We're well over a third of the way through the 2019-20 NBA season, and as expected, there's been no shortage of spicy storylines over the first few months. The league's longest playoff streak is in jeopardy, while the most highly-hyped rookie in years has still yet to make his debut. Plus, with February's All-Star Game creeping closer, will the Brooklyn Nets have a representative even with the two superstars that they signed over the offseason sidelined with injury?
Here's a look at some of the most interesting current narratives from the NBA season, and whether or not they're worth buying or selling.
Buy or Sell? Rookie of the Year is Ja Morant's to lose
There's been no shortage of impressive rookies this season. Brandon Clarke has quickly developed into a legitimate offensive option for the Grizzlies. Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro have helped propel the Heat toward the top of the East. RJ Barrett has been a rare bright spot for the Knicks, the Warriors appear to have found a second-round gem in Eric Paschall and 76ers forward Matisse Thybulle already looks like one of the best perimeter defenders in the entire league. But with all that being said, the Rookie of the Year race appears to be ending a lot sooner than expected.
Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been as good as Memphis had hoped after it made him the No. 2 overall pick in the draft last June. He's averaging 17.9 points, 6.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, and looking like a future perennial All-Star. The fact that it's likely too late for top pick Zion Williamson to come in and win the award at this point helps Morant's case, too. Obviously Morant has to keep it up because there's no shortage of competition, but barring an injury, the Rookie of the Year trophy will belong to him.
Speaking of Williamson …
Buy or Sell? Zion Williamson won't play a single game for the Pelicans this season
Williamson was initially expected to return sometime in December after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right lateral meniscus prior to the season's start. However, December came and went without a return from Williamson, which caused some to wonder if he would ultimately miss the entirety of his rookie season -- a la Ben Simmons and Blake Griffin. It only makes more sense considering the Pelicans are well outside of the playoff picture in the West and thus would have little to play for by the time of an eventual return from Williamson.
However, a recent report indicates that the Pelicans still expect Williamson to play this season, and that he would obviously like to play as well, and this seems like the more likely outcome. If New Orleans wants to compete next season, it would be in its best interest to get its prized pick some actual in-game experience this season. Thus, I expect to see him out there at some point. Ultimately, though, the organization will be extremely cautious with Williamson considering how much he means to them moving forward, so it wouldn't be super shocking if he did miss the whole season.
Buy or Sell? The Spurs will miss the playoffs for the first time in over two decades
If the playoffs started today, the Spurs would be on the outside looking in for the first time in over two decades, as they currently sit ninth in the West at 13-18. The good news for the Spurs is that there's still plenty of season left for them to make up some ground and climb into the thick of the playoff picture. The bad news is that it might not matter. The top of the West is pretty stacked, and it seems safe to say that the Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets, Mavericks, Jazz and Rockets are all bound for the postseason. Then there's the Trail Blazers, who started slowly but have been playing better ball as of late. Assuming that they continue to steady themselves, that leaves just one final postseason spot for teams like the Spurs, Thunder and Grizzlies.
As long as Gregg Popovich is calling shots from the sideline it's tough to bet against the Spurs, and they could certainly make some sort of a trade that revitalizes the team and propels them into playoff positioning. But as currently constructed, San Antonio's roster is limited, and other teams in the West are younger, and potentially hungrier. The Spurs' postseason streak has to come to an end sometime, and this season may very well be that time.
Buy or Sell? Spencer Dinwiddie should be an All-Star this season
One of the silver linings of Kyrie Irving missing so many games for the Nets this season is the increased opportunity it has afforded Spencer Dinwiddie, who has certainly made the most of his minutes. On the year, Dinwiddie is playing a career-high 30.7 minutes per game, and averaging a career-high 22.5 points per performance as a result, along with 6.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds. He has developed into the de facto floor leader for the franchise with their other two superstars sidelined, and his play has been a major reason that the Nets are over .500 (16-15) and in the playoff picture in the East, despite the fact that they've gotten just 11 games out of Irving and that Caris LeVert has also been limited to just nine appearances on the season due to a thumb injury.
With Irving, LeVert and Durant all nursing injuries on the sideline, Dinwiddie has really stepped his game up, and as a result there's a good chance that he will be representing the Nets at the 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago. Though the starting backcourt spots in the East will likely go to Kemba Walker of the Celtics and Jimmy Butler of the Heat, the coaches around the league's landscape will see how Dinwiddie has upped his game and kept the Nets afloat, and select him as a reserve.