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

    The first week of the 2019-20 season is behind us and it was as entertaining as everyone anticipated.  In his first game with the Nets, Kyrie Irving dropped 50 points which set the record for scoring for a Nets player in their debut.

    Trae Young is leading the NBA in scoring through the first week as he is averaging 38.5 points per game and is playing better than anyone could have imagined.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo and Russell Westbrook are averaging a triple-double.

    James Harden is shooting 23.8% from the field and averaging 7.5 turnovers per game, but that will surely change.

    Among these crazy statistics, there have been some clutch shots such as a game-winner from Kyrie Irving over the Knicks and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jae Crowder to beat the Nets.  This week is just a sign of things to come in what could be the most entertaining season we have seen in quite some time.

    Record-wise, the Hawks, Wolves, Spurs, Nuggets and 76ers are the undefeated teams.  The Pacers, Knicks, Warriors, Pelicans, and Kings are the winless teams.  It is a strange sight to see the Warriors at the bottom of their conference, but that could be the new reality as Steve Kerr said.

    The Wolves are definitely the most surprising team and they are being carried by Karl-Anthony Towns, who could surprise with an MVP award if the Wolves manage to make the playoffs.  Towns is by far the #1 player in fantasy right now, which could be maintained for the entire season given how complete his skill set is.

    Here are my fantasy predictions:

    Fantasy MVP: Karl-Anthony Towns

    Surprise Top-10 Player: Trae Young

    Surprise Top-50 Player: Brandon Ingram

    Three Biggest Fantasy Busts: Chris Paul, Jrue Holiday, Tomas Satoransky

    League-Winning Piece: Malcolm Brogdon (Projection: Top-20 value)

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    4 games: Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Clippers, Jazz, Kings, Knicks, Magic, Nuggets, Pacers, Pistons, Rockets, Spurs, Warriors

    3 games: 76ers, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Lakers, Mavs, Nets, Pelicans, Raptors, Suns, Thunder, Trail Blazers

    2 games: Celtics, Grizzlies, Wizards, Wolves

    Best Schedule: Clippers (Hornets, at Jazz, Spurs, Jazz)

    The Clippers would prefer an easier schedule now while Paul George is out, so it is the perfect time to play the Hornets and the struggling Jazz.  They have three home games against teams that they can definitely beat, so they should take advantage of the schedule.  They will likely leave the week with a 3-1 record, but I would not be surprised if they won all four games.  Start Kawhi Leonard, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and Patrick Beverley with confidence.  Ivica Zubac owners should be wary as he is matched up with Rudy Gobert twice this week.

    Worst Schedule: Grizzlies (at Lakers, Suns)

    Aside from having a two-game week, the Grizzlies have to play the Lakers on the road.  Although they did just beat the Nets, playing the Lakers at the Staples Center will be a tough game to come away with.  After the Lakers game, they play the Suns, who are hot right now.  This could be an 0-2 week for the Grizzlies, but I would not be surprised if they beat the Suns.  Start Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Jonas Valanciunas.  However, expect that they could have a down week and do not overreact if that happens.

    Game of the Week: Thunder at Rockets on Monday, October 28th at 8 PM ET

    Although the Thunder are not a great team, this is simply the game of the week because Russell Westbrook is playing against the Thunder and Chris Paul is playing against the Rockets.  Westbrook played for the Thunder for the entirety of his career, so it could be an emotional game for him.  However, I think it will hit him more when he actually returns to Oklahoma City.  Tune in for this game on Monday night.

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Kendrick Nunn– Nunn is the starting point guard for the Heat as they bring Goran Dragic off the bench. In the first three games of the season, Nunn has averages of 22.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2 steals on 51.9% shooting.  Nunn and Dragic have both produced well, which is a great sign for the Heat as it could allow them to compete in the Eastern Conference.  Although these numbers came without Jimmy Butler on the floor, I think Nunn still has top-100 potential given his 25-plus minutes per game role as the starting point guard in a solid offense.  He should be picked up and started in 10-plus team formats.

    Josh Hart– Josh Hart, who was a part of the Lakers’ trade for Anthony Davis, has thrived as a member of the Pelicans along with Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.  All three of them are proving why they were valuable young pieces and the Pelicans are in great shape going forward.  In three games thus far, Hart is averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 3 triples on 48.6% shooting in 29.4 minutes per game.  Although the minutes may be inflated with Zion Williamson out for six weeks, he should still play over 20 minutes every night and could hover top-100 value.  I would pick him up and start him as he provides multi-category value and top-100 potential overall.  

    Devonte’ Graham– Graham was potentially the easiest call of the three players on this list as he has the most secure role of the three.  He is on a bad Charlotte Hornets team, so there is not much competition for minutes.  In two games so far this season, he has averaged 23.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 6.0 3-pointers per game in 27.6 minutes per game.  Although the 62.5% from the field is unsustainable, he should have a great season and could push for top-100 value as well. He is behind Terry Rozier on the depth chart, but he is outplaying Rozier and could continuously see over 25 minutes per game.  He must be picked up in all formats.

    Injury Report 

    Deandre Ayton (suspension) tested positive for a diuretic and will be suspended for 25 games.  Aron Baynes has started in his place since and that will likely occur for the remainder of the suspension.  Ayton was looking to be a fantasy monster this season, so this is depressing news for people that drafted him early.  However, he should return to dominance as soon as his suspension ends.

    Marvin Bagley III (fractured right thumb) will miss four to six weeks with a fractured right thumb.  He had a solid start to the season and was looking poised to make a leap in his second year.  However, that will be delayed and his minutes will be divided between Nemanja Bjelica, Harrison Barnes, and Richaun Holmes.

    Zach Collins (dislocated left shoulder) will get an MRI after leaving Sunday’s game against the Mavs in the third quarter.  Mario Hezonja will see an increased role in his place.  Check on Collins’ status throughout the week.

    Nic Batum (fractured middle finger) will miss the next three-to-four weeks with a fractured middle finger.  Devonte’ Graham, Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges and Terry Rozier III will likely all see additional minutes while he is out.

    Here is a list of guys who are day-to-day:

    Alex Len, Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, Otto Porter, Dwight Powell, Reggie Jackson, Markieff Morris, Jeremy Lamb, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Jones Jr., Jimmy Butler, Andre Roberson, Joel Embiid

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

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