How incredible is this time of year for sports fans? Baseball is heating up, the hunt for the Stanley Cup is well underway, and even football fans have had some excitement recently between the NFL Draft and various other offseason storylines. But the reason you clicked on THIS post is probably because you’re a basketball fan and/or collector, and as you well know the NBA Playoffs are here.
The timing couldn’t be any better, as I’ve been writing blog posts about which NBA players you should be collecting over the past couple weeks. After discussing point guards and shooting guards, this week I’m diving into arguably the most talented position in the NBA: small forward.
New Orleans Pelicans SF Brandon Ingram
The “not in the Playoffs but still worth collecting player of the week” is… Brandon Ingram! After an All-Star season to kick off his Pelicans career in 2019-20, Ingram posted essentially the exact same stat-line in 2020-21 to establish himself as one of the true elite small forwards in the league.
Although this wasn’t the Pelicans year, doesn’t it feel like a breakout is coming soon for the young squad? Give Zion and Ingram another year together, add a couple pieces around them, and it’s almost a sure thing that Ingram will be playing meaningful postseason minutes before too long. Stock up on those B.I. cards now while most people’s attention is elsewhere, because this team won’t be out of the spotlight for long.
Los Angeles Lakers SF Kyle Kuzma
Some may be sick of hearing about him, but Kyle Kuzma isn’t going anywhere! The aforementioned Ingram’s former Laker teammate is doing what he does best: being frustratingly inconsistent despite clearly having the potential to do more.
Kuzma has a whopping TWO points in the Playoffs so far, but that makes him an intriguing buy low candidate. While others are moving off him due to his poor performance and overall failure to meet expectations, I’m a firm believer that Kuzma will continue getting opportunities. The Lakers will likely make a deep postseason run, and Kuzma is still in line for 20+ minutes a night. If he gets hot for even a game or 2, his value can easily spike.
Atlanta Hawks SF De’Andre Hunter
I may not be writing about a Knicks player this week, but I am including one of their opponents! The Hawks-Knicks series is already making national headlines and we’re only two games in. Every single player on the floor has an even bigger chance to shine in the Playoff spotlight because New York is involved, and I think De’Andre Hunter is about to do just that.
The 23-year-old SF missed a lot of the regular season with a knee injury, but his increase in minutes from Game 1 to Game 2 shows that he’s healthy and ready to go. Hunter scored 18 points on a lowly 3-10 from the field in Atlanta’s Game 2 loss to the Knicks, but this was his first time playing over 30 minutes in 4 months. With the series going back to Atlanta and the training wheels coming off for Hunter, I’m expecting the future star to have a BIG rest of the series.
Milwaukee Bucks SF Khris Middleton
Remember when it was a common opinion that Khris Middleton wasn’t worth a max deal? That the Bucks grossly overpaid when he received his contract extension in 2019? All he’s done since then is enter his prime and continue to get even better, and he’s currently in the process of leading the Bucks to a 1st round series win over the Heat.
Giannis receives a bulk of the attention in Milwaukee for good reason. However, Middleton has established himself as a star in the league whose value should only continue to rise. A consistent scorer with a tendency to hit big shots is exactly the kind of player who can thrive in the Playoffs, so expect more big things from Middleton in the very near future.
Los Angeles Lakers SF LeBron James
Yes, I have two Lakers in this blog post. You can argue Kuzma with me all you want, but is there any doubt that the best player in the world belongs on this list? Whenever you think LeBron is done or he’s hit his peak, he finds new ways to prove people wrong and continue elevating. The same can be said about his card prices, which I believe will keep going up as long as he’s playing at this level.
Phoenix will undoubtedly give them everything they can handle, but I believe the Lakers are on their way to another NBA Finals run. If LeBron continues hitting game-winning shots and putting up the numbers he has in Game 1 and Game 2, his incredible legacy will continue to become more unbelievable.