Welcome to another edition of NBAHawks! You already know what you're going to see below, so I won't belabor the point. We're going alphabetically, with an added trade forecast included with each player blurb. As always, questions, comments, and suggestions for future editions are always appreciated. Let's get to it!
Cole Aldrich - LA Clippers
Oh, the difference a month can make... After a streak of 11 Did Not Play- Coach's Decision games in the time before Christmas, Cole has now been a fixture in the past 18 Clippers contests, averaging 7.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block, in around 14 minutes per game and is doing so on 52% shooting. It's not uncommon for Aldrich to now play more in a single game than he had in the Clippers' first 27 games of the season combined. With the recent news of a 4-6 week delay in Blake Griffin's return, thanks to a frankly ridiculous-sounding hand injury, Cole is likely to continue to see fairly significant frontcourt minutes in the coming month(s?) as well.
Trade Forecast: 5%- Slight chance of trade. Cole is filling a valuable bench-big role at the moment, any trade would likely be in the form of salary-massaging as part of a much larger deal.
Cliff Alexander - Portland Trail Blazers
No minutes for Cliff. That said, he's an undrafted 20 year old... This part of his career is going to consist of attempting to stick with a roster, learn, and get bigger/stronger/older while waiting for an opportunity to prove himself that may not come for several seasons.
Trade Forecast: 1%- Almost no chance of trade. Any movement on Cliff's part will likely be secondary to roster size restrictions and will be far more likely to include waivers or free agency.
Darrell Arthur - Denver Nuggets
I predicted an increase in minutes to the mid-twenties for Arthur in the last edition of this column, and that has come to pass, though not so much because of a maintained 3-point hot streak so much as an overall efficiency improvement inside the arc. Shady has averaged 24 minutes per game in this batch of 18 games, starting 4 of them, and hit 49% from the field, and a more realistic 36.4% from 3, a shot which he has attempted even more sparingly of late. Scoring has never been the main goal for Arthur, but his contributing 8.4 points in addition to his other contributions is most welcome for the Nuggets.
Trade Forecast: 10%-Slight chance of trade. Players like Arthur are typically undervalued by traditional statistics, making it somewhat difficult for teams to decide on equivalent valuations... Though I wouldn't be shocked to see a playoff-bound team try to get a defender and bench piece on the cheap for the price of a young non-contributor or overseas stash.
Tarik Black - LA Lakers
Byron Scott is either a madman or a moron or both, but the reasons for that assessment are far too numerous to address here... Black is shooting 60% from the field (!), an improvement from an also ridiculous 57.5% in his rookie season, but has somehow seen his minutes decrease despite being 24 years old and on a team destined for the top of the lottery. What a mess. Black continues to be spectacular in the pick and roll, and I think the entire world would welcome seeing a bit more of that and a bit less of the rest of the Lakers.
Trade Forecast: 1%- Almost no chance of trade. I don't know if the Lakers remember he's on the roster... much less talk about him with other teams.
Mario Chalmers - Memphis Grizzlies
Chalmers is back to his 40% three-point-shooting ways in these last 17 games which has greatly aided his efficiency, and has averaged almost 11 points per game to go along with 5.5 assists. Mario has also been nails late in games, and hit a game-winner earlier this month (shocker, right?).
Trade Forecast: 1%- Mario was just acquired this season, and has gelled well with the Grizz, I would be very surprised if he was moved again.
Nick Collison - Oklahoma City Thunder
Nick does what Nick does, he has vacillated between not being called upon to enter the game, to seeing 20+ minutes as the team's needs change. All that's sure is that he will not take many shots, rebound the ball, and give max effort. He's the platonic ideal of a Bench Big.
Trade Forecast: No.
Drew Gooden - Washington Wizards
Back from the back and calf issues which have plagued his early season, Gooden is back in his bench role, but is taking some time to get his shot back. The Wizards are in a funk lately, and Drew's 39% from the field hasn't exactly helped to pull them out of it.
Trade Forecast: 10%- I could see a trade happening, but I feel as if the market for Gooden's "experienced bench player who sometimes plays as if he's a rookie" profile is a niche one...
Kirk Hinrich - Chicago Bulls
Hinrich had been making his usual contributions up until being sidelined by a quad injury which has caused him to miss games since mid-January.
Trade Forecast: Nah.
Sasha Kaun - Cleveland Cavaliers
Did Not Write- Coach's Decision.
Ben McLemore - Sacramento Kings
Ben continues to start games, doing so in each of the 18 games in this block, but his minutes have been limited to just around 20-per. He has been in something of a slump from 3, hitting just 30%, but he is hitting from within the arc, and the team's performance metrics seem to prefer McLemore to Marco Belinelli, who often supplants him.
Trade Forecast: 20%- This is one of those situations where you feel as if there might be a true delta in valuation between teams helps a deal, as McLemore's usage shows a potentially undervalued asset that a team might swoop to acquire at a low price.
Marcus Morris - Detroit Pistons
The threes haven't been there this month, as Marcus has only put a quarter of them through the hoop, but 50% from two will always play in this league. Morris is a throwback to the Bad Boy Pistons with his attitude, and his production is great when he's on. He continues to start every game, and is totaling 13 points, 5 boards, and 2 assists in this stretch of games.
Trade Forecast: 1%- A just-acquired starter on a team-friendly deal entering the prime of his career would take a sweet deal to pry away from the Pistons.
Markieff Morris - Phoenix Suns
I'm looking at what I wrote last time about Markieff, and it all holds up, so I'm just going to let you read it again:
Markieff has had a very poor season as he publicly demanded a trade in the offseason when his brother was dealt and then found himself benched at times this year. He recently returned to the lineup in a bench role, but has continued to shoot the ball often (and poorly). At this point it's hard to tell whether he's pushing a bit to get back into a larger role in the lineup or if he's going to just go out there and go crazy until he can manage to get himself traded elsewhere. Time will tell.
Trade Forecast: 80%- The scenario is nearly the same as his brother's, well, except for the starting part, and the whole "I'm clearly miserable here and resent you all" vibe you see constantly from Markieff now.
Kelly Oubre Jr. - Washington Wizards
As the Wizards have regained their health on the wing, Oubre has retained a fair number of his minutes. He has hit around 45% from 2, 35% from 3, and contributed around 4 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes per game for this stretch.
Trade Forecast: 0.5%- Unless there's a bona fide star moved and Washington is a part of the deal I can't see this one happening.
Paul Pierce - LA Clippers
The Truth has actually started 14 of the last 18 games for the Clippers, playing around 20 minutes per game. He's hitting the same percentage from 2 as he is from 3 at 37%, so it's nice that he's taking 60+% of his field goal attempts in this group from deep. The Clips are 13-3 in these last 16, and with the aforementioned injury issues, I wouldn't be shocked if they carried on this way for some time.
Trade Forecast: 1%- PP is starting for the Clips and signed an "I want to end my career here" contract with LA this offseason.
Thomas Robinson - Brooklyn Nets
Thomas is playing around 10 minutes per game for a bad Brooklyn squad. He has had several solid showings, but hasn't seen anything close to a consistent role. With the Nets as bad as they are I'm somewhat surprised that his usage hasn't increased a bit, just to see what they could get with increased minutes, it's not as if the team is going anywhere.
Trade Forecast: 5%- Someone may want to buy a lottery ticket, but T-Rob signed with the Nets of his own accord this offseason.
Brandon Rush - Golden State Warriors
18 minutes per game for a generationally good team is a spectacular improvement from a year ago. This month has seen Rush continue to shoot 42% from 3 and 46% overall in adding 5.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and an assist in addition to his wing defense. Brandon has started 12 of the Warriors last 19 games as the team experienced injury issues and the machine didn't miss a beat.
Trade Forecast: 1%- Don't mess with a good thing, or a player shooting 45% from 3...
Andrew Wiggins - Minnesota Timberwolves
Wiggins can't hit a three to save his life, but he's hitting 50% from two despite having almost no offense run for him in Minnesota, and without the spacing that would come if the Wolves ever deemed it appropriate to shoot threes... so, in all, not bad at all. Wiggins' ability to get to the line almost 7 times per game has been a great asset and helped him on his way to averaging 20+ per night. The other portions of the box score are sometimes lacking, but, again, this is a 20 year old who has a ridiculous portion of the offensive load for his team on his shoulders, and that fact also has seemed to limit AW from reaching his potential on defense. As we enter the second half of the season it will be interesting to see how Wiggins copes with the grind of being relied upon so much night-in and night-out.
Trade Forecast: Hahahahahahahahahahahaha
Jeff Withey - Utah Jazz
Jeff Withey = Still pretty free. Withey saw 8 starts in this stretch of 19 Jazz contests, and acquitted himself extremely well. For the sample he averaged 19 minutes, 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and .7 assists/steals per game and is doing so while shooting 55% from the floor and 76% from the line. As the Jazz front line has returned from injury the minutes have dried up a bit, but if basketball is at all a meritocracy in Utah then Withey will see minutes in every contest moving forward.
Trade Forecast: 5%- Nonessential but productive personnel can always find themselves in trade packages.