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

    There are still three teams in the NBA that hold undefeated records at home: the Celtics, the 76ers and the Heat.  These are three of the top-5 teams in the East, with the Raptors and Bucks being the other two teams.  The entire NBA is extremely competitive, but the Bucks and Lakers have been running away record-wise as the Bucks are 20-3 and the Lakers are 21-3.  Other noteworthy things to happen this week were James Harden scoring 60 points in three quarters and Anthony Davis dominating the Wolves with 50 points.  Aside from that, it was an average week in the NBA.

    Now time to have some fun.  Here is my ideal, but realistic, team of my favorite players for the 2019-20 season (surprising players/winners):

    PG- Luka Doncic (Best Plaer, Leader and Playmaker)

    SG- Marcus Smart (Perimeter Defensive Anchor)

    SF- Kelly Oubre Jr. (Supplementary Scorer)

    PF- Pascal Siakam (Secondary Option and Playmaker)

    C- Richaun Holmes (Spark Plug, Post Defensive Anchor)

    6th Man- Spencer Dinwiddie (Scoring Spark Plug)

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    4 games: 76ers, Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Hornets, Kings, Knicks, Magic, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Rockets, Warriors

    3 games: Celtics, Heat, Jazz, Lakers, Nets, Pistons, Raptors, Suns, Thunder, Wolves

    2 games: Mavs, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Wizards

    Best Schedule: Rockets (Kings, at Cavs, at Magic, Pistons)

    The Rockets are playing four games this week and are only playing one playoff team, which is the eighth seed in a weak Eastern Conference.  They are playing the Kings and Pistons at home and the Cavs and Magic on the road.  They could escape the week with a flawless 4-0 record, which would probably boost them into the second seed in the West.  James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Clint Capela, PJ Tucker, Danuel House Jr., and Ben McLemore can all be started this week as the Rockets should have plenty of offense to go around.

    Worst Schedule: Thunder (at Jazz, at Kings, at Nuggets)

    The Thunder have an extremely tough schedule as they are playing three road games against two playoff teams in the Western Conference and one team that has played some good teams competitively in the Kings.  The Thunder sit as the 9th seed at 10-12, but a bad week could sink them to 9-15 and would make them drop to the 11th seed.  However, Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari can be started as always.

    Game of the Week: Sixers at Celtics on Thursday, December 12th at 8 PM ET

    Two of the top teams in the top-heavy Eastern Conference are facing off on Thursday night in what could be a foreshadowing of a potential playoff series.  This was a rivalry for the past few seasons and could still be one since Al Horford has switched over to the Sixers and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are budding stars.  Tune in on Thursday night for an exciting matchup between two teams that are both undefeated at home.

    Waiver Wire Watch 

    Ben McLemore- McLemore has been the second-best player on the Rockets over the past two weeks in fantasy, which could be a sign of standard league value until Eric Gordon returns.  He is averaging 19.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.8 triples per game in 27.8 minutes over his last five contests.  He is shooting 54.8-percent over that span, which is possible due to the high level of focus that James Harden draws from the defense.  Those numbers are good for top-30 value, but he is just top-200 on the season.  Give McLemore a look until Gordon returns.

    Tim Hardaway Jr.- Hardaway Jr. has been inserted into the starting lineup and has been on fire ever since.  He has been the second-best Mavs player to own over the past month, but his value has skyrocketed over the past two weeks.  Over the last seven games, he is averaging 14.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.9 triples and 1.4 steals in 29 minutes per game.  Those numbers are good for top-50 value and his should be more long-term than McLemore’s.  He should remain locked in the starting lineup and provides nice supplementary scoring to Luka Doncic.  Add him immediately if no one in your league has taken note of his great play as of late.

    Mo Wagner- Thomas Bryant went down with a stress reaction in his right foot, so the door has opened for Wagner to take over as the starting center.  Although he has not shown much in his starts thus far, he will have ample opportunity to gain traction and jump inside top-100 value until Bryant returns.  He has the potential to average about 13 points and eight rebounds while he is seeing about 25 minutes per game. Pick him up and hope that he gets hot for a few weeks while the starting job is his.  

    Injury Report 

    Rodney Hood (torn Achilles) will miss the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles that he suffered against the Lakers on Friday.  Kent Bazemore may get a bump in minutes for the season and could reach late-round value.

    Thomas Bryant (right foot) will be re-evaluated in three weeks with a stress reaction in his right foot.  Mo Wagner will start in his place and should be picked up in all formats.

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

    Gordon Hayward, Robert Williams III, PJ Washington, Delon Wright, Malcolm Brogdon, Kawhi Leonard, Landry Shamet, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Ja Morant, Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic, Derrick Favors, Aron Baynes, Mikal Bridges, Marvin Bagley III, Fred VanVleet, Mike Conley, Isaiah Thomas

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

Fantasy News

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Kemba Walker (sore left knee) is questionable to play on Saturday against the Suns.

    This is the first we are hearing of the knee issue for Walker but hopefully it's nothing serious. With Jaylen Brown already ruled out, Marcus Smart could potentially see upwards of 40 minutes if Walker is ruled out as well. Semi Ojeleye and Brad Wanamaker would also see more minutes while Tremont Waters was called up from the G League for this game as well.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter

  • Tremont Waters
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Tremont Waters called up for Saturday's game against the Suns.

    Waters gets the call-up ahead of Carsen Edwards in this one and might play a few minutes with Jaylen Brown ruled out and Kemba Walker questionable. He has barely played for the Celtics this year but the 2019 second round pick is averaging 20.3 points, 7.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 3.0 triples in 20 G League games.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter

  • Jaylen Brown
    SG, Boston Celtics

    Jaylen Brown (right thumb sprain) will not play on Saturday versus Phoenix.

    Brown's scan showed no issues and he was close to playing so there is a decent chance he is back on Monday against the Lakers. He missed Thursday's game in which Marcus Smart filled in admirably with 24 points, five triples, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block so fire him up on Saturday as well.

    Source: Chris Forsberg on Twitter

  • Derrick Walton Jr.
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    The Clippers have called up Derrick Walton Jr and Terance Mann for Saturday's game against the Pelicans.

    Both players have played sporadically for the Clippers this season with Walton making 22 appearances at 9.8 minutes per and their 2019 second round pick Mann making only 12 appearances at 10.0 minutes per. This call-up makes sense with Paul George and Moe Harkless both hurt but neither player is expected to play much.

    Source: Lucas Hann on Twitter

  • Allonzo Trier
    PG, New York Knicks

    Allonzo Trier is staying positive despite reduced role.

    As an undrafted rookie last season, Trier averaged 22.8 minutes across 64 games. This season has a much different outlook as he has appeared in less than half the team's games so far at only 12.0 minutes. Interim coach Mike Miller praised Trier's professionalism this year, saying he is one the first ones in the gym every day as well as being focused and providing excitement on the bench, cheering on his teammates. Trier himself spoke about how he is trying to be the best teammate he can be, constantly trying to find holes in the defense to point out to his teammates Mitch Robinson and Marcus Morris and his team-first, continue to work hard every day attitude is a great sign that he will be ready when his number is called. He can be ignored for fantasy purposes in the meantime.

    Source: SNY

  • Jeff Teague
    PG, Atlanta Hawks

    Coach Lloyd Pierce said he expects new acquisitions Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham to be available on Saturday versus Pistons.

    Teague was looking like a solid drop candidate as a backup for the Wolves lately with his minutes down. That is unlikely to change with the Hawks as they are set with Kevin Huerter and Trae Young as big-minute starters but maybe you'd like to wait a game or two to make sure. Teague has maintained late-round value thanks to his early-season production mostly due to assists and free-throw percentage although his steals rate is down significantly from prior seasons. He would likely need an injury in front of him to get back on the standard league map.

    Source: Sarah K. Spencer on Twitter

  • Luka Doncic
    PG-SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Luka Doncic was sublime in Friday's 120-112 win over the Blazers, dropping 35 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, a steal and eight 3-pointers.

    Doncic had an answer for everything that the Blazers threw at him and even responded to some signature stretches out of Damian Lillard that put the game back in the balance. He did go 5-of-8 at the free throw line and has shot just .681 on his freebies over the last two weeks but we're hoping that will correct given the much larger sample of great shooting from earlier in the year. It's a joy to watch him play.

  • Tim Hardaway Jr.
    SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Tim Hardaway Jr. was feeling it on Friday night, helping the Mavs to a home win with 29 points, a steal and five 3-pointers.

    Hardaway goes on runs of big production but overall he's still outside the top-150 on the year. His poor shooting nights can ruin your week but THJ has started to level out to a certain extent, scoring in double digits in each of the last seven after a three-game absence. That sounds good, but only two of those games feature 20-plus, while four are games of 15 points or fewer. THJ is boom or bust and it's just a matter of getting on board at the right time.

  • Dwight Powell
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    Dwight Powell had a mediocre game on Friday night, dropping eight points (3-of-6 FG), six rebounds and two assists against Hassan Whiteside and the Blazers.

    Powell has a nasty habit of posting uninspiring lines like this right after he gets people back on the bandwagon. Still, he's been an easy middle-round value over the last couple of weeks thanks to an insane .783 mark from the floor and is now up to top-150 value on the full season. It's been a disappointing year overall, but Powell is at least trending in the right direction.

  • Maxi Kleber
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    Maxi Kleber logged 33 minutes on Friday night and was able to post 10 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two 3-pointers.

    Nothing too special, but it'll certainly play. Kleber's up to top-155/140 value on the full year and has been a top-90/75 player while starting for Kristaps Porzingis (knee) over the last two weeks. Keep him locked and loaded until KP returns.