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

    Now that we are halfway through the NBA season, here are my midseason NBA awards!

    Most Valuable PlayerGiannis Antetokounmpo (38-6 record, 30 PPG, 12.8 RPG, 5.5 APG)

    Runner-up: James Harden (37.1 PPG, 4.9 3PMPG, 6.2 RPG, 7.5 APG)

    Rookie of the Year–  Ja Morant (17.9 PPG, 7 APG, 49.4 FG%)

    Runner-up: Kendrick Nunn (16 PPG, 3.5 APG)

    6th Man of the Year–  Montrezl Harrell (19.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG)

    Runner-up: Lou Williams (20 PPG, 6.2 APG)

    Defensive Player of the YearAnthony Davis (1.5 SPG, 2.6 BPG, 34-8 record)

    Runner-up: Rudy Gobert (2 BPG)

    Most Improved PlayerBrandon Ingram (25.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.3 APG)

    Runner-up: Devonte’ Graham (18.7 PPG, 7.7 APG)

    Coach of the YearErik Spoelstra (29-13 record, 2nd seed in the East)

    Runner-up: Rick Carlisle (27-15 record, 5th seed in the West)

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    4 games: Bulls, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Pistons, Rockets, Suns, Thunder, Wolves

    3 games: 76ers, Cavs, Heat, Jazz, Kings, Mavs, Raptors, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wizards

    2 games: Bucks, Hornets

    Best Schedule: Cavs (Knicks, Wizards, Bulls)

    The Cavs are playing three homes games against three non-playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.  They are facing the Knicks, Wizards and Bulls, which are three teams that lack defense significantly. Therefore, the Cavs should be able to produce solid numbers on offense, which makes guys such as Kevin Love, Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Tristan Thompson must start players.  Although the Cavs are not a good team either, they should have a solid enough week in terms of statistics to award them the best schedule of the week.

    Worst Schedule: Hornets (Magic, Bucks)

    The Hornets only have two games this week and are tasked with facing two of the playoff teams in the East.  They are facing the seventh seed Magic before matching up with the best team in the NBA in the Bucks.  Although Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham will likely put up solid numbers and can be started, the remainder of the Hornets roster will have issues producing.  It will be tough for them to end this week any better than 0-2, so it is clear that they have the worst schedule for this upcoming week.

    Game of the Week:  Lakers at Celtics on Monday at 7:30 PM ET

    The Lakers and Celtics will face off in what is the most storied rivalry in the entire league.  Although the rivalry has not been as competitive in recent years, they are both currently a top-3 seed in their respective conferences and have a shot at meeting in the NBA Finals, so this could be an exciting regular season matchup.  On top of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, LeBron James as also faced off with the Celtics throughout many playoff series in his career and has his own rivalry with the franchise, so it will be interesting to see him go against them in a Laker uniform.  Tune in on Monday night for what should be an entertaining and competitive matchup.

    Waiver Wire Watch 

    Michael Porter Jr.- The hype surrounding Michael Porter Jr. is real as he has shown flashes of greatness during his time on the court so far this season.  His minutes have gradually increased over the past few weeks and he is starting to see around 20 minutes per game consistently.  He is a top-100 asset over the last two weeks and offers huge potential with his ability to produce in all categories.  He has shown flashes of defensive and offensive greatness, so pick him up and just wait patiently for the opportunity to present itself.

    Monte Morris- Due to the high level of success that Monte Morris had as a starter during a few games last season, he should be picked up in all formats until Jamal Murray returns.  Morris has a shot for top-60 value due to his high level of production as a starter and should see over 30 minutes per game.  Although this is a short-term add, I would prioritize Morris over the other two adds on this list as his value offers the highest upside for the time that he is starting.  Therefore, if you have an empty roster spot on your team you should jump to pick up Morris immediately before someone else does.

    Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk- Although Derrick Rose has been leading the charge on offense for the Pistons, Svi Mykhailiuk has averaged over 30 minutes per game and over 14 points per game in the last two weeks.  He has averaged 3.3 triples per game and 3.2 assists per game on 53.7% shooting in his last six contests.  He is a sharpshooter that offers solid scoring and shooting value for standard formats. With Blake Griffin missing the entirety of the season, Mykhailiuk should have a large enough role to warrant ownership in all formats.  Pick him up if he is available in you league.  

    Injury Report 

    Jamal Murray (ankle) will likely miss the next few games with a sprained left ankle.  Monte Morris is a must-start while Murray is down, but Murray should return within the next two weeks.

    D.J. Augustin (left knee) will be out at least three weeks with bone irritation in his left knee.  Markelle Fultz will likely benefit the most from his injury as he should get the bulk of the minutes at the point guard position.

    Stephen Curry (hand) is targeting a return on March 1st.  Although the Warriors are essentially out of the playoff race and should be tanking for a top draft pick, Curry is going to return to action and will definitely cause them to win some games down the stretch.

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

    Alex Len, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Deandre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, Lauri Markkanen, Kristaps Porzingis, Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, Reggie Jackson, Glenn Robinson III, Paul George, Anthony Davis, JJ Redick, Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors, Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Kelly Oubre Jr., CJ McCollum, Nemanja Bjelica, Marvin Bagley III, Rudy Gay, Jordan McRae

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

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