December 9, 2019, 12:49 am
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.
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!