HomeSportsNBA Stock Watch: New York basketball is kicking, Wizards are not

NBA Stock Watch: New York basketball is kicking, Wizards are not

The holidays are here! It’s gifts time, but also time for the national focus to begin shifting its glare to the NBA. 

With that in mind, let’s do our weekly Stock Watch, where we check in on who across the NBA is rising and who’s falling.

Rising: The Knicks’ playoff odds 

Just when you thought they were out, they pull you back in. 

The Knicks have now won seven games in a row. They’re 17-13, good for the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference. 

This isn’t smoke and mirrors, either. The Knicks own the league’s 13th best offense and ninth-best defense. Jalen Brunson (20.8 points, 6.2 assists per game) has exceeded expectations, especially in the clutch, where his steady hand and shot creating has given the Knicks something they haven’t had in years. 

Tom Thibodeau has also tweaked his rotation, benching Derrick Rose and Cam Reddish and giving more minutes to quick-footed youngsters like Quentin Grimes and Deuce McBride. Grimes, in particular, has been a revelation; he’s drilled 44.9% of his deep looks over the past 10 games while playing stifling defense. Throw in Mitchell Robinson’s relentless offensive rebounding (only the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies have rebounded a greater percentage of their own misses) and you have a formula for success. 

The Knicks have little-to-no-shot of winning a playoff round — they’re not beating the Celtics, Bucks, Sixers or Cavaliers in a best-of-seven — but that doesn’t mean they can’t make this a successful season, especially with the Hawks, Raptors and Heat having struggled. 

Falling: Anyone caring about the Washington Wizards 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Wizards are trending toward irrelevance. They’ve lost 10 straight games. None of their recent lottery picks are any good. They have Bradley Beal signed through the 2026-27 season, a season in which he’ll be paid $57 million.

[‘Tough being that little bro’: Amid trade rumors, Kuzma reflects on Lakers tenure]

The obvious solution here would be to go all-in on a “Brick for Vic,” trade Kyle Kuzma (21.3 points per game, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists), shop Beal (which they should have done three years ago) and stop chasing a play-in spot. Will they finally see the light? For the sake of Wizards fans, I sincerely hope so. 

Rising: Jaren Jackson Jr.’s Defensive Player of the Year candidacy 

Jackson has been swatting everything in sight since rejoining the Grizzlies. He’s averaging 3.1 blocks per game — which will be good for No. 1 in the league as soon as Jackson plays the minimum number of games — and has solidified the Grizzlies on the defensive end. Opposing shooters have hit just 43.2% of their shots at the rim with Jackson in the vicinity, according to NBA Advanced Stats, a preposterous number. 

With Jackson in the fold, the Grizzlies are the clear top team in the West. Stop waiting for the Warriors to figure out why they can’t win on the road, or for the Clippers’ stars to actually string some games together. Instead, turn your attention to Memphis, where the Grizz right now boast the league’s ninth-best offense and fifth-best defense. 

This is a legit championship contender, and Jackson’s defensive prowess is a big reason. 

Rising: The Nets!

The Knicks aren’t the only New York City team to recently find its footing. Check out these numbers:

As you can see there, Kevin Durant has been the catalyst for this turnaround, as he’s playing himself into the MVP conversation. The question is if any of this is sustainable. 

I’m dubious. 

The Nets are leaning way too much on Durant. He’s playing 36.7 minutes per game. That’s a recipe for a post-All-Star break injury. Also, Ben Simmons, after looking like his former self, has stumbled back into a string of 8-point, 4-rebound, 4-assist type of box scores. 

All that said, give the Nets credit for turning their season around. It was just a few weeks ago that it looked like general manager Sean Marks would have to consider blowing the whole thing up. Now, the Nets might actually be able to be buyers at the trade deadline. 

Falling: The Lakers’ playoff hopes

Remember when it looked like the Lakers were turning their season around thanks to Anthony Davis going beast mode on the rest of the league? Well, now Davis is slated to be sidelined multiple weeks due to a foot injury. 

This already was a group devoid of depth. Without Davis in the lineup it’s going to be a stretch for them just to reach the play-in. 

Read more:

Yaron Weitzman is an NBA writer for FOX Sports and the author of Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports. Follow him on Twitter @YaronWeitzman.

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