It’s been another busy and exciting week for basketball fans and bettors alike, with many interesting stories around the league. There was an emotional ceremony at the Crypto.com Arena as the Los Angeles Lakers honored one of their best-ever European imports.
After a month’s delay, Kevin Durant is set to make his Phoenix Suns home debut. Finally, the New York Knicks’ winning streak was snapped by a Charlotte Hornets side missing LaMelo Ball. Here are our NBA picks you might have missed in professional basketball this week.
Ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers’ matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers organization retired Pau Gasol’s No. 16 jersey. He became the 12th player to have his jersey retired by Lakers. The franchise placed his number alongside his teammate and friend, Kobe Bryant.
Gasol was the third overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft, selected by the Atlanta Hawks. However, he was traded to the Grizzlies, playing with the team from 2001 to 2008. In 2008, he was traded to the Lakers and spent six years with the organization before moving to the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA. He played his last season at his hometown team, FC Barcelona, in 2021.
He won the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2002, earned six NBA All-Star selections and four All-NBA team selections. In addition to winning the NBA in 2009 and 2010 with Los Angeles, Gasol also won the FIBA World Cup, three EuroBasket titles, two Olympic silvers and a bronze medal.
“Life goes by pretty fast, right? In the blink of an eye, you can be a kid playing basketball in school with your buddies, then all of a sudden, you're realizing your dream," said Gasol at the unveiling ceremony. He paid tribute to Bryant, saying, “It means so much. Obviously, with Kobe up there, it just adds something meaningful and powerful, and sad and happy, and painful and joyful. It’s a lot of things.”
The Lakers continued their push for a play-in spot on the court, beating the short-handed Grizzlies team 112-103. Memphis was without the suspended Ja Morant. LA continues to improve, climbing to ninth in the Western Conference. Some NBA betting apps are offering odds of +5000 for the Lakers to win the NBA Finals, while the more cautious among you might like the +120 odds with some sportsbooks on the Lakers to make the playoffs.
A month after he was traded to the Phoenix Suns by the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant is finally ready to play in front of his new fans. KD is set to make his home debut against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
Durant has already met some of the Suns’ supporters, as 3,000 fans came to the Footprint Center for his introductory press conference last month. Still, a knee injury and a four-game road trip delayed the 13-time All-Star from making his first appearance on the court in Phoenix.
His debut will come against OKC Thunder, whose predecessor, the Seattle SuperSonics, picked him second overall in the 2007 draft. Durant made 80 appearances for Seattle before the team relocated to Oklahoma City in 2007, where he played 561 times.
KD has hit the ground running with the Suns and combined with Devin Booker for 188 points in their first three games, winning all three. Phoenix’s odds of winning the NBA Finals tumbled after they announced Durant’s trade. The Suns are now one of the favorites (best price +450) with some USA sports betting sites to win the Championship this season.
The New York Knicks have been on a tear in recent weeks, surging up the Eastern Conference standings, blowing out their cross-town rivals, the Brooklyn Nets, 142-118, and the leaders in the East, the Boston Celtics, twice in eight days.
However, all good things must eventually end. The Charlotte Hornets, who had only won 20 games up to that point, bested the Knicks 112-105 at Madison Square Garden. The Hornets were without star LaMelo Ball, who remained sidelined after fracturing his ankle. Ball will now miss the rest of the season.
Julius Randle indicated that the team was exhausted. “We just ran out of gas,” the All-Star told the press after the game. The Knicks were trying to win 10 straight games for the first time since 2012/13. RJ Barrett scored 27 points for the Knicks. Randle scored 16 points but missed 12 shots, going 5-of-17 from the field.
Jalen Brunson missed a second straight game for New York with a foot injury, and the star point guard’s absence had a significant effect. The Knicks scored just 45 second-half points and struggled defensively. “We weren’t great in defensive transition, and we didn’t fly around like we normally do,” said Tom Thibodeau, New York’s head coach.
Charlotte’s win will boost its morale but might hurt its chances of securing the first-overall pick in the draft. French phenom Victor Wembanyama is the favorite to be drafted first overall, valued at -8000 with some US betting apps.