Playing the NBA Stock Market: Buy or Sell
by Josh Nagel - 03/09/2009
As teams head toward the stretch run before the playoffs, some are preparing for the postseason by making a last-minute addition to their roster and bolstering the intensity of their play as sort of a dress rehearsal for the playoffs.
Others are motivated by moving up a spot or two to secure a higher seeding in the standings, and you can find some value by pinpointing such clubs; the San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz come to mind.
Then there are clubs that are struggling but refuse to throw in the towel and hope for the lottery balls to fall in their favor, such as the vastly improved Charlotte Bobcats.
Here is a look at a few of these teams in this week's NBA Buy or Sell:
San Antonio Spurs - The Spurs had a vintage performance in their 103-98 win over Phoenix on Sunday, with enough defensive stops to preserve the win and just enough offense to do the job. San Antonio is holding up well while awaiting the return of Manu Ginobli from injury, and this is the time of year when the Spurs always seem to elevate their play as they head down the stretch. Drew Gooden will be a valuable asset once he gets on the court. The Spurs have won and covered in seven of their past 10 games; look for the momentum to keep building.
Charlotte Bobcats - There might be no NBA team, aside from the Utah Jazz, hotter than the Bobcats, who have won and covered in six straight games. Larry Brown has proven that fundamentals are not obsolete in the NBA. Despite having the league's worst-ranked offense, the Bobcats are getting by with solid team play, their sixth-ranked defense and a rebounding effort that ranks fourth in the league.
New Orleans Hornets - The Hornets appear to be on the fast track to rapid improvement as they head toward another playoff run. Chris Paul is playing MVP-caliber basketball, and the Hornets have gotten another boost since the Tyson Chandler trade fell through. Chandler has returned with a chip on his shoulder, and his improved play has given New Orleans a needed third threat behind Paul and David West. The Hornets have won seven straight, although they have cashed in just three of those. But an upcoming road trip that features games against the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls should provide prime opportunities to see the money.
Boston Celtics - This is more of a buyer beware notice than a true sell on the Celtics, but it's worth noting that their play has slipped of late. They have failed to cash in five of their past six, and looked sluggish in Sunday's loss to the Magic. It's also tough to determine what affect the signing of Stephon Marbury might have; even though he'll play limited minutes, this looks like a bad move for the team's chemistry.
Portland Trailblazers - The up-and-coming Trailblazers have shown on their recent road trips that they still have some work to do in order to reach the next level. While there's no shame in losing to the Spurs, Rockets and Nuggets, they need to find a way to beat a quality opponent on the road once in a while in order to command respect as a contender. An upcoming home stand features the Lakers and Mavericks, two teams they have historically struggled with on their home floor.
New York Knicks - whenever the Knicks show signs of progress, it's followed by a step or two backward. It might take an off-season roster overhaul before mike D'Antoni, who still seems like an odd fit for the franchise, can assemble a cast of players to execute his preferred system. The Knicks have won and cashed in just two of their past eight games, and have road contests against the Pistons and Cavaliers on the horizon.