In the past week or two, the theme of the NBA has been injuries. As the games pile up, so do the physical issues, and several stars have been hit by the bug. That muddies the waters and gives us a chance to dive deeper into our latest edition of Who’s Hot and Who’s Not, one of many tools to help bettors out at the sportsbook.
Let’s check the latest NBA picks, stats, injury reports, and NBA predictions. We’ve plenty of NBA expert picks for you to consider.
Eastern Conference Who’s Hot
- Ben Simmons – When Simmons went from active to questionable to out in a short span leading up to a recent matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, it was another frustrating chapter in his tenure with the Brooklyn Nets. The thing is, whatever he needed to take care of that day seems to have worked. Simmons is averaging 14.6 points on 79% shooting in five games since that day off. He’s attacking the rim with purpose and chipping in that high volume of assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks like we used to see years ago in Philadelphia.
- Yuta Watanabe – We promise this isn’t a full-on Brooklyn Nets edition. They’re starting to win games and increase their NBA playoff odds, and while Simmons has a lot to do with that, so does Watanabe, the NBA’s leader in 3-point percentage (57.1). That number went up after a recent 12-for-18 stretch, during which the George Washington product averaged 15.7 points off the bench. He’s missed two straight due to a hamstring issue and is slated to sit out Friday’s tilt in Indiana, but he deserves some props for his torrid pace from the arc.
- Kevin Knox II – We promised we’d dig deeper this week. And that’s where we found Knox, the former lottery pick with the Knicks who had been buried on the bench in Detroit until this week. Making the most of some increased playing time, he averaged 16.3 points while shooting 69% over the last three games, including his first 20-point game since April 3, 2019.
Western Conference Who’s Hot
- Anthony Davis – The Brow is head and shoulders above everyone right now. His streak of 30-point games sits at four entering Friday’s matchup in San Antonio, averaging 35.5 points and 18.3 rebounds in that span. Davis also has 10 blocked shots in his last three games as he does everything with LeBron James sidelined.
- Aaron Gordon – He returned from a three-game layoff this week to score 17 points in a loss to Detroit and then a season-high 31 in a win over Oklahoma City Thunder. The veteran forward made 17 of 26 shots in those two games and is now 11th in the NBA in field-goal percentage (58.9). Gordon ranks fifth in the NBA in dunks (37) and is hitting a career-high 38.1% of his 3-pointers. That’s a pretty solid combination.
- Norman Powell – Powell had a brutal start to the season. He figured a few things out but was still averaging just 10.4 points and shooting 25.6% from long range after 10 games. In nine games since then, he’s posting 17.8 points per game and up to 24.3 over the last three. The Los Angeles Clippers reserve has made 11 of 19 3-pointers in that three-game hot stretch.
Eastern Conference Who’s Not
- Max Strus – He was sidelined with a shoulder injury Wednesday against Washington and perhaps a night off will help this high-volume shooter. Strus missed all 10 of his 3-point tries in an overtime loss at Washington last week and shot 10-for-32 overall in the next two games. At Minnesota on Monday, he shot 2-for-10 in the second half and committed an ill-advised foul in the closing seconds that helped the Timberwolves seal it.
- Buddy Hield – Between Oct. 26 and Nov. 12, Hield had six games of 20 points or more. Since then, he’s had five straight under that mark, including a nine-point effort on Monday in which he was 1-for-10 from the perimeter. The Indiana Pacers guard is hitting on 28.6% of his shots over the last four games.
- Obi Toppin – It feels like there’s a New York Knicks player in this spot every week. They are not an awful team, but they can’t shoot, and Toppin has been a big part of that lately. He had back-to-back games over the weekend in which he was a combined 0-for-9 from the floor and he followed that up with a 2-for-11 effort at Oklahoma City on Monday. Some pretty rough figures for a guy who used to attack the rim but now settles for long-range shots, very few of which are going in.
Western Conference Who’s Not
- Keegan Murray – The rookie out of Iowa has stumbled into a rut. Since scoring 21 points in a win over Golden State on Nov. 13, he’s averaged just 5.8 on 24% shooting over a span of four games. The No. 4 overall pick also missed a recent game due to a back issue, so he’s not at 100 percent.
- Keldon Johnson – He sat out a recent matchup with the Kings due to an ankle injury, and perhaps it’s still an issue. In three games since: 9.3 points per game, 2-for-19 on 3-pointers, and one second-half benching following a careless turnover against New Orleans on Wednesday.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. – The veteran swingman recently said he hoped Mavericks fans would be patient with him as he rounds into shape following an injury-shortened campaign. Then he went off for 28 points in a Luka Doncic-less game, and it seemed as if the streaky scorer was about to go on a bit of a roll. Then came scoring totals of 13 points, 2 points, and 2 points in a three-game span that saw him make 4 of 22 shots (3 of 16 3-pointers). Dallas fans may have to wait a bit longer.