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NBA Who’s Hot and Who’s Not: Ayton, Suns Warming Up in Desert

We have another full slate of great matchups on tap for Friday night in the NBA, providing several opportunities to make a bet online. To help you along at the sportsbook is our weekly look at who’s doing great things on the court, and who isn’t.

Let’s check the latest NBA picks, stats, injury reports and NBA predictions. We’ve plenty of NBA expert picks for you to consider.

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns | Steph chambers/getty images/afp

Eastern Conference Who’s Hot

  • Shake Milton – There are a lot of players putting up bigger numbers than Milton, but let’s give this Philadelphia 76ers some props for doing some fine work in the wake of injuries to the team’s top three scorers. Since entering the starting lineup on Nov. 19, Milton is averaging 21.9 points and 6.1 assists. He’s shooting 56% from the floor while making 23 of 24 free throws.
  • Bam Adebayo – With Jimmy Butler sidelined due to a knee injury, Adebayo has carried the Miami Heat. A defensive stalwart in the middle for Miami, the Kentucky product is averaging 31.0 points to go along with 8.7 rebounds over his last three games. He even made his first 3-pointer in nearly two years in Boston on Wednesday.
  • Malcolm Brogdon – There’s always a Celtic in here. The numbers that the team is putting up are at a historic level, and lately, Brogdon’s been a big part of it. While Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown post the eye-popping stats, Brogdon has been coming off the bench and hitting everything he takes. Well, almost everything; he’s 20-for-28 from 3-point range over the last six games, during which the veteran guard is averaging 17.2 points in just 23.5 minutes.

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Western Conference Who’s Hot

  • Deandre Ayton – While teammate Devin Booker was being showered with M-V-P chants during a 51-point outburst (in only three quarters) against Chicago on Wednesday, Ayton was quietly putting up a 30-point, 14-rebound effort for his seventh straight double-double. Over the past four games, the Phoenix Suns’ center has posted a 26.0 scoring average and 14.8 boards while hitting on 70 percent of his shots.
  • Ivica Zubac – Another big man out west, Zubac did most of his damage this past week in one incredible performance against the Pacers (31 points, 29 rebounds). He followed that up with another double-double – his ninth of the season. Zubac entered Friday as the only player in the NBA ranked in the top six in FG%, rebounding and blocks.
  • Jamal Murray – Murray and the Denver Nuggets have preached patience with their point guard as he works his way back from a surgically repaired knee that cost him all of last season. It looks as if Murray is back to form for the surging Nuggets, averaging 26.0 points on 55% shooting over his last three games. That stretch includes his first 30-point performance in about 19 months Monday vs Houston.
Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets |2022 nbae justin tafoya/getty images/afp

Eastern Conference Who’s Not

  • Fred VanVleet – Injuries have had him in and out of the lineup all season, with six total games missed so far. His shot isn’t always there when he suits up, and the Toronto Raptors star is just 17-for-59 (28.8%) from the floor over his last four games – including 7-for-33 (21.2%) from the arc. VanVleet’s two-point effort at New Orleans on Wednesday would’ve been a season low, except he had a one-point performance on 0-for-11 shooting about a month earlier.
  • Will Barton – Brought in to be a key bench piece for the Washington Wizards, Barton is shooting a career-low 36.3%. His 32.9% showing from long range is his lowest figure since 2014-15. The 31-year-old scored two points his last time out while going without a 3-point attempt for just the third time in his last six seasons.
  • Joe Harris – This 3-point specialist hit 4 of 6 his last time out, so perhaps he’s ready to turn it on. Prior to that effort, however, he was 5-for-30 over a five-game span. The seventh-best shooter in NBA history in terms of career 3-point percentage (43.35), Harris is hitting 33.6% on the season, his lowest mark since he became a regular with the Brooklyn Nets in 2016-17.

Western Conference Who’s Not

  • Devonte Graham – The New Orleans Pelicans have a loaded roster that has pushed Graham to the periphery after he was a starter for most of his previous three seasons (the first two in Charlotte). He had a recent breakout in which he scored a total of 40 points in two games off the bench, but in three games since he’s averaged 4.0 points on 13.3% shooting in 17.3 minutes.
  • Keldon Johnson – Two straight weeks in this spot for Johnson, whose spiral has coincided with a brutal slide for the San Antonio Spurs. During the team’s nine-game losing streak, Johnson is shooting 29.5%. He had a recent four-game stretch in which he made 3 of 27 3-pointers.
  • Patrick Beverley – He’s not a scorer and he was suspended for much of the past week, but let’s just highlight how many shots this veteran guard is missing. After a 2-for-7 performance in his return from suspension Wednesday night, Beverley’s field-goal percentage actually went UP to 26.8 – the lowest in the NBA among those with at least 70 shots. With Dennis Schroder back, Austin Reaves playing well and Russell Westbrook entrenched as the leader of the second unit, Beverley might get squeezed out.
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