• 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

  • Gordon Hayward - F - Boston Celtics

    Jackie MacMullan of ESPN cited Brad Stevens “force feeding” Gordon Hayward to help him come back from his gruesome ankle injury as what started the Celtics' chemistry issues that seemingly plagued the team all year long.

    “You hate to pick on Gordon Hayward because he was coming back from injury and he was doing the best he could, but I really think that’s where it started," said the longtime reporter. Basketball is a game of chemistry, and the Celtics seemed to lose theirs over the course of the year. At least externally, it appeared that Boston was disintegrating and now we might have some confirmation of this rift. Hayward returned and never really looked like himself, and Stevens devoting his faith to his former Butler Bulldog was obviously misplaced. The Celtics are trying to pick up their pieces from the aftermath of a disaster offseason so far as Kyrie Irving is likely gone and Al Horford is rumored to sign elsewhere once free agency begins on June 30th.

    Source: NBC Sports Boston

  • Tomas Satoransky - G/F - Washington Wizards

    As expected, Tomas Satoransky was included in Czech Republic’s preliminary squad for the FIBA Basketball World Cup which will take place in China this summer.

    The 20-man roster also includes former first round pick Jan Vesely and big man Petr Herman, who is back in Europe after playing four years of college basketball at Loyola Marymount. Czech Republic will participate in Group E against the United States, Turkey and Japan. Sato is entering free agency this summer and it’s likely that he is able to secure a deal before the start of the World Cup.

    Source: Sportando

  • Al Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics

    A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, is reporting that a team to keep an eye on in the Al Horford sweepstakes is the Nets.

    Horford is close to head coach Kenny Atkinson while the team has the cap space to offer him a max contract but this is simply a rumor at this point. The belief around the league is that Horford already knows there is a four-year contract worth in excess of $100 million waiting out there for him on June 30h and that’s why his negotiations with the Celtics fell apart. The sudden appearance of the Dominican center in the free agent market seems to have caught many of us off guard but it’s likely that some NBA teams have been preparing for this turn of events.

    Source: A. Sherrod Blakely on Twitter

  • Kevin Love - F/C - Cleveland Cavaliers

    According to Brian Windhorst, Kevin Love has been in some trade talks and the chances that he's on the Cavs next season are 50/50.

    Windhorst mentioned that it's hard to find the right deal for Love, who is set to start a 4-year $120 million contract this fall, but that's a much bigger chance of him leaving than had been recently reported. The Cavs likely have some summer deals to make, but as it sits now, the fantasy values of Larry Nance Jr. and Ante Zizic would be on the rise with a Love departure.

    Source: Aaron Goldhammer on Twitter

  • Bobby Portis - F - Washington Wizards

    Bobby Portis, who will likely become a restricted free agent after the Wizards extend a qualifying offer, is expected to be pursued by at least 5-10 teams once free agency begins.

    Among the teams that are reportedly interested in Portis are the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Bucks, Magic and the Knicks among others. If the Wizards extend the $3.6 million qualifying offer to Portis, they will have the chance to match any contract offer Portis receives from another team.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    Marc Stein of The New York Times is reporting that the Nets believe they are the favorites to land Kyrie Irving in free agency.

    Irving to the Nets has been on overdrive the past few weeks, and it's looking almost certain that Irving will be on the Nets, Lakers or Knicks come July 1st. D'Angelo Russell may be playing elsewhere next season if the Nets acquire Irving in free agency. Stay tuned.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Rob Pelinka - Team - Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are aggressively pursuing the purchase of second-round picks in Thursday’s draft.

    In addition to trying to unload additional bench players, the Lakers would like to acquire a few second-round picks to round out their roster with minimum salary players. If the Lakers can get any late picks, it will give the team even more breathing room in free agency. The Lakers’ master plan after signing LeBron James last offseason is starting to shift into high gear.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are trying to expand the Anthony Davis trade to open up a max salary slot on July 6, by offering up Mo Wagner, Jemerrio Jones and Isaac Bonga to additional teams.

    The Lakers got their guy in AD, but they also want more wiggle room for another max guy and role players to fill out their roster. It seems that the team will do whatever it takes to get that third max player spot, aside from moving Kyle Kuzma. It seems very likely that another team will join in on the deal.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, since the season ended, Kyrie Irving has been communicating forthrightly with Celtics' officials both privately and publicly signaling that he will leave the team in free agency.

    It has been widely expected that Irving would leave the Celtics for a bit now, with the Nets being the team most analysts are pegging Irving end up with. With the news that Al Horford is going elsewhere, there is little reason to believe that Irving would stick around. We should have an official update on Irving's intentions soon enough.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Al Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics

    Sources close to Al Horford have told Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that his camp is no longer discussing a new contract with the Celtics and he is expected to sign a 4-year deal elsewhere.

    A few short months ago the Celtics were pegged as the favorites to land Anthony Davis, and forming a new big three of there own. Flash forward to now, and Davis is on the Lakers, and it looks like both Horford and Kyrie Irving are set to leave. The Celtics couldn't have foreseen a worse start to the offseason.

    Source: Steve Bulpett on Twitter