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

    As we get to the final quarter of the NBA season, I will give my final predictions for the winners and runner-ups for the NBA awards:

    Most Valuable Player

    Winner: Giannis Antetokounmpo

    Runner-up: LeBron James

    Defensive Player of the Year

    Winner: Anthony Davis

    Runner-up: Rudy Gobert

    Sixth Man of the Year

    Winner: Dennis Schroder

    Runner-up: Montrezl Harrell

    Most Improved Player

    Winner: Brandon Ingram

    Runner-up: Jaylen Brown

    Rookie of the Year

    Winner: Ja Morant

    Runner-up: Zion Williamson

    Coach of the Year

    Winner: Nick Nurse

    Runner-up: Billy Donovan

    Fantasy Player of the Year

    Winner: Anthony Davis

    Runner-up: James Harden

    Fantasy Bust of the Year

    Winner (Loser): Mike Conley

    Runner-up: Blake Griffin

    Fantasy Surprise of the Year

    Winner: Hassan Whiteside

    Runner-up: Jayson Tatum

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    4 games: Bulls, Celtics, Hornets, Jazz, Nets, Nuggets

    3 games: Bucks, Cavs, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Mavs, Pelicans, Rockets, Spurs, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wizards, Wolves

    2 games: 76ers, Kings, Pacers, Pistons, Raptors, Suns

    Best Schedule: Heat (Hornets, Knicks, Bulls)

    The Heat are competing for seeding in the East with the Celtics right now, so a week with three easy wins should definitely help their case.  The Heat are one of the best home teams in the NBA and are facing off against three non-playoff teams in the East in the Hornets, Knicks and Bulls.  Although the last two games are in a back-to-back set, the Heat should have no issues pulling out a win in all three contests.  They could potentially end this week as the third seed in the East, which would have them face off against the 76ers rather than the Pacers.  Keep all of the Heat that you would normally have deployed in your lineup locked in as they should have a monster week on both ends of the floor.

    Worst Schedule: Pistons (at 76ers, at Raptors)

    The Pistons are easily the worst team in the NBA as of right now and it is not even close.  I stated two articles ago that the Pistons would not have 25 wins and they still sit at 20 wins two weeks later.  They are not a good team and essentially have no players that are relevant in fantasy aside from Christian Wood.  This week they face off against the 76ers and Raptors on the road and they will likely end the week 0-2.  A majority of the Pistons weeks for the rest of the season will likely end with zero wins, so it comes as no shock that they have the worst schedule.  Keep Wood deployed in all lineups and leave everyone else on the wire.

    Game of the Week: Nuggets at Lakers on Sunday at 9 PM ET

    The Nuggets and Lakers typically play extremely close games, so it will be an exciting matchup on Sunday night when they face off.  The Nuggets are the second seed in the West and they are not really close to the Lakers for the first seed, but this is a potential playoff matchup so we could feel the playoff vibes like we did when the Lakers and Clippers faced off.  It will be interesting to see if the depth of the Nuggets is enough to take down the star power of the Lakers.  Tune in on Sunday night for an entertaining matchup.

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Shabazz Napier- With Ish Smith getting injured, the door is wide open for Napier to produce late-round value at the very least.  He went off on Sunday night for 27 points, seven assists and four steals.  Although he is not going to put up numbers like that every night, we could see around 15 points and five dimes.  There is a chance that he could be a top-100 asset for the rest of the season if he starts to consistently play as many minutes as he did on Sunday night.  He should get the minutes as the Wizards really have nothing to lose, so make sure you go check the wire in your league and pick him up if no one has done so yet.  

    Justin Holiday- Holiday is a sneaky good fantasy player.  He is just outside the top-100 on the season, yet he is only owned in 14% of Yahoo! Leagues.  Over the last two months, Holiday has been a top-90 option in 9-cat formats and should only play better now that Jeremy Lamb is out for the season.  Victor Oladipo is still getting adjusted and will need some rest, so Holiday is going to have games where he sees around 20 minutes and games where he sees around 30 minutes depending on Oladipo’s availability.  Go pick him up if no one has noticed the consistent top-100 production from the 3-and-D veteran wing.

    Trey Lyles- Lyles is seemingly an injury-based add as the absence of LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl have made him a fantasy star as of late.  However, his production could remain valuable in standard leagues until both guys return to action.  Over the last two weeks, he has been a top-50 asset and the best fantasy player on the Spurs.  In those two weeks, he is averaging 14 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.2 triples per games on 45.5-percent shooting.  He should easily be able to maintain top-100 value if he sees minutes in the upper 20s until Poeltl comes back.  Pick Lyles up immediately and reap the benefits of the Spurs’ injured frontcourt while it lasts.

    Injury Report

    Derrick Rose (ankle) will miss a few weeks after landing awkwardly on his right ankle when the Pistons played the Kings on Saturday.  The Pistons do not have much to play for and there is a good chance that this injury could be the end of Rose’s solid season.  While he is out, you can have fun guessing how his minutes will be rationed among the plethora of mediocre talent on the Detroit roster.

    Malcolm Brogdon (torn quad) is considered week-to-week after tearing his left quadriceps during Wednesday’s game against the Bucks.  While he is out, Justin Holiday and Aaron Holiday will both see an expanded role in the offense.

    Evan Fournier (UCL sprain) will miss an extended period of time after spraining his UCL in his right elbow. He could potentially be facing a multiple week absence, which opens the door for Wes Iwundu, Michael Carter-Williams and Terrence Ross to see more minutes.

    Jakob Poeltl (MCL sprain) will miss anywhere from two to four weeks after spraining his MCL in his right knee.  While Poeltl is out, Trey Lyles and Drew Eubanks should absorb his minutes.

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

    Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Jeff Teague, John Collins, Jaylen Brown, Zach LaVine, Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr., Tristan Thompson, Seth Curry, Steph Curry, Luke Kennard, Draymond Green, Eric Gordon, Jaren Jackson Jr., Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson, Deandre Ayton, LaMarcus Aldridge, Lonnie Walker IV, Fred VanVleet, Ish Smith

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

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