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

    Not much happened this week in the NBA aside from the continued domination from James Harden and the crazy Spurs-Thunder double overtime game.  Due to the fact that this was a rather ordinary week in the NBA, I will use this section to give my predictions for the All Star Game rosters for both conferences. I will not factor in the emotional impact of guys like Dwyane Wade or Derrick Rose in making these rosters although both of those guys might make the cut. Let’s get to it.

    Eastern Conference Starters

    G- Kyrie Irving (22.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.6 SPG)

    G- Kemba Walker (25.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.7 APG, 3.2 3PMPG)

    F- Kawhi Leonard (27.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.9 SPG)

    F- Giannis Antetokounmpo (26.7 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.5 BPG)

    F- Joel Embiid (26.9 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 3.4 APG, 2.0 BPG)

    Eastern Conference Reserves

    G- Victor Oladipo (19.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.7 SPG)

    G- Bradley Beal (24.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.4 SPG)

    F- Blake Griffin (25.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 5.3 APG)

    F- Nikola Vucevic (20.1 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.1 BPG)

    F- Andre Drummond (16.8 PPG, 15.1 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 1.8 BPG)

    WC- Ben Simmons (16.6 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 8.2 APG, 1.3 SPG)

    WC- Kyle Lowry (14 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 9.6 APG, 1.5 SPG)

    Honorable mentions: D’Angelo Russell, Zach LaVine, Jimmy Butler (In my opinion, locker room issues will keep him from making it)

    Western Conference Starters

    G- Stephen Curry (28.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5.6 APG, 5.0 3PM PG)

    G- James Harden (34.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 8.7 APG, 2.0 SPG, 4.9 3PMPG)

    F- Paul George (26.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 2.2 SPG, 3.3 3PMPG)

    F- LeBron James (27.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 7.1 APG)

    F- Anthony Davis (28.9 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.7 SPG, 2.6 BPG)

    Western Conference Reserves

    G- Damian Lillard (25.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.1 APG)

    G- Russell Westbrook (21.4 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 10.6 APG, 2.5 SPG)

    F- Kevin Durant (28.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 6.1 APG)

    F- Karl-Anthony Towns (22.4 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 2.0 BPG)

    F- Nikola Jokic (19.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 7.5 APG, 1.4 SPG)

    WC- DeMar DeRozan (22.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 6.4 APG)

    WC- Clint Capela (17.6 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 63% shooting)

    Honorable Mentions: Devin Booker, Klay Thompson, Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, Tobias Harris

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown 

    4 games: Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hornets, Pacers, Pistons, Spurs, Suns

    3 games: 76ers, Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Heat, Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Magic, Nets, Nuggets, Pelicans, Raptors, Rockets, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wolves

    2 games: Hawks, Mavs

    1 game: Knicks, Wizards

    Best Schedule: Pacers (Suns, 76ers, Mavs, Hornets)

    The Pacers are currently the 3rd seed in a top-heavy Eastern Conference and are only 3.5 games out of the 1st seed. They play one of the worst teams in the league to start the week in the Suns. Then, they play the team right below them in the standings, the 76ers, which could turn out to be an exciting matchup. They finish the week against the Hornets and Mavs, two teams that are borderline playoff teams in their respective conferences. This should be a huge week for the Pacers as all four games are at home as well. Start Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis with confidence as well as Myles Turner if he returns at some point in the week from his shoulder injury. Other guys such as Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, and Darren Collison should easily provide late-round value for the week.

    Worst Schedule: Hawks (Thunder, Celtics)

    The Hawks are in tank mode, so they fall under the bad-but-good schedule that the Knicks had a few weeks ago. They will likely lose both of these games despite both games being at home. They are playing against two of the top five defenses in the NBA in the Celtics and Thunder. Both of these games could either be blowout losses for the Hawks or close, low-scoring games. Either way, this week helps their tank mode race, but all players on their rosters aside from John Collins will likely have a shaky week. Do not start any Hawks aside from Collins with confidence as it is unlikely any of them play above deep league value.

    Game of the Week: Warriors at Nuggets on Tuesday, January 15th at 9 PM ET

    These two teams are half a game apart in the standings for the #1 seed in the Western Conference.  This is written prior to their Sunday games so the Warriors could have the lead by the time you read this or the Nuggets could have a bigger lead. Either way, these are seemingly the two teams that will be fighting for the top seed in the West all season long and they are pretty evenly matched when at full strength. Although the Warriors obviously win the star power category, the Nuggets are deepest team in the West and overpower the Warriors bench significantly. It will be interesting to see how this game shakes out and how a playoff series between these two teams would be. Tune in on Tuesday night.

    Waiver Wire Watch

    JaMaychal Green – JaMychal Green is having the best season of his career despite coming off the bench behind Jaren Jackson Jr. He is averaging 10.7 points and 6.8 rebounds on 51.7% shooting. Over the past two weeks, he is putting up middle-round value with averages of 13.1 points and 8.1 rebounds on 60% shooting. Kyle Anderson just got hurt, so Green could be thrown some extra minutes. The Grizzlies have been playing matchup-based rotations, so Green has played more minutes than Jackson on some nights depending on who the opposing power forward is and how many fouls JJJ is racking up. He is more relevant on this Grizzlies team than he has ever been and his numbers are showing it. Pick him up if he is available in your league as he has middle-round potential with a solid floor going forward.

    Kelly Oubre Jr. – Even without his impressive play over the past week, Oubre Jr. has put up late-round value over the entire season as he is inside the top-130. Over the past week, he is putting up top-25 value with averages of 22.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.3 steals on 52.2% shooting in 3 games played. The Suns are willing to play all of their young guys as many minutes as possible, so Oubre will surely get the opportunities to put up middle-round value at the very least. The Suns also play 4 games this week and his value is boosted as long as Devin Booker remains sidelined with a back injury. Pick Oubre up in your league if you have a free spot and expect middle-round value as long as Booker is out and late-round value once he returns.

    Tyus Jones – With Robert Covington out and both main point guards (Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague) constantly injured, there are plenty minutes to go around in Minnesota. Tyus Jones has been a beneficiary of these minutes and has delivered over the past two weeks. He is putting up top-90 value in that span and is averaging 9.1 points and 7.1 assists across 26.8 minutes per game in 7 games played.  He is a great stream in all games that Teague, Rose, or both are out due to injury. Pick him up if you have an extra roster spot and play him with confidence whenever Teague or Rose are sidelined.

    Honorable mention: Jalen Brunson – J.J. Barea is out for the season with a torn Achilles, so this is a speculative add as all of Barea’s minutes could be headed his way.  Also, being the backup to Dennis Smith Jr. has its perks as he is often injured as well. Brunson could end up bringing in late-round value if he sees minutes around 20 per game. If you have an extra roster spot, he is definitely worth a speculative add.

    Injury Report

    Kyle Anderson (ankle) is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a grade-2 ankle sprain. Justin Holiday should be the beneficiary here which is music to fantasy owners’ ears.  Holiday was putting up early middle-round value with the Bulls and has been awful for the Grizzlies so far.  The Anderson injury is a blow to the Grizzlies, but Holiday owners who were thinking of dropping him should hang on to him.

    J.J. Barea (torn Achilles) tore his Achilles on Friday night and is out for the season.  He was merely an assist specialist in deep leagues, but you never like to see a guy go down with an injury like this. Jalen Bruson should see most of Barea’s minutes come his way for the remainder of the season and he is worth a speculative add.

    Larry Nance Jr. (sprained right MCL) is going to miss 2-4 weeks with a sprained MCL.  Kris Dunn missed way more time with this injury as his timetable was 4-6 weeks, which is good news for the Cavs and Nance.  He has a mild sprain and this is an optimistic timetable for fantasy owners.  Hang on to Nance even if you do not have an IR spot as he is contributing early middle-round value when he plays as long as Kevin Love is out.

    Dillon Brooks (toe) underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right big toe and is out for the season.  Between his injury and Kyle Anderson’s injury, Justin Holiday and Shelvin Mack should be the main beneficiaries and are great streams during the time that Anderson is sidelined.  Brooks was not playing a lot of minutes this season since the Grizzlies signed Anderson and acquired Holiday, but he was still playing enough that other guys’ values are boosted in his absence.  Give Holiday, Mack, and maybe even Garrett Temple a look if you have an extra spot.

    Another week without a lot of significant injuries, so here is the list of guys who are day-to-day: Dewayne Dedmon, Kyrie Irving, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jared Dudley, Allen Crabbe, Tony Parker, Bobby Portis, David Nwaba, Dennis Smith Jr., Gary Harris, Trey Lyles, Eric Gordon, Myles Turner, LeBron James, Hassan Whiteside, Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, Robert Covington, Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitchell Robinson, Enes Kanter, Nerlens Noel, Alex Abrines, Mo Bamba, Devin Booker, Mo Harkless, Rudy Gay, Fred VanVleet

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

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