Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to November 28 inclusive:
And things were going so, so well for the Golden State Warriors (9-7 SU, 7-7-2 ATS). They seemed to have it all: fantastic young backcourt, strong veteran frontcourt, and one of the NBA’s best glue guys in All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala. Golden State won eight of its first 12 games at 6-4-1 ATS, but Iguodala pulled a hamstring last Friday, and the Warriors are on the skids at 1-4 SU and 1-3-1 ATS in their last five.
Iguodala has officially been ruled out for Friday’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder (10-3 SU, 7-6 ATS), who have won five in a row at 4-1 ATS since losing 116-115 to the Warriors on Nov. 14. OKC bagged the cash in that game as 5-point road dogs; Friday’s NBA odds have the Thunder favored by seven this time around at Chesapeake Energy Arena, aka Loud City.
Iggy Goes Down
Iguodala’s injury came on a rough night for the NBA – Derrick Rose and Marc Gasol were also put on the shelf with torn knees, Rose for the remainder of the season. The Warriors don’t have an exact timetable for AI’s return, although they have ruled him out until Sunday at the earliest. This is a tough loss for the Dubs; according to ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, one of the leading figures in hoops metrics, Iguodala (12.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.9 steals per 36 minutes) is worth 7.9 wins to the Warriors over the course of a full season.
He’s not the only injury concern in Oakland. The bench is a bit thin without guard Toney Douglas (leg) and center Festus Ezeli (knee), and early MVP candidate Stephen Curry (21.4 points, 9.2 assists/36) has already missed three games this year with his famously gimpy ankles. That’s prompted the Warriors to give more minutes to rookie PG Nemanja Nedovic. It hasn’t gone too well. Nedovic has a PER of minus-0.8, hitting just five of his 21 shot attempts.
While the Warriors are losing parts, the Thunder are getting more and more from their roster as the season progresses. Their current five-game winning streak coincides with increased minutes for sophomore SG Jeremy Lamb, who has been nearly anonymous since winning the 2011-12 NCAA title with the UConn Huskies. Lamb has seen minutes at both guard positions for OKC, and he’s scoring 17.2 points per 36 minutes with a 15.5 PER. Maybe that James Harden trade won’t look quite so bad when all is said and done.
The Thunder have also gotten positive results from sophomore SF Perry Jones (14.8 PER), who also was invisible during his rookie campaign. Coach Scott Brooks has done a very good job of developing his young players this year, and that development has given OKC a much-needed boost against the sportsbooks betting lines.
If it weren’t for Iguodala’s absence, Friday’s matchup (8:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) would be must-see television. Oklahoma City is ninth in the league in offensive efficiency; Golden State is tenth. Oklahoma City is fourth in the league on defense; Golden State is fifth. But those are the numbers for the full season up to this point. It’s been all downhill of late for the Dubs.
Both teams should be fresh coming out of the Thanksgiving break, but I can envision Golden State’s thinner lineup losing steam as Friday’s game goes into crunch time. The UNDER might be worth a look on the total of 203.5, although I’ll be inlcuding the Thunder to our NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Take the Thunder –7 (–105) at Matchbook