• 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

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    Bogdan Bogdanovic scored a team-high 28 points in Serbia's 85-80 win over Greece on Sunday.

    Serbia will be a tough team to beat in the 2019 FIBA World Cup thanks to Bogdanovic, Nikola Jokic and Nemanja Bjelica among others. Bjelica put up 18 points and 14 rebounds as well. They were able to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 20 points. This is one of the teams that could sneak up on Team USA and pull out a win.

    Source: Eurohoops

  • Justin Anderson
    SG, Atlanta Hawks

    According to The Athletic, the Wizards and Justin Anderson are trying to work towards a training camp contract.

    Anderson averaged a career-low 9.6 minutes per game with the Hawks last season. The former first-round pick is looking to gain another opportunity on a thin Wizards team. He will likely not have much fantasy value if he manages to make the roster.

    Source: Fred Katz on Twitter

  • Victor Oladipo
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Victor Oladipo is still rehabbing from his ruptured quad tendon in January, and is unsure if he will be an active participant at the Pacers' training camp when it opens in September.

    Our last update from Pacers POBO Kevin Pritchard had Oladipo aiming for December or January, and that timetable still seems doable. He is taking his leadership role seriously, connecting with the Pacers' new players this summer, and it seems likely that he will make his presence felt this year at some point. Oladipo had an outstanding campaign two years ago, but even before the injury he was a disappointment last season. Fantasy owners should proceed with caution, we may not see Oladipo's top form this year.

    Source: Indiana Pacers

  • Bol Bol
    C, Denver Nuggets

    Bol Bol stated that he has completely recovered from the left foot fracture that ended his college basketball career, and he is now working out twice a day for his upcoming rookie season with the Nuggets.

    The multi-talented center could put up big numbers if given the opportunity with the Nuggets, but the risk for another injury is real. With that in mind, Bol is not expected to receive a lot of minutes this season. If that somehow changes, it would be exciting to see his rare combination of blocks and 3-pointers in action.

    Source: Jim Slater of AFP

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    The Grizzlies are allowing the Lakers to speak with Dwight Howard.

    The news came out yesterday that the Lakers would seek permission and the fact that they were granted it suggests that Howard will not be on the Grizzlies for long. The aftermath of DeMarcus Cousins tearing his ACL left them in need of another center if they want to remain true to playing Anthony Davis exclusively at power forward. Joakim Noah is the other option on the Lakers' radar and has been a facilitator and role player in the past.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Moritz Wagner
    PF, Washington Wizards

    Moritz Wagner has been cut from Germany’s FIBA World Cup team.

    The move seems somewhat surprising given Wagner’s youth and notoriety, but Germany still has four NBA players on their roster despite cutting Wagner. The Wizards have plenty of depth in the frontcourt and Wagner is probably lower on the totem poll when it comes to receiving minutes.

    Source: Dario Skerletic of Sportando

  • Jonah Bolden
    PF, Philadelphia Sixers

    Jonah Bolden has opted to withdraw from Team Australia in the FIBA World Cup.

    Bolden becomes the fifth NBA player to skip out on playing for Australia in the World Cup, a trend that seems to be prevalent for several countries' national teams. Bodlen could be looking at an increased role as a backup center for Philly's thin bench this upcoming season. He is not expected to be a relevant fantasy option though.

    Source: Fox Sports Australia

  • Jeremy Lin
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    Jeremy Lin is in advanced discussions with the Bejing Ducks according to a report from Chinese journalist Sonx Xiang.

    Lin previosuly turned down a deal to play for CSKA Moscow, and has also discussed his openness to playing in China. The nine year guard still hopes to resmue his NBA career at some point, but a move to China may be the best career option for him at this juncture.

    Source: Sportando

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    The Lakers will soon ask Memphis permission to speak with Dwight Howard according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

    Shams goes on to mention that there is mutual interest here and that Joakim Noah could be another veteran of interest for LA. The realistic options for free agents at the five really don't go much further than these two for the Lakers. Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    In the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins injury, one name the Lakers are considering is Dwight Howard, according to Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated.

    Howard is still a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, but it is widely assumed that he will be waived before the season starts. A reunion in LA would certainly be pretty surprising for the Lakers after Howard famously did not resign with them after a miserable season playing with Kobe Bryant. Still, the Lakers need depth at the five and there really aren't any options on the market who compare to Howard's level of productivty, even at this stage of his career. Other center options the Lakers could pursue include Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried and Zaza Pachulia.

    Source: Rohan Nadkarni on Twitter