If the NBA playoffs started today, D.J. Augustin of the Orlando Magic would be the lone Longhorn in the NBA not advancing to the postseason.
So, yes, Longhorn fans who want to root for an NBA team, you have options. We’ll break them down for you.
The front-running Longhorn fans should root for: The Cleveland Cavaliers or the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors are obvious. The greatest Longhorn basketball player ever is one of the top players for Golden State, Kevin Durant. The 9-year pro averages 25.2 points, 4.8 assists and 8.3 rebounds for the Warriors. He missed 19 games with an injury but returned the past weekend and scored 16 points in 31 minutes for the NBA’s best team.
The Warriors are 66-14, have won back-to-back Western Conference titles and won the NBA Championship in 2015.
The Cavaliers have Lebron James, of course, who didn’t go to college, but they do have Tristan Thompson, the third highest drafted Longhorn ever. Thompson went fourth overall by the Cavs in 2011. He averages 8.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks a game and one could argue that Thompson brings an edge to the Cavs that they sometimes lack.
Thompson has been one of the most important players for the Cavs during the last two NBA Finals appearances because the dude can flat rebound.
The Cavs and the Warriors are headed for an NBA Finals trilogy and both heavy favorites to win their conferences, so if you want the “sure thing” pick these two teams.
The Texas fan who loves the state of Texas should root for: The Houston Rockets or the San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have won 60 games again, and for the second year in a row, one of their best players is one LaMarcus Aldridge, one of the best players in Texas basketball history and the second-highest drafted Longhorn ever (No. 2 overall). Aldridge, unlike Durant and Thompson, grew up in Texas, was a Longhorn and came back to Texas when he was a free agent. The power forward averages 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks for San Antonio.
Meanwhile, in Houston, as of now Isaiah Taylor is on the Rockets’ roster and should be on the roster moving forward. Whether he plays a single minute in the playoffs is another question. He’s played a combined 27 minutes since the start of April.
So, really, if you love Dream Shakes, “H-Town Take Overs” and those old school pajama jerseys the Rockets wore in the late 1990s, but you only root for teams with former Longhorns, your dream has come true. Root for the Rockets.
The Longhorn fans who love traditional powers with title chances: The Boston Celtics
Yes, the Spurs fit here as well, but the Celtics are 17-time World’s heavyweight champions, as Ric Flair would say, and have won 21 conference titles and have produced more Hall of Fame players than any team in basketball (25). Avery Bradley probably isn’t on pace to be a hall of famer, but he is one of the league’s best defensive players and one of the most underrated players in the NBA. Bradley averages 16.4 points, 2.2 assists and 6.2 rebounds for Boston.
The Longhorn fans who love underdogs and Myles Turner
The Indiana Pacers currently hold a one-game lead for the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed. Chicago and Miami are tied for the eighth spot. The Pacers will likely play either the defending world champion Cavaliers or the Boston Celtics in the first round. Congrats!
One of the Pacers’ best players, and one of the top young players in the NBA, is center Myles Turner. The second-year player averages 14.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game and has started 30 games for the Pacers this season.
Longhorn fans, if the Pacers play the Cavaliers, Tristan Thompson and Myles Turner will likely be guarding each other for at least four straight games.
The Longhorn fans who believe too much of anything is never a bad thing even if it involves Canada: Toronto Raptors
The only team in the NBA with multiple Longhorns on the roster are the Raptors. And both players have crucial roles. Cory Joseph averages 9.3 points and 3.4 assists and 3 rebounds as the back-up guard. He averages 25.3 minutes a game for the Raptors.
Meanwhile, P.J. Tucker, Big 12 Player of the Year in 2006 and a second-team All-American, is one of the top forwards for the Raptors. Tucker has carved out a nice professional career. He played in Europe from 2007-2012 before relaunching his NBA career with the Phoenix Suns, where he became one of the most important players for the Suns over the past five years. He was traded to Toronto (the team that drafted him in 2006) at the deadline and now plays a little under 30 minutes a game.
Tucker averages 6.8 points, 1.2 assists and 5.9 rebounds.
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