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The Best of the Best
Kevin Durant - Let's play a game of "Who can run quicker?": the Thunder and their incredible athletes, or the Nuggets and their second-quickest pace in the NBA? No matter what the answer is, both teams are going to get their stats. In the three meetings between these teams, only once has a squad finished under 100 points: Denver, on the wrong end of a 117-97 loss back in January. With that in mind, I think it's safe to call this a safe matchup for Durant today. He hasn't scored less than 23 points in his past five games as it is.
Brandon Jennings - Hello there, Portland's No. 24 ranked 108.0 defensive rating (points allowed per 48 minutes). Well hi, Damian Lillard's personal 111 defensive rating, tied for the worst on the team. Nice to see you, 27th defensive turnover rate, keeping the ball in the point guard's hands even more securely. Based on Jennings' three straight games with at least 40 minutes played (but don't worry, also with a day of rest yesterday), this could be a fun one.
Blake Griffin - After so long away, we finally get to return to one of our favorite running trends: Always Play Against Sacramento's Big Men! It feels like home here; I've spent way too much time taking advantage of this complementary buffet. Sitting next-to-last in defensive rating, next-to-last in defensive rebounding percentage, and 28th in defensive effective field goal percentage (eFG%), this game is like a big man's dream. DeMarcus Cousins' questionable status leading up to gametime is only the cherry on the sundae.
Top Mid-Range Values
Jamal Crawford - It's not just big men that get the stats against Sacramento, though: opposing shooting guards are shooting .517 eFG% from the field against the Kings this season. With Tyreke Evans questionable for tonight's game and Marcus Thornton's 114 defensive rating waiting in the wings, that number could go up even higher. With Crawford having played at least 33 minutes in each of his first two games since returning from injury, the opportunities will likely be there as well.
Andre Miller - Somebody might want to tell Oklahoma City, but the team actually has a few holes defensively in the backcourt. Russell Westbrook has the highest defensive rating of any starter at 104. Backup Reggie Jackson is even less efficient at 105. And Kevin Martin has the highest defensive rating on the team, sitting at 107. Andre Miller, who has split time between point guard and shooting guard about equally this season, will look to take advantage of all three players and continue his streak with four straight games of 25+ minutes played.
Thabo Sefolosha - Trivia time: of the seven Thunder players who have been on the court for at least 1000 minutes this season, who has the highest eFG%? It's not Durant. It's not Westbrook. It's not Ibaka. Aww, you cheater, you weren't supposed to look at the bolded name. Sefolosha's .598 eFG% may not be the most publicized stat in the world, considering he attempts just 7.3 field goals per 36 minutes. When he gets his chances, though, he can be efficient. And as already discussed in the Durant section, the fast pace of tonight's game will mean extra chances. His last game against Denver, he had 8 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists.