February 21, 2021, 4:02 pm
Welcome, Hoop Ball readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead!
There have been a few players mentioned for the buyout market, but one came as a surprise on Saturday! DeMarcus Cousins and the Houston Rockets will part ways out of nowhere as the Rockets are aiming to remain young and smaller in the frontcourt. Cousins is averaging 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game on 37.6-percent shooting in 25 games. Here are my rankings for the five best destinations for Cousins.
- Toronto Raptors– The Raptors had an awful start to the season, but have rebounded and now find themselves at the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. However, their glaring problem is at center as they expect Aron Baynes to be sufficient and he has not been playable beyond bench minutes. Therefore, they need another center as Baynes, Pascal Siakam and Chris Boucher are their only bigs in the rotation. Cousins could help space the floor and allow Norman Powell return to the bench and bolster the balance of their rotation. This team is one or two moves away from competing with the best teams in the East. Cousins is potentially one of those moves.
- Miami Heat- Spoelstra is a great coach at reviving careers and helping players reach their full potential, so this is a perfect fit if Cousins wants to win and put up stats. Although he will not start over Bam Adebayo, he could provide frontcourt depth aside from Precious Achiuwa that could help the Heat down the stretch as playoff time rolls around. The Heat are in desperate need of a backup center and an improvement beyond the arc, so Cousins could potentially do just that. The Heat should take a chance on Cousins as it is a risk that could pay huge dividends.
- Dallas Mavericks- The Mavs are using Kristaps Porzingis as their starting center and bringing Willie Cauley-Stein off the bench, so their struggles can partially be attributed to a lack of frontcourt depth. Cousins could benefit from the duo of Luka Doncic and Porzingis as the spacing should be immaculate and he could get open looks in the post as well as beyond the arc. This might be the best fit if Cousins wants to put up stats and save his career, but this is the last spot on this list for him to win a championship so it all depends on his priorities.
- Boston Celtics– The Celtics’ weakest spots are center and bench, so grabbing Cousins could help them add depth in the frontcourt and potentially a starting big to help take some offensive tension away from Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Although his efficiency has not been great with Houston, he could find better looks on a team with two offensive stars so Boston could benefit his career and their success. It is definitely a risk, but Cousins could bring a spark to Boston that could help them take the next step.
- Brooklyn Nets/Los Angeles Lakers– The reason these two teams are paired up at five is because neither of them has a dire need for Cousins, but both could use him as their center position is their weakest spot. The Nets have a glaring hole with Deandre Jordan as their only center right now, so Cousins could come in and make an immediate impact. However, they could want to hold off as they have a shot at Andre Drummond if he gets bought out. The Lakers will be without Anthony Davis indefinitely, but have Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell so minutes might be scarce for Cousins regardless. These are two of the best teams in the NBA, so if Cousins wants to ring chase he can choose one of these two destinations.
Weekly Schedule Breakdown
5 games: Wizards
4 games: Bulls, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Jazz, Kings, Knicks, Lakers, Mavs, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Suns, Thunder, Warriors, Wolves
3 games: 76ers, Bucks, Cavs, Magic, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Trail Blazers
2 games: Spurs
Best Schedule: Suns (Trail Blazers, Hornets, at Bulls, at Wolves)
The Suns sit as the fourth seed in the West and have a schedule that could help them retain that position above the Blazers. They face off with the Blazers to start the week in a seeding game, but their next three games are against three sub-.500 teams. If they can escape the week with a 3-1 record, they should be able to retain their spot as the fourth seed. Deploy Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder into all lineups as you typically would. Cameron Johnson and Dario Saric are playable in deeper formats as well. The Suns are in for an explosive week.
Worst Schedule: Trail Blazers (at Suns, at Nuggets, at Lakers)
The Blazers are the fifth seed in the West, so it is not ideal that they land in this section while the Suns sit ahead of them in the standings and are in the best schedule section. The Blazers are still without CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, so this could be an 0-3 week for them as they face the Suns, Nuggets and Lakers, all on the road. Keep Damian Lillard, Robert Covington, Enes Kanter and Gary Trent Jr. locked into all lineups, while Carmelo Anthony could be playable in deeper formats as well. The Blazers will have to play their best basketball if they want to have any chance of ending this week as the fifth seed.
Game of the Week: Lakers at Jazz on Wednesday at 10 PM ET
The first and third seed in the West will face off in what should be an exciting matchup despite the Lakers playing without Anthony Davis. The Jazz just had their nine-game winning streak snapped, but they have been on fire this season as they sit at 24-6. The Lakers will have to rely on Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell to take the pressure off of LeBron James if they want to pull out the win, especially with Dennis Schroder now out for health and safety protocols. Tune in on Wednesday night for a battle between two of the top teams in the West.
Waiver Wire Watch
Saddiq Bey- The rookie wing has been playing phenomenally as of late and is making the Pistons look like geniuses in the deal that swapped Luke Kennard to the Clippers and Landry Shamet to the Nets in exchange for the pick. With Blake Griffin no longer playing, more minutes and shot attempts have opened up for Bey and he has taken full advantage of the opportunity. He is averaging 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.5 triples per game on 61.1-percent shooting over his last six games. Those numbers are good enough for top-50 value in 9-cat formats. He should be picked up in all leagues as he should see above 28 minutes per game for the rest of the season and is an absolute sniper. Grab Bey off the wire immediately.
Cam Reddish- With Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter out indefinitely, Reddish will have ample opportunity to put up standard league value. Over the past two weeks, he is averaging 11.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.0 triples per game on 37.9-percent shooting. Although those do not seem like impressive numbers, they are good enough for top-100 value in 9-cat formats which is an encouraging sign. If Reddish is able to shoot slightly better and knock down two triples per game rather than one, we could see him creep inside top-80 value. He should be rostered in all formats as long as Hunter and Bogdanovic remain out as he is nearly a lock for top-100 value despite some tough shooting numbers. Pick up Reddish.
Jae’Sean Tate- Although Tate is a guard, the loss of DeMarcus Cousins should open up more minutes and attempts for everyone in the Rockets rotation. Also, there have been swirling rumors that PJ Tucker and Victor Oladipo could be moved which will open up even more minutes. Tate is in a great position as a young player in Houston and should be rostered in all formats. Over the past two weeks, Tate has put up top-70 value in 9-cat formats and has averaged the third-most minutes on the Rockets with 32.1 per game over the six contests. In those games, he is averaging 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.8 triples per game on 61.7-percent shooting. Tate is a must-roster player in all formats as he should have a steady role of 30-plus minutes per game for the remainder of the season.
D’Angelo Russell (knee) will miss approximately one month after undergoing surgery to remove a loose body in his knee. The official timetable is 4-to-6 weeks, so we could see Russell out until the beginning of April. While he is out, Anthony Edwards, Ricky Rubio and Malik Beasley will see more minutes and shot attempts. This is a tough blow for Russell as he and Karl-Anthony Towns have been unable to stay healthy at the same time.
Ish Smith (quad) will miss 6-to-8 weeks after suffering a proximal injury to his right quadriceps. He was a deep-league assists specialist, but he can be sent to the wire as his role was not prominent enough to hold onto him. Raul Neto will backup Russell Westbrook until Smith returns.
Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day due to COVID-19 protocols:
Jrue Holiday, Dennis Schroder, Caleb Martin
Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day due to injuries:
Tyler Johnson, Devonte’ Graham, Taurean Prince, Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, JaMychal Green, Delon Wright, Steph Curry, James Wiseman, Victor Oladipo, Christian Wood, Kyle Anderson, Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke, Grayson Allen, Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic, Jarrett Culver, Steven Adams, Ben Simmons, Richaun Holmes, Harrison Barnes, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyle Lowry
Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of The Week Ahead!