Week 13 NBA Stock Watch
This is a brand new (hopefully weekly) segment for the 2016-17 season where we will talk about the highs and the lows of the past week to get a grasp of players and teams’ stock value. Whether you have bet your money on teams or players for this year, want a report for fantasy basketball, or are just emotionally invested, this NBA Stock Watch will have you covered on who’s trending in which direction.
Team Stock Watch
Stock Up: Miami Heat
There are signs of life on what has been a shipwreck of a season so far in Miami! Their four straight victories don’t even speak to how well the Heat have actually been playing lately. James Harden and the Houston Rockets? No problem. Giannis and the Bucks? Easy. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and the Warriors? They ain’t nothing to the 15-30 Miami Heat. Dion Waters has been putting on a scoring display, while Goran Dragic has been playing great as well. While the north (both geographically and in the standings) and cooling off this time of year, the south is heating up.
Stock Down: Toronto Raptors
Yeup, it’s getting real cold up north. The Raptors are on what is without a doubt their worst stretch of basketball this season. First it was a loss to the surging but still mediocre Philadelphia 76ers, but then another pair of defeats to Charlotte and Phoenix solidified their place on the Stock Down report. Through those losses, Toronto has been held to a horrendous 37.6% shooting from the field, worst in the league in FG%. They are also last in the league in assists and plus/minus, and second to last in rebounds over that time.
Stock Up: Philadelphia 76ers
Back for the second straight time because going 2-1 is a good week in Philly’s book. But actually, triumphing over the Raptors as mentioned above and then grinding out a nail-biting win over the Trailblazers was awfully impressive. And get this – the Sixers are leading the NBA in defensive rating (96.5) over the last three contests, despite falling to the Hawks 110-93 on Saturday without the Process suited up. I don’t think they are quite ready to compete for a playoff spot, but this is a franchise that has been stuck in the trenches for multiple years and finally seem to be finding their way out, winning seven of their last 10.
Player Stock Watch
Stock Up: Kawhi Leonard
The defensive specialist continues to evolve his offensive game. Coming into their match up with the Nets on Monday night, the Spurs forward was averaging 35.6 points on 59.8 FG%, 46.2 3P%, and 91.7 FT% over his last five. His six games prior to Monday night, he’s put up 30, 31, 38, 34, 34, and a career high 41 points. This was plenty good enough to be awarded the Western Conference Player of the Week. Beast mode.
Stock Down: Eric Gordon
Gordon was leading the NBA in three-pointers made a week or so ago. That’s pretty crazy for a guy who hasn’t been very relevant in recent years due to injuries or mediocrity. His shooting over the last three games hasn’t been nearly as smooth as it has been so far this season, though. Despite still being the second highest in 3PT field goals, Gordon hasn’t been converting from downtown — he is six of his last 26, or 23%.
Stock Up: Dion Waiters
Waiters agreed to an insignificant $2.9 million contract this summer after the Thunder dissolved his qualifying offer. The Heat took a gamble on him, but even that risk for a former #4 draft pick wasn’t very expensive — that’s how shaky Waiters’ NBA future seemed to be. Now, the Syracuse alum has tied his career high point total (33) in back-to-back games. He single-handedly sunk the Warriors on Monday night with two huge clutch shots, including the ultimate game winning pull-up three:
— mfr24 (@mfr234) January 24, 2017
In those career-highs, Waiters has shot a combined 25/39 (64%) from the field and 11/16 (69%) from deep. Sheesh!
Bonus Stock Watch
Stock Up: Cats
Philadelphia has been causing a stir in the league this season, and now for more than just Joel Embiid or their uncharacteristic hot streak. Sixers fans started a new celebration for when they win games: Lift up your cat. #RaiseTheCat started after Ben Simmons posted a picture with his cat, and a fan got the idea to raise his cat in the air after a Sixers win. Random, but alright Philly:
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) January 21, 2017
I’m sure the cats themselves aren’t the biggest fans of this peculiar trend, but I can get on board with the fun of it (even though I’m not much of a cat person).
Stock Down: Zaza’s Ego
There is a big difference between being confident and being conceited. According to the Free Dictionary, something that “goes to your head” makes you believe that you are more important than you really are. That’s virtually exactly what seems to be happening with Zaza Pachulia and the All-Star voting. The second highest vote-getter for the West’s frontcourt seems to think that he is actually good now, just based on his oddly high number of votes for the All-Star game. During the Warriors’ battle with the Thunder, he did this to Russell Westbrook:
— NBA RETWEET (@RTNBA) January 19, 2017
Decking an MVP candidate who is averaging a triple-double is one thing, but walking over him and staring at him like that is another — especially when you’re Zaza fricken Pachulia. We must ask: Zaza, do you think you are good or something now?
Stock Up: Unpredictability
It’s not often in the NBA that a very poor team upsets a very good one. This week however was filled with just that. The New Orleans Pelicans (18-27) got obliterated by the Brooklyn Nets (9-35), 143-114 on Friday. In their very next game, the Pelicans were going face-to-face with the reigning champions without their lone star player Anthony Davis. And they won. Cleveland’s big three all head good games (including a beautiful 49-point performance by Kyrie Irving), yet the Pelicans managed to follow up their 29 point loss to the worst team in the league with a win without their superstar against one of the best. Not to mention, the Heat (15-30) beat the Warriors and the Sixers (15-27) beat the Raptors, but you already knew that.
Follow Erik on Twitter: @erikjohnson32
Cropped photo of Kawhi from @NBARegion
Cropped photo of Gordon from @RedNationBR