Kevin Durant might be the nicest guy in the NBA. But it would be even nicer if he could help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the basketball lines once in a while.
Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 12 inclusive:
Are people really ready for this? Kevin Durant has already been anointed the next MVP of the NBA, at least in the hearts and minds of the writers who will be casting their votes once the regular season ends. Now Durant wants to start another movement: the “Strong and Kind” movement. He launched this initiative on Wednesday, partnering with a health food company to promote kindness and helping others.
Athletes have been promoting social causes since, well, forever, but there’s something special about this one. It comes at a time when kindness is in particularly short supply. If Durant truly wants to get one million people to sign up on his website, maybe he should consider starting the “Sweep the Leg” movement. Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams could be his lieutenants.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Maybe we’ve been a little harsh about Perkins (6.1 PER) and his importance to the Thunder (47-17 SU, 35-28-1 ATS). They’re 4-4 SU and 3-4-1 ATS in eight games since Perkins strained his left groin. While people get all up in arms over Russell Westbrook (23.5 PER) and whether he’s helping or harming the Thunder, perhaps we’re overlooking the value of defense and leadership. There isn’t much depth behind Perkins and Adams (10.9 PER) when it comes to big guys who will elbow you in the face at the drop of a hat.
But at least the Thunder (–4.5 at home) got paid in Wednesday’s 106-98 win over the Houston Rockets. For once, Caron Butler (6.6 PER in OKC) wasn’t the worst player on the floor, finishing at plus-5 in 29 minutes off the bench while hitting three of his seven trey attempts. Oh, and Durant scored 42 points. Ho hum.
In theory, the Timberwolves (32-31 SU and ATS) can still make the playoffs. They’re 5.5 games behind the Dallas Mavericks for eighth place in the West, staying within shouting distance by winning eight of their last 11 games at 6-5 ATS. But for some reason, all anyone wants to talk about is Kevin Love (28.1 PER), whether or not he’s overrated (ridiculous), and whether or not he could help out the Los Angeles Lakers (duh).
Maybe people will talk up the Wolves a little more if they can gain some ground in that playoff race. Kevin Martin (16.8 PER) is playing very well after missing six games with a thumb injury. Nikola Pekovic (20.9 PER) is also in full General Zod Mode after sitting out 12 games with bursitis in his right ankle. As long as Minnesota’s Big Three are all healthy, there’s reason for hope.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers (42-23 SU, 34-31 ATS) got some bad news Wednesday night when LaMarcus Aldridge (21.7 PER) took a nasty fall early in the second half of a 103-90 loss to the San Antonio Spurs (–7.5 at home). Aldridge was too hurt to shoot his free throws and had to leave the game. Portland has lost all four games of their Western road swing at 1-3 ATS, but losing their best player could be enough to knock the Blazers right out of the playoffs. They’re in fifth place as we go to press, five games ahead of the No. 10 Phoenix Suns.
True, Portland won four of the five games that Aldridge missed last month with a strained groin. But those wins were against overmatched opponents – the lone defeat was also at the hands of the Spurs. Stay tuned to the injury wires for updates on Aldridge’s condition; he needed a wheelchair to get around after Wednesday’s game, so fingers crossed.