Week 17 NBA Stock Watch
Everyone’s favorite weekly hoops column, the NBA Stock Watch, is back for the 2017-18 season! Just like the New York Stock Exchange, the National Basketball Association is constantly changing and requires extra attention to properly monitor. Teams go through win or losing streaks. Players get hot or cold. Lucky for you, I accumulate this information and put together a report every Monday at 9:30 am ET to keep you up to date!
Whether you gambled money on teams or players for this year, want a report for fantasy basketball, or are just emotionally invested, the NBA Stock Watch will have you covered on who’s trending in which direction during the 2017-18 season!
Team Stock Watch
Stock Up: Toronto Raptors
Say what you want about the Raptors, but here they are sitting atop the Eastern Conference. Thanks to a recent surge, Toronto knocked Boston out of the top spot. They have been rock solid all year, however, they have elevated their play on both ends in Week 17. They finished the last seven days with the second-best defensive rating and a top-five offensive rating in the league.
As a squad that has notoriously been an early out in the playoffs, it’s important to see how the Raptors play against their elite competitors. As the top seed in the East (at the time), Boston presented a similar test. Toronto passed with flying colors. They comfortably sunk the Celtics with aggressive defense and a great team effort on offense, especially from their bench. To follow up that important victory, Toronto cruised to two wins over the Knicks and Hornets, beating both by 20+ points and capturing their fifth-straight dub. It’s hardly surprising to see that The 6 led the NBA in +/- in Week 17 with a +21.7!
Stock Down: New York Knicks
Life without Kristaps Porzingis in Madison Square Garden is ugly. The Knicks were fighting to stay in sight of the .500 mark in the East but without the Unicorn, they haven’t been able to do much on the court. They struggled to create any offense whatsoever, posting the second-worst offensive rating on the week. They’ve missed Porzingis’ presence on defense as well, as they fell to the 21st defensive team during that time.
Although expectations have significantly fallen for the Knicks now, their stock will continue to freefall to new season-lows.
Stock Up: Utah Jazz
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! After a tremendous Week 16, Utah has kept the good times rolling. They stretched their win streak to eight games with wins over the Pelicans, Grizzlies, and Hornets.
Honestly, Rudy Gobert is all the Jazz really need to be competitive on a nightly basis. He has a huge impact on the defensive end that keeps Utah in most contests. Naturally, courtesy of Gobert’s presence down low, they had the fourth most stringent defense of the week. Then, largely to Gobert himself, Ricky Rubio, and Joe Ingles, they even had a top-10 offense to go with their defensive showing. And, they did most of this without Donovan Mitchell (who returned on Friday and, per usual, stuffed the stat sheet).
Buy: Cleveland Cavaliers
A must needed change was needed in The Land, and my gosh were they active on the trade deadline. The Cavs sent more than five of their key players packing in turn for younger, more athletic players. My initial reaction to this trade was that Cleveland got better.
First of all, I think any change would’ve been positive. Something had to change, and the fact that they made any moves was a step in the right direction. However, the players they got in return truly make them better. George Hill is as solid as they come at the point guard position, a spot where the Cavs were struggling to find some consistency from alongside LeBron. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. provide some excellent bounce and energy off the bench, and Rodney Hood is somehow grossly underrated and will be an instant scoring source when his name is called on. Overall, the Cavs got better from this deal and should slowly ascend up the power rankings once again.
Player Stock Watch
Stock Up: Eric Bledsoe
Believe it or not, Bledsoe was one of the most productive players in the NBA this week. When you take total output and efficiency into account, few players had a bigger impact than this Milwaukee point guard.
His averages set the tone for the all-around game he played this week for the Bucks: through three contests, he put up 20 points, 7.3 dimes, and four rebounds. He shot an impressive 58.3% from the field and 46.2% from behind the arc to make up a very solid shooting stretch. After struggling for much of the new year, it’s refreshing to see this 27-year-old refind some confidence and have a bounce-back week, thus resulting in a friendly stock raise.
Stock Down: DeMar DeRozan
It was an off week for The North’s DeMar DeRozan. He certainly wasn’t terrible or anything, just very underwhelming compared to his normal self, thus leading to a gradual fall in his stock.
Despite getting a win against the Celtics in a big game, DeRozan was ineffective from the field. He shot 6-17 for a mediocre 15 points, although his six assists and zero turnovers were very productive. In his next outing, the wing player went 2-11 (18.2%) and scored his second-fewest points in a game all year (8). If you include the game he played before these two games (on last Sunday), he’s averaged an uncharacteristic 12 points over three matchups. It was the first time all season in which he’s scored 15 points or less in three straight. In fact, DeRozan only finished with under 20 points in 13 games this whole season, before doing it three straight times during this cold stretch.
Like any stock market, DeRozan’s stock has already recovered a bit after scoring 25 points and assisting on eight baskets Sunday afternoon against the Hornets.
Stock Up: Brandon Ingram
I’ve been back and forth on this young, lanky L.A. forward, but Ingram has quietly been having himself quite a year. The 20-year-old (how is he still only 20?) carried that into Week 17, putting up some incredibly efficient shooting numbers. Ingram went 25-39 from the floor (64.1%) and 9-11 from three-point land (81.8%) on his way to averaging 22.3 points per game. For a scoring wing player, these are great numbers. He’s been doing more than just scoring, though.
Ingram has even been facilitating well on offense lately, as his 4.7 assists can attest to. To go along with his 14 dimes, he only committed five turnovers on the week. Between his shooting and playmaking efficiency, Ingram had himself an effective, stock-boosting week.
Buy: Isaiah Thomas
His value has been on a steady decline throughout all of this 2017-18 season on the Cavaliers. With his trade to the Lakers comes a fresh start, and IT is already looking like his old self.
In his first game as a Laker, Thomas put up 22 points on 7-12 shooting with six assists while not knowing a single of the plays on offense. Once he gets accustomed to the system and gets back to playing large amounts of minutes, IT should very well return to his former form.
Bonus Stock Watch
Stock Down: Tic-Tac-Toe
Everyone knows about tic-tac-toe. Everyone knows how to play tic-tac-toe. Draw those four crossing lines on any surface, and everyone will know that you’re trying to play a game of tic-tac-toe.
Yet, the Portland Trail Blazers somehow found TWO people who apparently did not understand the concept – let alone the strategy – of the universal game:
The Blazers just hosted the worst game of tic-tac-toe EVER 😂
(via Psychyed/Reddit) pic.twitter.com/tlOqAb0BbC
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 9, 2018
There were so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin. I mean, seriously, what a shit show. You got one girl trying to place her piece over the other girl’s piece TWICE. Then both of them could’ve won the game but placed their piece somewhere else! Finally, someone got three in a row, and the announcer said it best: “1,2,3 to put us all out of our misery!”
Stock Up: Reunions
I ain’t talking about no High School Reunions, folks. There were multiple reunions that took place in the NBA world this week.
Two ESPN Primetime spots featured reunion games on Friday, as Blake Griffin and the
Clippers Pistons (sorry, force of habit) faced off against the players he was traded for, Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris on the Clippers. Then, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson returned to Chicago for the first time to square off with Zack LaVine, who got some sweet revenge on his former Timberwolves ball club. These reunion games made for some great, competitive basketball with a mix of drama.
The other type of reunion that happened this week was Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. Cleveland shipped DWade back to South Beach, where he played most of his career at and helped the team win their three lone championships. It was awesome to see Wade reunited with his franchise and city:
Dwyane Wade is back in a Heat uniform!
The #R3TURN is complete! 🔥🔥🔥🔥
— SB Nation (@SBNation) February 10, 2018
By the way, after Wade was traded, the Miami Heat store sales went up 8,000% overnight.
Oh, and this reunion happened too:
It's a reunion!https://t.co/XxZUs7Pj1C
— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) February 11, 2018
Stock Down: Team LeBron
I guess no one wants to play with LeBron in the All-Star game, huh? Alright, alright, we joke. It is weird though that, since drafting his team for this year’s All-Star game, LeBron James has lost four of his players! DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kevin Love all suffered injuries, two of which were season-ending. Team Stephen, on the other hand, are fully healthy. Coincidence? Well, yea, probably. But Team LeBron isn’t looking quite as hot as they were a short few weeks ago.
That’ll do it for Week 17! Don’t forget to come back next Monday for the latest news, trends, and stats!
Follow Erik J on Twitter: @erikjohnson32