Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while planning your pizza wedding…
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. Most of the time when fans start “M-V-P” chants for a player, it’s wishful thinking — Oklahoma City, go ahead and start chanting it for Durant with my blessing. To early to say if he wins the award, but he is in the conversation. The 46 he dropped on Portland make it eight straight games with at least 30 points as he carries the Thunder offense. It just isn’t volume, when the Thunder needed buckets late in this game Durant was raining threes on the Blazers. He’s been nothing short of phenominal lately.
Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings. Gay had a well below average true shooting percentage of 46.8 percent when he was with Toronto for 18 games this season. He was the poster boy for an inefficient gunner. But in the 19 games since the trade to Sacramento Gay has a TS% of 59.6 — he has been very efficient. That includes Tuesday when he scored 41 on the Pelicans, taking just 25 shots.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers. He finished with 29 points, and with that became just the third NBA player this season to get to the 1,000 point plateau (Kevin Durant and LeBron James are the others). Sure, it took him 26 shots, but still that is a nice accomplishment. That should get noticed.
Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.
The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.
Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.
Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.
It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:
it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.
That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.
Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.
Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.
I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.
This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.