Sharp NBA bettors should know that there are 2 teams most clearly and dramatically affected by injuries in the NBA preseason. You’ll have to adjust how you place your future NBA picks because of this.
1. Kevin Durant
This is the biggest injury on the board because Durant is coming off a 2013-14 season in which he was named the NBA Most Valuable Player. Durant also won the scoring title, average 32.0 points per game. Durant and LeBron James exist above the rest of the NBA, including Carmelo Anthony. Durant and LeBron hit the most remarkable shots, and they expand the range of what basketball players can do.
Not having Durant on the floor for at least a month if not more will force Oklahoma City to make big changes to how it plays each game. Last season, the Thunder were without Russell Westbrook, who can play the two-guard spot but is a natural point guard because of his handle and his quickness in getting to the rim. With Westbrook out, though, the Thunder had a natural replacement for him in backup point guard Reggie Jackson. In late January and early February, Jackson was able to make the team very successful in Westbrook’s absence. Durant does not have an equally good replacement at his forward spot. November should be a tough month for the Thunder.
2. Bradley Beal
The shooting guard with tremendous range has a wrist injury that will keep him out for November, dealing a setback to a Washington team that is just beginning to enter an era in which it feels it has everything to gain. In terms of numbers, Beal was the team’s second leading scorer last season at 17.1 points per game and also added 3.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
The youthfulness of the Wizards’ backcourt has shown itself as a weakness in the past, but with Beal and John Wall growing up in the playoffs last spring, Washington’s youth was supposed to be more and more of an asset this season. Beal missing the first month could prove to be very disruptive toward the team’s growing level of continuity. Beal’s absence will clearly rob the Wizards of a lot of perimeter shooting and scoring. They were fifth in three-point field goal percentage last season but that could take a hit with him. That deficit will make defenses more able to cover Wall and play the Wizards for drives to the basket, allowing outside shots to much less proven shooters. Washington has to hope that when Beal returns, he’ll be as good as he was before his wrist injury. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to place NBA picks elsewhere.
3. Reggie Jackson
The loss of Jackson, who also has a wrist injury and could be out for a few games, would take away a second capable scorer from Oklahoma City. What the injury would do is force Russell Westbrook, mentioned above in the Durant paragraph, to have to carry all of the workload at point guard. He would need some help from someone in November.
Without Durant and without Jackson, we’re talking about 45.1 points per game being shaved off of last year’s production. That’s 42.4% of the team’s production. You might want to look at 'unders' on NBA odds with the Thunder.
4. Paul Pierce
The knee injury to Pierce might take away a few games for the veteran. This could be a problem for Washington, but the Beal injury is what would matter so much more. Pierce’s possible absence for a few games would force a younger player into the lineup. That’s what the Wizards would have to be concerned about. John Wall would be part of a starting five he didn’t expect to play with at the beginning of the season.