Week 12 NBA Stock Watch
It’s officially a new year, but we have the same great NBA Stock Watch content for you to kick off 2019. As always we have you covered on the players, teams, and storylines that are trending right now.
Let’s get into the first Stock Watch of the calander year!
Team Stock Watch
Stock Up: Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City are once again a legitimate force in the West. There, I said it. After three straight victories and seven wins in their last 10 games prior to Sunday, the Thunder are storming up the NBA hierarchy.
With Russell Westbrook’s triple-doubles and Paul George’s dominant scoring, it’s easy to think that OKC rides their offense to victories. On the contrary, it’s been the defense that has set them up for success. With both Westbrook and George clamping opponents, and fan-favorite Steven Adams locking down the paint, the Thunder have had the No. 1 defense in the league this week.
OKC started their week with wins over the Mavericks and Lakers. Following that, they traveled to Portland – where they haven’t won a game in five years – to face a solid team in the Trail Blazers. They managed to break their curse in Portland and win their third straight game. They may have taken a tough loss to Washington to cap off the week, but look out for OKC.
Stock Down: Cleveland Cavaliers
Let’s be honest, it’s not too surprising to see the Cavs on this list. They have been a mess all season, with the exception of a few small stretches. However, their struggles have reached another level in Week 11.
Cleveland finished the week with the NBA’s worst defense and second-worst offense. Their average margin of defeat is in the double-digits – which also leads the league as the worst mark. In their three-game slate, they lost to the Heat by 25, Jazz by 26, and Pelicans by 35. These losses added up to nine straight defeats, by far the largest streak in the league. Any value this Cavs team may have has shrunken even further.
Stock Up: Indiana Pacers
Indy is rolling. While their football squad defeated the Houston Texans to advance in the playoffs, their adored hoop team has been playing great.
The Pacers enjoyed a six-game win streak powered by their recent stretch of victories this week, before seeing it snapped against the Raptors Sunday night. They had a fairly quiet slate, but continue to impress when they do take the floor. They got by the Hawks and Bulls this week – something that isn’t incredibly hard to do, but notable nonetheless. Indiana has settled into the third seed in the East, ensuring a steady stock price.
Player Stock Watch
Stock Up: James Harden
The Beard didn’t take long to be featured in this column again. Since he was last in this spot two weeks ago, he has yet to score less than 38 points in a game. For those counting, that is 10 straight games with 35+ points – a truly remarkable feat. During that stretch, he even had scored 40+ straight in five games. I mean, come on now!
Clearly, Harden is playing out of his mind. He continues to add to his MVP resume, most recently by a pair of step-back threes against the Warriors to send the game to overtime and then win it. Oh and by the way, he finished that game with an absurd 44-point, 15-assist, 10-rebound triple-double in Oracle. By the end of his three-game week, Harden averaged 41.7 points, 11.7 dimes, and 8.8 boards. The Beard is somehow managing to further boost his sky-high value.
Stock Down: Damian Lillard
Lillard is usually one of the most electric shooters in the NBA. He has a gifted scoring ability which typically is always on full display. But, week 11 wasn’t as kind to the Trail Blazer point guard.
In his three games, Dame shot 34.6% from the field on 18.3 attempts per game – the worst mark in the league of the eligible players. Although he still averaged 21.7 points, he did so in an inefficient way and missed 35 of his 55 shots. He was even worse from three, where he shot 18%. Additionally, Lillard’s 8.7 assists per game were hampered by his 4.3 turnovers, which was the fifth worst turnover average on the week. Lillard’s efficiency was at a season-low this week, limiting his stock price.
Stock Up: Karl-Anthony Towns
KAT has been way too great recently for me to not mention him. Coming into Sunday with a matchup with the Lakers, Towns was averaging 28.3 points and 14.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.3 blocks over the last week. He has been feasting in all departments.
The TWolves center was successful on more than half of his shot attempts. When he was matched up with Anthony Davis and the Pelicans on New Year’s Eve, KAT registered 28 points and six assists while hauling in 17 boards and swatting away five shots. That’s a crazy stat line, folks.
P.S. Speaking of crazy stat lines, big shoutout to Jursif Nurkic (and his wild 5×5 game) who was just as suitable to be in this column this week.
Bonus Stock Watch
Stock Up: Self awareness
Luka Doncic may be a 19-year-old rookie, but he is wise beyond his age (and tenure). Doncic posted a great Tweet this week, in which he clearly understands his tendency to take step-back threes as oppose to open, stand-still attempts:
That’s the type of self awareness every NBA player should strive for.
Stock Down: AT&T Center
AT&T Center is really struggling without Manu Ginobili. When I say that, I’m not talking about the ticket sales or revenue streams. I’m talking about the arena security.
Somehow, a pigeon managed to get it’s way into the arena and fly around during the game:
Where’s Manu when you need him?? For those who may not remember, Ginobili slapped a bat out of mid air on the court. That’s the kind of stuff AT&T really could have used at this weekend’s Spurs game!
Stock Up: Bucks’ PA system
This is quite a specific topic, but I promise it’s for good reason. When the Raptors traveled to Milwaukee to play the Bucks this week, the team played Kawhi Leonards’ notorious laugh on the PA system after he turned it over:
Whoever organizes this stuff deserves a promotion because the Bucks have had some great troll jobs over the past few years. Using Kawhi’s laugh on this turnover may top the list for me!
That concludes this weeks’ edition. Stay tuned for next Monday at 9:30am for the latest news, trends, and updates – the last of this calendar year!
Follow Erik J on Twitter: @erikjohnson32
Cropped photo of Lillard and Harden via Flick/BigThreeSports Artwork