The Oklahoma City Thunder have fallen down, and they can’t get back up. They might not be a very good basketball pick this Friday when they host the best team in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors.
Jason’s record as of Jan. 15: 23-23-2 ATS, 2-4 Totals
Something is not right with the Oklahoma CityThunder. They’ve got Kevin Durant, they’ve got Russell Westbrook, but as we noted in our recent look at the Western Conference, the Thunder are in dire straits these days. They came out flat Thursday night against the Houston Rockets and lost 112-101 as 2.5-point road favorites. That makes it 3-3 SU and 0-5-1 ATS for Oklahoma City since Durant came back from his most recent injury layoff.
It only gets more difficult from here. The Thunder have a Friday night date (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) with the Golden State Warriors, the best team in the NBA at 31-5 SU and 24-11-1 ATS. We had the Warriors in Wednesday’s matchup against the Miami Heat, and the Warriors looked very good in their 104-89 victory. But the closing line for that game was GSW –15, so we’ve gone ahead and recorded that as a “push” in the record you see up above. We hope you grabbed those NBA odds early when the spread was 12 or 13 points. Shall we make it a double-dip on the Dubs?
Where Da Gold At
Once again, the early birds are getting the best value out of the NBA odds. Golden State opened as a 2-point road dog in Friday’s matchup before quickly moving to –1 as we go to press. We’d be amazed that the Warriors opened as underdogs, if it weren’t for the fact that they play out in Oakland, and not a lot of people are paying attention to what’s going on out there.
Otherwise, as it was last time around, nothing much new to talk about with the Warriors. They’re on an eight-game winning streak now at 7-1-1 ATS, with an average margin of victory of nearly 20 points. Seven of those games were at home, mind you. On the road, the Dubs are still the best team in the league at 14-4 SU and 11-7 ATS. And they’ve got the best player in the league in Stephen Curry, according to both Wins Above Replacement (8.07 WAR) and Real Plus-Minus (8.27 RPM).
This Means WAR
You won’t find Durant (1.23 WAR) or Westbrook (3.25 WAR) anywhere in the Top 40 in that metric, although that’s hardly fair – WAR is cumulative, and both players have missed plenty of time due to injuries. But let’s take a moment to rank some of the key members of both teams in terms of RPM. The numbers you see to the left of their names refers to their overall NBA rankings.
1. Stephen Curry, GSW 8.27
9. Draymond Green, GSW 5.28
13. Russell Westbrook, OKC 4.68
16. Serge Ibaka, OKC 4.43
21. Klay Thompson, GSW 4.26
23. Andrew Bogut, GSW 4.12
64. Kevin Durant, OKC 2.12
Sweet cuppin’ cakes, look at those numbers. If you didn’t know any better, you might look at Durant’s per-game stats (25.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists) and think everything was hunky-dory. Even his gaudy 29.0 PER is very close to last year’s league-leading 29.8 PER. But Durant is less efficient on offense this year; his turnovers are up, his assists and free-throw shooting are down, and on top of that, his already unimpressive defensive output has dropped from plus-0.15 DBPM last year to minus-0.42 this year.
How bad is it really? Bad enough that defensive specialist Andre Roberson (2.29 BPM) outranks Durant at No. 55, even though he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat (44.2 percent from the field, 13.5 percent from downtown). Of course, casual fans hardly pay attention to defense when they make their NBA picks, so that only enhances Golden State’s value in Friday’s contest. Rack us up another bet on the Warriors, and may the sphere be with you.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Warriors -2.5 at 5Dimes