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Former Cats in the NBA: What to know after first month of the season

A look at the biggest storylines with the NBA Wildcats through the first month of the season.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA season is already a month in, and there are already so many scenarios and narratives to keep our eyes on the floor and off. With that said, here are a few of the highlights from some of our NBA Cats.

Kings Keep It Coming

Sacramento might be the surprise team of the NBA season so far with an unexpected start and a fast pace of play. The Kings are 8th in the Western Conference at 8-6 with some recent big wins against Minnesota and San Antonio. With the players they have, it’s no wonder and also to their benefit that they’re 3rd in the NBA in pace.

In Atlanta, De’Aaron Fox had a 31 point-15 assist-10 rebound triple-double, joining LeBron James as the only two players in NBA history with 30-point triple-doubles before their 21st birthday. Willie Cauley-Stein has kept it up as well with 24 points against Toronto, 25 points against Minnesota, and a 13 point-13 rebound double-double against San Antonio. In this Western Conference, the Kings will inevitably fade-out, but this is a fantastic building block and a step in the right direction.

Radiant Rookies

The Wildcat rookies from the 2018 NBA Draft are all starting to carve out roles with their new teams. Jarred Vanderbilt has yet to play with his foot-injury from last year, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo and Kevin Knox are beginning to make an impact. For the L.A. Clippers, Shai is averaging 10 points and 3 assists on 49% shooting from the field, scoring 19 points against Portland and 18 against Golden State in the last week.

Hamidou Diallo is only averaging 6 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he’s making enough plays on both sides of the ball to get an opportunity in their rotation. Kevin Knox missed seven games with a sprained ankle, but he’s still making an impression. Minus the game where he suffered the injury and the two games he returned from it with a minutes restriction, Knox is averaging 14 points. All three have had solid starts and will look to continue their play throughout the year.

Murray Scores Career-High & Some Controversy

The Denver Nuggets were everyone’s Western Conference dark horse and they’ve validated it to their start this year. They started off 9-1, and a big part of their success has been the play of Jamal Murray. Murray is averaging 18 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, and his stock is only trending up around the league. It reached a high point a week ago when he scored 48 points in a win against the Celtics.

It came with a dispute, though, when he took a three-point shot at the end of Denver’s win to try and score 50, which angered Celtics players. Kyrie Irving, specifically, took exception to it, taking the game ball and launching it into the stands. This is nothing new to Murray as he participated in some end-of-game antics last year against the Lakers as well. At the end of the day, all we can hope is that these ideas about Murray’s personality don’t take away from his great play in Denver.

No Butler? No Problem for Towns

The most anticipated trade of the year went through as Jimmy Butler was finally traded from Minnesota to the Philadelphia 76ers. This came after a roller-coaster of drama between he, the organization, the coaching staff and, most notably, his teammates Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.

So far, Towns had struggled this season with Butler still in the locker room. On Wednesday night, in Minnesota’s first game without Butler, Towns showed out in a win against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. He scored 25 points and snatched 16 rebounds. In the Timberwolves’ two previous games, Karl was beginning to really break out again anyhow, averaging 32 points and 20 rebounds against the Kings and Nets. With Butler gone, we can all expect a return to normal from our favorite Big-KAT.

Critics Unleash “Wolf Wall”

The Washington Wizard’s were god-awful to start the season and there’s just no other way to put it. They started 2-10, are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference and a lot of questions came around of whether or not it was time to strip the roster with a trade of either Bradley Beal or John Wall. It would’ve been hard to move Wall with his max-extension set to kick in next season, and analysts were starting to bring up what Wall chooses to do in his free time.

Stephen A. Smith, for example, brought up photos he’d received of Wall at a nightclub in Washington rather than working out. Wall took to Instagram Live to reply, but his more important response has come on the floor. The Wizards have won three straight while Wall has averaged 20 points and 9 assists over that span. Beal has now “blamed” the media for Wall’s play, saying that, “It’s y’all fault. He’s going to come out and play like Wolf Wall. So, that’s what we need him to do & I’m happy y’all kinda lit a little flame under him.” It may not be the best nickname, but this is the kind of performance the Wizards need Wall to sustain to remain somewhat competitive in the East.