NBA Stock Watch: Mitchell making MVP case; Warriors struggling early

We’re almost one month into the NBA season. Some teams have already played 10 games. That doesn’t mean things are set in stone, but it does mean that there’s more meat for us to chew on.

So, who’s rising and who’s falling? Time for our Weekly stock watch.

RISING: Donovan Mitchell’s MVP case

Nobody in the NBA, save maybe the Milwaukee Bucks, has been better this season than the 8-2 Cleveland Cavaliers (winners of eight straight before Monday night). And no one on the Cavaliers has been better than Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell has given the Cavs — who, you’ll remember, basically sent every draft pick of theirs to Utah in the offseason to bring in Mitchell — everything they could have hoped for and more.

He’s putting up numbers that would represent career-highs across the board: 31.2 points per game, 6.0 assists, 45.1% from deep, 50.5% from the field. He’s playing active and energetic defense, too!

Given how the Brooklyn Nets have fallen off a cliff, and the Philadelphia 76ers have struggled, it looks like there’s room at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Cavs, it appears, are poised to fill that void, and if they continue at this pace, Mitchell is going to become a legitimate MVP candidate.

FALLING: The NBA’s vibes

Here’s a few of the news stories that made headlines last Thursday: Kyrie Irving being suspended for at least five games by the Nets; now-former San Antonio Spurs guard Josh Primo and the Spurs being sued by a former team psychologist who alleges that Primo exposed himself to her multiple times; Miles Bridges, a rising star for the Hornets last season, pleaded no contest to a felony domestic violence charge.

And this was just one day after the Nets had fired head Coach Steve Nash so that, it was reported, they could bring in Ime Udoka, who the Boston Celtics had suspended for the year due to him engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a female employee.

And we’re still just a few months removed from Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver being suspended for — well, a host of reasons, which we’ll just summarize as overseeing a toxic workplace.

It was one of those weeks in which the games and on-court action became an afterthought. That’s not what the NBA wants. It’s not why any of us fell in love with the sport or follow the games. Frankly, it’s deflating and depressing.

RISING: Russell WestbrookSixth Man of the Year?

Fine, he’s not going to win that award, nor should he.

But since moving to the bench, Westbrook has, incredibly, become both an effective and efficient basketball player. He’s even endeared himself to Lakers fans, something that just a couple of weeks ago would have been impossible to believe.

None of this means he or the Lakers are vindicated for their decisions over the past year-plus — both parties deserve Criticism for the way this whole thing has played out — but Westbrook is an all-time great player. It’s nice to see him find his footing.

FALLING: The Warriors’ repeat hopes

It’s not just that the Warriors — who are now an ugly 4-7 — lost five in a row on the road last week, although that’s obviously not good. What makes it worse, though, are the teams that handed the Warriors those defeats: the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans.

Remember all those young Lottery Picks the Warriors brought in with the hope that they could grab the baton from some of the vets and carry the team into the future? Well, it’s not going great. Jonathan Kuminga hasn’t taken the step forward that the Warriors hoped for, and they hemorrhage points any time James Wiseman steps onto the floor. They’ve been outscored by 27.2 points per 100 non-garbage time possessions with Wiseman on the court, according to Cleaning the Glassone of the worst marks in the league.

Basically, the Warriors stink any time Steph Curry steps off the floor. According to Cleaning the Glass, they’ve performed like a 55-win team with Curry and a nine-win team without him. I know they won the title last year and are in the midst of an all-time run, but I also think we could very well look back at the drafting of Wiseman as opposed to trading the pick, or the player later on, as a colossal mistake.

Yaron Weitzman is an NBA Writer for FOX Sports and the author of Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports. Follow him on Twitter @YaronWeitzman.


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