After an offseason where the Wizards got a new head coach and a six-man return package for Russell Westbrook, Washington is tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference after 10 games.
"Addition by subtraction. Russell Westbrook has been really, really rough so far in LA," Meadowlark Media NBA analyst Tom Haberstroh said on the "Brother From Another" show on Peacock.
Westbrook overcame an injury-riddled slow start in the nation's capital to go on a tear the last few months of the season to make the playoffs and make history as the all-time leader in triple-doubles. Now back home, Westbrook found his stride yet during the Lakers' 6-5 start.
Meanwhile, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard's return for Westbrook is looking better by the day. The trio of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma have combined to make a positive impact on Washington's depth and defense. Aaron Holiday, who the Wizards acquired by flipping the Lakers' 22nd pick in this year's draft, has shown the ability to defend with the best of them.
Caldwell-Pope hasn't shot well but has been an awesome wing defender and energy guy. Harrell has already endeared himself to the D.C. faithful with his effort and personality. Kuzma has been a revelation during Rui Hachimura's absence. Though Westbrook was subtracted, Sheppard managed a whole lot of addition in compensation.
"I really like what Washington did in the offseason," Haberstroh said. "Danny Gafford, extending him with a deal after getting him from Chicago is also an underrated move."
Gafford's shot-blocking and ability to protect the rim have been a big plus for the Wizards. Coach Wes Unseld Jr.'s more deliberate approach focused on efficiency has created a winning attitude around Washington.
"Bradley Beal is not going to have an easy decision about his future," said Haberstroh. "They're making it very hard for him to say, 'I should be on a championship team somewhere else.' They're building something in Washington and I think it's much better than John Wall or Russell Westbrook long term."
The Wizards will look to continue winning ways Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Cleveland.