October 30, 2017, 1:17 pm
The NBA season is off to a wild start as Week 3 arrives. The Greek Freak has dominated, the Grizz, Magic and Pistons weirdly sit atop their respective conferences, “What’s wrong with the Cavs?” echoes throughout your Twitter timeline and Boogie and Otto look like they should have been top five picks in your fantasy draft. But enough about the past, let’s take a look at the Week Ahead:
Games Played Breakdown
Four Games: Blazers, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, Jazz, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Raptors, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Wolves
Three Games: Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Hawks, Kings, Pistons, Sixers, Thunder, Warriors, Wizards
Two Games: Nets
While being fully aware that this is a no-brainer statement, it does need to be mentioned that this could be a great week to be a LeBron James owner. One could argue that every week is a great week to be a LeBron James owner and there’s not much of an argument against that. However, with the Cavs reeling and the media ready to roll out the hot take cannon and fire off concerns about the team, these are the times that James shuts everyone up with his usual unbelievable performances. The Cavs schedule this week isn’t overly impressive. They play three games while the majority of the league plays four. They’ve got home games against the Pacers and Hawks and a road game against the Wizards sandwiched in-between. But with LeBron in “Shut up, we’re fine, if you don’t believe me, watch me drop 30-12-10” mode, you have to love the upside of the Cavs this week. This should be a very good week to own shooters on the Cavs like Kyle Korver.
A schedule to be overly impressed with though is that of the team that took it to the Cavs last night – the New York Knicks. The Knicks have a four-game week and they’ll all be played at Madison Square Garden. They square off with the Nuggets, Rockets, Suns and Pacers, all of which are currently in the bottom half of the league in defensive efficiency to start the season, something that could make Kristaps Porzingis’ eyes light up. He’s gone for 30+ in four of five games to start the season. A major thing to watch here is the Knicks rebounding efficiency. They’re fourth in the league in total rebound rate and are facing a couple of teams that love shooting from deep. The rebound opportunities should be there and guys like Enes Kanter will crash the glass with authority. Thus far, Kanter is averaging an eye-popping 15.6 rebounds per 36 minutes.
The Nets are the only team playing two games this week which puts their guys at a distinct disadvantage in fantasy this week. But it’s not quite as bad as the game breakdown makes it appear. The Nets square off with the Suns and Lakers this week which could set up for big fantasy numbers when they do take the floor.
Josh Richardson, SG/SF, Miami Heat
The concern with Richardson entering this season was not about if he could help out and throw up consistent numbers for your fantasy team. Instead, it was about playing time. The Heat have a good amount of depth and seem to be loaded with role players. Through Richardson’s first five games, those concerns have been dispelled as he’s averaging nearly 36 minutes per game and has gotten the start in the last four games. Richardson is a must-own as he helps everywhere. He’s averaging 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers thus far.
John Collins, PF, Atlanta Hawks
As has been mentioned before, the Hawks have a pretty shallow roster and are certainly not the Horford-Millsap Hawks of old. But with that comes opportunity for young guys to step up and this rookie out of Wake Forest is showing signs of a very bright future and a pretty good present. In just 20 minutes a game, Collins is putting up 11.4 points with 7.3 rebounds and nearly a full block per game. With the Hawks almost certainly in tank mode and their starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova out for the week and possibly beyond, Collins is a good add.
Alex Len, C, Phoenix Suns
The Suns have become the strangest team and organization in the league and have found themselves in the thick of almost all trade rumors in the early part of the 2017-18 campaign. Amid all the Eric Bledsoe drama, rumors have swirled that the Suns intend to include starting center Tyson Chandler in a Bledsoe deal. Enter Alex Len. The Suns are already thin down low and Len is already seeing plenty of minutes. He’s averaging 23 minutes a game and over his last four contests, he’s putting up 12 points and nine boards per game. Len should be owned in deep leagues but if and when a Bledsoe and Chandler trade happens, Len’s minutes and chances to put up solid numbers will skyrocket. If you’ve got an open spot, it’s worth taking a look at the Suns’ big man now before his value goes way up.
An early November return for Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps) has not been ruled out. The Spurs kick off a six-game home stand on Thursday night against the Warriors. Kawhi’s situation is something to be monitored on a game-by-game basis.
Hassan Whiteside (knee) will miss his fifth consecutive game when the Heat meet the Wolves on Monday night. Coach Erik Spoelstra has said that Whiteside is “making progress” though he has yet to progress beyond non-contact. It could be another full week before Whiteside makes his return.
Myles Turner (concussion) has been ruled out for Tuesday night’s game against the Kings. We’re going on two weeks of Turner being out so this concussion was clearly more serious than originally thought to be. He will return when he is symptom-free and there is no timetable for that at this time.
Joel Embiid (hand) says he will play against the Rockets on Monday night.
J.J. Redick (back) is questionable to return to the floor against the Rockets after missing Saturday night’s game against the Mavericks.
Richaun Holmes (wrist) is expected to return this week with Friday against the Pacers targeted as his return date.
Lastly in Philly, Markelle Fultz (shoulder) is out indefinitely and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
Greg Monroe (calf) will be out anywhere from one to two weeks.
Elfrid Payton (hamstring) has been ruled out of Monday night’s contest versus the Pelicans. Payton is questionable to return this week.
Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) was originally thought to be out longer but his status has been upgraded to “TBD” for the Raptors’ game against the Blazers on Monday night. With that news, one would have to expect JV to make his return this week, if not tonight.
Marcus Morris (knee) is expected to return soon but it could be longer than owners hoped as the Celtics sent Morris for assignment to their G-League affiliate earlier today.
Speaking of the Morris brothers, Markieff Morris (abdomen) could return this week. However, even if healthy, it will have to come after a one game suspension for leaving the bench during Bradley Beal and Draymond Green’s brawl on Friday night.