Week 19 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 Down: Oklahoma City Thunder
Fact: The Thunder simply need Russell Westbrook to put up video game numbers in order to win a respectable amount of games. This has been becoming more and more clear as the season progresses:
Thunder’s record with a Westbrook triple-double: 24-6
Thunder’s record without a Westbrook triple-double: 11-22
Relying that heavily on one player to be that good is not a recipe for success. Russ has now gone three straight games without a triple-double (it’s crazy how people have to word it like that now — goes to shows how ridiculous he has been), and his team has suffered bad losses to three teams all under .500: Portland, Phoenix, and Dallas. That’s not on Russ — it’s on the rest of the team to figure it out and give him some much-needed help.
Stock Up: Phoenix Suns
After only grabbing 17 wins in their first 69 tries, Phoenix has won their last three straight! Tank season may be here, but Phoenix is apparently determined to win some more games before the end of the year. I respect it, I respect it.
All three wins were quality victories, too. They defeated Charlotte by 17, sunk OKC by 7, and shocked Boston with Tyler Ulis’ epic buzzer-beating three-pointer. Over those contests they have averaged 115 points, demonstrating just how well Eric Bledsoe and their youngsters are hoopin’ lately.
Stock Down: Cleveland Cavaliers
Should Cleveland be worrying at all? They still have a comfortable lead for the No. 1 seed out East, but they haven’t been anything close to their elite selves ever since they rung in the New Year. That continued this week, as Cleveland dropped three of their last four games. Two of their losses came from the Heat (one of which without LeBron or Kyrie) and the third came from the Celtics. You can remove the game where they were resting players, and they are still just 1-2.
Andrew Bogut, the veteran rebounder they brought in to help out the rest of the year, fractured his tibia two minutes into his Cavs debut. We’ll see if Kevin Love’s eventual return changes anything for this team that has been slipping as of late.
Player Stock Watch
Stock Up: LeBron James
It seems silly to say that King James’ stock is “up” any more than it has been for years, but LeBron is low-key having one of his best seasons, averaging 25.9 points, 8.1 boards, and 8.9 assists per night. The Cavs superstar has been even more unstoppable and efficient in his recent games.
In the league’s three games prior to Monday night’s slate, LeBron was third in points (33), seventh in rebounding (13), and fourth in assists (9) per game. At the same time, he was tied for 20th in the league in turnovers, a very efficient mark for someone doing so much on the court. Out of the top eight scorers over that time, Kyrie Irving was the only one who shot the ball better than LeBron from the field (50%), and no one shot it from deep with LeBron’s success (56.3%).
On Monday, he kept the tear going by registering 30pts/17reb/6ast in a loss to Miami.
Stock Down: Carmelo Anthony
For the second time this season, Melo was held under 20 points in three consecutive games. The one other time that happened was way back in November. He is 15/46 (32%) from the floor in his last three, averaging a mere 16.6 points. He has just as many assists as he does turnovers, and Kristaps Porzingis’ increase in workload may rightfully continue to chip away at Melo’s usage and shot attempts. This is the trend that New York has somewhat been trying to follow — to build around their 21-year-old unicorn. Therefore, they may shy away from letting Anthony run the show.
Stock Up: Tyler Ulis
Rookie Alert! The fact that the 5’9″ rook out of Kentucky outperformed the other 5’9″ guard who happens to be a two-time All-Star and second in the league in scoring is impressive. I don’t care if Isaiah Thomas outscored him 35 to 20, because it’s a lot more than that. Thomas took 13 more shots than Ulis, yet only made two more than the Suns youngster. Both players had five assists and no turnovers — until the end, that is, when Isaiah’s terrible turnover in the closing seconds led to Ulis’ epic buzzer-beating three.
Ulis has reached and surpassed his career high (albeit being pretty low) in both of his past two games while chipping in a solid amount of assists, and his defense isn’t as bad as you’d expect for an massively undersized guard. I don’t want to overreact here or anything, but is Ulis the next Isaiah Thomas? And more importantly, will the Suns also go on to trade him for a couple of scratchies and a bag of groceries?
Bonus Stock Watch
Stock Down: Marcin Gortat
Again, I hate using players names in the Bonus Stock Watch. It seems uncreative and boring. But Marcin Gortat’s brutal week justifies it this time.
Last Wednesday, Gortat took an absolute (Washington) bullet to the dome when John Wall tried zipping a pass into the paint. We’re glad you’re okay Marcin, but honestly, try to not laugh at this unfortunate sequence:
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) March 2, 2017
He got drilled, man. Damn near got KOed from a pass.
During his very next game two days later, Gortat was involved in another unfortunate event:
Marcin Gortat will once again be on Shaqtin a Fool. 💀 pic.twitter.com/aoSS5sxFHU
— Dylan (@DylansFreshTake) March 4, 2017
That would’ve otherwise been good hands to break up a play. But nope, instead he gets an assist for the opposite team. The Wizards big man confessed that he’s had rough past week:
— Locked On Wizards (@lockedonwizards) March 4, 2017
Stock Up: Sibling Rivalry
L.A. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss recently let go of the team’s general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations. The person who was in control of the latter position just so happened to be her big brother, Jim Buss. Ouch, man.
Jeanie had to file a restraining order against Jim and her other older brother on Friday after they called for the election of a new Board of Directors for the Lakers on Thursday — a proposal that included them as candidates. In other words, they tried undermining their younger sister, and she was having no part of it.
Love the electric sibling rivalry here. Filing a restraining order on your two older brothers who are both salty that you have control of a multi-billion dollar franchise and they don’t (and firing one of them) is so badass.
Stock Down: Madison Square Garden
The Knicks ownership thought they would be bold and innovative by eliminating all music, videos, on-court contests, and basically any other forms of entertainment during the first half of their game against the Warriors. Their intentions for this was to let fans “experience the game in its purest form.” Check out how this experiment sounded during intros and timeouts:
Intros without music THIS IS SO WEIRD pic.twitter.com/fA9SssCWE5
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) March 5, 2017
This is how timeouts should sound pic.twitter.com/AsJ3TTgmhH
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) March 5, 2017
I’m sorry, what? Listen, I understand the thought here and appreciate the natural sights and sounds of basketball. In fact, I would be on board with parts of this concept like removing in-game sound effects (I’m looking at you and your obnoxious sound effects, Atlanta Hawks). But I have some big problems with the rest of this idea.
I know this may not carry too much weight coming from a basketball blogger who is obviously going to pay attention to the actual gameplay while in an arena, but I don’t think removing that stuff is going to make the game any more valuable to watch. All of that extra stuff that goes on before, in between, and after gameplay is just that: Extra. It’s not taking away from the game, but rather providing extra entertainment for the hundreds of dollars I’m spending on a damn ticket into the arena. It’s extra entertainment for when the athletes that I did pay to see are in the locker room or sitting on the bench during timeouts that seem to last 20 minutes each.
Sorry Madison Square Garden. I admire the thought but am not a fan.
Cropped photos of Melo and LeBron via Flickr