Myles Ma is the newest contributor at Hickory-High. He’ll be dropping by regularly with the NBA Stock Report, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow Myles on Twitter @LameMyles.
Wall Street has gotten a pretty bad rap these days, all because of that whole housing meltdown. I’m not a stock broker, but I have traded a stock or two in my day, and I was almost an economics major. (Side note: Did you know that economics majors comprise 5% of the top 1% in terms of wealth in America? I majored in journalism, and I am decidedly in the 99%. But I digress.)
Anyway, here’s how I would rate the ‘trade value’ of a few NBA teams and how I think they’ll change in the future. I’ve rated each team a BUY, meaning I expect their play to improve, a HOLD, stay the same, or SELL, meaning I expect their play to worsen.
Record (before the games on Jan. 18): 10-3 (9-1in last 10)
The Sixers are balling right now. They’re the surprise leaders of the Atlantic Division after finishing third a season ago. Doug Collins’ squad been the best defensive team in the league and have committed the fewest turnovers. Philadelphia is getting contributions from everyone in its rotation. The team has improved without making marked changes in personnel. Instead, several of its young players have progressed.
Out of nowhere, Spencer Hawes has become a hyperefficient scorer and a dominant shot blocker and rebounder. This won’t last. At 23, Hawes may be an improved player, but his current off-the-charts production is likely unsustainable. Meanwhile, Evan Turner has repaired his broken jumper and is shooting much better than he did in his rookie campaign. Other than Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala, this is a team of babies. They’ve had a soft schedule, but they can’t be blamed for that, and they’ve taken full advantage. However, they can’t play much better than they are right now.
Record: 10-3 (8-2 in last 10)
The Magic are on top of the Southeast Division despite diminished production from Dwight Howard (who is leaving for the Lakers next week), Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson. They have also replaced the steady Brandon Bass with Big Baby Glen Davis, whose girth vastly outweighs his talent (Note to Otis Smith: It’s your fault Dwight Howard is leaving for New Jersey next week.) The key to their success has been Ryan Anderson, who was great playing 22 minutes a game and happens to be great playing 30 minutes a game. Go figure.
As for the rest of the team, you have to figure Howard, Nelson and Richardson haven’t suddenly fallen off permanently. I think the Magic continue to play well.
Rating: BUY (but think about selling since Dwight Howard is leaving for New York next week.)
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
Record: 3-10 (1-9 in last 10)
The Hornets have been a strong rebounding team this season and little else. The NBA Hornets shipped Chris Paul to the Clippers, scoring Eric Gordon in return. Gordon hasn’t been much of a haul thus far, his right knee keeping him out of all but two games. Their best player has been the ever-productive Carl Landry. After him, Emeka Okafor and Jarret Jack make the list, but that’s a pretty steep drop in output. The other big name in the Chris Paul trade, Chris Kaman, hasn’t been a good basketball player in a long time. He’s shooting at near career low levels. His hair is thinning. His beard is not.
Based on how bad things are right now, you have to think this team will see better days, especially when Gordon and Trevor Ariza get healthy. But a turnaround won’t come in January. They’ll see the Mavs, the Spurs, the Thunder and the Heat in the coming days.
Rating: BUY (Buy low am I right?)
Record: 9-3 (7-3 in last 10)
Last season, Danny Granger was Indiana’s best player. To start the year, he might be their worst. They’ve been winning anyway, maintaining their stranglehold over second place in the Central Division (I bet they hang that banner high in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse). The Pacers have been characterized by strong defense, rebounding and aggressiveness in getting to the line. George Hill, one of those productive players San Antonio seemingly finds on the street every season, has been a great addition for Frank Vogel, doing all the Spursy things he does, playing defense and hitting threes. David West also looks to be a good fit.
But the Pacers’ improvement seems to be mostly home-grown, as young players like Darren Collison, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and and Tyler Hansbrough seem to have come into their own in the first quarter of the season. Who needs Danny Granger anyway?
Record: 9-4 (8-2 in last 10)
The Jazz somehow aren’t dead. The pick and roll is working and the hard fouls are hurting. Jerry Sloan’s ghost must be hovering over center court at Energy Solutions Arena, nodding in approval. Utah has benefited from a monster effort by Paul Millsap, who is shooting, rebounding, defending and taking care of the ball better than he ever has. Al Jefferson has also been resurgent. But other than Gordon Hayward, who is progressing nicely as a pick and roll player in his second year, this doesn’t seem like it should be a better team. It’s hard to believe that Millsap will continue to produce at this ridiculous level, and this Jazz roster doesn’t seem like a team that wins 69% of its games.