John Rohde: “OKC players currently dominate this season’s plus/minus standings. Kevin Durant sits comfortably at No. 1 (+437), Russell Westbrook is No. 2 (+372), Kevin Martin is No. 5 (+316), Thabo Sefolosha is No. 10 (+264), Nick Collison is No. 15 (+247), Serge Ibaka is tied at No. 17 (+240) and Kendrick Perkins is No. 22 (+208). Therefore, it stands to reason the Thunder also dominates combinations of multiple players. Durant-Westbrook (+374) is the landslide leader in the two-man combo ahead of San Antonio’s Tim Duncan-Tony Parker (+313). Durant-Martin (+299) is No. 3, Sefolosha-Durant (+261) is No. 7, Westbrook-Martin (+249) is No. 10, Durant-Ibaka (+240) is No. 11, Sefolosha-Westbrook (+228) is No. 13, Westbrook-Ibaka (+224) is No. 17 and Perkins-Durant (+216) is No. 20.”
5-on-5 picking the dunk contest, Graydon Gordian of 48 Minutes of Hell went with KD: “Durant might be one of the most underrated in-game dunkers in the league. His dunks are high-flying and mean-spirited. And his length gives him the potential to come up with some pretty inventive dunks.”
Lang Whitaker for GQ picks his YOLO All-Stars: “If you’re gonna have LeBron on one team, you put Durant on the other team. Let everyone else go ham and KD and Bron can shoot it out down the stretch.”
How much is LeBron worth? Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com: “The going rate of $2 million per WARP fluctuates slightly from offseason to offseason. On the low end, Pelton found that teams paid about $1.6 million per WARP in the 2011 free-agent market. So if we apply that conversion rate to James’ current full-season projection of about 25 WARP, James checks in at a $40.5 million value for 2012-13. But here’s where it gets interesting. If we use that $1.6 million conversion rate for James’ career, we find that he should have been paid roughly $346 million just purely looking at his output on the court. Instead, he has amassed $110 million in salary through 10 seasons. In other words, James has been shortchanged about $250 million over his career. A quarter of a billion dollars.”
Jenni Carlson on Russell Westbrook: “Effort has never been a question with Westbrook. Keeping his head has been a whole other matter. So, can this last with Westbrook? I have no idea, but for one night, it wasn’t stressful to watch him. In fact, it was sort of weird. We’re so used to seeing the scowling and the scoffing and the chip-on-the-shoulder wearing that it was a bit off-putting that there was none of it. At one point, Westbrook committed a foul near the top of the key, and when he heard the whistle, he turned to the official and raised his hand. Raised his hand. That might be his first career foul acknowledgment. Truth is, this Russ wasn’t nearly as interesting as that other Russ. Not knowing what Westbrook will do at any given moment is part of the fun of watching this team. But in case Westbrook is wondering whether this Russ can be as effective as that other Russ, the answer is a resounding yes. He was as dynamic as ever Monday night.”
NBA.com’s Race to the MVP has KD No. 1: “Win or lose, the Thunder know exactly what they are getting from their MVP. Durant’s been staggeringly consistent. He was splendid in January, averaging 32.9 points on 53 percent shooting, 6.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 39.6 minutes a night. He couldn’t have kicked off the New Year much better for a Thunder team that has been aiming all season for a return trip to The Finals.”
Zach Lowe of Grantland ranting on his biggest pet peeve: “I’ve already harped on this, but I’m going to keep doing so until the league cleans it up. Erik Spoelstra, a fantastic coach and also the league’s worst offender in this regard, nearly tripped an official Sunday in Toronto after stepping a full two strides onto the floor to yell out some advice ahead of a defensive possession. I’d remark on how rare this sort of interference is during game play, except I can think of a half-dozen examples, without researching at all, of coaches impacting play because they can’t stay on the damn sideline. The rule is simple: Officials are to call a technical anytime a coach steps onto the floor without permission. Start blowing the whistle, and the coaches will adjust in a week.”
Just want to add, go USMNT. Tonight kicks off their next step in qualifying for Brazil, and it won’t be easy in Honduras.