OKC Thunder Stock Watch: Risers and Fallers Heading into NBA All-Star Break
As one of the best teams in the NBA, it's easy to say most of Oklahoma City's players' stocks have been on the rise all season.
However, we all know that things change after the All-Star break. Games become more important as teams fight for playoff positioning down the stretch. Players start to turn it on and coaches start planning rotations and lineups for the postseason.
So, as the season gets older, players' roles change. Well, some players' roles stay the same.
For example, players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will continue to dominate as the focal points like they have all season. But there are players who either step up into a more important role or fall down in the lineup and take a cut in minutes.
It's All-Star break stock watch time, and as the games take on new meaning, stocks begin to rise and fall. Here are Oklahoma City's stocks to watch as the NBA heads into All-Star Weekend.
Stats and records accurate as of games played prior to Feb. 12.
Stock Rising: Kendrick Perkins
Offensively, Kendrick Perkins is having his most efficient season since joining the Thunder.
Perkins is averaging 7.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.4 blocks per game so far in February, and Daily Thunder's Royce Young says he's looking as good as he's ever looked in a Thunder uniform.
Perkins is what he is. He's a defensive bruiser with the attitude a young team needs, especially at the end of the season and into the playoffs. And although you'd like more offense from your starting center, because of his defensive prowess, you take what you can get from Perkins.
Perkins' stock is on the rise as the NBA heads into All-Star Weekend because his defense will be more important down the stretch. He defends big men as well as anybody in the league, and the Western Conference is in no shortage of offensive bigs.
Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin or Mark Gasol and Zach Randolph will likely stand in the way of another Finals berth for the Thunder. Who knows, maybe the Lakers make the playoffs and Dwight Howard stands in the way as well. Either way, with Perkins on the block, the Thunder can rest assured the Western Conference's big men won't get anything easy on the offensive end.
And they will continue to take what they can get from him on offense.
Stock Falling: Eric Maynor
Eric Maynor's stock has been falling all season with Reggie Jackson surpassing him as the team's backup point guard.
Let's face it, the Thunder don't need three point guards going into the final months of the season. Russell Westbrook can play unlimited minutes, leaving Jackson as the lone backup down the stretch.
So, with Maynor's stock falling every game, are the Thunder thinking about moving him?
According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Thunder would like to hang on to Maynor, but remain open-minded about a trade.
Maynor hasn't looked the same since tearing his ACL last season. It's as if he just can't get back into the flow with the rest of the second team. Meanwhile, Jackson appears to be settling into the position Maynor vacated a year ago.
Maynor's last days in Oklahoma City may be on the horizon, and as his stock continues to fall, the Thunder will likely think hard about getting what they can to replace him.
Stock Rising: Thabo Sefolosha
Thabo Sefolosha is much like Kendrick Perkins. His defense is so valuable that you take whatever you can get from him on the offensive end.
There may no be a better perimeter defender in the game. Sefolosha uses his long frame to contain some of the game's best offensive players, and with the playoffs getting closer, his abilities will become even more important for the Thunder.
Offensively, he's not the most gifted player. However, even his offensive stock is on the rise as of late. He's averaging 10.2 points per game to go along with 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game over his last five contests. He's also shooting over 46 percent from three-point range in February.
Sefolosha is one of Oklahoma City's most important players. If he can continue his consistency on offense and mix it with his tenacious perimeter defense, his stock could be on the rise for the rest of the season.
Stock Rising: Reggie Jackson
Reggie Jackson has improved all season and may be playing his best basketball in the month of February.
According to Daily Thunder's Royce Young, Jackson has played his best basketball recently and may force Oklahoma City to stick with what they have rather than making a trade to solidify the bench at the deadline.
SB Nation's Eddie Maisonet proposed the Thunder send Jackson and a draft pick to the Orlando Magic for sharpshooter J.J. Reddick.
Although the Thunder could use a sharpshooter, Jackson's potential might not be worth losing in a trade for the short-term. He's averaging 6.8 points per game in February, although most of his minutes have come because Oklahoma City has blown everybody away in their first five games of the month.
Jackson didn't play much against the Heat last year in the Finals, but there is no doubt Scott Brooks will call on him this year in the postseason. His game has elevated throughout the season, and now is the time to buy stock in Jackson's game.
Stock Falling: Hasheem Thabeet
Although Hasheem Thabeet has performed admirably as Oklahoma City's backup center so far this year, it doesn't look like his stock will be on the rise as the regular season heads down the stretch.
If last season was any indication, Thabeet will probably become less of a factor as the postseason nears.
Scott Brooks ran with four big men for most of last year's regular season, but in the playoffs, Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison played the majority of the minutes. Nazr Mohammed barely got off the bench even though he made his presence felt for most of last year's regular season.
So, if Thabeet is looking for more burn, it's probably not going to come as the season gets older. He's been a valuable asset for the team so far, but his future for this season may not be as bright.
Stock Rising: Kevin Martin
Kevin Martin is shooting a career best 44 percent from beyond the arc this season and is shooting a career best 90 percent from the free-throw line.
Is he better than James Harden? Probably not.
Is he good enough to help the Thunder to a second straight Finals appearance? Without a doubt.
Oklahoma City has lost 11 games prior to Feb. 12, and Martin's stats in losses almost mirror his stats in wins. He averages 15.9 points on 45 percent shooting when the Thunder win and 13.2 points per game on 44 percent shooting when they lose. He has had bad games, but for the most part, he's been as consistent as it comes for the Thunder.
In fact, Martin might be on the hottest streak of his season. Over his last 10 games, he is averaging 16.2 points per game on 51 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent shooting from downtown.
Martin's stock didn't start off on the rise because the loss of Harden took the breath away from Oklahoma City's rowdy and loyal fanbase. However, since the start of the year, Martin's stock has soared, and as the playoffs near, it should continue to trend upwards.
Stock Rising: Nick Collison
Nick Collison is the ultimate energy guy for any NBA team.
His stock never trends downwards because of the little things he brings to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He averages nearly 20 minutes with 5.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest. He's the epitome of consistency off the bench, but it's the Thunder's postseason run from last year that indicates Collison's rising stock.
Scott Brooks decided to go three-deep in the frontcourt in last year's playoffs, opting to sit Nazr Mohammed and give Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Collison more minutes. With Hasheem Thabeet playing the backup center role, it should be the same going into the end of this year's regular season.
Collsion has proven to be up for the challenge as well. He averaged just over 16 minutes per game in last year's playoffs and averaged 3.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Although Oklahoma City will be a man light in the frontcourt, they will still get plenty of production from Collison.
He's proven to be a fan favorite in Oklahoma City, and if he continues to be one of the team's hardest workers, Collison's stock will rise as we near the postseason.
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