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, the Toronto Raptors are taking measures to ensure everyone is charged up for a playoff run, March Madness has lived up to its name, and a former defensive stalwart continues to struggle.
Raptors’ health: Last season, the Raptors limped into the playoffs both literally and figuratively. They played poorly down the stretch, and Kyle Lowry was worn down physically. This year’s Raptors are taking measures to ensure they field the healthiest team possible. Rest days for Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have been sprinkled in and even role players like Luis Scola and Cory Joseph have been given some time off. This strategy may result in some extra regular-season losses down the road, but should keep everyone fresh for the post-season.
Detroit Pistons: The battle for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference is an absolute dogfight. The Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards are on the outside looking in, trying to catch both the Pistons and Indiana Pacers. Detroit is doing all it can to lock up its ticket to the dance, winning four straight games. If Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Co. manage to hold on, the Pistons won’t be an easy matchup for one of the East’s top seeds in the first round.
March Madness: Half the Elite 8 is set and it’s been a truly chaotic instalment of March Madness to this point in the tournament. The biggest shock was No. 2 Michigan St., who many picked to win it all, falling in the first round to Middle Tennessee. While that result is arguably the biggest upset in the history of the event, there have been countless other crazy moments.
Who will ever be able to forget Northern Iowa’s half-court buzzer-beater to defeat Texas, or its monumental collapse against Texas A&M? If these early games are any indication of what’s to come, we should be in for a wild finish to the NCAA Tournament.
Carroll’s reintegration: Even though the Raptors sit comfortably in second place in the East, and have a legitimate chance of overtaking Cleveland for first, one of the biggest keys to playoff success will be having DeMarre Carroll healthy. Toronto’s big free-agent acquisition has only been able to suit up in 23 games this year and has not played since Jan. 3.
Carroll’s return is drawing closer, but he is not with the team on its current road trip. With only a handful of games remaining, time is running out for the 29-year-old to get reacquainted with his teammates.
The Dallas Mavericks: After holding down one of the West’s middle seeds for the vast majority of the season, the Mavericks are slumping at the worst possible time. Just 2-8 in its past 10 games, Dallas is in serious jeopardy of slipping out of the playoff picture. Both the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets currently look stronger than the Mavs.
Dirk Nowitzki is leading the charge once again, but he can’t shoulder the load on his own. Chandler Parsons is out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury and Wesley Matthews hasn’t been able to contribute as much as he was expected to. Dallas simply doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with the West’s big dogs.
Roy Hibbert: Once one of the NBA’s most feared defenders, Hibbert is verging on irrelevance in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Through 70 games, he’s averaging the fewest minutes since his rookie season and has seen his stats (6.2 points and 4.9 rebounds) take a nosedive as a result.
The two-time all-star is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and the timing couldn’t be worse for him as his value is at an all-time low. It will be interesting to see if Hibbert can bounce back in a different environment in 2016-17, because his time in Los Angeles has been a total disaster.