• Welcome, Hoop Ball readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead!  There have been a number of surprise teams thus far such as the Kings, Grizzlies, Hornets, and Nets that are currently in the playoff picture.  On the other hand, there have been some letdown teams such as the Wizards, Rockets, and Lakers that are on the outside looking in. These oddities may not remain long-term, but it is interesting to see some young teams getting some big wins right now.

    Fantasy has been just as interesting in terms of surprises and letdowns as team records have been so far.  Players like Nemanja Bjelica, JaVale McGee, Nikola Mirotic, and Pascal Siakam have come onto the scene while Jaylen Brown, Josh Jackson, Eric Gordon and Goran Dragic have been massive disappointments.  Player values are starting to lock in so it is startling to see these players underperforming, but hopefully they can turn it around for owners who took a chance on them.

    The last item I will discuss before getting into the game breakdown, wire watch, and injury report is the shocking Jimmy Butler trade to Philadelphia. He was traded along with Justin Patton for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and a second-round draft pick. This brings the 76ers a big three of Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid. The T-Wolves got rid of the burden of having to trade Jimmy Butler and added some solid young players in Covington and Saric. I think this trade benefits both sides, but the 76ers get the obvious edge and are right at the top of the East with this move.

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    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    5 games: Warriors

    4 games: 76ers, Bulls, Grizzlies, Heat, Jazz, Magic, Nets, Pelicans, Spurs, Raptors, Wizards, Wolves

    3 games: Celtics, Clippers, Hawks, Kings, Knicks, Lakers, Mavs, Nuggets, Rockets, Suns, Thunder, Trail Blazers

    2 games: Bucks, Cavs, Hornets, Pacers

    1 game: Pistons

    Best Schedule: Warriors (at Clippers, Hawks, at Rockets, at Mavs, at Spurs)

    Any time the best team in the league plays five games in a week it is nearly impossible for them not to have the best schedule. They are playing a couple good teams on the road in the Spurs and the Clippers, but they should still be able to dominate as much as they typically do.  Look for a boost in Quinn Cook this week as Steph Curry will likely miss some games with an adductor strain. Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant will step up as well and have to play at the top of their game for the Warriors to have a perfect week.

    Worst Schedule: Hawks (at Warriors, at Nuggets, at Pacers)

    The Hawks are in tank mode, so it is a good schedule in that process as they should lose all three games this week. They are playing two of the best teams in the West on the road in the Warriors and the Nuggets and then go on to play the Pacers on the road. They will be happy to lose all three games, but it will hurt their best players’ fantasy values.  Do not play any Hawks players expecting consistently good performances from any of them. Garbage time could be a real problem.

    Game of the Week: Raptors at Celtics (Friday, November 16th at 7 pm)

    The current best team in the East and the team that was supposed to be the best in the East are facing off on Friday for the second time this season. The Raptors won by 12 in the first meeting and have shown that they are the beasts of the East. This will be a good rivalry this season and for a few years to come as both teams should maintain dominance in the Conference. Look out for the Lowry vs. Irving matchup in this one. This game should be as entertaining as possible with another close game definitely in store.

    Waiver Wire Watch

    TJ Warren – Warren has become the starting small forward for the Suns right now and is rolling.  He is top-15 in value over the past week with averages of 18 points and five rebounds with 2.3 3-pointers made.  If he is somehow available in your league, he should be picked up as his role should be secure on a young and struggling Suns team.

    Pascal Siakam – Pascal Siakam is returning top-25 value over the past week and should maintain a solid role with the Raptors all season. The Raptors like to change up the rotation based on matchups, but Siakam’s offensive surge and defensive versatility have made him a great fantasy option. He is averaging 20 points and 4.3 rebounds on 72.4% shooting.  Pick him up if you can.

    Quinn Cook – This waiver wire watch is solely due to the Stephen Curry injury, which is the same thing that led to Cook’s rise last season. He plays very well in the absence of Curry, so feel free to grab him and ride him out until Steph returns. Over the three games this past week, he averaged 18.3 points in 22.6 minutes. Expect middle-round value during the time that Curry is out.

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    Injury Report

    George Hill (shoulder) will miss two weeks with a right shoulder injury. Collin Sexton will become the starter while he is out and get a majority of the point guard minutes.  This change could be permanent if Sexton plays well.

    John Collins (left ankle) will miss at least three more games, but he is coming along nicely and should be integrated into normal practices soon. Collins will take minutes away from Omari Spellman and Miles Plumlee, who have seen a rise in minutes while he’s been out. Expect Collins to bring middle-round value once he hits the court.

    Stephen Curry (left groin strain) is out for Monday’s game against the Clippers. Quinn Cook will be an ideal streaming option for that game and for as long as Curry is hurt. The Warriors will take extreme caution with Curry, so do not be surprised to see multiple DNP’s this week due to the injury.

    Draymond Green (sprained right toe) is questionable against the Clippers on Monday. He has missed the last two games from the injury and there is no rush for him to come back until he is 100 percent. The Warriors will often sit when banged up even if they are able to play due to the fact that they are undoubtedly making the playoffs, and probably as the No. 1 seed.

    Russell Westbrook (left ankle sprain) will miss Monday’s game against the Suns. Dennis Schroder has been the biggest beneficiary of the Westbrook injury and that will likely remain the case until he returns.  Schroder is a great DFS option for Monday’s game.

    Andrew Wiggins (right quad) is questionable for Monday’s game against the Nets. Jimmy Butler has finally been traded, so Wiggins might actually gain value upon his return from injury. Look for updates on his status prior to Monday’s game.

    Jeff Teague (left knee) has been ruled out for Monday’s game against the Nets. He is very close to a return, so Derrick Rose may be having his last fun as the main point guard against the Nets. However, both Rose and Teague will have a solid role going forward due to the Jimmy Butler trade. Check for updates on Teague’s status prior to the Pelicans game on Wednesday.

    Norman Powell (shoulder) is expected to miss four-to-six weeks. His minutes will be divided between Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby.

    Elfrid Payton and Nikola Mirotic (ankle) are both listed as questionable for Monday’s game against the Raptors with ankle injuries. Payton has missed the past seven games, while Mirotic was only forced to miss Saturday’s game. Check for updates on both guys before tip-off on Monday.

Fantasy News

  • Lou Williams - G - Los Angeles Clippers

    Lou Williams went off for 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting in a 129-121 win over the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday.

    Williams went 1-of-2 from deep and 8-of-9 from the stripe. He also contributed four rebounds and 10 assists to the stat sheet. When the Clippers were down 118-117 with under two minutes left, Williams hit a 4-point play to go up three points. After that play, he made two more buckets to widen the gap to 125-118. Williams iced the game for the Clippers and he is one of the cogs that keeps the team successful when he is on his game.

  • Patrick Beverley - G - Los Angeles Clippers

    Patrick Beverley put up 17 points with 14 rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes of action in a win over the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday.

    He shot 6-of-13 from the field and 5-of-11 from 3-point territory. His attitude and energy provide the young Clippers much-needed confidence. His defense and toughness have helped the Clippers push this series to six games and possibly further, which is something many people would have counted out before the playoffs started.

  • Danilo Gallinari - F - Los Angeles Clippers

    Danilo Gallinari put up 26 points on 9-of-22 shooting in a team-high 42 minutes as the Clippers beat the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday to avoid elimination.

    He did not shoot the ball well from beyond the arc as he went 3-of-11, but he did shoot 5-of-6 from the stripe. He also contributed seven rebounds, two assists and one steal to the box score. Gallinari has not been efficient during this series, and it is quite disappointing to see him taking a dip from his high level of production in the regular season. Gallinari will need to bring another performance like this one if the Clippers hope to force a Game 7.

  • Montrezl Harrell - F/C - Los Angeles Clippers

    Montrezl Harrell played well in a win over the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday as he had 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting in 27 minutes of action.

    He added five rebounds, two assists and one block while shooting a perfect 2-of-2 from the line. Harrell provided energy and paint dominance for the Clippers throughout this game, which lifted them to a win to force a Game 6. Harrell's only block came late in the fourth quarter on a Kevon Looney dunk attempt, which shifted momentum in the Clippers' favor.

  • JaMychal Green - F - Los Angeles Clippers

    JaMychal Green started in Game 5 and scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting with three triples in 27 minutes of action in a win over the Warriors on Wednesday.

    Green was guarding Kevin Durant for much of his court time during Game 4, and Game 5 was no different. Durant is unguardable, so the 45 points that he scored is not Green's fault. He has been playing well in the starting lineup and there is no reason to believe that his role will change for Game 6.

  • Stephen Curry - G - Golden State Warriors

    Steph Curry scored 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc in Game 5 as the Warriors lost to the Clippers on Wednesday.

    The Warriors are still up by one game in the series, but it would have been nice to end it on their home court. Curry added three rebounds, four assists, and one block to the box score while shooting a perfect 6-of-6 from the line. Curry has had a phenomenal series thus far, which is seemingly inevitable with the Warriors' stars. The rest of the roster will need to step up in order to close out the series on Friday night in Los Angeles.

  • Klay Thompson - G - Golden State Warriors

    Klay Thompson followed up his 32-point performance in Game 4 with a 22-point outing in Game 5 on 9-of-20 shooting in a loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.

    He made four triples while adding three rebounds and two assists to the box score. Thompson is having a solid series with averages of 18.3 points and 2.5 triples per game in the first four games, The Warriors will have another chance to close out the series on Friday night in Los Angeles.

  • Kevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors

    Kevin Durant put up 45 points on 14-of-26 shooting with six rebounds and six assists in a Game 5 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.

    The Warriors had a chance to end the series tonight but could not capitalize as they got absolutely torched by Lou Williams down the stretch. Durant added two steals, one block and five 3-pointers to the box score. He was their main scoring option down the stretch and really kept them in the game, but Williams got the best of him and pulled out the win.

  • Chris Paul - G - Houston Rockets

    Chris Paul got it done in Wednesday night's win over the Jazz, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and three turnovers.

    Paul finished this series scoring 17.4 points on 46 percent shooting, both above his regular season averages. He has a habit of increasing his production in the post season and should continue to be a linchpin for the Houston offense as long as he stays healthy.

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    Clint Capela looked healthy in Wednesday's 100-93 win over the Jazz, scoring 16 points to go with 10 rebounds, two assists and three blocks.

    Coach Mike D'Antoni indicated that Capela was feeling a lot better and it certainly looked it tonight. The lob-catching big man is essential to Houston's playoff success and could be in for a huge role in a potential showdown with the Warriors.