Forwards Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge are the two former Longhorns attending the NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles on Feb. 18. Durant was named a starter as he continues to put up MVP numbers this season for the Golden State Warriors — the team with the best record in the league. Aldridge, meanwhile, has helped the Spurs stay afloat as they await the return of forward Kawhi Leonard. Aldridge has led the San Antonio Spurs to the fourth-best record in the Western Conference. Durant, Aldridge and center Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers are three Longhorns in the NBA to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Although the Warriors suffered a 116-108 loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday, Durant still scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists. This is in line with Durant’s averages for the season. The surprising part of Durant’s game this season has been his ability to protect the paint. With no true center for Golden State to contest shots at the basket, Durant has taken it upon himself to be the Warriors’ rim protector. He’s currently ranked second in the league in blocks per game, averaging 2.1 — a career high.
Durant is also shooting better from three in the month of January. His percentage is up from 35.7 percent in December to a staggering 47.8 percent in January. A big part of this uptick is the return of point guard Stephen Curry, who was sidelined for a few games with injuries. The two have not seen consistent time together on the court since early December. Watch for the Warriors to put together a run against many sub-par teams leading up to All-Star weekend.
Aldridge poured in 30 points and snatched eight rebounds to lead the Spurs to a 114-102 victory over the slumping Cavaliers on Tuesday night. This is more of the same for Aldridge, who is averaging 22.5 points and 8.7 rebounds for the season. The Spurs have revamped their offense this year to feature Aldridge as their centerpiece, a compromise to Aldridge’s trade request over the summer. Aldridge has returned to the form of his Portland Trailblazer days during Leonard’s absence. The Spurs have a soft schedule until the All-Star break, so they should be able to grab the third seed in the West.
Dating back to their loss to Golden State on Christmas Day, the Cavaliers have lost nine of their last 12 games. They’ve suffered losses to the lowly Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz. Cleveland also has a 34-point loss to the Toronto Raptors, a 28-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and a 24-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Cavaliers are looking to trade some of their players, and Thompson is one of them. Thompson is averaging career-lows in minutes, points and rebounds per game. He scored eight points and grabbed just one rebound in a loss to the Spurs on Tuesday night. Thompson could be wearing a different jersey soon.