• As the NBA trade deadline approaches, we have entered crunch time in the fantasy season. Plenty of storylines have come to the surface over the course of another eventful NBA season and many of them have had their fantasy effect felt in full force.

    While the usual suspects have dominated the fantasy rankings, there have been some surprises along the way. Victor Oladipo, once thought to be the centerpiece of a terrible package in the Paul George trade, has lifted himself to a borderline top-10 play. Lou Williams has gone from perennial Sixth Man of the Year conversations to emerging as one of the best scorers in the league. And a top-five player from a year ago and surefire first round pick for this season’s draft, Kawhi Leonard, has only played in nine games and it’s unknown if he’ll return at all this season.

    Who else can unexpectedly separate themselves from the pack? Who is in danger of not living up to expectations? There’s plenty of time left for breakouts and players maximizing their value but spotting these things and making the appropriate moves has never been more crucial than now. Hoop Ball is here to help. Let’s take a look at who’s got the schedule advantages in the Week Ahead:

    Games Played Breakdown

    Four Games: Bulls, Clippers, Hawks, Hornets, Kings, Mavericks, Pelicans, Rockets, Sixers, Spurs, Suns, Thunder, Wolves

    Three Games: Blazers, Bucks, Cavs, Celtics, Grizzlies, Heat, Jazz, Knicks, Lakers, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pistons, Raptors, Warriors, Wizards

    Two Games: Magic

    It’s a busy week in the NBA with 13 teams playing four games and 16 teams playing three games. The Orlando Magic stand alone as the only team with two games this week. Already not a roster flushed with fantasy stars, it’s safe to say the Magic can be ignored this week, especially in leagues with weekly lineups.

    On the positive side, there are plenty of teams with tasty matchups this week. Perhaps most notable is the Chicago Bulls with a four-game week and some serious fantasy potential. The Bulls are in New Orleans to play the Pelicans tonight followed by a trip to Philly to play the Sixers on Wednesday. They end their week with a pair of home games, Friday against the Lakers and Sunday against the Bucks.

    All four of their opponents rank in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game, giving the Bulls a great chance to score in droves. The Bucks are normally a tough opponent but in two meetings this season, Chicago has scored 115 points and come away with a win. And while the Sixers rank in the top five in defensive efficiency, they still allow plenty of points because no other team in the league turns the ball over like they do, giving the Bulls plenty of defensive potential and an easy opportunity for fastbreak points.

    All this said, give Jerian Grant a look as an addition this week. Kris Dunn is still out after suffering a concussion this past Wednesday night and didn’t travel with the team for this road trip. He could return as soon as Friday but with that nasty fall this past week resulting in a concussion and dislocated teeth, who knows?

    The Rockets, Clippers and Thunder all have great schedules this week as well with four games on their respective dockets. The Thunder add a little more value thanks to a premium streaming schedule as well.

    OKC is one of four teams that play on the two lightest nights of the week this week. Tuesday is a five-gamer and Thursday has four. Every other night this week has at least seven games. The Thunder, Knicks, Kings and always explosive Golden State Warriors are the four teams featured on both nights, giving you a chance to max out your matchups this week.

    Wire Watch

    Marvin Williams, PF, Hornets

    Marvin’s been around long enough that we know his ceiling. Plus, this isn’t exactly a hot name after his clunker of a game on Saturday against the Heat that saw him go scoreless and shoot 0-for-4 from deep. Still though, we shouldn’t discount his performance in the weeks leading up to that. Williams’ role on this Hornets team has evened out and if you’re looking for a 3-point specialist, you can do worse than Marvin. Before Saturday, Williams had hit three or more treys in four consecutive games and five of the last six. Sure, he went cold against Miami but he had back-to-back games of no points scored in late December and followed that up with a seven game run of 13.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.0 3-pointers. It’s worth grabbing Williams and seeing how he responds to seeing his streak broken.

    Dillon Brooks, SF, Grizzlies

    Happy Birthday to Dillon Brooks, who turns 22 years old today. He may not get to celebrate correctly though as he’s questionable for tonight’s game against the Sixers with an illness. While his birthday night may not go according to plan, he had a heck of a final week as a 21-year old. Brooks exploded this past week, leading the Grizz to their first three-game win streak since they started the season 3-0. The streak came to and end with a loss to the Pelicans on Saturday night but Brooks still performed well. In four games last week, Brooks averaged 17.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.0 3-pointers on 60 percent from the floor and 57 percent from deep. Pay attention to this kid. Memphis doesn’t have much depth and it’s the perfect situation for a player like Brooks to thrive and help you out for the homestretch.

    Bobby Portis, PF, Bulls

    In a season that started with Portis making headlines with his fists, he’s recovered quite well. And while he and Nikola Mirotic still haven’t mended their relationship off the court, they’ve made magic on the court, carrying the Bulls out of last place in the league and going 15-8 since their horrific 3-20 start. But trade rumors are still running rampant regarding Mirotic and what could happen before the deadline. If he moves, Portis would be the guy that would probably benefit the most on the floor. Already in the last four games, Portis has been great for field goal percentage, scoring and steals. In those four, Portis averaged 12.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.3 3-pointers and 59 percent from the floor all while playing less than 18 minutes per game. If Niko does get dealt, Portis’ minutes could very well skyrocket as he would only be competing with Lauri Markkanen for minutes at the power forward position. A Mirotic move still seems likely so get in on Portis while you can.

    Injury Report

    Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) missed the Bucks’ last game and will miss tonight’s meeting with the Suns. It’s all precautionary and mostly just being used as time to rest up. Expect him back Friday for their game with the Nets.

    Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps) is out indefinitely as has been discussed. There’s reportedly tension within the Spurs’ organization brewing over Leonard and his injury. This type of stuff happening in San Antonio is unprecedented so everyone needs to keep an eye on this, fantasy or otherwise.

    Jimmy Butler (knee) will miss the Wolves’ game against the Clippers tonight. If he’s dealing with a lot of soreness, don’t be surprised if he misses one of the back-to-back games the Wolves have on Wednesday and Thursday in Portland and Golden State.

    Myles Turner (elbow) is considered week-to-week but is being re-evaluated today. The Pacers play next against the Suns on Wednesday. He’s missed seven straight games so keep an eye on his status as things progress.

    DeAndre Jordan (ankle) is out for tonight’s meeting with the Wolves. Consider him questionable for the Clips’ next game against the Celtics on Wednesday.

    Elsewhere in L.A., Lakers guards Lonzo Ball (knee) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Achilles) are both expected to sit on Tuesday when the Lakers play the Celtics. The situation is worse for Ball though as he’s reportedly questionable for the team’s entire five-game East Coast road trip that starts later this week.

    For Miami, Goran Dragic (knee) and Tyler Johnson (ankle) will both miss tonight’s game against the Rockets.

    Rodney Hood (leg contusion) will miss the Jazz’s game versus the Hawks tonight. He should be considered questionable the rest of the week.

    Lastly, the Grizzlies could be incredibly thin in tonight’s game against the Sixers. As mentioned in the Wire Watch, Dillon Brooks (illness) is questionable. Andrew Harrison (shoulder), Jarell Martin (hand), Mario Chalmers (shoulder) and Brandan Wright (illness) are all also questionable. Meanwhile, JaMychal Green (ankle), James Ennis (calf) and Chandler Parsons (knee) will all be out for Monday night’s game.

Fantasy News

  • Eric Gordon
    SG, Houston Rockets

    Rockets guard Eric Gordon has improved his diet, focused on sprints, and has apparently shed 12 pounds in the process, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

    Gordon has battled knee ailments for essentially his whole career and has dealt with his fair share of nagging injuries this season as well. Losing weight to create a lighter frame would seem sensible, especially with the knee issues. The Rockets, remember, fully adopted the "small ball" lineup and move fast so Gordon is smart to keep his endurance and fitness at high levels. He's going to have to play well and make shots for the Rockets when the NBA returns to action, otherwise coach Mike D'Antoni won't be able to justify giving Gordon minutes. We don't anticipate much fantasy value out of him if and when the league starts back up.

    Source: The Athletic

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the NBA is planning for a Board of Governors vote on Thursday, during which they are expected to approve Adam Silver's proposal for re-starting the season in Orlando.

    The trend lines are all moving in this direction, and this adds another bullet point on the schedule as the league prepares for launching games on July 31. Adam Silver has been able to bridge any divides between ownership and the players, and has been taking into account all his key constituent's views as we approach approval of a plan for moving forward. We still have plenty of items to resolve before we see game action, but the NBA is gaining momentum as these details come into place.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    On Friday, the Wizards resumed holding voluntary workouts at their practice facilities.

    The Wizards have joined a chorus of teams that are returning in limited capacities to their facilities at this point. The NBA as a whole is continuing its march towards the resumption of play with a target date of July 31 now established. The District of Columbia also entered phase one of reopening today, and it makes sense for the team to proceed on a similar trajectory.

    Source: Candace Buckner on Twitter

  • Julius Randle
    PF, New York Knicks

    Part of the Knicks' off-season thinking is to shape the roster around RJ Barrett, and it unclear where Julius Randle will fit in those plans.

    Barrett and Randle have similar offensive styles, as they typically have an advantage relying upon their strength to attack the basket, but neither has a component deep ball at this stage in their careers. As Barrett is the younger option it makes sense that the Knicks want to sign shooters to give him more space to operate with. Randle's lousy percentages and turnovers has made for a disappointing season with the Knicks thus far, and Barrett will also need to make some strides in the shooting department to become a 12-team asset. Randle is under contract for next season is owed at least $4,000,000 in 2021-22.

    Source: https://www.sny.tv/knicks/news/heres-who-knicks-could-target-as-leon-roses-front-office-reshapes-roster/313481746

  • Jayson Tatum
    SF, Boston Celtics

    On Friday, the Celtics' announced that their practice facilities would reopen on June 1.

    That leaves us with four NBA teams without access to their facilities. Things are beginning to accelerate throughout the league as teams ramp up activities in hopes of resuming competition in Orlando on July 31. So far so good, but the NBA still has many hurdles to overcome on the path to resuming the season.

    Source: Celtics PR on Twitter

  • RJ Barrett
    SF, New York Knicks

    The Knicks reopened their practice facility for voluntary workouts on Friday.

    Another step in the right direction for the NBA's return to action at the end of July. It's still unclear if the Knicks will even be involved in whatever plan is agreed upon, but it is good to learn that the players can now access their facilities in New York. Only five team facilities have not opened up in some capacity at this point.

    Source: Knicks PR on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    On a call with the Board of Governors on Friday, Adam Silver and the league office confirmed July 31 as a target date for the resumption of the NBA season, according to a report from Shams Charania.

    We have to imagine that this is just one of the possible options on the table, as the league still has much to figure out. Charania adds that the league has four scenarios for the return: 16 teams move directly to the playoffs, 20 teams engage in group/stage play, 22 teams have games to determine seeding with a play-in tournament, and all 30 teams reconvene for a 72-game season with a play-in tournament. It's seemed unlikely that we'll have a full 30-team return given the stated priorities for player safety. There are still tons of logistical hurdles to clear but the NBA is getting its ducks in a row for a potential return.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Andre Iguodala
    SF, Miami Heat

    Andre Iguodala returned to South Florida after living in California since the NBA season was suspended.

    Iguodala returning to the market where his team is could mean that he believes team workouts will begin soon. However, there is no official timetable on when team workouts will begin and Jimmy Butler has yet to return to Miami.

    Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter

  • Zach LaVine
    SG, Chicago Bulls

    K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls were cleared by the Governor of Illinois and are in talks with city officials to open practice facilities on Friday for voluntary workouts that would follow the NBA guidelines.

    The NBA's guidelines currently state that a maximum of four players are allowed in the facility at any given time and there can only be one player per hoop. The Bulls are currently eight games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls may not play again this season given how far behind they are in the standings and the recent reports of proposals to not continue the regular season.

    Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter

  • Luka Doncic
    PG-SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Marc Stein of the New York Times has reported that the Mavs plan to open their practice facility on Thursday.

    This news would make the Mavs the 23rd team to have their facilities open for "voluntary and socially distanced player workouts". Continue to monitor the wire as we should learn more about the potential of the league resuming in early June.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter