Free NBA Picks: Mavericks vs. Thunder to Offer Thursday Night Profits

Jason Lake

Thursday, February 19, 2015 1:20 PM GMT

Amar’e Stoudemire is officially a member of the Dallas Mavericks. He could be the difference-maker Thursday night when the Mavs try to beat the basketball odds against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Jason’s record as of Feb. 18: 35-29-4 ATS, 2-4 Totals
 

The first big salvo in the Playoff Wars has been fired. The Dallas Mavericks officially signed Amar’e Stoudemire the instant he cleared waivers on Wednesday. Stoudemire is expected to come off the bench for Dallas in Thursday’s game (8:00 p.m. ET, TNT) against the Oklahoma City Thunder; however, as we go to press, NBA odds offer the Mavericks as 5.5-point road dogs, up from +5 at the open. Does the betting market think Dallas is a worse basketball pick now that STAT is on the roster?
 

That’s Amar’e
Possibly. Stoudemire (19.7 PER) was painted as the bad guy for most of his four-plus years with the New York Knicks. After leading the Knicks to their first playoff berth in a decade back in 2010-11, Stoudemire proved to be injury-prone, and his colossal $20-million annual salary became a major impediment toward New York’s continued improvement.

And yet the Knicks did improve. While Stoudemire’s production level dropped and his defense fell off a cliff, the Knicks kept getting better. After head coach Mike D’Antoni (who was Stoudemire’s coach with the Phoenix Suns, back in the good old days) was run out of town and replaced by Mike Woodson, the Knicks kept getting better. They won 54 games in 2012-13 and reached the Eastern Conference semis for the first time in the new millennium.

Salary aside, Stoudemire was a positive contributor for the most part when he did play. Even this season, with the Knicks tanking in Year One under new PBO Phil Jackson, Stoudemire was good for 18.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per 36 minutes, and a plus-0.3 VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). Not All-Star material by any means, but hardly as toxic as his detractors would have you believe.
 

Best Supporting Actor
The big consideration here for Dallas bettors is that Stoudemire isn’t expected to carry the load for the Mavericks – nor are they paying him the big bucks to do so. He’s there to enhance the Dallas frontline, which missed the talents of stealth MVP Brandan Wright (25.9 PER) after he was shipped to the Boston Celtics in the Rajon Rondo deal. Stoudemire can still score off the pick-and-roll, and he can still grab rebounds, including at the offensive end (3.5 per 36 minutes).

Best of all, Stoudemire can do this without disrupting all the good things that the Mavericks (36-19 SU, 26-27-2 ATS) already have in place. He should be an excellent fit coming off the bench in a frontcourt pairing with the rejuvenated Charlie Villanueva (18.4 PER). Stoudemire can likewise play some minutes alongside starter Dirk Nowitzki (20.6 PER), with Villanueva and Nowitzki stretching out the floor while STAT does his thing in the paint.
 

Extreme Makeover: OKC Edition
The Thunder (28-25 SU, 24-27-2 ATS) could use some frontcourt help right about now. It’s not a completely dire situation, especially if Mitch McGary (22.5 PER in 71 minutes) can keep soaking up minutes at power forward now that he’s been called up from the D-League. But that’s a lot to ask of a fairly raw rookie. Which is why the Thunder have been linked in trade rumors with the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez (19.8 PER).

We also wouldn’t be surprised if OKC hasn’t parted ways with back-up point guard Reggie Jackson (15.6 PER) by Thursday’s deadline. Jackson’s relationship with head coach Scott Brooks has devolved this year, and the arrival of Dion Waiters (9.5 PER) has cut into Jackson’s minutes, which is pretty sad. The Oklahoma City bench is already thin as it is, and any players who get traded on Thursday – coming or going – won’t be eligible to play against the Mavericks. We’ll take that extra betting value and add Dallas to our NBA picks.

Free NBA Pick: Take the Mavericks