season

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USA Today Sports

Seven crazy NBA storylines in a wild first week of the 2018-19 season

The NBA season is a little over a week old, but because it's the NBA, we have what feels like a whole season worth of storylines that people won't stop talking about. As we are all well aware, the NBA is the best source of sports entertainment. Nothing can top the endless, multi-platform soap opera that is the National Basketball Association.

Not only have there been viral moments on the court but because of #NBATwitter, there's plenty of pettiness for the NBA fan that needs that injected into their veins as well.

Here's a look at what's happened so far:

Seven crazy storylines of the 2018-19 NBA season thus far

1. Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul remind us why they don't like each other

When it comes to non-basketball events, the Rondo vs. CP3 drama has ascended to the top. 

https://twitter.com/SportsQuotient/status/1053874929203064832

First, they get into a brawl. Then, Paul accuses Rondo of spitting on him. Then we have the in-the-stands confrontation between Rondo's girlfriend and Paul's wife.

To wrap it up, Rondo made sure to let everyone know Paul is a bad teammate:

 “Everyone wants to believe Chris Paul is a good guy. They don’t know he’s a horrible teammate. They don’t know how he treats people."

If you're here for the pettiness, this definitely will continue to quench that thirst. 

2. Joel Embiid trolls Andre Drummond

Rondo and Paul aren't the only ones with beef right now in the league. Joel " The King of Twitter" Embiid went after Andre Drummond, even after the Sixers lost to the Pistons Tuesday.

After Embiid said he feels like he "owns a lot of real estate in (Drummond's) head", Drummond clapped back on both Twitter and Instagram.

"Lol does he? If that's so he wouldn't be so excited to have me off the floor? Think about it that's a silly statement! I'll take the W though enjoy flight home #Emmyaward winning actor," Drummond tweeted.

"That man is fat outta shape and talks all day. I'm not worried about him! If I can't guard him why he so happy to have me out the game. Was locking his ass up and running him to exhaustion."

The NBA is just the gift that keeps on giving. And for that, we thank you.

3. LeBron and the Lakers start 0-3

LeBron James and the Lakers finally got their first win Wednesday night in Phoenix, but it took four games for that to happen.

Everyone knew the Lakers would be a work-in-progress, even with the greatest player in the world now on the roster.

LeBron himself admitted just that after their third loss of the season saying "I know what I got myself into".

That being said, figuring out a team's chemistry when adding the greatest athlete on the planet is not an easy task. The Cavaliers got out to a 0-5 start in James' rookie season. The Miami Heat began his first season in South Beach with a 5-5 record. When James returned to Cleveland for his second stint,  the Cavaliers lost three of their first four games.

An 82-game season is a marathon, not a sprint. 

4. Top of the NBA standings

Speaking of records, if you take a look at the teams with the best record, you'll see a few names you're likely not used to witnessing there.

In the West, the Nuggets and Pelicans are the only two unbeaten teams as of Thursday. Over in the East, it's the Raptors, Bucks, and Pistons at the top.

Sure there's plenty of season to go, but Denver and Milwaukee were two teams that had a growing bandwagon, and it looks like those seats are likely to only fill up more as the year progresses.

5. Unlikely scorers

The Bulls' Zach LaVine and the Hornets' Kemba Walker have been on a tear early on. Each is averaging over 35 points per game, and LaVine became the first Bull since Michael Jordan with four straight 30-point games. Think about that for a second.

Walker is in a contract year, and LaVine is coming off a torn ACL that limited him to just 24 games last year in his first season in Chicago. Although Walker is a former All-Star and LaVine and young up-and-comer, don't expect the averages to stay this high.

6. Record scoring for teams

NBA teams as a whole are scoring more points than ever, and it's likely to continue. 

According to CBS Sports, last season teams averaged 106.3 points per game a season ago, according to CBS Sports. That number is up to 113.4 this season, which would be the biggest single-season increase since 1954-55, when scoring went from 79.5 to 93.1.

That just-so-happened to be the first year the league used the shot clock.

Last season, a team scored over 140 points in a game 13 times, and that's already happened five times this season in just over a week with the Pelicans, Lakers, Mavericks, Spurs, and Warriors doing so. 

7. Jimmy Butler still in Minnesota

Of course, as soon as this is written, just watch, he'll get traded.

But as of now, things have calmed down in Minneapolis. Butler leads the Wolves in scoring (24.5 points per game), and the persistent trade rumors have become more of a whisper in the background.

That only means that we're bound for a blockbuster trade any day now because, well, it's the NBA.

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