• The waiting game is finally over! The NBA regular season is finally upon us! There has been no lack of drama and bold moves this offseason, from Jimmy Butler demanding a trade to DeMarcus Cousins joining the Warriors. This NBA season is slated to be as exciting as ever, although the Warriors seemingly have another title on the way. From breakout players to unexpected trades to surprisingly good teams, this season will hopefully be as enjoyable as ever.

    I assume that you drafted your fantasy teams already and if you used the Hoop Ball Draft Guide you are on track for a successful season.

    This week’s edition of The Week Ahead will cover the schedule for the first week of the NBA regular season, players you should watch out for that could be available on your waiver wire, and an injury report.

    Without further ado let’s get this show on the road.  Welcome to The Week Ahead!

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    3 games: 76ers, Cavs, Celtics, Clippers, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Kings, Knicks, Magic, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Raptors, Rockets, Thunder, Timberwolves, Warriors

    2 games: Blazers, Bucks, Bulls, Grizzlies, Jazz, Lakers, Mavs, Pelicans, Pistons, Spurs, Suns, Wizards

    Best schedule: 76ers (@Celtics, Bulls, Magic)

    The 76ers have a tough first matchup of the season, but the next two games for week one are pretty easy home dates.  Expect a big first week for the fantasy factors on the Sixers such as Simmons, Embiid, Saric, and Covington.

    Worst schedule: Blazers (Lakers, Spurs)

    The Blazers have a horrible week one schedule even though both of their matchups are at home. They play LeBron in his first game in a Lakers uniform and a tough Spurs team that always seems to win no matter who they put on the court due to the outstanding coaching of Gregg Popovich.

    Game of the week: 76ers @ Celtics

    The newly developed rivalry between the 76ers and Celtics that started primarily during last year’s playoffs makes this game very interesting. Both teams respect each other, but neither team will easily defeat the other. Although the Celtics took the series in five games without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the 76ers are young as well and will keep getting better as the Celtics get better. Expect a great game on Tuesday night as this is also the first game of the NBA season!

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Even if you have drafted and consider your team to be unstoppable, you should keep an eye on a few players that may be worth the add to your fantasy roster.  The waiver wire is one of the most important parts of being a fantasy manager, and I am here to help you ensure that you are on top of the waiver wire and add those sneaky players before everyone else in your league notices them.

    These players to watch out for are:

    Patty Mills, PG, Spurs

    The Spurs, due to injury, have an extremely thin backcourt and Mills is the one healthy point guard left. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are both injured, although White should come back in within two months. However, without Murray in the picture Mills will have a defined role and a high volume of minutes. He’ll be a nice source of points, 3-pointers and assists in fantasy while he is running the point, even if he comes off the bench.

    Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Magic

    Jonathan Isaac needs to be healthy in order to flash his potential, but he does have tremendous potential on a Magic team that lacks depth. He can break out this season and show why the Magic gambled and drafted him early in the 2017 draft. He is currently behind Aaron Gordon in the depth chart at his true position, but it is possible that they have some lineups with him and Gordon on the court at the same time — assuming he’s entering the year without any restrictions, he should start at small forward. It has yet to be seen exactly what he can provide when he gets rolling, but it should be rebounds, steals, blocks with decent value in points and 3-pointers as a base. Isaac simply shouldn’t be on any waiver wires, even in the shallowest of leagues.

    JaVale McGee, C, Lakers

    The once Shaqtin-a-fool MVP JaVale McGee has finally shown that he is more than just a clown on the court.  He has played well for the Warriors during their last two championship runs and the Lakers have decided to give him a chance and signed him to be their starting center.  He will start and even if his minutes are in the lower twenties, he will have value playing next to King James. He should put up sufficient value in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage.

    Injury Report

    Devin Booker (right hand) has been cleared for contact and is now practicing 5-on-5 with the team. Following the original six-week frame, he was supposed to be out until the third game of the season, but he has rehabbed so vigorously that he has made a return for opening night possible.

    DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) still has no timetable for return, but is making progress.  He is currently doing 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 drills as well as some full-court activities.  He is trying to get back in shape, but the Warriors will not rush him back and will simply wait until he is better than 100 percent before allowing him to return to action.

    Dejounte Murray (torn ACL) is going to miss the entire 2018-2019 season, which is terrible news considering many people saw this year as his breakout year.  He was going to start for the Spurs and play big minutes, but now the baton has been passed down to Derrick White once he returns from injury. Patty Mills and Bryn Forbes will also benefit from Murray’s injury.

    Derrick White (heel) has been given a timetable of six to eight weeks, but Popovich said that he could wind up only missing two to four weeks. Mills and Forbes will be the guys to have while White is out, but White will be the best fantasy point guard to own on the Spurs once he is healthy.

    Draymond Green (sore left knee) will have a minutes limit to begin the season according to Steve Ker.  As you can see, the Warriors are being overly cautious with their stars due to the fact that they have no urgency to rush them back. They can sit back and let their stars get to 100 percent before they come back and will still likely have the best record in the NBA.

    Harrison Barnes (strained right hamstring) will not play in the season opener, but has a chance to play on Saturday.  Barnes will need to have a full practice before he can play in a regular season game. It is still safe to draft Barnes in the late-middle rounds of your fantasy draft.

    Dirk Nowitzki (sore left ankle) will be out at least two more weeks according to head coach Rick Carlisle. The Mavs are not going to rush Dirk back as they do not want him to get seriously injured and have to miss the entire campaign since this might be his last season. Dirk should not be drafted unless there is an IR slot in your league and you should not expect much out of him as he will likely see fluctuating minutes all season long.

    Isaiah Thomas (hip) is going to start the 2018-2019 season on the sidelines and the Nuggets will not rush him back due to the severity of his injury. It’s been lingering since the end of his Celtics days, so the Nuggets understand that they must be careful with Thomas.

    Allen Crabbe (sprained left ankle) is still not practicing yet for the Nets and is likely going to miss the start of the regular season.  He is starting at shooting guard as of right now, but things could change as the Nets have a crowded roster. Caris LeVert and Joe Harris should benefit the most from Crabbe’s absence, but he is still worth a late round draft pick if you need points and 3-pointers.

    Bogdan Bogdanovic (left knee) is still a few weeks away from making a return to action for the Kings.  He had knee surgery in September, but still is not close to a return.  He will have a big role for the Kings when that happens, but Buddy Hield will likely be the biggest beneficiary from Bogdan’s injury.

    John Collins (left ankle soreness) will be re-evaluated on October 22nd after having a non-surgical procedure on October 8th. He will miss at least the first three regular season games for the Hawks. They have no need to rush him back given that they have no real expectations to win this season, so they will wait until Collins is 100 percent to let him play.

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin strain) could potentially play in the first game of the season on Wednesday, but head coach Kenny Atkinson will still not commit to starting him. He is currently with the second team and DeMarre Carroll is getting the first team reps at PF. He is a good target for late in fantasy drafts for rebounds, steals, and blocks.

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