Who to Watch (January 4 – January 10)

Image result for james harden
Credit: NBA.com

HELLOOOOO EVERYBODY! Welcome to 2019, and welcome back to Who to Watch! While you were away, the NFL playoff picture took form, Kirk Cousins played like absolute crap, and Antonio Brown became a BIG problem.  Nick Foles looks like he’s ready to defend his title, Mahomes capped off a stellar season by throwing 50 TDs and over 5000 yards, and Travis Kelce broke the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in one season… only to be broken less than 3 hours later by George Kittle.  James Harden is having an all-time great stretch, and Paul George is still playing amazing.  LeBron is hurt, the Celtics are still not right, and some Memphis Grizzlies’ are fighting with each other.

Alright.

One more thing: new to 2019, we’re replacing the “Good” and “Bad” categories with “Buy” and “Sell,” which we think gives us more range in the players we pick on a week-to-week basis.

Lets go!

Andy is still on vacation, but he’ll be back with a preview of the NFL Wild Card games tomorrow!

Buy

Fredy: Brook Lopez

New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks
Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images North America

From nearly being out of the league because he can’t shoot the 3, to being a reliable big man who can shoot the 3, is an incredible story I never thought I’d hear about Bucks Center Brook Lopez. He and his brother Robin are well-respected big men who’ve been around for awhile to see big guys being phased out of NBA rotations (like a Dwight Howard or people used solely for rebounding and stuff you usually saw out of big men). Now? He’s shooting 37% from 3. He’s averaging 22 PPG his last 3 games and looks to continue this hot streak against the Pistons.

When to Watch: 

Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks (1/5; 8:30 PM)

Utah Jazz vs. Milwaukee Bucks (1/7; 8:00 PM)

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets (1/9; 8:00 PM)

Mike: Domantas Sabonis

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Indiana Pacers
Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America

Domantas Sabonis is by no means a superstar in the NBA, but right now he is a player every team would love to have. Coming off the bench for the Indiana Pacers, he could easily start for many teams in the league. Not only is Sabonis making a name for himself, he has an incredible basketball pedigree being the son of Portland Trailblazers great Arvydas Sabonis. The younger Sabonis has become a super efficient shooter and effective rebounder since arriving to Indiana with Victor Oladipo in the Paul George trade. In the two games the Pacers played this past week, Sabonis totaled 39 points and 18 rebounds while shooting 65.2% from the field. Those stats are in line with his season averages 14.6 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and a 62.8 FG%. Sabonis’ consistency has been a huge factor for Indiana, as they are currently on a five-game winning streak and have climbed to the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

Stats from basketball-reference.com, through January 3

When to Watch:

Indiana Pacers vs. Chicago Bulls (1/4; 8:00 PM)

Indiana Pacers vs. Toronto Raptors (1/6; 7:30 PM)

Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (1/8; 7:00 PM)

Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics (1/9; 7:00 PM)

Kerm: Jamal Murray

Credit: DAVID RICHARD/USA TODAY SPORTS

Jamal Murray ripped the Sacramento Kings’s hearts out late Thursday night. After already scoring 10 points in the fourth, Murray nailed two devastating threes in the final minute of the game (the second was a step back in De’Aaron Fox’s eye).

He’s averaging 30 points in his last three games and the Nuggets are winning because of it. Let’s see if this continues as the new year progresses.

When to Watch:

Charlotte Hornets vs. Denver Nuggets (1/5; 5:00 PM)

Denver Nuggets vs. Houston Rockets (1/7; 8:00 PM)

Denver Nuggets vs. Miami Heat (1/8; 7:30 PM)

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets (1/10; 9:00 PM)

Nick: Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck has been on FIRE.  He had the second most passing touchdowns (39) to Patrick Mahomes, and after a 1-5 start to the season, he led the Colts to wins in 9 of their next 10 games, finishing the season 10-6.  Luck missed all of 2017 due to a shoulder injury some thought would end his career.  In that 10-game stretch to end the season, Luck was 254 for 351 (72.36%), passing for 2801 yards (280.1 Y/G), 23 TD and 6 INT, and he had a passer rating of 108.95; MVP-caliber numbers.  Luck has been strong against the Texans this season (67/103, 863 yards, 6 TD and 1 INT, 106.5 passer rating).  With everything clicking, and having played must-win football for basically 2 straight months, I think Indy walks into Houston and pulls of an upset behind another spectacular performance by Luck.  I am BUYING any Luck stock I can get my hands on for the playoffs.

When to Watch: 

Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans (1/5; 4:35 PM)


Sell

Fredy: Melvin Gordon

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Buffalo Bills
Credit: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images North America

Garbage sir. Garbage! His past 2 games after returning from injury have set the Chargers offense back since him and Rivers can’t seem to get in a rhythm. In 2 games, he only gained 83 yards altogether on 22 attempts (doesn’t look good). That’s not gonna cut it against the Ravens defense that already slows down its opponents. Gordon needs to get on track with the running game and passing game because he can be deadly in the passing game as a James White type player. But he’s better than that and I expect more from him. Hopefully he and Rivers can figure it out before they waste a good season just to choke in the Wild Card round.

When to Watch:

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Baltimore Ravens (1/6; 1:05 PM)

Mike: Garrett Temple

Credit: Justin Ford/USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies are in a rut, having lost 10 of their last 13 games and falling out of the top eight in the Western Conference. The Grizz dropped all three games they played this past week, and Garrett Temple’s performances in these games left a lot to be desired. Temple’s biggest asset is his perimeter shooting, and that tool abandoned him over these three games, in which he converted only one of his nine attempts. As a career 35.9% three-point shooter, including a 37.2% rate this season, Memphis needs Temple’s outside presence to compliment Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Not only did Temple fall short in his strengths, he did not contribute much in other categories like assists and rebounding. With so many teams competing for a playoff spot in the West, the Grizzlies cannot afford to continue sliding down the standings much longer, and Garrett Temple needs to step up.

Stats from basketball-reference.com, through January 3

When to Watch: 

Brooklyn Nets vs. Memphis Grizzlies (1/4; 8:00 PM)

Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs (1/5; 8:30 PM)

Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans (1/7; 8:00 PM)

San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies (1/9; 8:00 PM)

Kerm: Russell Westbrook

Are we sure Russell Westbrook is a top ten player? Yes he’s still the triple double king, but his shooting slump is getting to the point where we can’t ignore it. In his past 10 games, he’s shot below 40% in six of them, and below 20% in three of those.

As I watched Paul Goerge light the Lakers up on ESPN Wednesday night, the Lakers fan in me couldn’t help but scream “shoot it” at the TV every time Westbrook had the ball in his hands. Sure he’s an athletic freak with an endless motor and laughable pettiness, but he doesn’t strike that same fear he once did when entering an opponents arena. Maybe the shots will start falling consistently again, or maybe this is the start of his decline.

When to Watch:

Washington Wizards vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (1/6; 7:00 PM)

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (1/8; 8:00 PM)

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs (1/10; 9:30 PM)

Nick: Draymond Green

Remember when Draymond Green was the playmaker that made the Warriors click? Steph and Klay would hit their shots (KD too I guess), but it was Draymond making the selfless (and SMART) plays, doing the things that Marcus Smart does in Boston… and now he does this:

Now this is just one play, but man, something is wrong with Dray.  Since Christmas, Draymond has scored 38 points (7.6 PPG), going 16-39 (41%; 3-13 from 3).  He is averaging 7.8 RPG and 6.6 APG during this stretch, and making similar defensive plays that he normally does, but something just seems off.  This seems to be the case with Klay too, but more than ever, people think Draymond’s physical style of play (the play that got him this far) is beginning to catch up with him.  I trust Dray to find his former self for the postseason, but until then, STAY AWAY!

When to Watch:

Golden State Warriors vs. Sacramento Kings (1/5; 10:00 PM)

New York Knicks vs. Golden State Warriors (1/8; 10:30 PM)


The “Who to Watch” series drops every Friday, via Hold My Drink Sports

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