NBA Barometer: Young Players to Watch
NBA Barometer: Young Players to Watch

This article is part of our NBA Barometer series.

Coming out of the All-Star break, this week's Stock Watch focuses mostly on players whose values the rest of the way could be affected by trade deadline moves.

GUARDS

Could Gain Value

Delon Wright, MEM: The Grizzlies' 23-36 record and recent trade of Marc Gasol both underscore the team's lack of postseason aspirations. That same rebuilding mindset could result in Conley seeing more time off as the season winds down and Memphis taking an extended look at Wright. The former-Raptor was a highly regarded reserve, but Toronto's deep backcourt rotation mostly kept him from truly meaningful minutes. An above-average shooter who can also contribute his share of rebounds and assists, Wright offers plenty of upside, particularly as a daily streamer, if he eventually slides into a starting point guard role.

Frank Jackson, NOP: Another young guard who could find himself in similar circumstances is Jackson, who's already shown nice flashes this season during some spot starts in place of veteran Elfrid Payton (ankle). The rookie didn't head into the All-Star break on a high note whatsoever, but that may be irrelevant during the stretch run if the Pelicans focus their attention on younger pieces. Supporting the notion is the fact Payton is only signed in New Orleans through the end of the season, which certainly reduces the incentive for coach Alvin Gentry to stick with him over a young player worth developing.

Could Lose Value

Kent Bazemore, ATL: The Hawks are 20 games under .500 as they emerge from the All-Star break and Bazemore has already suffered through an extended absence this season due to an ankle sprain. The veteran wing came back a bit rusty, as he scored in single digits in six of the nine games heading into the All-Star break. With Atlanta already eyeing next season and rookie Kevin Huerter having taken the reins of the starting two-guard role, the 29-year-old Bazemore likely won't be prioritized over young players.

FORWARDS

Could Gain Value

Otto Porter, Jr., CHI: Porter has taken his new opportunity in the Windy City by the horns, as he headed into the All-Star break with a 37-point, 10-rebound double-double against the Grizzlies, a game in which he drained 16 of 20 shot attempts. Porter has shot 62.1 percent overall across his four games in a Bulls uniform, scoring at least 17 points in each contest. With Chandler Hutchison (toe) still not set for return and Porter having plenty to gain by logging as many minutes as possible with his new club, he should continue to enjoy a solid amount of playing time and usage as one of the primary sources of offense in Chicago.

Marquese Chriss, CLE: Chriss is another young player who could parlay his team's chase for the worst record in the league into expanded opportunity. The third-year big logged double-digit scoring totals in three of the final four games prior to the All-Star break, as Kevin Love's slow return from his foot injury afforded Chriss at least 22 minutes in each contest. Chriss also brought down at least seven rebounds in each game and could well be in position for a steady frontcourt role the rest of the way. Having just signed Love to a max contract this past offseason, there's little reason for the Cavaliers to expose the star forward meaningless games and hurt their chances at landing Zion Williamson in the process. Chriss has provided little reason to believe he has a bright future in the league, but at this point the Cavs are just looking for bodies to play out the final two months.

Could Lose Value

Anthony Davis, NOP: The situation between Davis and the Pelicans got messy in a hurry as the trade deadline approached, and while the big man ultimately remains in New Orleans, his offseason departure seems all but guaranteed. The Pels' desire to protect their immensely valuable, but oft-injured, trade chip could certainly lead to limited minutes and a fair share of "rest days", especially in back-to-back sets. Naturally, Davis remains an elite asset so long as he's playing close to a full workload, but he already had a few concerning outings prior to the break, and it's difficult to imagine the two sides mending relations down the stretch.

CENTERS

Could Gain Value

Mitchell Robinson, NYK: Enes Kanter is finally out of the Big Apple, and recent trade acquisition DeAndre Jordan is playing on an expiring contract. The combination of those two factors, and Robinson's own talent, could equal plenty of opportunities for the young big. Robinson had posted five straight double-digit scoring tallies before a six-point, seven-rebound effort versus the Hawks in the last game before the All-Star break. That stretch included a pair of double-doubles, despite the fact Robinson played no more than 28 minutes in any of those games. With the Knicks in serious contention for the top overall pick, there's plenty of reason to prioritize Robinson's development ahead of Jordan over the final 24 games.

Cheick Diallo, NOP: Diallo has already parlayed multiple frontcourt injuries into solid production this season, posting a trio of consecutive double-digit scoring efforts in early February. The returns of Anthony Davis and Julius Randle had his minutes trending back down as the All-Star break approached, but Diallo could be a candidate for some extra run again once New Orleans is eventually booted from postseason contention. Nikola Mirotic is now in Milwaukee, which removes one obstacle to playing time. But how the aforementioned Davis standoff turns out is what will ultimately determine Diallo's ceiling.

Could Lose Value

Robin Lopez, CHI: Lopez's value actually shot up heading into the All-Star break, as he rattled off five straight double-digit scoring efforts before the extended layoff. However, that surge potentially belies what's to come down the stretch. The Bulls remain in contention for the league's worst record and Lopez is 30 years old and on an expiring contract. That's a recipe for a potential early shutdown – or at least a significantly reduced role at the tail end of the campaign, especially if Wendell Carter, Jr. (thumb) is also able to make a return before the end of the season. With Carter on the shelf and Bobby Portis in Washington, the Bulls may need Lopez for depth purposes, but there's still a chance he could be bought out before Mar. 1.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for Rotowire.com, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.
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