Stock Watch: What's trending in the NBA 📈

Getty

Welcome to the latest installment of Stock Watch, a look at what's been trending up and down in the NBA.

⬆️ Love's bounce-back season

Kevin Love's trade value was at an all-time low last season after the veteran registered his worst scoring average since his rookie year and a personal-low 7.4 boards per contest. A year later, he and the Cleveland Cavaliers are among the pleasant surprises of the 2021-22 NBA campaign.

Love bought into a reserve role this season after starting in all but one of his previous 222 appearances for the Cavs. The five-time All-Star is averaging 14.1 points on 43.3% shooting, including 41.7% from deep, tied for his career best. His 41% mark on non-corner triples ranks in the 88th percentile among big men, according to Cleaning the Glass.

He's been productive and efficient in just under 22 minutes per game. With backup guard Ricky Rubio out for the remainder of the season, expect Love to take on a bigger role in the Cavs' second unit.

⬇️ Celtics' rough run under Udoka

Adam Glanzman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Ime Udoka's first year as head coach of the Celtics hasn't gone according to plan. The club is in a battle for a play-in tournament spot and has struggled to close out games. Boston has blown four leads of 19 points or more this season, including a 25-point advantage on the road against the New York Knicks last week.

The Celtics' loss at Madison Square Garden was their 11th defeat in games decided by five points or fewer. Afterward, Udoka questioned his squad's mental toughness.

Boston has played sub-.500 basketball over the past two seasons after reaching three Eastern Conference finals in four years. While Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are among the league's most talented duos, it's clear the roster around them needs a shake-up.

⬆️ VanVleet leading surging Raptors

Fred VanVleet is making quite the case for his first career All-Star selection. Over his last nine games, the Toronto Raptors guard is averaging 29.6 points, 7.3 assists, 4.6 boards, and two steals. He's shooting 46.4% from the field during that same span - including a sizzling 45.1% from deep.

VanVleet has been a tenacious defender throughout his time in the Association, using his IQ to make up for a lack of athleticism and size. He's second among his peers this season in deflections (138) and third in loose balls recovered (43).

VanVleet's spectacular third-quarter performance against the Utah Jazz on Friday encapsulated his All-Star candidacy. The undrafted floor general completely changed the game, scoring 20 points in four minutes and creating havoc as a help defender.

⬇️ Hawks' defense regressing

After an inspiring, albeit surprising, run to the Eastern Conference finals last season, the Atlanta Hawks have struggled to replicate that success, and most of their problems are on the defensive end.

Atlanta is tied for the third-worst defensive rating in the NBA at 113.1. The Hawks' issues have been particularly glaring over their last 15 games, with the team's 117.4 defensive rating over that span ranking 29th out of 30 franchises. They've allowed opponents to score 130-plus points on seven different occasions during that time frame.

If the Hawks can't reverse these trends soon, they'll likely be watching the play-in tournament and playoffs from home rather than making another deep postseason push.

⬆️ Murray's star turn

Brian Babineau / National Basketball Association / Getty

Dejounte Murray has taken a massive leap forward on both ends this season to emerge as the San Antonio Spurs' next franchise cornerstone. His growth in an expanded offensive role following the offseason departure of veteran scorer DeMar DeRozan deserves particular recognition.

Through 35 appearances, Murray leads the league with 2.1 steals per contest, is fifth with 8.9 assists per game, and is tied with Luka Doncic for the league lead among guards with 8.2 rebounds per appearance. His seven triple-doubles rank fourth league-wide, while his 36.8% assist percentage ranks in the 91st percentile, according to Cleaning the Glass.

San Antonio's offense struggles without its star floor general: The Spurs get outscored by 6.6 points per 100 possessions with Murray on the bench.

⬆️ The Grizzlies have arrived

Winners of 10 games in a row, the Memphis Grizzlies have been basketball's hottest team in 2022. After a multi-year rebuild, it appears they're finally ready to take the next step toward becoming bonafide Western Conference contenders.

Ja Morant continues to make a strong case for both an All-Star spot and All-NBA consideration with averages of 24.9 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds across 30 starts. Other key pieces of Memphis' rotation have shown impressive development, too, most notably second-year wing Desmond Bane and fourth-year big man Jaren Jackson Jr.

Bane has benefited from more playing time and upped his scoring average from 9.2 points per game as a rookie to 17.5 as a sophomore with improved scoring efficiency. Meanwhile, Jackson's made up for an inconsistent outside shot with a career-high two blocks per game as the team's top rim-protector.

With a core trio of Morant, Bane, and Jackson, who are all 23 or younger, the Grizzlies have the makings of a contender for years to come. Adding one or two premier rotation pieces with playoff experience should go a long way in lifting Memphis' roster to the next level.

Comments
Stock Watch: What's trending in the NBA 📈
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox