• 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!

Fantasy News

  • Killian Hayes
    SG, International

    Killian Hayes, a highly touted 18-year old point guard who has played three years professionally in France and Germany, has declared for the 2020 NBA draft after submitting the paperwork to the NBA league office.

    Measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Hayes has been on scouts' radars for quite some time after riding some very impressive YouTube highlight videos to prospect relevancy. In his most recent season, with ratiopharm Ulm in Germany, Hayes averaged 12.8 PTS, 6.2 AST, 2.3 REB and 1.5 STL while seeing his NBA draft stock rise as a result. He is a very talented shooter and it is seemingly more and more likely that Hayes will see his name called in the lottery when draft night arrives.

    Source: ESPN.com

  • Patrick Williams
    SF, College

    Patrick Williams, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound small forward out of Florida State, has declared for the 2020 NBA draft after a shortened freshman season off the bench, averaging 9.2 PTS, 4.0 REB and 1.0 AST while not starting a single game for a deep Seminoles squad.

    The intriguing aspect of Williams' draft aspirations lies in his dimensions; particularly his 7-foot wingspan. He had modest numbers but that can largely be attributed to how deep their rotation was in 2019-20, similar to fellow 'Nole Devin Vassell, who also declared for the draft recently. Williams has incredible athleticism and has made himself into an intriguing prospect who could find himself landing in the first round if his draft stock maintains momentum.

    Source: Patrick Williams on Twitter

  • Rudy Gobert
    C, Utah Jazz

    The Utah Department of Health has cleared both Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, meaning they no longer pose a risk of infection to others.

    Both Gobert and Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19, and although Gobert mentioned that he briefly lost his senses of taste and smell, the duo seems to be fully recovered. This is great news as we wait for word on when or if the NBA season will be able to continue.

    Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter

  • Reggie Bullock
    SG-SF, New York Knicks

    Reggie Bullock will likely return to the Knicks for another season, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

    If the Knicks chose not to bring back Bullock for next year, the team would suffer a $1M cap hit. That means that bringing him back for another season will only have a cap hit of $3.2M. That amount is only 2 percent of the projected salary cap for next season. The Knicks appear to be focused on creating cap flexibility for future years in the hopes that they can land some big-name free agents. Continue to monitor this situation as it develops but it appears likely that Bullock will be in a Knicks uniform for at least one more season.

    Source: The New York Post

  • Damyean Dotson
    SG, New York Knicks

    According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Damyean Dotson's time with the Knicks could come to an end after this season and the Jazz, Bucks and Warriors are among the teams that are expected to have interest in signing Dotson for the 2020-21 campaign.

    Dotson saw his role with the Knicks evaporate towards the end of the season as he received a DNP-CD for eight of the Knicks' final nine contests. Interim head coach, Mike Miller, chose to play veterans Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock over the 25-year-old that they drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft. Dotson will look to land in a situation that will give him a more consistent role as a three-and-D wing as he enters his fourth season in the association.

    Source: The New York Post

  • Malik Fitts
    SF, College

    Malik Fitts announced on Twitter that he is declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.

    Fitts was the second leading scorer for a Saint Marys' team that was top-10 in offensive efficiency. He averaged 16.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting .472 from the field and .408 from beyond the arc. Fitts is an under-the-radar draft prospect who will likely be a second-round pick at best. He is likely to have a limited role if he makes an NBA roster next season, but his 3-point efficiency and steals are two fantasy skills that translate well from college to the pros. He could be a threes and steals specialist if he gets minutes in the upper-20s.

    Source: Malik Fitts on Twitter

  • Jae Crowder
    PF, Miami Heat

    Jae Crowder said that Miami "felt like home" and he always wanted to play for the Heat.

    Crowder is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and he is making it clear that he would prefer to remain in a Heat uniform next season. Crowder has played 28.7 minutes per game as a member of the Heat and has posted top-80 value during that stretch. Despite his great play so far in Miami he will likely fall into a more reduced role next season if he were to return. Crowder's best outcome for his fantasy value would be to sign with a rebuilding team where he can play big minutes as a veteran, similar to his role in Memphis this season.

    Source: Anthony Chiang on Twitter

  • Christian Wood
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Christian Wood has fully recovered from the coronavirus, according to James Edwards III.

    Wood only showed the mildest of symptoms prior to the NBA season being suspended two weeks ago. The NBA has chosen to suspend play in the hopes that the virus will not spread as quickly. It is still unclear when the NBA will resume or if they will even play out the rest of the regular season. However, it is a good sign to see people recovering from the virus and the hope is that we stop seeing players who contract the illness.

    Source: James Edwards III on Twitter

  • John Wall
    PG, Washington Wizards

    Candace Buckner of the Washington Post reported that John Wall (left Achilles) will not return for the remainder of the 2019-20 season despite the hiatus.

    Wall has missed all of the 2019-20 season so far and was only able to play in 73 games over the prior two seasons due to a variety of injuries. The Wizards' GM, Tommy Sheppard, told Buckner in an interview regarding Wall's availability going forward, “We’re very anxious to see John Wall in uniform next year. I don’t think any of this changes that.” We'll have to wait until next season to see Wall return to the court even when/if the NBA season resumes later on this calendar year.

    Source: The Washington Post

  • Kenyon Martin Jr.
    PF, College

    Kenyon Martin Jr., forward from IMG Academy, has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft.

    You guessed it, Kenyon Martin Jr. is the son of 2000 NBA Draft first pick Kenyon Martin Sr. He is eligible for draft after a year at IMG since he graduated from Sierra Canyon High School a year ago. Martin had committed to Vanderbilt last May before heading to IMG Academy. This year's draft order looks to be more unpredictable than most, so based on Martin's athleticism and pedigree, he has a shot to make some noise on draft night.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter