Stephen Curry leads all players in jersey sales, Warriors are No. 1 in team sales

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It’s more than just long-distance threes or doing car pool karaoke. It’s that Stephen Curry looks like an overachieving everyman, as opposed to a 6’9″ man-child blessed by the gods with physical gifts none of us relate to. (Which is far from entirely true, but the narrative sells.)

Curry is the most popular player in the NBA, and for the second straight year that showed up again in the NBA’s annual report on jersey sales, as tallied by the NBA.com store.  LeBron James was second. Here’s the list:

Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys:
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
4. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
5. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
7. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
8. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
9. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
10. James Harden, Houston Rockets
11. Dwyane Wade, Chicago Bulls
12. Derrick Rose, New York Knicks
13. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
14. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
15. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

As for the most popular teams, Curry and LeBron are on the top of the list again. It also shouldn’t be a shock that the Lakers, Knicks, and Bulls are in the mix despite their play — those are the NBA’s biggest brands. Here’s the list.

Top 10 Most Popular Team Merchandise:
1. Golden State Warriors
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Chicago Bulls
4. Los Angeles Lakers
5. New York Knicks
6. San Antonio Spurs
7. Oklahoma City Thunder
8. Boston Celtics
9. Philadelphia 76ers
10. Toronto Raptors

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.