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

    As anticipated in the last edition of The Week Ahead, the issues with games being postponed are only getting worse as it is too late to change the schedule.  Although the protocols were slightly adjusted, it seems as though the NBA will have the toughest time of any of the major sports leagues in finishing the season successfully with all teams playing 72 games.  There is at least one game being postponed every day and hopefully that trend changes over time, but for now expect it to continue and hope that your team does not get hit with contact tracing or a positive test that delays them from playing for quite some time.  This also impacts the fantasy side of things as players such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Jayson Tatum tested positive and will miss at least 10 days, so their managers are at a huge disadvantage.  However, the most important thing is that the players make a full recovery and everyone remains healthy during this pandemic.

    Moving to the basketball side of things, James Harden was officially traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal involving the Cavs and Pacers as well.  The specific details of the deal are:

    Brooklyn Nets:

    – James Harden

    Grade: B+ (very contingent on winning a title, A+ if they win one and F if they don’t, but a B+ on face value)

    Houston Rockets:

    – Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs

    – 4 first-round picks (3 from the Nets 2022, 2024, 2026; and 1 from the Milwaukee
    Bucks via Cleveland 2022)

    – 4 first-round pick swaps from the Nets (2021, 2023, 2025, 2027)

    Grade: B+ (Losing Harden is tough, but they set themselves up for the future if they can capitalize on those picks down the road)

    Indiana Pacers:

    – Caris LeVert, second-round pick from Houston

    Grade: A- (Flipping Oladipo for LeVert essentially is an upgrade for the future and is a definite win for the Pacers)

    Cleveland Cavaliers:

    – Jarrett Allen

    – Taurean Prince

    Grade: A+ (Got Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince for Dante Exum and a late first which is the biggest win in the whole deal, and it will be interesting to see how the Cavs handle their frontcourt logjam)

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    4 games: Bucks, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Knicks, Magic, Mavs, Nets, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wolves

    3 games: 76ers, Bulls, Cavs, Celtics, Clippers, Hornets, Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Thunder, Wizards

    Best Schedule: Hawks (Wolves, Pistons, at Wolves, at Bucks)

    The Wolves seem to be the worst team in the NBA thus far and the Pistons are right behind them.  The Hawks are struggling ever since John Collins called out Trae Young, so this could be their week to get things back on track before they face the Bucks to close out the week.  Start John Collins, Trae Young, Clint Capela, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish with confidence this week as the Hawks should return to their ways of high-powered offense.

    Worst Schedule: Thunder (at Nuggets, at Clippers, at Clippers)

    The Thunder are surprisingly 6-6 on the season as it seems that no matter how bad they try to get they just can’t consistently lose basketball games.  However, this week could be where they start trending downward as they face off with the Nuggets once and Clippers twice, all on the road.  Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the only must-start this week, but feel free to deploy Al Horford, Lu Dort, George Hill or Darius Bazley in your lineups if you have the space.

    Game of the Week: Lakers at Bucks on Thursday at 7 PM ET

    The Lakers and Bucks had some heated regular season matchups last season, but nothing is more memorable than when Giannis Antetokounmpo crowned himself after hitting a clutch shot.  The Lakers are not going to want to give this game away, so we could see a rare playoff vibe out of the Lakers who have seemed to be cruising thus far.  Tune in on Thursday night for what should be an exciting matchup between the reigning champs and the reigning MVP.

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Naz Reid- Karl-Anthony Towns will be out for at least 10 days, so this is a temporary add.  However, Reid should contribute standard league numbers with his main value coming from rebounds and blocks while he sees an increase in minutes.  Although Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell are handling the offensive load, Reid should be able to average nearly a double-double per game until KAT returns.  Give Reid a look in 12-plus team formats as he could be a useful asset for the next couple weeks.

    Justin Holiday- Although he sits just outside top-100 value on the season, Holiday is not rostered in over 50% of leagues yet when he should be given a shot in all formats.  With Victor Oladipo getting traded, TJ Warren still sidelined and newly acquired Caris LeVert out indefinitely, he should be in line for big minutes.  He is averaging 11.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.9 3-pointers per game on 52.0-percent shooting.  Even when Jeremy Lamb finally returns in the coming days, Holiday should have a huge role until all of Lamb, LeVert and Warren are back in action.  Even then, he should see at least 20 minutes per game and could bring top-150 value due to his 3-and-D fantasy skill set.  Add Holiday immediately.

    Enes Kanter– Kanter currently sits inside top-80 value on the season in 9-cat formats and should be rostered in every single league going forward.  Jusuf Nurkic just went down for the next eight weeks, so Kanter could see an expanded role and end up creeping up around top-60 value for the time being.  He is averaging 10.2 points and 9.4 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game on 63.2-percent shooting.  He is a good source of rebounds, blocks and efficiency numbers as he shoots well from the stripe too (81.5-percent).  If Kanter is not available in your league, another sneaky add for deeper leagues could be Harry Giles, who should jump into the backup role behind Kanter.  Giles could be worth looking at in 16-plus team formats as he could hold top-200 upside if his minutes increase. Keep an eye on the center position in Portland over the next few games.

    Injury/COVID-19 Report 

    Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist) will miss the next eight weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a fracture in his right wrist. This is a tough blow as Nurkic missed a lot of time last season as well and was struggling to get it going this season.  Keep an eye on Enes Kanter as most minutes will be headed his way.

    Karl-Anthony Towns (COVID-19) just returned from a six-game absence to the news that he tested positive for COVID-19.  Towns’ mother passed away due to COVID-19 and his other family members had complications as well.  He will come back strong as he has unfinished business with this virus.  Keep KAT in your prayers.

    Caris LeVert (kidney) will miss an extended period of time due to a mass found in his kidney.  He will undergo more tests, but there is no telling when LeVert will be able to return to action.  The Pacers just acquired LeVert so this is a tough blow for them, but hopefully everything turns out okay for the newest Pacer.

    Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day due to COVID-19 protocols:

    Robert Williams III, Kyrie Irving, Tomas Satoransky, Maxi Kleber, Josh Richardson, Dwight Powell, Michael Porter Jr., Danuel House Jr., Jonas Valanciunas, Jimmy Butler, Avery Bradley, Mo Bamba, Seth Curry, Dario Saric, Rui Hachimura, Moe Wagner

    Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day due to injuries:

    Danilo Gallinari, Cam Reddish, Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Tim Hardaway Jr., Eric Gordon, Demarcus Cousins, John Wall, Myles Turner, Lou Williams, Serge Ibaka, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Wesley Matthews, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, Ricky Rubio, Lonzo Ball, Alec Burks, Evan Fournier, Joel Embiid, CJ McCollum, Hassan Whiteside, Russell Westbrook

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

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