Week 22 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: Cleveland Cavaliers
There are some legitimate questions surfacing about the reigning champs. Cleveland, even with Kevin Love and JR Smith back, has been themselves for a while. They have one of the worst defenses in the league post-All-Star break and haven’t seemed to find a solution yet. That’s cutting it close with the playoffs lurking. The Cavs have struggled against top title contenders lately — they won just once over the last seven games that were against a top three conference team (BOS, WAS, GS, SAS, or HOU). Their back-to-back losses to Washington and San Antonio underline this alarming trend.
LeBron has rested for some of the losses, but Clevland is still just 22-19 since we rang in the New Year, and are an ugly 6-19 over their last 15. Boston has now surpassed the Cavs in the Eastern Conference standings. It has been quite some time since anyone else has possessed that No. 1 seed in the East this late in the season, but Cleveland’s subpar play has let the Celtics creep right up and past them.
Stock Up: Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets, 2020 world champions. Put it in the books. They have nearly doubled their win total in the month of March
They have nearly doubled their win total in the month of March alone. Although they are 7-8 this month so far, that might as well be 13-2 for Brooklyn. The Atlanta Hawks and the Phoenix Suns were the Net’s latest victims this week, as they blew past them by 15 and 28 points, respectively. The one thing that Coach Kenny Atkinson should be focused on is developing their young assets. Well, 22-year-old Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been great lately. The Arizona product is snatching boards, posterizing defenders, and giving something fans at Barclays Center to be excited about.
Stock Down: Minnesota Timberwolves
Well, so much for a playoff push for this young Minnesota squad. After a fantastic week which included wins over the Clippers, Warriors, and Wizards in early March, the TWolves are on a six-game losing streak. Of those six losses, four of them came to teams that are under .500. The kids are still having a tough time closing out games, as they have been the worst fourth-quarter team in the NBA. That hurt them again this week. Now more than six games out of the lone open playoff spot out West, Minnesota will be ending the season as a lottery team yet again (which isn’t the worst thing for them).
Player Stock Watch
Stock Up: Devin Booker
So, kind of the obligatory Devin Booker plug here. When a 20-year-old puts up SEVENTY points, regardless of how he gets there or if his team lost, you simply must put him in the stock watch report. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Stock Watch rule book that totally exists.
On top of the 70 points by the way – and I feel like no one has acknowledged this – Booker also finished with eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals. In the games before and after the Kentucky Wildcat went off on the Celtics, he posted 51 combined points. That makes him miles above the next highest player in scoring for the week. People have been throwing out Kobe comparisons in which I must simply shake my head at, but DBook has indeed been putting up big numbers.
By the way, Booker stayed hot after his game in Boston by calling out Jae Crowder on Instagram.
Stock Down: Blake Griffin
Blake is in a major, peculiar funk. The star power forward is usually always good for 20+ points on a nightly basis. He has averaged north of 21 points in his career as well as this season, yet has only eclipsed 20 points in one of his last four outings. Part of it has been the lower involvement in the Clippers offense, and part has just been ineffectiveness. Blake has just 65 points on 38% shooting, 15 assists, and 20 rebounds in his four games this week, making his averages a lowly 16.25/3.75/5. The Clippers are in deep trouble if they and their five-time All-Star can’t get back on track.
Stock Up: Jimmy Butler
This week, the world has been introduced to Jimmy Butler the Point Forward. I think Rajon Rondo’s passing skills have rubbed off on Jimmy B while in Chicago because Butler has been racking up the assists in the last week. After finishing with 12 and 11 assists against Detroit and Philly, he posted a career-high 14 dimes against the Bucks on Sunday. Yet, he only has six turnovers over that span, resulting in an impressive 37:6, or 11.7, assist-to-turnover ratio.
Don’t worry, though, he’s still been getting buckets. Jimmy has put up 27.25 points over this week and has been incredibly effective shooting the ball. This version of Butler has been great for his own game as well as his team’s success.
Bonus Stock Watch
Stock Up: Statues
Shaquille O’Neal’s statue was revealed this weekend in Los Angeles for his dominance in a Lakers uniform, and I must say it is the most accurate statue I have ever witnessed:
— NBA RETWEET (@RTNBA) March 22, 2017
Spot on. The sculptor must be some type of comedian! In all seriousness, though, it is a dope statue. Most guys just have a basic stance of holding the ball or going up for a layup. You think that was going to be sufficient for Shaq? Hell no, get a shot of him attacking the rim on a backboard-shattering dunk!
Stock Down: Goggles
LeBron James, after an eye injury on Friday, was wearing goggles the next day in his game against the Washington Wizards:
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) March 26, 2017
Now, I feel like LeBron has these dumb, inconsistent superstitions that aren’t even real but just used as an excuse for a poor stretch of shooting. Like when he literally ripped the sleeves of his jersey after missing a shot in November of 2015. LeBron, players used to hoop in long sleeves, warm-up suits, and other sleeved clothing. Larry Bird won a freaking three-point contest in his Celtics warm-ups!
Naturally, I wasn’t surprised when King James flung his goggles across the court after shooting poorly from the field:
LeBron James tossed his goggles in frustration just minutes into the Cavs vs Wizards game.
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) March 26, 2017
High maintenance LeBron at it again! Sorry, goggles.
Stock Up: Average Fans
This fan had his 30 seconds (and then some) of fame when he was called on by the Atlanta Hawks to try a trampoline dunk. The rest is history:
This fan's EPIC trampoline dunk may have been outdone by the celebration that followed ?? pic.twitter.com/CPcqAeLgHV
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 26, 2017
How about that showmanship! The dunk was one thing, but whatever the hell you call that celebration after may have been ever more impressive. Elite showmanship. Either this average fan happened to be Lucky the Leprechaun in a past life, or he was straight up hired by the Hawks to get people hyped. I don’t really care, though – I’m impressed.
Cropped photo of Griffin via Flickr
Cropped photo of Booker via Flickr