Welcome to the weekly NBA stock report where we go around the league and examine whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
In this week’s edition, a Toronto Raptor is making good on his New Year’s resolutions, a fresh point guard has a basement-dwelling team playing with some semblance of respectability, an Eastern Conference squad that seemed poised for big things tumbles mightily, and the NBA travels across the pond for a showcase in London.
Patrick Patterson: Patterson has been a huge disappointment for the Raptors this season, but is showing signs of coming out of his prolonged slump. The former first-round pick is averaging 9.4 points per game since the calendar flipped to 2016, and is 16-of-29 from three-point range during that time. He also logged the crunch-time minutes at power forward for Toronto in its victory over the Orlando Magic in London. Things are finally looking up for the reserve big man.
Ish Smith: Acquired in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, Smith has helped the 76ers to three victories since coming aboard. It would have been four had Jimmy Butler not dropped 53 points on Philadelphia on Thursday. Through seven January games, Smith has averaged 16.6 points and 7.6 assists. The turnovers and lack of efficiency are cause for concern, but the Sixers will certainly take the production and the wins their new point guard is bringing to the table.
NBA London: Fresh off the latest showcase in England, the NBA has to be pleased with the success of the event. Both the Raptors and Magic players seemed to relish their time in London, sharing many of the great moments on social media. Additionally, numerous athletes and celebrities were in attendance at O2 arena to take in the action. The actual game itself went into overtime and the crowd truly seemed to be enjoying it, even if fans did not have a rooting interest in the game. There were some spectators who headed for the exits early, but there are a few bad apples in every group.
Raptors’ chance at having two all-stars : The third returns of all-star balloting are in and Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving remain the leading vote-getters amongst Eastern Conference guards. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan rank third and sixth, respectively. If Lowry does not pass Irving in the fan vote, there is a chance only one Raptor will suit up at the ACC on Feb. 14 due to the increased parity in the East and overall competition at the position. With fellow guards Butler and John Wall appearing to be locks for all-star berths, would Eastern Conference coaches reward the pair of Raptors with two of the final roster spots? They very well could, but it wouldn’t be a huge shock if one got snubbed.
The Charlotte Hornets: What has happened to this team? Not too long ago, the Hornets were looking like a rising force in the Eastern Conference. Oh, how the tides can turn as Charlotte dropped seven games in a row before a stop-the-bleeding win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. To make matters worse, centre Al Jefferson tore his meniscus in his right knee and will be sidelined for a prolonged period of time.
One bright spot during this stretch has been the play of Cody Zeller. The third-year man has averaged 12 points and nine rebounds per game on 52 per cent shooting in January, helping to take some of the sting (no pun intended) out of the Jefferson injury.
Zach LaVine: The Timberwolves are mired in an eight-game losing streak, and LaVine’s struggles over this stretch really stand out. Following a strong opening two months, the athletic youngster has not been able to buy a bucket of late. He’s scored over six points just once in his past nine contests and has seen his playing time diminish. It’s nothing to panic over as Minnesota continues the slow process of rebuilding, but it’s worth keeping an eye out to see how LaVine handles the growing pains as he continues to acclimate to the NBA game.