The biggest superstar trade since Paul George in 2019, the NBA’s first team-wide COVID-19 outbreak since the virus began affecting the league last March, and the highly publicized struggles of a pair of young stars highlighted a wild Week 4 in the NBA. We’ve got you all covered so read on to make sure you get settled in and ready to recap all the action on and off the court from Week 4 in the NBA!
James Harden Becomes a Brooklyn Net
James Harden’s days as a member of the Houston Rockets have come to an end, as the former MVP and 8-time All-Star guard was traded to the Brooklyn Nets Thursday afternoon, forming a tremendous scoring trio of Harden, former MVP Kevin Durant and 6-time All-Star Kyrie Irving. The monumental deal included 7 players across 4 teams and is one that is certain to shake up the landscape of the NBA, both in the present and in the future. Read our full breakdown of the Harden deal here.
Wizards COVID Outbreak Leads to Five Straight Games Postponed
Week 4 started out great for the Washington Wizards, notching a 21-point victory over the Phoenix Suns in a game that Washington controlled from start to finish. It was the Wizards 3rd win and their best of the season against a team that was 2nd in the Western Conference standings prior to the game. Then, a harsh reminder of the risks involved playing an NBA season whilst in a pandemic came to fruition, hitting the Wizards hard with 7 players and 1 staff member testing positive for COVID-19 at the time of this writing. This led to the postponements of the Wizards’ next 5 games, which would have come against the Jazz, Pistons, Cavaliers twice, and the Hornets. So far, there has not been a confirmed cause of the Wizards’ outbreak or whether any protocols were broken by the team. It just serves as a microcosm of the impact the ongoing pandemic has had, not just on sports, but on society as a whole with its unpredictability.
Hawks, Trae Young Struggling to Take Flight
The Atlanta Hawks were a team that received plenty of hype after an impressive offseason, adding Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Onyeka Okongwu to a burgeoning young roster headlined by Trae Young, John Collins and Clint Capela. 5 games in, the Hawks were living up to the hype with a 4-1 record. Trae Young in particular was flourishing at a tremendous level, averaging 30.6 points and 8 assists during the team’s first 5 while shooting nearly 47 percent from the field, 36 percent from three and 91 percent from the free throw line. However, a 4-game losing streak and a 1-2 record in Week 4 has not only raised questions about the team, but Young’s play as well. During this stretch, Young averaged 18 points and 9 assists, but with almost 5 turnovers while shooting 33 percent from the field and 19 percent on threes. What may be more concerning is that Hawks players have taken issue with Young’s role within the offense, most notably big man John Collins, who wants to perform well in a contract year. To be fair, Bogdan Bogdanovic is missing time with a knee injury and Danilo Gallinari has only played 2 games in a Hawks uniform because of a sprained ankle. The Hawks will need their offseason additions healthy, along with Young to get back to playing at the high level he was to start the season while on the same page with his teammates, in order to reach their goals of being a playoff team this season.
Sixers Seeking More From Simmons
Philadelphia has gotten off to a strong start this season with a 9-5 record, good enough for 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. New GM Daryl Morey’s roster is deep with shooters around franchise centerpieces Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and new head coach Doc Rivers has done a great job with his new team. However, early returns on a 5 year, $170 million contract extension given to Simmons in 2019 have not looked promising. While Simmons' value is tied to more than just scoring, the Sixers need more than the 12.3 points per game on 50 percent shooting for him to live up to his megadeal. An interesting twist this week as Simmons was informed by Sixers management about being involved in a potential trade for James Harden, which ended up falling through for various reasons. While Simmons is reportedly ecstatic to remain in Philadelphia, he will need to step up his play in order to not just live up to his contract, but for the Sixers to see him as a centerpiece of their team, and not a centerpiece in a trade offer for the next available superstar. (*cough* Bradley Beal *cough*)
Players of the Week:
West: G Damian Lillard: 3-1 record, 30.3 PPG, 7.3 APG, 5.3 RPG
East: F Kevin Durant: 3-0 record, 34.0 PPG, 8.0 APG, 61.3% FG
Indiana Pacers G Caris LeVert is out indefinitely after a small mass was discovered in his left kidney during a physical. LeVert will likely require surgery, per Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard.
Denver Nuggets F Michael Porter Jr. is hoping for a Friday return from quarantine against the Phoenix Suns. Porter Jr. has missed 10 straight games after being placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols on January 1st.
Houston Rockets G John Wall missed 3 straight games due to left knee soreness, but it is not considered a long-term injury.
Memphis Grizzlies F Jaren Jackson Jr. says his return from knee surgery (meniscus tear) is “not that far.”
Portland Trail Blazers G C.J. McCollum is expected to miss at least four weeks with a fracture in his left foot.
Week 5 Games to Look Forward To
Bucks vs Nets, Monday at 7:30 PM EST
Celtics vs. 76ers, Wednesday at 7:00 PM EST
Lakers vs. Bucks, Thursday at 7:30 PM EST
Celtics vs. 76ers, Friday at 7:30 PM EST
Heat vs. Nets, Saturday at 7:30 PM EST
NBA Standings After Week 4