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

    The first round of the NBA playoffs is coming to a close and there has been a ton of excitement and a new rivalry sprouted.  The Nets and 76ers will be the topic that I cover once again in the introduction to The Week Ahead.  However, I will first give the update that the Celtics have officially advanced past the Pacers and are the first team in the Conference Semifinals.  The Celtics are coming together as a team and playing some of their best basketball, which is due in large part to the improvement of Gordon Hayward as of late.  The Celtics will likely take on the Bucks next and that could definitely be an entertaining series.

    The Nets and 76ers have been going at it, and although the 76ers have a 3-1 series lead, this has been a lot closer and tougher than one would expect.  Jared Dudley vs. Ben Simmons has become an internet sensation rivalry, since Dudley is trolling Simmons on the court and off the court while Simmons seems not to care much at all.  Dudley instigated a fight with Jimmy Butler after shoving Joel Embiid for committing a Flagrant 1 foul on Jarrett Allen.  The 76ers closed out the game and pulled out the win to give themselves a 3-1 series lead, but this has definitely been the most entertaining series to watch thus far.

    The Nets have had no answer for Joel Embiid, which is simply the reason that they are losing.  Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll have disappeared in the series, but the guard play has been fantastic.  Caris LeVert has fully recovered at the perfect time, but the remainder of the roster has not been able to back up his stellar play.  The Nets have a bright future and will hit the market for players to fill their weaknesses this summer — guys like Marcus Morris, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Kawhi Leonard, or maybe even Kevin Durant to take this team one step further into a deep playoff run.

    The second most entertaining playoff series in my opinion in the Blazers vs. the Thunder.  Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook have been going at it with Lillard winning a majority of the matchups thus far.  Westbrook still does not answer some reporter questions, which has surfaced as a topic of conversation.  Lillard and Westbrook’s duel is the second most entertaining matchup behind Dudley and Simmons.

    Here is a quick look at my playoff predictions for the end of the first round:

    *Celtics already beat the Pacers 4-0*

    Bucks over Pistons 4-0

    76ers over Nets 4-2

    Raptors over Magic 4-1

    Warriors over Clippers 4-1

    Rockets over Jazz 4-0

    Blazers over Thunder 4-2

    Nuggets over Spurs 4-3

    Therefore, the next round would be:

    Bucks vs. Celtics

    Raptors vs. 76ers

    Warriors vs. Rockets

    Nuggets vs. Blazers

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    Monday, April 22nd – Bucks at Pistons at 8 PM ET (MIL leads the series 3-0); Rockets at Jazz at 10:30 PM ET (HOU leads the series 3-0)

    Tuesday, April 23rd– Magic at Raptors at 7 PM ET (TOR leads the series 3-1); Nets at 76ers at 8 PM ET (PHI leads the series 3-1); Spurs at Nuggets at 9:30 PM ET (Series tied 2-2); Thunder at Trail Blazers at 10:30 PM ET (POR leads the series 3-1)

    Wednesday, April 24th– Pistons at Bucks (If necessary); Clippers at Warriors at 10:30 PM ET (Warriors lead the series 3-1); Jazz at Rockets (If necessary)

    Thursday, April 25th– Raptors at Magic (If necessary); 76ers at Nets (If necessary); Nuggets at Spurs (Game 6); Trail Blazers at Thunder (If necessary)

    Friday, April 26th– Bucks at Pistons (If necessary); Warriors at Clippers (If necessary); Rockets at Jazz (If necessary)

    Saturday, April 27th– Magic at Raptors (If necessary); Nets at 76ers (If necessary); Spurs at Nuggets (If necessary); Thunder at Trail Blazers (If necessary)

    Sunday, April 28th–  Pistons at Bucks (If necessary); Clippers at Warriors (If necessary)

    Injury Report 

    DeMarcus Cousins (torn left quad) will miss the remainder of the season with a torn left quad.  This is unfortunate as Cousins was putting up solid numbers for the Warriors and was likely to get a generous contract in free agency.  It is unlikely teams will be willing to pay the same for Cousins after this injury, his second season-ender in as many years. 

    Hamidou Diallo (right elbow surgery) will likely be out for the remainder of the playoffs and will not be able to resume basketball related activities for at least four weeks.

    Malcolm Brogdon (right plantar fascia tear) should have a target date for return within the next week.  Brogdon can return during the playoffs if the Bucks make a run deep into the Eastern Conference Finals or NBA Finals, but he is unlikely to play against the Celtics.

    Some day-to-day guys that have a significant impact on their respective teams: Ed Davis, OG Anunoby, Blake Griffin, and Joel Embiid

    Thanks, HoopBallers, for reading The Week Ahead!

Fantasy News

  • Thomas Robinson
    C-F, Free Agent

    Thomas Robinson has reached an agreement with the Sichuan Blue Whales where he will replace Maciej Lampe, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

    Robinson played with the Spurs in the Summer League but he couldn’t materialize his performance into a training camp deal and he will head back overseas. The No. 5 overall pick by the Kings in the 2012 NBA draft, he averaged 21.9 points and 13.6 rebounds playing in China last year.

    Source: Sportando

  • Norense Odiase
    , Phoenix Suns

    The Suns have waived guard David Kramer, center Norense Odiase and forward Tariq Owens, the team announced in a news release on Tuesday.

    All three players were in training camp on Exhibit 10 deals, meaning they very well could be headed to the Northern Arizona Suns of the G League. The Suns’ roster now stands at 16 players, with at least one more move needed before the regular season.

    Source: NBA.com

  • RJ Barrett
    SF, New York Knicks

    In an interview with David Fizdale, the coach mentioned that he would sprinkle in some point guard time for RJ Barrett due to his comfort with the ball in his hands.

    Barrett handled the ball plenty at Duke and his 4.3 assists per game show he had some success (though his 3.2 turnovers show he has room for improvement). The Knicks have plenty of rotation players that will handle the ball in Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr. and Julius Randle, but this year should be all about developing their young players. Barrett should have nice assist numbers for a wing you can draft in the late rounds.

    Source: Mike Vorkunov on Twitter

  • Doug McDermott
    SF, Indiana Pacers

    Doug McDermott sank four treys on his way to 14 points (5-for-10 FGs) in a loss to the Wolves on Tuesday.

    McDermott is a 3-point streamer and not much else these days. He provides very little else, especially now that he's likely to get under 20 minutes per game for the second season.

  • Aaron Holiday
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Aaron Holiday (upper respiratory infection) returned to the court on Tuesday against the Wolves, scoring nine points and dishing out four assists in 17 minutes off the bench.

    Fellow point guard T.J. McConnell (10 points and eight assists in 20 minutes tonight) has been soaking up enough of the point-guard minutes, that Holiday's role isn't simply the full-time backup point guard that many fantasy players hoped. Edmond Sumner (upper respiratory infection) also played after previously being listed as questionable. Sumner had 11 points and four assists in 26 minutes off the bench.

  • Goga Bitadze
    C, Indiana Pacers

    Goga Bitadze (ankle) impressed in his Pacers debut on Tuesday as he went for 14 points (6-for-9 FGs), four rebounds, two assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 24 minutes.

    It was a nice way to begin his career in Indy. Bitadze won't likely play this many minutes on a regular basis, but he should get enough minutes to warrant rostering in deep leagues right away. He's in a situation similar to fellow rookie big man Brandon Clarke. Both are currently blocked but have big dynasty value.

  • Domantas Sabonis
    C, Indiana Pacers

    Domantas Sabonis double-doubled on Tuesday in a 119-111 loss to the Wolves, putting up 11 points (3-for-7 FGs, 4-for-6 FTs), 13 rebounds, two assists and one 3-pointer in just 17 minutes.

    Sabonis is in line for a slightly bigger role this season, but he's still likely to be a very Enes Kanter-like big man. That is, he'll do everything a traditional center does without the blocks but with good free throw shooting.

  • Karl-Anthony Towns
    C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Karl-Anthony Towns dominated on Tuesday with 33 points (13-for-20 FGs, 3-for-4 FTs), 10 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and four threes in a 119-111 win over the Pacers in Indianapolis.

    What, no steals? Kidding. This is about all you could ask for from a top-5 fantasy pick. Towns had all of his strengths on display in limited minutes tonight. He should certainly be in consideration for the first pick in drafts.

  • Jarrett Culver
    G-F, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jarrett Culver came off the bench and dropped 15 points (7-for-14 FGs, 1-for-2 FTs), four rebounds, three assists and one steal on the Pacers in 20 minutes in a win on Tuesday.

    Culver's lines are looking respectable already with minutes in the low 20s. The 20-year-old will likely have some growing pains, but he looks like an all-around player to keep an eye on as the season gets underway. Josh Okogie also played 20 minutes off the bench and put up five points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal.

  • Shabazz Napier
    PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Shabazz Napier dished out seven assists in addition to nine points (2-for-8 FGs, 3-for-4 FTs), three rebounds, two steals and two triples in 19 minutes on Tuesday vs. the Pacers.

    Napier could find himself in a good position should anything happen to Jeff Teague this season. Even as it stands now, there aren't many other trusted ball handlers on the Wolves. Those in deep leagues should make sure he's rostered as he's shown great production in the past.