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

    This week in the NBA was business as usual and now that the trade deadline has passed by a lot of the drama has dissipated. I will quickly go over the Lakers and Celtics debacles from the article last week and where they currently stand as of this week.

    The Lakers’ situation has only got worse with time and this season is officially a lost cause.  Rajon Rondo was seen sitting apart from the team when they were losing one game and now they have been hit with the injury bug harder than ever before.  Lonzo Ball was shut down due to his ankle injury and Brandon Ingram is out for the season with Deep Venous Thrombosis.  If you are wondering what Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) is, it is a similar condition to what Chris Bosh had that kept him from seeing an NBA court ever again.  Ingram essentially has a blood clot in his arm and will need blood thinning medication for several months before he has the chance to return.

    As the Lakers are heading downhill, the Celtics are turning it around and finally looking like the team that can dominate the playoffs for the Eastern Conference.  The team experienced a plane ride prior to their game against the Lakers that apparently changed a lot for them.  The most instrumental part of that plane ride was Kyrie Irving, who was getting his teammates to come together to do things as a team and have fun.  Many Celtics players noted that when Irving is happy and radiates positive energy, they are hard to beat as they play better when everyone is on the same page.  Look out for the surging Celtics when the playoffs come around.

    Next, I will quickly state my Fantasy MVP of the week and Fantasy Surprise Player of the Week. The Fantasy MVP this week was indeed Kyrie Irving, who almost averaged positive per-game value in every category.  This week, he averaged 24.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 block, and 3.5 threes per game on 57.6% shooting.  The Fantasy Surprise Player of the Week is Rodions Kurucs of the Brooklyn Nets.  Kurucs managed top-35 value in 9-cat leagues this week and averaged 15 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 3.3 threes per game on 61.5% shooting.  Shoutout to Irving and Kurucs for their stellar play.

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    4 games: Cavs, Clippers, Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Nets, Pistons, Rockets, Thunder, Wizards, Wolves

    3 games: 76ers, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Knicks, Magic, Mavs, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Raptors, Spurs, Suns, Trail Blazers

    2 games: Grizzlies, Warriors

    Best Schedule: Wizards (Kings, Magic, Hornets, Grizzlies)

    The Wizards once again have the best fantasy schedule despite being out of the playoffs right now in the Eastern Conference.  They are four games behind the Miami Heat for the 8th seed and will need to go on a run to make the playoffs.  Scoring has not been the issue for the Wizards as they average 114.5 points per game, which is 3rd in the East to the Bucks and 76ers.  The issue is that they have the 2nd worst defense in the NBA as they allow 117.2 points per game.  Therefore, their players are perfect for fantasy as they will put up huge numbers and play little to no defense which does not really matter for fantasy box scores aside from steals and blocks.  They have four homes games this week against four non-playoff teams, so this could be their week to bring themselves into the playoff discussion in the East.  Look out for a big week from the Wizards.

    Worst Schedule: Warriors (at Rockets, at Thunder)

    The Warriors are the best team in the West and although they do not have the best record in the NBA, they are likely the best team in the NBA as well. This thought may bring up the question of how the best team in the NBA could ever have the worst schedule. The Warriors are playing the #3 and #4 seeds in the West on the road in the Rockets and Thunder.  he Rockets are 3-0 against them this season, so the Warriors will look to avoid getting swept for the season.  The Thunder are 1-1 against the Warriors this season, so the Warriors will need to win this to stop them from gaining the head-to-head advantage.  Also, the Warriors only have two games this week, which never makes for a good schedule.  The All-Star starters should all still be locked into lineups, but do not surprised if they have a lackluster week.

    Game of the Week: Warriors at Rockets on Wednesday, March 13th at 9:30 PM ET

    Despite the Warriors being deemed as having the worst schedule, this is still the game of the week.  The Warriors could very well win both games of their tough week, but both games will likely be very close and exciting.  The Rockets have beat the Warriors 3 times this season, so the Warriors will likely be treating it as if it were a playoff game.  The Rockets Big 3 and the Warriors All-Star starting five should put on a show.  Tune in on Wednesday night to see two of the best teams in the NBA match up.

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Mo Wagner: This is more of a speculative add than anything.  However, it seems as though huge minutes are headed his way with the Lakers losing hope for the playoffs, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram for the season. In the one game that he played where Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball were all out, he put up a stellar performance against the Celtics. He scored 22 points with six rebounds and a block on 53.8% shooting.  That effort was good for top-30 value for the night and just a flash of what he can provide for the remainder of the season. He should be the hottest speculative add right now as he holds middle-round potential.

    Luke Kennard: Kennard has had a fantastic second half of the season thus far and is looking like the player that the Pistons hoped he would become when they drafted him. Over his last 11 games, he is averaging 15.1 points and 2.9 threes per game on 52.6% shooting.  Those stats are good for top-70 value in that span.  He is an ideal scoring and 3-point specialist for standard leagues for the remainder of the season.  His recent surge has helped the Pistons jump to the 6th seed in the East and place themselves firmly in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.  He is worth an add if your team is lacking scoring and threes.

    These two guys should have been picked up by now, but they can win leagues if available and added right now:

    Dwight Powell: Over the past two weeks, Powell is a top-20 fantasy option and should now be owned in all formats.  He is still only owned in less than 60% of Yahoo leagues, which means that there are still a great deal of leagues where he is floating around the wire.  In the past six games, he is averaging 18 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.7 threes in 34.4 minutes per game on 76.9% shooting.  These are numbers that can help people win their leagues, so if you check your league and see him on the wire you should add him without hesitation.

    Mitchell Robinson: Although he contributes less in the scoring department than Powell, Robinson has managed top-7 value over the past two weeks. In those two weeks, he is averaging 10.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 3.5 blocks on 71.4% shooting in just 24.4 minutes per game.  This should be a no-brainer at this point that Robinson can help win fantasy leagues.  He is owned in less than 70% of Yahoo leagues, so the same thing that was stated for Powell goes for him.  ADD HIM!!

    Injury Report

    Lonzo Ball (ankle) will be shut down for the remainder of the season due to an ankle injury.  The Lakers are a mess right now and are steadily falling out of the West playoff race, so shutting Ball down and making sure that he gets healthy seems like the right move.  Rajon Rondo will continue to get the point guard minutes and is a great assists specialist.

    E’Twaun Moore (left quad contusion) is out at least a week and will be re-evaulated in 7-10 days. He suffered the injury during Wednesday’s loss to the Jazz.  Ian Clark, Darius Miller, and Frank Jackson will all likely see some extra run with his injury, but Jackson is the only one worth streaming for the week.

    Jrue Holiday (lower abdominal strain) is also out at least a week and will be re-evaulated in 7-10 days.  He also suffered the injury during Wednesday’s loss to the Jazz.  Frank Jackson will likely see a majority of his minutes and could be a decent stream for the week.

    Kyle Anderson (shoulder) received an anesthetic shot in his shoulder and will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks.  Bruno Caboclo, Justin Holiday, and CJ Miles will all split his minutes, but none of them are worth the speculative add.

    Brandon Ingram (Deep Venous Thrombosis) will miss the remainder of the season with DVT, a similar injury to what stopped Chris Bosh from ever playing in the NBA again. He will have to be on blood thinning medication for several months and can’t play in that span.  Hopefully, Ingram can overcome the injury and make it back to the court by next season.  Reggie Bullock, Josh Hart, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will likely split his minutes.

    Another week without a lot of significant injuries, so here is the list of guys who are day-to-day:

    Jayson Tatum, Jeremy Lamb, Bismack Biyombo, Zach LaVine, Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance Jr., Trey Lyles, Mario Hezonja, Kevin Durant, Tyreke Evans, Kyle Kuzma, Robert Covington, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Boban Marjanovic, TJ Warren, Evan Turner, Rodney Hood, Rudy Gay, Kawhi Leonard, Ricky Rubio

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

Fantasy News

  • Shaun Livingston - G - Golden State Warriors

    Shaun Livingston returned from Saturday's rest day with eight points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting in 16 minutes on Sunday night.

    Livingston isn't a fantasy option and we'd expect to see him get at least one more game off from here on out. Again, not like it matters for fantasy players.

  • Kevon Looney - F - Golden State Warriors

    Kevon Looney (right forearm contusion) played on Sunday night, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 from the field with three boards and a block.

    Looney was questionable but ultimately played and gave the Dubs some unexpected scoring pop to boot. He's not a fantasy option these days, even when DeMarcus Cousins rests, as Andrew Bogut (8-5-3 with three blocks and a coast-to-coast finish over Andre Drummond in 24 minutes) has immediately overtaken him on the depth chart.

  • Blake Griffin - F - Detroit Pistons

    Blake Griffin survived a blowout loss on Sunday with 24 points, six rebounds, eight assists and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes.

    Griffin went 6-of-14 from the field but 9-of-10 from the line, and the lack of defensive numbers has become enough of a regular occurrence that there's no use in hoping for more this deep into the season. While the Pistons would probably like to get him a night off before the postseason, they can't afford to mess around here — the last time they tried that trick it resulted in a loss to the Cavs. Fantasy owners shouldn't sweat too much about potential load management days.

  • Luke Kennard - G - Detroit Pistons

    Luke Kennard had an effective game on Sunday night, coming off the bench for 20 points, three triples and two steals while shooting 8-of-12 from the field.

    Detroit's starters got smoked so Kennard and the rest of the bench group got some extra opportunity, and it's safe to say that he made the most of his 28 minutes. Unfortunately he's alternating good games with Wayne Ellington and Langston Galloway, which means he's incredibly tough to trust in 12-team formats. We saw him ride hot shooting to top-100 value a couple weeks ago but there should be more reliable options on most waiver wires.

  • Andre Drummond - C - Detroit Pistons

    Andre Drummond had 12 points, 11 rebounds and two steals in Sunday's road loss to the Warriors.

    We were expecting a little more since DeMarcus Cousins was out but he at least hit all four free throws to go 11-for-11 from the stripe over the weekend. The Pistons are jockeying for the sixth spot in the East so Drummond shouldn't be looking at any rest unless things resolve themselves unexpectedly quickly.

  • Wayne Ellington - G - Detroit Pistons

    Wayne Ellington scored just three points on 1-of-5 shooting in Sunday's loss to the Warriors.

    Ellington's bucket was a three, naturally, though he also managed three assists and a couple of steals. He was looking like a dynamite play with two strong performances this week but disappointed fantasy owners with eight points total in Saturday and Sunday's back-to-back set. Langston Galloway was better for the second straight night with 12 points and two threes in 26 minutes.

  • Reggie Jackson - G - Detroit Pistons

    Reggie Jackson had a rough go on Sunday night against the Warriors, going 3-of-9 from the field for nine points, a 3-pointer and two assists in 21 minutes of action.

    Detroit was outplayed for most of the night though the score looked pretty respectable thanks to a bench-heavy run in a meaningless fourth quarter. Don't let the seven-point difference trick you, as this one was pretty much a blowout. Ish Smith had a better night with 14 points (5-of-14 shooting) and four assists in 27 minutes.

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    Kyrie Irving played 34 minutes and shot just 5-of-17 on his way to 11 points in a 115-96 blowout loss to the Spurs on Sunday.

    He did dish out 12 dimes and add two steals and one block to the box score. Whether the Celtics win or lose, Irving is a top-10 fantasy option and should hover around that value throughout the final stretch of the regular season. However, owners should be concerned about the statement that he will sit out some regular season games to rest for the playoffs.

  • Gordon Hayward - F - Boston Celtics

    Gordon Hayward (concussion) returned from a three-game absence in Sunday's loss to the Spurs and put up 13 points and 10 rebounds on 4-of-11 shooting.

    He played 34 minutes in a start for Jayson Tatum and added three assists to the stat sheet. Hayward has been disappointing this season for owners who took a chance on him during their drafts. He is outside the top-140 in value and will likely have a weak finish to the season. If there is someone on the wire that could provide better value in the short-term, it would be reasonable to let Hayward go.

  • Aron Baynes - F/C - Boston Celtics

    Aron Baynes (left ankle sprain) returned from injury on Sunday and put up nine points and eight rebounds in a start for Al Horford (knee).

    Baynes started, but he was held to a 20 minute limit and ended up playing 21 minutes in this one. Daniel Theis was his backup for this matchup and had 11 points and seven rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting. Both guys can be left on the wire.