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NBA quarterly grades: Warriors, Suns are best of the West while Cavaliers, Heat earn top marks in the East

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Article Summary:

Collins is having the best year of his career, Young’s pull-ups are breaking defenses and, with some help from the schedule, Atlanta’s defense has improved since DeAndre Hunter, its best perimeter defender, had wrist surgery.

  • One reason for optimism: Some of the drop-off on defense can be attributed to opponents shooting an unsustainable 40.6 percent on wide-open 3s, the best mark in the NBA.
  • One reason for pessimism: Julius Randle has been nowhere near as efficient or effective as he was last season, and in the nine games that preceded his strong game against Brooklyn on Tuesday, he averaged 15.2 points on 46.9 percent true shooting, with 4.3 assists and 3.4 turnovers. Herbert

    Washington Wizards: B

    • Record: 14-8
    • The basics: 20th in offense, 11th in defense, 18th in point differential
    • One notable stat: The Wizards’ analytics-friendly defense allows the most midrange shots and fewest 3s in the NBA.
    • One reason for optimism: There’s obvious room for improvement offensively: Washington is shooting just 32.4 percent on wide-open 3, the third-worst mark in the NBA, and eventually you have to think Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans and Corey Kispert will start to make their clean looks.
    • One reason for optimism: As well as being a fast team themselves, the Spurs have the best transition defense in the NBA, per CTG.
    • One reason for pessimism: Derrick White’s production has been all over the place – he scored a total of seven points on 3-for-21 shooting in a three-game stretch in November and had 24 on 10-for-21 shooting in a win over the Wizards the other day – and his 29.8-percent mark from 3-point range is disappointing.

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