JUST over two months have passed since I last took stock of the NBA and the trending topics. Of course, a lot has changed since that time and now there are a ton of different narratives dominating the headlines. For better or worse, here are 12 topics sliding or climbing in the NBA stock market.
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AS Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia went down, Jordan Bell slotted into the starting lineup and took his production to another level. In the month of December, he shot over 65% while averaging 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20.3 minutes a night. Those numbers aren’t overwhelming, but it’s clear that Bell is quickly emerging as a serious, high-energy piece off the bench for the Warriors. Great, just what the rest of the league wanted to here.
Oklahoma City Thunder
OF course the Thunder would turn a corner after I bagged them out. An 8-3 streak has been fuelled by Westbrook (51.9%), George (47%) and Anthony (46.2%) shooting the lights out in those 11 games as OKC has averaged nearly 10 points more a game than they did in the 27 games prior. We all knew it was only a matter of time and a relatively cruisy schedule moving forward means we should see the W’s continue to roll in.
Image from deadspin.com
Lebron’s MVP Chances
IT’S ridiculous to think that in season 15 Lebron James might be having his best season ever. However, as great as James has been there’s no denying that James Harden is the current MVP favourite. Although Harden now finds himself on the sidelines for at least a few weeks with a hamstring injury, which opens the door for Lebron to make up some ground in the MVP argument. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see ‘The King’ go on a personal tear and move ahead of Harden as the favourite for the award.
EASILY one of the biggest success stories through the first half of the year has been the production of the Toronto Raptors. DeMar DeRozan and his newly found 3-point shooting ability have been a large part of the success as he looks like he is transitioning from star to superstar. The role players have been just as important though with the likes of OG Anunoby, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam stepping up and helping the Raptors offense kick it up a notch.
Los Angeles Clippers
AT 17-19 the Clippers find themselves just a game and a half outside of the 8th seed in the West. It’s amazing to think they are still in the mix after a horrible nine-game losing streak in November and an injury that kept Blake Griffin out for 14 games. With help from Lou Williams’ hot hand (26.4 points a game since Blake’s injury) LA is by no means out of this season yet. Watch this space.
Donovan Mitchell As The ROY
HOW good is Donovan Mitchell?! The Utah Jazz executives can be seen beaming everytime he rises for a 3 or a highlight dunk and it’s clear they have a winner on their hands. Mitchell averaged over 23 PPG in the month of December and the talk of Ben Simmons being the runaway ROY winner has certainly quietened. We’re in for a dogfight in the second half of the season for the rookie of the year honours and I can’t wait.
Image from deadspin.com
Paul George To The Lakers Rumours
WHILE Lebron’s future remains the biggest ‘where will he land’ story of the season, Paul George is easily number two. The Californian native has stated how much he would love to play for his hometown previously and as OKC toppled the Lakers last night 133-96 in LA, the rumour mill went into overdrive. Fans were cheering every time he touched the ball or his name was mentioned and it seems like this story isn’t going to die down at any point throughout the season.
YUK. That is an accurate way to summarise the last month for Orlando fans. Of course, none of us expected their insane shooting numbers that led to an 8-4 start to be maintained for a lengthy period of time. But to lose 23 games in 27 tries since then is flat out embarrassing and once again leaves the Magic flailing at the bottom of the standings. Sigh.
Kristaps Porzingis’ Shooting
AFTER a 121-103 loss to the Wizards last night Kristaps Porzingis told reporters that he was tired. Tired of carrying the organisation on his shoulders? Maybe. Either way, the Unicorn’s fatigue has seen him stink it up shooting the ball recently. Since returning from a knee injury Porzingis has shot 36% in the last eight games, six of which have been Knicks losses. Things don’t look like they are going to get any better in the near future either.
Philadelphia Without Embiid
IT’S not breaking news for me to tell you that the 76ers are worse without Embiid on the court. In fact, over the last two seasons, Philly is 29-30 with Embiid and 17-43 without meaning if they can’t keep him healthy then the wins dry up. Period. Already this year he has missed nine games, with a 2-7 win-loss ledger to show for it. If he can’t manage at least 65 games then it’s tough to see a scenario where they make the playoffs.
Trade Buzz, Or Lack Thereof
THE trade deadline is just over five weeks away, and yet there is no, literally no news surrounding player movement. With the exception of a few Deandre Jordan rumours and Eric Bledsoe/Jahlil Okafor moving teams, there has virtually been no buzz around potential trades this year, which is kind of boring. I do expect a few names to pop up in the coming weeks, but still, the first two-plus months have been a let down for trade rumour junkies.
I thought that the Hornets would figure out their issues after going .500ish in their first 20 games. Newsflash, they won’t and that means they won’t be a playoff team. Kemba Walker is an All-Star, Dwight Howard has been solid, but outside of those two, they are lacking serious production to help turn their fortunes around. Just another preseason pick of mine that’s gone wrong.