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

    The NBA Finals are upon us!  The Warriors will take on the Raptors starting on Thursday night to cap off what has been an exciting postseason.  Before I get into the Finals matchup, I will quickly recap the Conference Finals.

    The Warriors swept the Blazers, which was not much of a surprise despite Kevin Durant missing the entire series.  Damian Lillard separated his ribs in Game 2 of the series, which might explain his lackluster play in the final two games.  Steph Curry averaged 36.5 points per game and proved to all of his haters that he is just fine without Durant.  The Warriors have now made their fifth consecutive NBA Finals and are looking to win their fourth title in the last five seasons.

    The Raptors beat the Bucks in six games, which came as a surprise since the Bucks were up 2-0 to start the series.  As I said in the last article, Game 4 would be a huge turning point in the series.  Game 4 came down to the wire, but the Raptors pulled out the victory to even it up.  They eventually won Game 5 and Game 6, which sent the Bucks home and brought the Raptors to their first NBA Finals.

    The last seven NBA Finals have had at least two of these players: Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, or Steph Curry.  James has been in six, Leonard has been in three, and Curry has been in five.  The 2019 NBA Finals obviously features Leonard and Curry, which means the trend continues.

    Here is my prediction for the series:

    Warriors over Raptors (4-2)

    The Warriors will take home their fourth title in five years.  Despite the fact that Kevin Durant may not be ready for the start of the series, I believe that the Warriors will not have too difficult of a time handling the Raptors.

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    Thursday, May 30th– Warriors at Raptors at 9 PM ET (GAME 1)

    Sunday, June 2nd– Warriors at Raptors at 8 PM ET (GAME 2)

    Injury Report

    Andre Iguodala (calf) is considered probable for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.  There is no reason to believe that Iguodala will not suit up. Expect him to be dealt with the tough task of guarding Kawhi Leonard.

    Kevin Durant (calf) is not doing on-court drills yet and will definitely miss the start of the series.  He should return by the time the Warriors are back home for Game 3, but it looks as though he will not be ready to play in Toronto.

    DeMarcus Cousins (quad) practiced on Thursday and will likely return to action at some point during the NBA Finals.  Many believed that Cousins would be out for the entire postseason, so he gets a chance to redeem himself and earn some of that money back with a strong finish to the season.

    OG Anunoby (appendectomy) could potentially return to action during the NBA Finals.  The Raptors have hope that he could contribute even if he is on a minutes restriction, but it is still a day-to-day status.

    Thanks Hoopballers for reading another edition of The Week Ahead!

Fantasy News

  • Derrick Jones Jr.
    SF, Miami Heat

    Derrick Jones Jr. won the Dunk Contest on Saturday in an epic showdown with Aaron Gordon.

    Jones and Gordon extended the Dunk Contest into overtime and treated us to some of the best dunks in recent memory. Jones put on a spectacular performance with one 360, between-the-legs dunk that was reminiscent of Vince Carter. Gordon dunked over Tacko Fall in his final dunk and put up dunks worthy of a trophy himself. Jones earned the nickname of Airplane Mode on Saturday and is an option at the end of your bench in 14-team leagues.

  • Buddy Hield
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    Buddy Hield beat Devin Booker and Davis Bertans with 27 points in the final round of the 3-Point Contest on Saturday.

    Hield had to hit the final shot to beat Booker by one point and take home the 2020 3-Point Contest trophy. Hield is third in made 3-pointers this season with 207. He has been on a roll lately and is a top-30 player over the past month while averaging 21.1 points and 4.5 threes per game. Hield should have a top-50 finish to the season.

  • Bam Adebayo
    C, Miami Heat

    Bam Adebayo beat Domantas Sabonis in the final round of the Skills Challenge to take home the victory on Saturday.

    Adebayo beat Spencer Dinwiddie, Pascal Siakam and Domantas Sabonis on his way to winning the 2020 Skills Challenge. Adebayo was able to showcase his talents on Saturday and has been a top-40 player in 9-cat leagues this season. He will have early-round value moving forward.

  • Evan Turner
    SG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Evan Turner is set to work out for the Clippers, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

    Turner is working on a buyout with the Wolves and Minnesota never had any intention of holding ET back from other work. He's only appeared in 19 games all season and would be at the end of LA's rotation, so there's minimal fantasy impact if Turner finds his way to the Clips.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Miles Bridges
    SF, Charlotte Hornets

    Miles Bridges took home the MVP Award of Team USA's 151-131 win over Team World in the Rising Stars game on Friday night, scoring 20 points, grabbing five boards, dishing out five assists and chipping in three steals.

    He hit some big shots, including a couple of three of three pointers (3-of-7 3PT). The MVP winner was not immediately obvious after the game and Bridges was the beneficiary of a wide open field. He is clinging to value in standard 12-team leagues and has been a little better of late, averaging 20 points and seven rebounds over the past two weeks. If you have an open roster spot, Bridges offers consistently average production if you need a space-filler.

  • Collin Sexton
    PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Collin Sexton played 20 minutes Friday in the Rising Stars game in Chicago, putting up 21 points, five rebounds and three assists.

    Sexton was not pleased about being left off the original roster for Team USA. He got an opportunity due to Tyler Herro's injury and had a good showing Friday evening. He has been very consistent thus far, holding top-125 value on the season and ranks in the top-75 over the past two months. Keep running him out there.

  • Brandon Clarke
    PF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Brandon Clarke was in the starting lineup for Team World in the Rising Stars game Friday night and put up 22 points on 11-of-15 FG and added eight rebounds.

    Clarke has the best shooting percentage out of all NBA rookies this season, sitting at a cool 62.3% from the floor. He didn't let up Friday, only missing four of his 15 shots. Clarke has sneakily almost cracked the top-75 in standard leagues this season and needs to be owned across the board. The Grizzlies are surprising everybody and currently hold a spot in the playoffs, so Clarke should maintain his value.

  • RJ Barrett
    SF, New York Knicks

    RJ Barrett had 27 points, six rebounds, five assists and chipped in three steals in the Rising Stars game Friday against Team USA.

    He had a decent night shooting the ball, going 11-for-17 from the floor, although he missed all four of the triples he attempted. Barrett's fantasy output has really been disappointing so far this season. He ranks outside the top-300 and fantasy managers, if you've managed to hold on to him all the way to this point, should be hoping the Knicks decide to really commit to letting their young guys loose after the All Star break.

  • Wendell Carter Jr.
    C, Chicago Bulls

    Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle sprain) is hoping to play next Thursday, the Bulls' first game after the All-Star break.

    Carter has been sidelined since leaving Chicago's game on January 6 and was hit with a 4-6 week timetable, so a return out of the break would certainly line up with that. His return will likely eliminate Cristiano Felicio from the rotation while Luke Kornet will take a sizable hit to his playing time as well. Thaddeus Young also stands to lose some minutes but is worth hanging onto as long as Lauri Markkanen remains out, even if his ceiling will be lowered. Now would be a great time to make sure that WCJ wasn't dropped in any of your leagues.

    Source: Cody Westerlund on Twitter

  • Kevin Knox
    SF, New York Knicks

    After Kevin Knox played just 10 minutes on Wednesday, Knicks coach Mike Miller said, "Just having minutes isn’t the end-all."

    Miller's starting to get questions about why some of New York's younger players are still buried in the rotation, often in favor of lower-upside veterans. Knox and Dennis Smith Jr. are obvious cases, with Frank Ntilikina and Allonzo Trier in a similar boat. Miller believes that development is more than just playing a lot. "It’s about how these guys get better just if they get 10 more minutes in a game. There are a lot of things that go into the development to make these guys better… I think there are other ways and other factors [than minutes]." Leon Rose might think otherwise, but it doesn't sound like changes are coming unless it's via an edict from above Miller in the organization.

    Source: New York Post