• Welcome Hoop Ball readers to another edition of The Week Ahead! The first week in the NBA is behind us and it was as eventful as one would expect.  From outstanding rookie performances to brawls in the Staples Center, this week had a lot in store.  The official suspensions for the brawls in the Rockets-Lakers game are Brandon Ingram four games, Rajon Rondo three games, and Chris Paul two games.  Moving on from the brawl, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr. and a number of other rookies have been performing quite well and making this draft class look as good as anticipated.

    Triple-doubles have also come about early on as Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Payton, Nikola Jokic, and Ben Simmons have all achieved that statistic in the first week of the season.  Jimmy Butler’s odd situation has not been sorted out yet and he is simply playing with the Wolves like he always would until he gets traded. And playing quite well, at that.

    Fantasy-wise, DO NOT OVERREACT! It is only one week into the season, so guys such as Kyle Anderson, Jonathan Isaac, and Jeremy Lamb that have underperformed their high expectations from Hoop Ball should be not be dropped or traded.  Both Anderson and Isaac will have growing roles over time, while Lamb is simply struggling with his shot right now.  Overall, do not overreact and let the season unfold before making any big moves.

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown 

    4 games: Bucks, Bulls, Hornets, Jazz, Lakers, Mavs, Suns, Warriors, Wizards

    3 games: 76ers, Cavs, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Kings, Knicks, Magic, Nets, Pacers, Pelicans, Pistons, Raptors, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Wolves

    2 games: Hawks, Heat, Nuggets, Rockets, Thunder

    Best Schedule: Bulls (at Mavs, Hornets, at Hornets, at Hawks)

    Although they are on the road for three of their four games this week, they have an easy schedule and should put up big numbers all week.  The Bulls are 0-2, but their first loss was to the 76ers and their second loss was by two points to the Pistons without Kris Dunn.  Kris Dunn is returning on Monday and the Bulls have a pretty solid roster, so expect a big week from the main guys on the team.

    Worst Schedule: Thunder (Celtics and Suns)

    Both of these games are home games, but the Thunder are 0-3 and play a scary Celtics team and a young and hungry Suns team.  The Thunder lost to the Kings, Clippers, and Warriors, so this week should be tough for them.  Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams will likely show up and play well, but they will need everyone else around them to play well in order for them to have a good week.

    Game of the Week:  Nuggets @ Lakers – October 25th

    These two teams simply dislike each other as the Lakers were furious at the way Jamal Murray was dribbling around the ball to end one of the games last season.  The games are typically heated, and now that the Lakers added LeBron James, they should also be very close.  It will be exciting to see how this game turns out.

    Waiver Wire Watch 

    Last week I chose Patty Mills, Jonathan Isaac, and JaVale McGee as the three players to watch on the waiver wire.  Although I look like a genius for McGee, who has seemingly had a career resurgence with the Lakers, Isaac and Mills are not looking so great.  However, do not drop them yet if you have them on your roster as I see big things for Isaac as his role should seemingly increase and Mills’ shots will start falling.

    Here are this week’s waiver wire watch players:

    Cedi Osman – He has averages of 17 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.3 steals in three games this week for the Cavs.  He has shot the ball well and played a lot of minutes as he is the starting small forward.  If by chance he is available in your league you should grab him immediately as he will likely maintain top-100 value.

    Derrick Rose –  It is not like Derrick Rose is returning to MVP form, but he has played some great basketball for the Wolves and has a sizeable role off the bench for them.  He is averaging 16.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 5 .0assists in 28.7 minutes.  If Jimmy Butler gets traded, owning Derrick Rose could be a steal going forward.

    Rodney McGruder –  Injuries have allowed McGruder to start for the Heat and he has provided some outstanding performances.  He has averages of 15.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.0 block.  Unless injuries prevail for the Heat, McGruder’s value might not last, but he is worth the pickup until the team is fully healthy.

    Injury Report

    Will Barton (strained groin) was carted off the court Saturday after injuring his groin while attempting a layup.  He will be out indefinitely and there is still no set timetable for his return.  Barton was a momentum changer for the Nuggets and someone who could provide spurt scoring, so this is a big blow for them.

    Domantas Sabonis (knee bruise) was forced to miss Saturday’s game against the Nets due to a knee bruise suffered during Friday’s game against the Bucks.  He clashed knees with Giannis Antetokounmpo and tried to play through the injury but was not able to.  He may have to miss another game or two before returning to action.

    Aron Baynes (hamstring) could miss significant time with a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the second half of the Celtics’ win over the Knicks on Saturday.  Hamstring injuries are tough, so Baynes could be looking at a multiple week absence depending on the severity.

    Harrison Barnes (hamstring) is out for Monday’s game against the Bulls.  He has yet to make his season debut due to this injury.  However, a return is near for Barnes so owners should expect him back in the near future.

    Shaun Livingston (left knee contusion) was forced to miss Sunday’s game against the Suns and it was his second straight game on the sidelines.  The Warriors do not need to rush anyone back, so expect them to wait until he is 100% to return to action. And then to get some extra games off after that.

    JaMychal Green (broken jaw) will miss about four weeks while recovering from a broken jaw injury that he suffered during Friday’s game against the Hawks.  He had surgery on Saturday.  He was the starting power forward and averaged 8.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 22.4 minutes in two games.  Jaren Jackson Jr. should get a huge boost with him out.

    Kevin Knox (ankle) had to leave Saturday’s game against the Celtics with a left ankle sprain.  He had to be helped off the court by teammates and could not put much pressure on the foot.  Thankfully, the X-rays came back negative, but he may have to miss some time to recover fully as the Knicks will proceed with caution. Maybe Mario Hezonja can come to life?

    Ben Simmons (back) left Saturday’s game against the Magic due to back tightness.  He did not return to the game after playing seven minutes and finishing with four points and four assists. Their next game is Tuesday against the Pistons, stay tuned to see if he will be ready to give it a go for that game. Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell could get a boost.

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