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

    The first weekend of NBA Playoff basketball was stuffed with upsets, as the Magic, Nets, and Spurs all pulled off the unlikely.  Although the Magic and Raptors game came down to the wire and ended with a D.J. Augustin game-winner, the most controversial game was the Nets and 76ers.  I am the co-host of the Hoop-Ball Nets podcast, so I was watching this game and I have a great deal to say about how this upset happened and how the series can turn out.

    The 76ers are a stoppable team that was exposed by the Celtics in the playoffs last season and they have easily fixable issues that they choose to ignore each offseason and trade deadline.  Although getting Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris is nice and all, they are building the team in such a way that they are destined for failure.  Giannis Antetokounmpo has all shooters around him with the Bucks which is why they are the best team in the NBA, but the 76ers are failing to notice that Ben Simmons needs the exact same thing.  Whether it is trading Ben Simmons or letting Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris walk, something has to be done about this team as it is built the entirely wrong way. Teams can simply sag off on Simmons and double-team Joel Embiid, which means that each of the remaining three players are guarded by one player each and they are not fantastic shooters to begin with aside from JJ Redick. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris were both below the league average in 3-point percentage since joining the 76ers, so although they are All-Star caliber players, they might not be the right fit for this team.

    Simmons creates an environment for the 76ers that makes them a defendable team and the Celtics proved that last season when they put Al Horford on him and Aron Baynes on Joel Embiid.  It will be interesting to see if the 76ers prove fans wrong and find a way out of this hole that they have found themselves in.

    They are ultimately not built for success and head coach Brett Brown is not showing why he should keep his job.  If this series ends in favor of the Nets, expect firings for the 76ers and some changes to be made in the structure of the team if they plan to move forward.  Personally, I believe a starting five such as Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Bojan Bogdanovic, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid would work perfectly fine, but they would also need bench pieces such as Monte Morris, Marco Belinelli, Joe Harris or Bryn Forbes that can shoot as well.  Jimmy Butler is a fantastic player, but I do not believe he betters this team in a way that also benefits Simmons, so the organization has some choices to make.  This team has a lot of work to do before it becomes a championship contender.

    The Nets were able to take Simmons and Redick out of the game, Harris was invisible, Embiid was hurt and Butler carried the team.  The Nets had a balanced attack full of shooters and toughness, while the 76ers could not stop fouling and could not buy a 3-pointer.  There is a chance that the Nets run away with this series, but Phildelphia’s issues are fixable if Brett Brown wants his team to advance.  Possibly, benching Boban Marjanovic and playing Jonah Bolden more could increase the floor spacing and help Ben Simmons get things going.  No matter how he does it, Brown must find a way to get his stars going or he is out of a job and the 76ers are out of a playoff spot.  Watch this series closely as it could change the landscape of the NBA as we know it.

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    Monday, April 15th– Nets at 76ers at 8 PM ET (Gm 2), Clippers at Warriors at 10:30 PM ET (Gm 2)

    Tuesday, April 16th– Magic at Raptors at 8 PM ET (Gm 2), Spurs at Nuggets at 9 PM ET (Gm 2), Thunder at Blazers (Gm 2) at 10:30 PM ET

    Wednesday, April 17th– Pacers at Celtics at 7 PM ET (Gm 2), Pistons at Bucks at 8 PM ET (Gm 2), Jazz at Rockets at 9:30 PM ET (Gm 2)

    Thursday, April 18th 76ers at Nets at 8 PM ET (Gm 3), Nuggets at Spurs at 9 PM ET (Gm 3), Warriors at Clippers at 10:30 PM ET (Gm 3)

    Friday, April 19th Raptors at Magic at 7 PM ET (Gm 3), Celtics at Pacers at 8:30 PM ET (Gm 3), Blazers at Thunder at 9:30 PM ET (Gm 3)

    Saturday, April 20th 76ers at Nets at 3 PM ET (Gm 4); Nuggets at Spurs at 5:30 PM ET (Gm 4), Bucks at Pistons at 8 PM ET (Gm 3), Rockets at Jazz at 10:30 PM ET (Gm 3)

    Sunday, April 21st Celtics at Pacers at 1 PM ET (Gm 4), Warriors at Clippers at 3:30 PM ET (Gm 4), Raptors at Magic at 7 PM ET (Gm 4), Blazers at Thunder at 9:30 PM ET (Gm 4)

    Injury Report

    Marcus Smart (oblique) missed Game 1 against the Pacers with an oblique injury, which is not surprising as he is now slated to miss most of Round 2 as well if they make it to play the Bucks (probably). He is the Celtics’ best perimeter defender, so this is a tough blow for a team that was just beginning to figure things out as playoffs arrived.

    Ed Davis (ankle) /Jared Dudley (calf) – Typically, these guys would go in the role player section.  However, they were instrumental in the Game 1 win for the Nets and are worthy of their own mentions.  Ed Davis and Jared Dudley are both questionable for Game 2 after suffering minor injuries in Game 1.  Hopefully they can give it a go as they were a huge reason as to why the Nets pulled out the upset victory.

    Joel Embiid (knee) is considered a game-time decision for Game 2 against the Nets.  Embiid looked sluggish and hurt in Game 1, so it is no surprise that he ends up on this list.  He could not hit a 3-pointer as his legs were not under him and if he gives it a go we could see much of the same in the next game.

    Blake Griffin (knee) was ruled out for Game 1 and could return next game, though there are other reports that he’ll miss the whole first round. The Pistons were already at a massive disadvantage with him on the court, so without him it is no surprise that they got blown out.  Hopefully, he can return to the court to make this a series against the Bucks.

    Some day-to-day guys that are role players for their respective teams: James Ennis III, Jonah Bolden, Patrick McCaw, OG Anunoby, Michael Carter-Williams, Hamidou Diallo, and Tony Snell

    Thanks Hoopballers for reading The Week Ahead!

Fantasy News

  • Nikola Vucevic
    C, Orlando Magic

    Coach Steve Clifford says Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross are expected to play in the preseason finale against the Heat on Thursday.

    The two were dealing with mild ankle sprains, but should be good to go for tonight's final preseason game. A final determination hasn't been made on Evan Fournier, who's been dealing with back spasms. Continue to draft Vucevic and Ross as you normally would.

    Source: Josh Robbins on Twitter

  • Devaughn Akoon-Purcell
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    The Thunder have waived DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, Abdul Gaddy, Myke Henry and Eric Moreland.

    The moves put OKC's roster down to 16 players. None of these players are on the fantasy radar.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Patrick Beverley
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Patrick Beverley has stated reducing the number of technical fouls as one of his goals for the upcoming season.

    The 31-year-old journeyman sees the development as a sign of his maturity. Beverley had the fifth-most technical fouls in the league with 14 last season, just two away from triggering an automatic suspension. Already a safe bet to miss games throughout the year, any hint that he's dedicated to staying on the court when he actually is healthy is a good sign. Beverley is a solid, if low upside option in the late rounds.

    Source: Los Angeles Times

  • Goran Dragic
    PG, Miami Heat

    Goran Dragić has stated that he plans to wear a brace on his right knee this season.

    Normally, this wouldn't be news, but Dragić missed a total of 46 games last season and underwent midseason surgery on his right knee in December 2018. The cumbersome brace may not hinder Dragić too much this season, but it serves as a reminder that last year saw Dragić's legendary efficiency from the field crater, in part due to injuries and the resulting lack of explosiveness. These concerns may pop up again this season, but he's still a safe bet for decent minutes and modest PG production in the late rounds.

    Source: Sun-Sentinel

  • Buddy Hield
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    Buddy Hield expressed his frustration with his ongoing contract negotiations with the Kings and hinted that he may have to play elsewhere.

    When asked about his contract talks, Hield responded that if a deal doesn’t get done by Monday’s deadline, he’ll “look for somewhere else to go.” Hield is playing on a $6.5 million Qualifying Offer in 2019-21 and considers himself a maximum or near-max contract player, but referred to the present offer an “insult.” This could get ugly, considering this wouldn’t be the first time the Kings’ front office mismanaged its relationship with a star player. It’s too early to speculate on a trade, but if the situation deteriorates any further, drafting Buddy Hield in the early rounds may come with a bit of uncertainty. One would think the Kings would be tripping over themselves to sign the player who has become the centerpiece of the DeMarcus Cousins trade from two years ago.

    Source: Jason Anderson on Twitter

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    Bradley Beal has agreed to a two-year, $72 million max extension with the Wizards.

    The Wizards lock up their star shooting guard through the 2021-22 season amidst trade rumors, with a player option for Beal in the final year of his deal. Beal would be eligible to sign a five-year, $266 million supermax with the Wizards should he decline his player option in 2022-23. This news comes as a bit of a surprise and removes one of the most coveted players from the 2021 free agency pool. The new deal should allay concerns of a potential Beal shutdown or his being traded to a team for which he would serve as a secondary option, as he cannot be moved until after the season concludes. Target him in the late first and early second rounds of drafts with confidence.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    LeBron James scored 18 points with 11 dimes, four rebounds, a triple and a steal in Wednesday's 126-93 win over the Warriors.

    James might have played his last preseason game tonight, but he delivered for the fans in his 25 minutes of action. He bullied the Warriors tonight and dished out some beautiful dimes, including a backwards overhead toss straight into Danny Green's shooting pocket which ended up with a bucket. The King has his help this year with Davis so the numbers will come, but we can expect him to take a bit of a backseat and more rest days as he saves his body for the playoffs.

  • Avery Bradley
    SG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Avery Bradley scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting with four triples against the Warriors on Wednesday.

    Bradley did nothing but score the ball tonight and if he isn't red-hot from deep, he isn't worth owning in fantasy leagues. Danny Green (eight points, two triples, two assists and a steal) isn't a sexy option, but provides more for fantasy owners and Quinn Cook (16 points, four triples, two rebounds and three assists) is going to have to prove he can produce when the Lakers play their full rotation.

  • JaVale McGee
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    JaVale McGee scored 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting with six rebounds, a steal and a block vs. the Warriors on Wednesday.

    McGee looks solid in short spurts and the Lakers look like they have a solid rotation at center between he and Dwight Howard (13 points and seven rebounds). McGee is the man to own here, but both are decent options at the end of your drafts.

  • Anthony Davis
    PF-C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Anthony Davis scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting with 10 boards, eight assists, a steal and two blocks in Wednesday's preseason game against the Warriors.

    It doesn't matter what position he plays, Davis will put up huge numbers this season as he looks ready to go after a thumb injury scare. The eight dimes are a nice wrinkle and the Lakers are going to generate a lot of open looks for their role players with Davis and LeBron James drawing all of the attention.