• Welcome, Hoop Ball, readers another edition of The Week Ahead!

    As this is a shortened week due to the All-Star break, here are my predictions for every game and event throughout All-Star weekend:

    Rising Stars Game

    Team U.S beats Team World- 167-155

    Rising Stars MVP: Trae Young (38 points, 10 3-pointers)

    This game has potential to be more competitive than the All-Star game as the rosters for the All-Star game seem so one-sided to me.  It will be interesting to see Trae Young, Ja Morant and Zion Williamson play on the same team against Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.  Ultimately, I believe Trae Young and the U.S team pull out the win.

    Saturday Night Festivities

    Skills Competition- Jayson Tatum (He will repeat!!!!)

    3-Point Contest- Predicted it in an earlier article and sticking with it, Duncan Robinson

    Dunk Contest- Aaron Gordon

    I believe this will be one of the least entertaining Saturday nights that we have had in quite some time as I am not a fan of the choices for the dunk contest at all.  I believe that a 1-on-1 competition is exactly what the NBA needs to shake things up and bring the fun back to All-Star weekend.

    All-Star Game

    Team LeBron beats Team Giannis- 159-142 (new format created lower score)

    All-Star Game MVP– Damian Lillard (34 points, 8 3-pointers)

    In my opinion, the new All-Star game format is very interesting and could make the game more competitive than we have ever seen.  Also, LeBron James absolutely dominated Giannis Antetokounmpo on draft night.

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    2 games: Bucks, Celtics, Clippers, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Magic, Mavs, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Pistons, Raptors, Spurs, Suns, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wizards, Wolves

    1 game: 76ers, Bulls, Cavs, Grizzlies, Knicks, Rockets

    Best Schedule: Magic (Hawks, Pistons)

    The Magic are playing two home games prior to the All-Star break against two of the worst teams in the East in the Hawks and Pistons.  They should be able to win their last two games before the All-Star break as the further cement themselves into the seventh seed.

    Worst Schedule: Rockets (Celtics)

    The Rockets only have one game and it is against the Celtics, who are on a seven-game winning streak and are finally fully healthy.  The Celtics also match up well against their small-ball tactics and should give that lineup trouble.  The Rockets will have issues dealing with the balanced attack of the Celtics, which is why they have the worst schedule of the shortened week.

    Game of the Week: Clippers at Celtics on Thursday at 8 PM ET

    The Celtics are hot and the Clippers are trying to prove that they can beat the best teams in the league.  This game should be competitive as the week winds down and heads to All-Star weekend.  Tune in on Thursday night for a matchup between two of the top teams in the NBA that finally appear to be fully healthy.

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Malik Beasley-  As the Wolves gutted half of their roster, Beasley is likely the second-best player that they acquired behind D’Angelo Russell.  Beasley should be starting, but even if he comes off the bench he should have a large enough role where he warrants standard league attention.  He should be picked up in all formats with the hopes that his first performance in a Wolves uniform was a sign of things to come.  We could see a similar second-half to what Beasley produced for the Nuggets last season.  Give him a look.

    Danuel House Jr.– The Rockets are playing small-ball and House remains in the starting lineup, so there are rebounds and statistics overall to go around.  This no-center lineup that will rotate between six players will ensure that all of them have sufficient fantasy value for standard formats (except maybe Eric Gordon). He will provide triples and steals at a solid clip, but there are still some worries that the introduction of Robert Covington will overshadow his play and limit his value.  However, he is still worth picking up as he is a lock for 30-plus minutes per night.

    Thon Maker- This is purely a speculative add.  Opportunities will be there since the Pistons got rid of Drummond.  There is a chance that Maker will finally be unleashed.  I believe that his max value for this season is top-50, while his minimum value is top-200.  Therefore, he is a no-brainer to pick up for deeper leagues, but standard formats should keep an eye on him as well. Obviously Christian Wood is already rostered in every league.

    Injury Report

    There were actually no serious injuries this week for the first time since I have started writing this article, which was the beginning of last season.  It is enlightening to see a state of competition and health restored to the NBA that we have not seen in quite some time.  Hopefully, players remain healthy and the players that are currently injured recover and return to the court as soon as possible.

    Here is a list of guys who are day-to-day:

    Clint Capela, Cam Reddish, Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, Michael Porter Jr., Will Barton, Markieff Morris, Derrick Rose, Svi Mykhailiuk, Eric Gordon, Patrick Beverley, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Giannis Antetokounmpo, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Allonzo Trier, Deandre Ayton, Aron Baynes, Richaun Holmes, Kyle Lowry

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

    Thanks for reading this week’s edition of The Week Ahead!

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