Welcome back to Who to Watch. Congratulations to LeBron James, who passed Michael Jordan to move up to 4th overall on the all-time scoring list on Wednesday. He is now 1,333 points away from passing Kobe Bryant for 3rd, 4,618 points points away from passing Karl Malone for 2nd, and 6,077 away from passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 1st, and with the way he keeps his body in shape, he could be the all-time leading scorer in the NBA before it’s all said and done; too bad he won’t make the playoffs anytime soon (sorry Kerm). In other news, the Celtics look like they came back to life this week, the Rockets look SCARY good (sitting pretty in the third seed out West), the Trail Blazers are pretty good themselves good (don’t tell Fredy) and Trae Young has been phenomenal. There are some great playoff races in the NBA, such as the battle for seeds 3 through 5 in the East, the battle for the final three playoff spots in the East taking place between five teams, and the mess in the West for seeds 3 through 8, where only three and a half games separate all teams involved. Oh, and Antonio Brown was a Buffalo Bill for a few hours.
Upcoming we have a match between the Lakers and Celtics tomorrow night, college basketball conference tournaments will kick into high gear, and NFL free agency will begin next Wednesday. Keep an eye out for all of that!
Here’s who you should be watching over the next week:
Fredy: D’Angelo Russell
The former Laker has made a name for himself in Brooklyn. The Nets are currently 7th place in the East, and Russell is a big reason why the Nets are exceeding expectations. Russell is the scorer a young Nets team needed and are looking to be headed in the right direction after years of being reminded of them trading away their future for a dinosaur Kevin Garnett and a broken down Paul Pierce. This season, Russell is averaging a career high 20.5 PPG. His shooting percentages are also career highs. I’m buying that this kid has learned from his Nick Young mistakes, and Magic kicking him to the curb might MIGHT come back to haunt him.
When to Watch:
Brooklyn Nets vs. Atlanta Hawks (3/9; 7:00 PM)
Detroit Pistons vs. Brooklyn Nets (3/11; 7:30 PM)
Brooklyn Nets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (3/13; 7:00 PM)
Andy: Gordon Hayward
I am going to ride the hype train on Gordon Hayward right now. I know that he has not amounted to what everyone, mostly the Celtics fan base, believed he could be. In a 60 game stretch he may not have been impressive, but with a potentially playoff bound team and at a time where momentum can make all the difference, I am buying in on him. The past two games he has gone scored in the double digits. One of those games he dropped 30 points on the best in the West, the Golden State Warriors. Some people might try to call this a fluke but he tore the Warriors up, and they were only missing Klay Thompson. If that top performance was not enough, the next game against the Kings he made the game winning shot with 2 seconds left in the game. Even though he caused the foul that tied the game at 7 seconds, he showed everyone there is still ice in those veins. This is the Gordon Hayward we wanted. With 16 games remaining in the season, I am sure we will see more big performances like these. He has been putting in work, viewing his game tapes, fixing his mistakes. It will all finally pay off and I am calling it right now: he will be the reason for our success in the playoffs this year! BUY HIM NOW!
When to Watch:
Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers (3/9; 8:30 PM)
Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Clippers (3/11; 10:30 PM)
Sacramento Kings vs. Boston Celtics (3/14; 7:30 PM)
Mike: Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Perhaps the biggest story out of Ft. Myers this spring is Jackie Bradley Jr.’s revamped swing. Bradley has always had talent at the plate, but the inconsistency was staggering at times. The same player that had a 29-game hit streak in 2016 has had equally as memorable ice cold stretches. This back and forth seems like a thing of the past now with Bradley is tearing up spring training. A 16 plate appearance sample size is minute in the large scale of things, but the results are there, with Bradley posting a .429 batting average and 1.429 OPS over those appearances. If there was no clear adjustment made, I would be very skeptical of Bradley getting even close to that level of success in the regular season. However, since there’s evidence of a change, I am ready to believe JBJ is about to become a consistent producer in the already high-powered Red Sox lineup.
When to Watch:
MLB season begins March 28
Fredy: Steven Wright
This douche should be banned from the league. From domestic abuse charges and now using PEDs? God get this joke out of baseball. The Red Sox did fine without him last year, so do everyone a favor and get this bonehead out of Boston. Let’s get this clear, I could care less if he used PEDs but since this is his second suspension with the Red Sox, there’s no point in bringing him back.
When to Watch:
Andy: DeMarcus Cousins
Some of you might be surprised that I am selling on Cousins right now. He is averaging 20 points and 9.8 rebounds in the past 4 games he has played. We all know that Cousins is a hot head. This man does not play games when it comes to pushing and shoving. This is the only reason why I would steer clear from him right now. In the past two games, he has been the center of a scuffle that needed to be separated. It is only a matter of time before he goes full swing mode and gets suspended. Boogie is no stranger to these actions and it does not seem like he has learned his lesson from any punishments given to him. Sell him now or you will be disappointed!
When to Watch:
Denver Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors (3/8; 10:30 PM)
Phoenix Suns vs. Golden State Warriors (3/10; 8:30 PM)
Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets (3/13; 9:30 PM)
Mike: Isaiah Thomas
I really wanted the Isaiah Thomas experiment to work for the Nuggets, I really did. However after sitting out most of the season getting right, we’re now eight games in and the results are disappointing. The best case scenario was Thomas would be an impactful scorer off the bench, and wouldn’t be a total sieve on defense. Neither of those have a occurred so far, and one of the most concerning stats that has appeared is the Nuggets’ 114.9 offensive rating with Thomas off the court falling off a 17.5 point cliff to 97.4 when Thomas plays. Now it would be one thing if Denver had no other point guard depth to turn to and they had to ride with Thomas, but that is not the case. Thomas’ 15.6 MPG have cut into the playing time of breakout second-year guard Monte Morris. Morris’ minutes have dropped an average of 6.6 per game since Thomas returned, which is a trend that can’t continue for the Nuggets if they want to continue their stellar season.
When to Watch:
Denver Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors (3/8; 10:30pm)
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Denver Nuggets (3/12; 10:30pm)
Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets (3/14; 10:30pm)
The “Who to Watch” series drops every Friday, via Hold My Drink Sports