The last day of the NBA regular season is April 9, just over three weeks away. With such a jumbled playoff picture, these remaining games often seem like the postseason, with a little added significance as time passes.
Let’s take our weekly look at who’s stepping up in these intense times and who’s struggling to keep up. When you’re done here, be sure to check out the latest NBA picks and the NBA betting preview for whichever game you fancy.
Eastern Conference Who’s Hot
- Brooks Lopez – We had to include him because he was, quite literally, red-hot the other night in Sacramento. If Hollywood needs an angry villain, they should reach out to Lopez and tell him to act exactly the way he did when Trey Lyles made the mistake of messing with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Lopez was suspended for Thursday night’s game vs. Indiana and his absence was felt as the Bucks lost to the Pacers at home. The veteran big man is averaging 21.4 points while shooting 58.2% from the floor and 42.6% from the arc over his last 12 games.
- OG Anunoby – The NBA leader in steals per game (2.0) has been filling it up at a nice rate on the other end. In a five-game hot stretch, he’s averaging 20.4 points while making 18-of-31 3-pointers (58.1%).
- Trae Young – He’s always lurking in either Hot or Not sections just because of his sheer volume in statistical categories. Lately, he’s been filling up those categories efficiently as his Atlanta Hawks target a likely play-in spot in the East. Since scoring eight points at Miami on March 4, he’s averaged 31.4 in five games while hitting on 54.9% from the floor. The Hawks continue to be a disappointment at 34-35 entering Friday, but at least Young looks like he’ll finish strong.
Western Conference Who’s Hot
- Stephen Curry – A 12-game layoff to rest a leg injury seems to have reinvigorated the superstar, who notched his second 50-point game of the season Wednesday at the Clippers. That gave Curry a scoring average of 35.6 over his last five games, during which he’s made 32-of-59 3-pointers (54.2%). The two-time MVP is on the injury report (thumb) going into Friday’s tilt at Atlanta, so keep an eye on his status if you’re looking at the NBA spreads with a bet online in mind.
- Kawhi Leonard – Although he still sits out one-half of back-to-backs, the restrictions on minutes have been lifted on Leonard and he is soaring. Including a 4-for-5 effort from long range at San Antonio on Jan. 20, Leonard is making 50.9% of his 3-pointers and averaging 28.7 points since that date. The Clippers have a four-game winning streak and Leonard is playing his best basketball in years. It could be a fun spring at Crypto.com Arena.
- Trey Murphy III – This second-year pro was put back in the starting lineup earlier this month and has responded very well. Most notable was his career-high 41-point effort vs. Portland on Sunday, when he also set personal highs in made 3’s (9) and 3-point attempts (14). Murphy followed that up with a solid 20-point showing in a loss to the Lakers on Tuesday.
Eastern Conference Who’s Not
- Julius Randle – There are a lot of asterisks here. For one, Randle plays every game and logs heavy minutes each time. He’s allowed to have a few rocky nights from the floor. Also, he’s been without running mate Jalen Brunson of late, so defenses can key in on the New York Knicks big man. Still, he’d like to hit a few more than he has of late: 34.6% FG, 20.8% from the arc over his last five games.
- Tobias Harris – A complementary scorer on a stacked Philadelphia 76ers team, Harris has not been providing as much as he usually does. He’s averaging 9.0 points in four games since returning from a minor injury, shooting just 29.7% in that span. It hasn’t hurt the Sixers, who are riding a six-game winning streak, and Harris will make some big baskets for them in the postseason.
- Killian Hayes – The Detroit Pistons would love for this former lottery pick to develop a 3-point shot to complement his quality playmaking, but it just doesn’t seem to ever come. He is shooting under 30% for the third time in his three-year career and is 0-for-14 over his last six games.
Western Conference Who’s Not
- Devin Vassell – A recent knee injury really hampered this San Antonio Spurs standout. He’ll get his groove back, but it’s been slowing going since the third-year pro returned in early March. In five games since he came back, Vassell is averaging 12.2 points – about six below his season average – on 37.9% shooting.
- Jamal Murray – The Denver Nuggets hit a recent lull and Murray’s struggles were one reason. He got back on track Thursday at Detroit but before that had a four-game stretch (all losses for Denver) in which he shot 31.5%. He’ll be fine, and the Nuggets will as well.
- Isaiah Joe – It wasn’t long ago that Joe looked like a dark horse to steal the 3-point percentage crown. He’s still ranked a solid seventh at 43.3% but has fallen off the pace just a bit due to a recent eight-game span in which he shot 32.8%.