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

    As you probably saw throughout the weekend, the All-Star events were very exciting and full of new winners.  Prior to the All-Star Game, Anthony Davis was asked about his trade list and he said that he never said the Celtics were not on his list.  It is possible that he could just be fooling the media, but it is also possible that he is keeping his options open despite his father not wanting him to play for the Celtics.  We will see what happens with Davis when the offseason rolls around.

    The Rising Stars Game resulted in a 161-144 Team USA win over Team World.  Kyle Kuzma took home the MVP with 35 points and 6 rebounds.  Other notable performances included Jayson Tatum scoring 30 points, Trae Young putting up 25 points with 7 rebounds and 10 assists and Ben Simmons putting up 28 points with 5 rebounds and 6 assists.

    All-Star Saturday Night, which is personally my favorite part of the weekend, was full of unexpected results and constant entertainment.  Jayson Tatum won the Skills Competition on a half-court shot to beat Trae Young.  Joe Harris edged out Steph Curry to win the 3-Point Contest.  Hamidou Diallo of the Thunder took home the Slam Dunk title and his most notable dunk was jumping over Shaquille O’Neal and putting his elbow in the rim. Team LeBron beat Team Giannis 178-164 in the All-Star Game after late-game heroics from Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and the rest of the talented roster.  Dirk Nowitzki played just 4 minutes in the game, but hit 3 deep threes and had his fellow NBA players and the fans going crazy.  Dwyane Wade played 10 minutes and had 7 points with 2 rebounds and 4 assists.  Kevin Durant took home the All-Star MVP with 31 points and 7 rebounds on 10-of-15 shooting.  Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 38 points with 11 rebounds and 5 assists on 17-of-23 shooting.  The All-Star weekend was as exciting as always.

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    2 games: All teams

    Best Schedule: Suns (at Cavs, at Hawks)

    The Suns play two games, like all other NBA teams, and are playing two of the worst teams in the NBA.  Although the two games are on the road, the Cavs and Hawks are not great defensive teams and the Suns are capable of putting up big scoring numbers.  These games could be high scoring and even though the Suns could lose, the fantasy numbers should be good to see.  Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr., and TJ Warren (if he is ready to return) should put up good numbers this week.

    Worst Schedule: Rockets (at Lakers, at Warriors)

    The Rockets come out of the break with two road games against the two best players in the NBA, LeBron James and Kevin Durant.  They are playing against a Lakers team that is struggling to find their footing, so they could win this game.  However, they are playing the Warriors at Oracle Arena after that and the Warriors are now looking like the team that won 3 out of the last 4 championships.  Aside from James Harden, no one on this roster is guaranteed a solid fantasy week except maybe Chris Paul.

    Game of the Week: Celtics at Bucks on Thursday, February 21st at 8 PM ET

    The Celtics and Bucks have some beef due to the tough playoff series last season, and the Bucks are looking good with the best record in the NBA while the Celtics are still trying to find their groove. Kyrie Irving should return for this game since he played in the All-Star Game, so this should be a very close matchup.  There is a good chance that these two teams will meet in the playoffs, so this game will likely be a preview of what we will see in May.  Tune in on Thursday night to see this exciting duel between two of the top teams in the East.

    Waiver Wire Watch 

    Robin Lopez – He should be a top-100 option with Wendell Carter Jr. likely out for the season as he was gifted the starting job and has played well in that role.  He is averaging 15.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 6 games over the past two weeks.  He should be owned in all formats going forward.

    Avery Bradley – Bradley is starting next to Mike Conley in the Grizzlies backcourt and has played his best basketball since he was on the Celtics in his short time with the team.  It is possible that he boasts late-round value going forward, with solid steals and points value.  He is a good speculative add in deeper leagues.

    Mitchell Robinson –  Robinson has shown potential of being a dominant fantasy presence due to his ability to rebound the ball and block shots.  Over the past month, he is boasting top-40 value in 9-cat formats.  He is playing 19.2 minutes per game in that span and is averaging 9.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game on 76.4% shooting.  He is a must-own asset in all formats as he is in the Knicks future plans and should begin to see more minutes.  Add him. 

    Injury Report

    Fred VanVleet (thumb) is out for at least five weeks after opting for surgery to repair ligament damage in his thumb.  The main beneficiary of this injury is Jeremy Lin, who is now the backup point guard since Delon Wright got shipped off to Memphis.

    Another week without a lot of significant injuries, so here is the list of guys who are day-to-day:

    Terry Rozier, Rodions Kurucs, Spencer Dinwiddie, Treveon Graham, Kris Dunn, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Gary Harris, Clint Capela, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Kyle Anderson, Nikola Mirotic, Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington, Anthony Davis, Elfrid Payton, Emmanuel Mudiay, Dennis Schroder, Jerami Grant, TJ Warren, De’Anthony Melton, Derrick White, Tomas Satoransky

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

Fantasy News

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo (right ankle sprain) will not play in Wednesday's game against the Cavs.

    Much like Tuesday's game against the Lakers, the Bucks shouldn't need Giannis to take down a vastly inferior opponent. It's a crushing blow to his fantasy owners, but it's big news for anyone leaning on Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez. D.J. Wilson and Ersan Ilyasova should pick up the slack off the bench and are viable DFS darts. The Bucks have been blessed with good health throughout the year but have taken three big hits in the last week, though Antetokounmpo's injury is still not a long-term concern.

    Source: Spencer Davies on Twitter

  • Kevin Love - F/C - Cleveland Cavaliers

    Kevin Love (lower back contusion) is available for Wednesday's game against the Bucks.

    The Cavs get their entire frontcourt rotation back in action tonight, but at least fantasy owners know that Love can be plugged into lineups. We're anticipating that he misses a few more games down the stretch but he's going to return early-round numbers whenever he takes the floor. David Nwaba will head back to the bench tonight.

    Source: Spencer Davies on Twitter

  • Christian Wood - F - New Orleans Pelicans

    The Pelicans have claimed Christian Wood off waivers from the Bucks.

    Wood didn't get much of a chance to play in Milwaukee but absolutely dominated in Summer League and is tearing up the G-League with 29.3 points, 14.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 2.2 blocks and 0.9 3-pointers in 35.3 mpg. He's definitely on the deep-league radar with Anthony Davis playing less and less these days. Julius Randle, Cheick Diallo and Jahlil Okafor are the other bigs on the New Orleans roster but we could see the team dial things back on Randle, which would give Wood a shot to produce. He's a great target for silly season.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Joel Embiid - F/C - Philadelphia Sixers

    Joel Embiid (rest) is not on the injury report and will play on Wednesday against the Celtics.

    Embiid sat out last night and was fully expected to play in this one since the listed reason for his last absence was load management rather than further knee issues. If you had even the slightest worry, you can put that to bed barring something out of left field.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • TJ Warren - F - Phoenix Suns

    TJ Warren (right ankle soreness) remains out for Thursday's game against the Pistons.

    Warren recently told reporters that he wants to play before the season ends, but he is running out of time to make that happen, as the Suns have just 10 games left. Warren can be ignored for fantasy purposes, as he has yet to return to practice.

    Source: Duane Rankin on Twitter

  • Tyler Johnson - G - Phoenix Suns

    Tyler Johnson (sore right knee) is doubtful to play against the Pistons on Thursday.

    De'Anthony Melton should start again and is worth a look in deeper leagues for owners who need steals with a few rebounds and assists to boot. Along with Johnson, Kelly Oubre is also doubtful for Thursday, making Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges even more tempting as we gain more clairty on these situations.

    Source: Duane Rankin on Twitter

  • Richaun Holmes - F/C - Phoenix Suns

    Richaun Holmes (right quad strain) returned to practice on Wednesday and will suit up to play against the Pistons on Thursday.

    Holmes has had a productive last two games with avergaes of 11.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and a steal in 15.3 mpg. He's an option in deep-leagues for those needing big man stats, but doesn't play enough to provide value elsewhere.

    Source: Duane Rankin on Twitter

  • Kelly Oubre Jr. - F - Phoenix Suns

    Kelly Oubre Jr. (left thumb sprain) did not practice on Wednesday, and his status remains iffy for Thursday's game against the Pistons after sitting out Monday vs. the Bulls.

    This is unfortunate news for Oubre owners, as he has been awesome as a member of the Suns, providing top-40 value in nine-cat leagues over the last two months. Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges both stand to absorb the majority of Oubre's 32.9 mpg over the last month for as long as Oubre is out, and are well worth a look as we see how this situation plays out.

    Source: Kevin Zimmerman on Twitter

  • Pau Gasol - C/F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Pau Gasol (left ankle soreness) is out for Wednesday's game against the Cavs.

    The Bucks are taking a cautious appraoch with the veteran big man. When Gasol returns, he could see a few extra minutes off the bench with Nikola Mirotic expected to miss the next few weeks.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • George Hill - G - Milwaukee Bucks

    George Hill (left groin soreness) is out against the Cavs on Wednesday.

    Hill doesn't offer much fantasy value backing up Eric Bledsoe, but there are some extra minutes available with Malcolm Brogdon out. Hill can be ignored in fantasy.

    Source: NBA Injury Report