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

    The Big 3 of Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant has arrived and started their reign with a shocking loss to the Cavs at the hands of Collin Sexton, but things do not always go as planned right off the bat.  For example, the Heat Big 3 with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh started extremely slow and many began to panic thinking they wouldn’t work out, but as we know they took home two championships.

    This group will figure it out as well, but they are only seven players deep right now, so they desperately need to make a move.  JaVale McGee has been the one name that they have been linked to the most as he has championship experience with Kevin Durant and the Nets need a backup center.

    It will be interesting to see what moves the Nets make with the pool of free agents or the trade market as they currently have two open roster slots.  However, this group will be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time and has the potential to be the most talented trio the game has ever seen.  With that being said, let’s take a look at my five most talented trios of all-time (this trio will not be included yet).

    1. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant– This group won two championships in three seasons and only lost the third one because of continuous injuries. There was really no defeating this team when they were at the top of their game as Steph and KD easily make the most talented duo of all-time as well.
    2. Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar– These three were together a lot longer than the first trio, but they took home three championships in seven Finals appearances. Magic is probably the best point guard of all-time as of right now and Kareem is arguably the best center, so this trio was a force to be reckoned with in the 80s.
    3. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh– When these three joined forces, they promised many championships and did not exactly deliver on their promise, but I’m sure the city of Miami is thankful for the two championships that this trio did bring them. They won two of their four Finals appearances led by peak LeBron James and a Dwyane Wade that was nearing the end of his prime.
    4. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman– We all watched The Last Dance and saw what this group did. Michael Jordan is the best player of all-time and Scottie Pippen was a perfect second option, but Dennis Rodman is the reason that this trio is 4 and not 1.  He was a talented player and elite rebounder, but he does not compare to many of the players here; this is a talent-based list.  However, this trio went 3-for-3 in the Finals and dominated the league from 1996-1998.
    5. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili– This group was together for 13 seasons and had an elite level of chemistry that kept them in the mix each and every season.  They won four championships out of their five finals appearances and their only loss came to the Heat led by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.  However, there is no doubt that this one of the first groups that come to mind when the words “Big 3” are uttered.

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    4 games: 76ers, Cavs, Clippers, Heat, Hornets, Jazz, Lakers, Magic, Mavs, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Pistons, Raptors, Spurs, Warriors, Wizards, Wolves

    3 games: Bucks, Celtics, Hawks, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, Suns, Thunder, Trail Blazers

    2 games: Bulls

    1 game: Grizzlies

    Best Schedule: Warriors (Wolves, Wolves, at Suns, Pistons)

    The Warriors have possibly the easiest week that one could have in the NBA this season, which could help them get a cushion above .500 and look like a legit playoff team.  They play the worst team in the West, the Timberwolves, twice and then finish the week against the worst team in the East, the Pistons.  The Suns are the only team they play this week that should beat them, but crazier things have happened. Keep Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. in all lineups as other Warriors have struggled to consistently get it going.  However, this could be a week for James Wiseman to take advantage as the Wolves and Pistons are lacking big men as Karl-Anthony Towns remains out and the Pistons’ center is Mason Plumlee.  There is optimism in the upcoming week for the Warriors.

    Worst Schedule: Grizzlies (at Spurs)

    The Grizzlies have just one game this week and there is a chance that game will be postponed as well.  They have not been able to play since January 18th and hopefully they can get back to their regular schedule sooner than later.  There is not much else to be said here as it is tough to start anyone on this team in weekly formats being that they have one game at most, but plug Brandon Clarke, Ja Morant, Jonas Valanciunas and any other Grizzlies player that you would typically start into lineups for daily formats if their game against the Spurs happens.

    Game of the Week: Lakers at 76ers on Wednesday at 7:30 PM ET

    The Lakers are regarded as the best team in the West and currently the 76ers are the best team in the East.  Although many believe the Nets will take that crown from the 76ers, the Nets have a ton of work to do on defense while the 76ers are looking like an established powerhouse run by Joel Embiid.  Embiid is having a monstrous season and might be the frontrunner in MVP talks for now, but he will have to stay healthy and keep the 76ers at the top of the East to take home the award.  Ben Simmons and Embiid versus LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be an exciting matchup if all players are able to suit up for both sides.  Tune in on Wednesday night for what should be one of the most exciting regular season games of the 2020-21 season.

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Taurean Prince- Prince has arrived with the Cavs in style as he took down his former team, the Nets, in a back-to-back slate and has balled out while doing so.  In his three contests with the Cavs, he is seeing around 25 minutes per game and is averaging 13.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.3 triples per game on 47.8-percent shooting.  Prince and Jarrett Allen will be the main bench pieces for the Cavs going forward and should have a more prominent role in the offense than they did in Brooklyn.  Prince has been a top-40 value since joining the Cavs and should easily maintain top-100 value.  Make sure he is rostered in all standard formats as he will be a great source of points, steals and triples.

    Devin Vassell- Vassell has played well as of late and his role has increased over the past four games.  He is averaging 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game on 35.7-percent shooting in that span.  Those numbers are good enough for top-70 value in 9-cat formats and the Spurs are rotating their guys enough that he could maintain standard league value going forward.  The rookie is a defensive-minded wing and head coach Gregg Popovich loves his tough guards so Vassell should have no issues staying in the rotation.  Keep him rostered in standard formats as he is a steals specialist with a well-rounded skill set that correlates well to fantasy and should allow him to manage late-round value.  

    Joe Ingles-  The long-time HoopBall favorite, Joe Ingles, has returned to action for the Jazz and has hovered around top-50 value in 9-cat formats since his return.  In the three games since his return, he is averaging 12.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.3 triples per game on 65-percent shooting.  He is putting up those numbers in just 18.7 minutes per game, so we could see him maintain middle-round value if his minutes increase.  There is no doubt that Ingles will have a prominent role on a Jazz team that is very deep, but he will have to continuously produce these numbers in 20-25 minutes per game in order to be a must-roster in all formats.  Regardless, he is worth picking up in all formats as his floor is late-round value and his ceiling is top-50 value.

    Injury/COVID-19 Report

    Payton Pritchard (sprained MCL) will be reevaluated in two weeks after suffering a Grade 1 MCL sprain against the 76ers on Friday.  Pritchard has been a huge part of the Celtics rotation as has jumped Jeff Teague as the backup point guard, so this is a tough blow for them. Teague will likely absorb his minutes, but he can remain on the wire.

    CJ McCollum (fractured foot) will miss at least one month after suffering a hairline fracture and a sprain in his left foot.  He was having the best season of his career thus far, so this is a tough break for the veteran guard.  Robert Covington, Rodney Hood, Gary Trent Jr., and Anfernee Simons will all be asked to pick up their play while McCollum is out.

    Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day due to COVID-19 protocols:

    Jayson Tatum, Josh Richardson, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, Dorian Finney-Smith, Juan Hernangomez, Danuel House Jr., Jonas Valanciunas, Jimmy Butler, Avery Bradley, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dario Saric, Moe Wagner, Troy Brown Jr., Davis Bertans, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura

    Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day due to injuries:

    Clint Capela, Trae Young, Kemba Walker (rest), Wendell Carter Jr., Derrick Rose, Christian Wood, Paul George, Patrick Beverley, Marcus Morris, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Jaren Jackson Jr., Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, D’Angelo Russell, Aaron Gordon, Joel Embiid, Devin Booker, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

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