Free agency stock watch: Deandre Ayton, Jalen Brunson and more

Free agency stock watch: Deandre Ayton, Jalen Brunson and more


Free agency stock watch: Deandre Ayton, Jalen Brunson and more

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It’s time for another edition of our free agency stock watch, where we write about six impending NBA free agents, three of whom have raised their value over recent weeks and three others who have hurt their causes a bit.

Let’s jump right into the action this week.

Stock up: Jalen Brunson

It’s not a surprise to fans of the Dallas Mavericks fans, but Jalen Brunson has been one of the better point guards in the Western Conference this season, with his play being at an even higher level lately.

Over his last six games, Brunson is averaging 18.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 48.2 percent from the floor.

Thanks to that heightened level of play, there’s some speculation out there that the Mavericks could be priced out in the Brunson sweepstakes this offseason when he hits free agency. The addition of Spencer Dinwiddie, who has performed well since getting to Dallas, makes that possibility seem even more real.

Our own Michael Scotto reported recently that a rival team, the Detroit Pistons, already have their eye on the Villanova product:

Michael Scotto: I’ve heard some people in that front office that have an eye for Jalen Brunson. […] Whereas, with Brunson, Dallas knows there’s going to be a market for him. One of the reasons they got Spencer Dinwiddie was a hedge to cover themselves depending on what the market bears for Brunson.

Either way, Brunson’s play in his contract year currently has his stock way up ahead of his first taste of free agency. The upcoming playoffs could be huge for his financial prospects, too.

For the latest Jalen Brunson free agency rumors, click here.

Stock down: Deandre Ayton

In that same aforementioned report, Scotto also mentioned Deandre Ayton as a potential target for the Pistons, a pairing that has come up multiple times over the past year. As they say, where there’s smoke there’s fire, so Detroit should be viewed as a threat to nab Ayton from the Phoenix Suns this offseason.

Luckily for the Pistons, we have Ayton as someone whose stock is currently trending downward ahead of his impending free agency, as over his last four games, the Bahamian big man has put up just 13.8 points while shooting 51.1 percent from the floor, down from his overall averages this season of 17.1 points and 63.3 percent shooting.

Ayton will have plenty of time to turn that around, however, as the Suns are expected to have a long playoff run coming up, with their status as the best team in the league this season unquestionable. Plus, overall for the campaign, Ayton has been a positive for a Phoenix team that has put up the most impressive season in its franchise’s history.

Whoever does want Ayton this offseason will have to pay a lofty price.

For the latest Deandre Ayton free agency rumors, click here.

Stock up: Mitchell Robinson

Ayton isn’t the only big man the Pistons are reported to have an interest in, as rumors throughout this season have also tied Detroit to New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, the shot-blocking menace.

Robinson’s play is picking up just at the right time, too, as over his last six games, the former Western Kentucky standout is averaging 8.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks while shooting 72.4 percent from the floor.

Is he the prototypical modern big man?

No, but at 24, Robinson is still young while already having established himself as one of the NBA’s premier shot-blockers, a skill set that is impossible to teach. In the right role, with an elite playmaker spoon-feeding him easy looks down low, Robinson might be able to shine brighter than he has in New York thus far.

For the latest Mitchell Robinson free agency rumors, click here.

Stock down: Austin Rivers

Despite it being just his age-29 season, Austin Rivers’ NBA career could be on its last legs, as his play has trended downward over the past few seasons, with his averages currently sitting at 6.0 points and 1.4 assists per game on 41.4 percent shooting.

Well, the last week-plus won’t help Rivers convince NBA teams he deserves anything other than a veteran minimum contract next season, as his numbers have plummeted even further to 2.0 points and 0.6 assists over his last five games, a stretch that includes two zero-point performances.

The playoffs could do wonders for Rivers’ free-agent stock, but right now, things are looking bleak for Rivers and his NBA future.

For the latest Austin Rivers free agency rumors, click here.

Stock up: Robert Covington

The good news for players we have under the stock down section in this article is that things can change quickly… just ask Robert Covington.

After we wrote that Covington’s free-agent value was down last week, this time, we believe the opposite to be true, as the 3-and-D specialist’s play has improved a ton of late as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Over his last six games, Covington is averaging 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocks. Even more impressive is that Covington put up those numbers despite starting just one game in that stretch, an outing that saw him explode for 43 points, eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks.

His numbers were obviously greatly influenced by that one outing, but Covington overall has been playing better of late since getting to Los Angeles, and contending teams will surely have an interest in him as a free agent this offseason thanks to his veteran experience, shooting touch and ability to defend.

For the latest Robert Covington free agency rumors, click here.

Stock down: Bryn Forbes

Something that can be used to help Nikola Jokic’s MVP case is the fact that his team has been ice cold lately, yet they continue to perform well enough to be comfortably in the playoff picture in the brutal Western Conference thanks to Jokic’s genius.

Not only has Rivers struggled mightily of late, so has another Nuggets backup guard in Bryn Forbes. In his last eight games, Forbes is averaging just 3.3 points while shooting 33.3 percent from the floor, making just four threes in his last six appearances.

He’ll have the playoffs to make up for it, but it’s the wrong time for Forbes to be struggling like this, with another turn in free agency just around the corner for him.

For the latest Bryn Forbes free agency rumors, click here.

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