• Welcome, Hoop Ball readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead! The NBA season is a few weeks in and things are starting to take shape. Roles are solidifying and it is now the appropriate time to react on some players.  For example, Kyle Anderson is a reasonable drop candidate despite being highly ranked in the offseason. This does not mean he will never come around and start getting more minutes, but he is not making any use of his minutes right now. It is no longer overreaction season, feel free to drop someone if there is a speculative add on the waiver wire or have a position open for streaming.

    I will take this time to give a shoutout to Derrick Rose, who scored 50 points in a spot start for Jeff Teague on Wednesday night.  He looked like the D-Rose of old and was extremely emotional after the game due to the huge ups and downs he’s had to fight through to even still be on the court at this point. Last season it looked like he was on the way out of the league and was then included as a pure salary dump, not to mention the major injuries that affected him earlier in his career. He turned back the clock for one night and reminded people of what he once was. He played 41 minutes and did not look tired or injured in the slightest. It was truly an amazing sight to see, especially for fans who were watching prime D-Rose in Chicago.

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    Moving on to fantasy, Stephen Curry still looks like the unanimous MVP from 2015-2016 and has a firm hold on the top spot in the rankings right now.  Surprises include Nikola Vucevic being top-10, Nikola Mirotic and JaVale McGee being top-20, and Nemanja Bjelica being top-35.  As of late, Josh Richardson and Wendell Carter Jr. have been phenomenal as Richardson ranks No. 2 overall and Carter Jr. ranks No. 12 overall for the last seven days. Last Monday, Klay Thompson scored 52 points and broke Stephen Curry’s record for 3-pointers made in a game as he hit 14 of them.  That was his breakout performance and it appears that he has returned to form, so congrats if you decided to buy-low on him.

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown 

    4 games: Bucks, Celtics, Hawks, Heat, Knicks, Magic, Nuggets, Pacers, Pistons, Rockets, Thunder

    3 games: 76ers, Bulls, Cavs, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hornets, Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Mavs, Nets, Pelicans, Raptors, Suns, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wizards

    2 games: Spurs

    Best Schedule: Orlando Magic (4 games – Cavs, Wizards, Pistons, and at Knicks)

    The Magic are not exactly a good team, but their schedule this week gives them a chance to improve their record.  First they play the Cavs at home, who are arguably the worst team in the league. Then they play the Wizards at home, who have been underwhelming this season to say the least. Next they play the Pistons at home, who quickly went from 4-0 to 4-4 and are struggling mightily to get another win. Lastly, they play the Knicks on the road and the Knicks are struggling to find their rotation that plays well together. These four games are all winnable and should be high scoring, so deploy the players on the Magic that are worth owning in fantasy with confidence.

    Worst Schedule: Brooklyn Nets (3 games – at Suns, at Nuggets, and at Warriors)

    Although the Spurs only have two games this week, they play a home game against the Rockets, and a matchup with the Heat on the road so their schedule is not that bad. The Nets play the Suns on the road which is their easiest game of the week.  Then, they have to play the Nuggets and Warriors on the road on a back-to-back set.  This will be a tiring two games for the Nets and it is likely they lose both of those games badly.  Do not expect a week of consistently good stats for any of the Nets if you own them in fantasy.

    Game of the Week: Bucks at Warriors – Thursday November 8th at 10:30 PM ET

    The Bucks and Warriors both have one loss on the season, so this game should be exciting and close. The Celtics just handed the Bucks their first loss of the season and the Warriors were handed their only loss by the Nuggets early in the season. Both of those teams are also at the top of the league, so clearly the Warriors and Bucks have handled their business against lesser opponents. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top in this one.

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Last week’s waiver wire watch candidates were Nemanja Bjelica, Zach Collins, and Damyean Dotson. Of those three, Nemanja Bjelica has remained fantasy relevant and likely will for the entirety of the season.  However, he was a sell-high at his peak and congrats if you cashed in on that. Collins and Dotson have had consistent minutes and opportunities, but neither is making good use of them right now as Collins is barely inside the top-200 and Dotson is outside the top-200 over the past week. Hopefully they can get back on track and prove why they were two of my speculative adds for last week.

    Here are this week’s Waiver Wire Watch players:

    Joe Harris – I was hesitant to put Joe Harris in here last week because I was not sure if he was the real deal or playing over his head. However, he won the Brooklyn Baller of the Week in the Hoop Ball Nets podcast last week for his solid play and has had a phenomenal season as the starting small forward for them thus far. He is at a top-80 value right now and has great value in 3-pointers and efficiency categories as he is shooting 56 percent from the field on the season. Go ahead and add him if you need help in those categories because ol’ reliable Joe Harris will show up every game and give his all.

    Shelvin Mack – The veteran point guard has never been able to string together a season where he averages more than 10 points per game, but he is currently doing that for the Grizzlies. They are playing surprisingly well and Mack is a big part of that success as he is at top-150 value on the season, but top-25 over his past three games. He is averaging 18 points on 65 perent shooting in those three games, so it is not likely he can keep that up. However, he is worth an add as his role should be steady for the Grizzlies, who are not that deep at the guard position.

    Mitchell Robinson – The new starting Center for the New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson, is definitely worth an add in most fantasy formats. He is at top-70 value over the past week as he is now starting and seeing 23 minutes per game in that span.  He is averaging 8.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1.3 blocks on efficient shooting numbers.  His numbers should only go up as the season progresses, so add him now before people begin to take notice of his growing fantasy value.

    Injury Report

    Kevin Love (toe) had surgery on his toe and his status will be updated in approximately six weeks. He was the only chance the Cavs had to win any games and he was slated to put up big stats this season. His shooting was horrendous to start the season, so he currently sits just outside the top-100 in value.

    Eric Gordon (hip) has a right adductor strain and is going to miss Monday’s game.  He has a lengthy injury history, so seeing him get hurt is not a good sign. However, this does not seem like a significant injury and he should return to the court sometime this week.

    Hassan Whiteside (knee) will sit out Monday’s game against the Pistons with a right knee injury.  Whiteside is at top-80 value on the season and that should improve as his efficiency improves. Hopefully he’s not out long, though this is something to worry about.

    Derrick Rose (ankle) did not play in Sunday’s game and updates will be available soon regarding his status for next game. After scoring 50 points in 41 minutes on Wednesday, Rose is likely taking it easy and sitting as a precaution so the injury does not become anything serious.

    Elfrid Payton (ankle) is out for Monday’s game and this will be his fifth consecutive game sitting out. Hopefully, this injury does not keep him out for anything past Monday’s game.  Look for updates prior to their game against the Bulls on Wednesday.

    Kevin Knox (ankle) is likely sitting out for at least one more week before returning to action for the Knicks. He is a few games away from return and the Knicks will be as cautious as possible with Knox, as they are with Kristaps Porzingis. He will likely be on a minutes restriction upon return, so do not rush to pick him up in fantasy if he is available.

    Rudy Gay (illness) missed Sunday night’s game against the Magic. He will likely return next game and may not be on a minutes restriction. He is currently inside the top-100 in fantasy value this season and could remain in that territory as the starting small forward between DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.

    Kawhi Leonard (ankle) jammed his left ankle and did not play in Sunday night’s game against the Lakers.  He has been a top-5 player in fantasy this season so far and is meshing well with his new teammates in Toronto. Check for updates on his ankle prior to the Raptors game on Monday.

    “Jimmy Butler” (rest) is going to let the team know when he can play in back-to-backs and when he has to sit. All of this is precautionary rest so he can be healthy and get traded to another team. He is playing very well in the games that he plays. However, he is not injured and is a headache for fantasy owners until he is able to be moved elsewhere.

Fantasy News

  • Nicolas Batum - G/F - Charlotte Hornets

    Nicolas Batum has been replaced in the starting lineup on Thursday night, with Dwayne Bacon drawing the start against the Wolves.

    Batum is expected to be available off the bench, though he could be dealing with an undisclosed injury. He has started every game he's played in this year and it could be James Borrego looking for a spark with Charlotte trying to scrap their way into the playoffs.

    Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter

  • Allen Crabbe - G/F - Brooklyn Nets

    Allen Crabbe had fluid drained from his sore right knee.

    Crabbe will miss three straight games having already been ruled out for Friday, and odds are he misses more time than that. There's not much fantasy appeal here as Crabbe can only pop as a 3-point specialist in a deep Brooklyn rotation.

    Source: Brian Lewis on Twitter

  • Kevin Love - F/C - Cleveland Cavaliers

    Kevin Love (head) is not on the injury report and is expected to play in Friday's game against the Clippers.

    Love left Wednesday's game after bumping heads with Eric Bledsoe, logging six points on 1-of-10 from the field in 18 minutes. He didn't return but it looks as though he's avoided a concussion, which comes as a massive relief to fantasy owners. Keep him in your lineups.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Josh Hart - G - Los Angeles Lakers

    Josh Hart (right knee tendinitis) is questionable for Friday's game against the Nets.

    Hart's been able to go through games despite being less than 100 percent, and it's possible that he does get shut down eventually. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Bullock will pick up additional minutes if that happens.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Lance Stephenson - G - Los Angeles Lakers

    Lance Stephenson (left toe sprain) is questionable to play on Friday against the Nets.

    Stephenson has sat the last five and there's been almost no change in the fantasy landscape, unless you're going to count a sliver of Alex Caruso's playing time as coming at Stephenson's expense.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • George Hill - G - Milwaukee Bucks

    George Hill (left groin soreness) is being listed as probable to play on Friday against the Heat.

    Hill sat out on Wednesday, the second leg of a back-to-back. The team is bringing him along slowly after he missed about a month, and he won't be a fantasy option until his minutes restrictions are lifted — even with Malcolm Brogdon out.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Sterling Brown - G - Milwaukee Bucks

    Sterling Brown (right wrist soreness) is probable to play on Friday.

    If he returns, it'll put and end to a 13-game absence. He might have some deep-league appeal with Malcolm Brogdon on the shelf but this isn't an add scenario unless you're in a 30-team league.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Pau Gasol - C/F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Pau Gasol (left ankle soreness) has been ruled out for Friday against the Heat.

    Gasol isn't in the rotation in Milwaukee and his utility to the team comes more in the locker room than on the court.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo (right ankle sprain) is probable ahead of Friday's game with the Heat.

    Antetokounmpo should return from a two-game absence tomorrow night, but it may be too little too late for fantasy owners as Milwaukee's four-game week quickly turned to a two-game week for Giannis. Ersan Ilyasova and D.J. Wilson will get less action, though they're still going to help replace Nikola Mirotic's minutes. Expect all the other Bucks to get less usage.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Richaun Holmes - F/C - Phoenix Suns

    Richaun Holmes (right quad strain) is probable to play against the Pistons on Thursday.

    Holmes was reportedly available for this game as of yesterday but the Suns listed him as questionable in this afternoon's report. Despite the paperwork, it does look like fantasy owners can look to Holmes for rebounds and blocks tonight.

    Source: NBA Injury Report