As we begin to approach the end of the regular season, many players around the league are finalizing their case for their value in free agency.
Of course, executives around the league always have tough decisions to make about who they plan to re-sign as well as who they plan to pursue or let walk during free agency. But as the season progresses, it becomes a bit easier to evaluate who would be a good fit for their franchise and who might not be.
As part of our ongoing series at HoopsHype, we are looking at whose free agency stock has gone up – and down – over the last several games.
Stock up: Derrick Rose (New York)
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Some coaches just know what it takes to get the most out of a player and there are few clearer examples of the chemistry that Derrick Rose has with New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose, who started the season off with the Detroit Pistons, was a starter for just three games before moving into a bench role with New York. But the results have been staggering and the Knicks are now 17-7 in games that Rose has played for the franchise. But the franchise has a losing record during the games he has not played in 2020-21. https://twitter.com/overtime/status/1385061638710116356?s=20 New York has won eight consecutive games and Rose has scored at least 15 points in each of his past four performances. In fact, he has notched double-digit scoring numbers in all ten of his most recent games. The point guard, a former league MVP, is credited as a leader in helping the team reap tremendous success and turn the ship around so far this season. If the organization makes some noise in the playoffs, expect the fans and front office to want him back again next season. Rose has potentially already done enough to earn more than the midlevel exception that he signed back in 2019. For the latest news and rumors on Derrick Rose, click here.
Stock down: Lonzo Ball (New Orleans)
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Remember when it looked like New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball had finally improved his jump shot? That made him one of the more intriguing free agents available this offseason. After shooting 43.1 percent on his three-pointers between January 29 and April 4, connecting on 3.6 per game, he has plummeted back to closer to where he was during his first three professional seasons. Ball is just 25.6 percent from beyond the arc with 1.8 connections per game since April 6. While everyone is afforded a shooting slump, in this particular case, it looks more like the hot streak was more of a fluke and this could be more like his true self. During his last four games, Ball was held to single-digit scoring three times. When the Pelicans lost to the New York Knicks on April 18, he had 5 points and two turnovers while shooting just 2-of-9 from the field. Ball also had a blunder late in the match that cost his team the game. New Orleans has been beyond hesitant to spend the luxury tax in the past and with Ingram already on the books, the Pelicans may look to include Ball in a sign-and-trade this offseason. For the latest news and rumors on Lonzo Ball, click here.
Stock up: Raul Neto (Washington)
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Washington Wizards guard Raul Neto is quietly putting together the best season of his NBA career, even joining the starting lineup at a few different points. The 28-year-old guard, who is playing more minutes than ever before, has personal-best marks in points as well as rebounds and steals per game. He enjoyed the best game of his season against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, recording 18 points with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. https://twitter.com/WashWizards/status/1385056512100376579?s=20 Washington is in the midst of a six-game win streak and analytics suggest he has played a crucial role in those victories. His defensive rating ranks third-best among all players who have averaged at least 20 minutes over at least 3 games since April 12. Even if Neto does not project as a long-term starter, the fact that he has been able to hold his own in three-guard lineups alongside Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal makes him a bit more appealing in free agency. Neto is turning the ball less than ever and he has found a nice little hot spot on the floor on short midrange looks, shooting very well between four and fourteen feet of the basket. This offseason, if he keeps playing well, he may find himself a new contract as a valuable rotation player worth more than the veteran minimum he most recently signed. For the latest news and rumors on Raul Neto, click here.
Stock down: Devonte’ Graham (Charlotte)
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After earning some fair consideration for the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2020, Charlotte Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham has not played as well this season. Graham has seen decreases in his scoring (18.2 points per game to 14.1 ppg) as well as his playmaking (7.5 assists per game to 5.2 apg) in his year-over-year sample size. Since returning from his quad injury, Graham has been given a high-volume role but he has not been particularly efficient. While he has taken more than 9.0 three-pointers per game in April, he is shooting a bit worse than the NBA league average on these opportunities. One would hope that someone who has taken at least ten three-pointers per game more than a dozen times so far this season would be able to hit them a bit more often than Graham has for the Hornets. He may wind up as an odd-man-out on a team that has had successful campaigns in 2020-21 from LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier. For the latest news and rumors on Devonte’ Graham, click here.
Stock up: Furkan Korkmaz (Philadelphia)
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Philadelphia 76ers forward Furkan Korkmaz, who is currently dealing with an ankle injury, has put together a fairly good month so far in April. Korkmaz has moved into the first unit more consistently, though he plays off the bench as well, and has made the most of his opportunities. He scored 20 points as a starter on April 10 during a victory when facing off against the Oklahoma City Thunder, adding four rebounds and five steals. The following game, he was 4-for-7 on his three-pointers and dropped another 20 points. He is 41.5 percent from beyond the arc since the All-Star break last month. https://twitter.com/brianseltzer/status/1385018686235365377?s=20 He is 6-foot-7 but with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, he gives Philadelphia solid length as a defender even when he plays power forward. Now in his fourth year in the NBA, he is still one of the more underrated players around the league. While he is currently playing on a minimum deal, when he hits unrestricted free agency, he could have a lot more value. Especially considering that he is still only 23 years, the former first-rounder has a solid long-term trajectory in the NBA. For the latest news and rumors on Furkan Korkmaz, click here.
Stock down: JJ Redick (Dallas)
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Early returns for JJ Redick on the Dallas Mavericks have been a bit mixed. After a messy divorce from the New Orleans Pelicans, Redick has not fared well with his new team. While the veteran sharpshooter is still splashing from beyond the arc, he hasn’t been able to do much else particularly well on the Mavericks. He is shooting just 16.7 percent on two-pointers since the trade, making just one attempt thus far. Redick has taken 17 shot attempts since joining Dallas and not one of them has come from anywhere shorter than the midrange. There is some honor in knowing your role but when defenses know exactly what is coming, it soon becomes a lot easier to close out without any hesitation. It is a bit too soon to sound the alarms on Redick, who is also recovering from an injury and still getting adjusted to the new squad. But at 36 years old, with signs of wear and tear, there may be less interest in Redick than previously expected. If he were to receive an offer even close to the $13.3 average annual value that he is currently making, it would be a bit of a surprise given recent play. For the latest news and rumors on JJ Redick, click here. [listicle id=1487781]