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

    We are heading into the final week of the seeding games and there is an extremely tight race in the Western Conference for the eighth and ninth seeds.  The Clippers and Blazers played on Saturday night and there was drama surrounding that game as Damian Lillard missed two clutch free throws that could have won them the game.  Patrick Beverley and Paul George were clowning him and got into an argument with him over Instagram, so Lillard will have to answer by willing his team into the playoffs and getting to a spot where he can face the Clippers. This week should be very entertaining!

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    3 games: 76ers, Bucks, Heat, Mavs, Nuggets, Pacers, Rockets, Suns, Raptors, Thunder

    2 games: Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Magic, Nets, Pelicans, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Wizards

    Race for 8th and 9th seeds in the West:

    8th Grizzlies– 33-38

    2 Games Left (vs. Celtics, vs. Bucks)

    9th Blazers– 33-39

    2 Games Left (vs. Mavs, vs. Nets)

    10th Suns– 31-39

    3 Games Left (vs. Thunder, vs. 76ers, vs. Mavs)

    11th Spurs– 31-38

    2 Games Left (vs. Rockets, vs. Jazz)

    Best Record in the Bubble Thus Far: Suns (5-0)

    Worst Record in the Bubble Thus Far: Wizards (0-6)

    Waiver Wire Watch 

    Here are three guys that have been balling out in the bubble thus far and are worth picking up if they’re sitting on the wire in your league:

    Gary Trent Jr.- Trent has been going off in the bubble and has helped the Blazers remain competitive in terms of seeding.  The Blazers will likely have to play the Grizzlies in a play-in game(s) and hopefully Trent can continue his run of outstanding play into those contests.  Over his last three games, Trent is averaging 21.7 points, 5.7 triples, 1.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals in 35.3 minutes per night.  He should be owned in all formats as he has solidified himself as a legitimate sharpshooting threat.

    Thomas Bryant- Bryant has had runs in the past where he has shown his fantasy dominance and he is back at it again during the bubble.  The Wizards are 0-6 in the bubble and have absolutely no shot of making the playoffs, but Bryant will still get big minutes in the last two games of the season and should continue to play well in those games.  He has been a top-10 fantasy player over the last four games, with averages of 17.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 1.5 triples per game on 50.9-percent shooting.  He should definitely be owned in all formats — Bryant’s tough finish to the regular season might’ve depressed his ownership — as he is a versatile big man that brings value in points, rebounds, triples, blocks and field goal percentage.

    Royce O’Neale- O’Neale has brought top-notch defensive value over his past five games, which has allowed him to be a top-20 asset. Over those five games, he is averaging 9.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 triples and 2.2 steals per game on 44.4-percent shooting. He has been playing above 30 mins per game (32.3) in the bubble and should see that same level of action over the last couple of games.  Pick him up if he is sitting on the wire.

    Injury/Covid Report

    Ben Simmons (knee surgery) will be out indefinitely after undergoing knee surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee. He was forced to leave the bubble and it is unknown whether or not he could return at some point during the playoffs.

    Jaren Jackson Jr.  (torn meniscus) will be forced to miss the remainder of the season after tearing his meniscus on Tuesday night. The Grizzlies are fighting for seeding and will definitely miss Jackson, but hopefully he is able to recover successfully and be ready for next season.

    Domantas Sabonis (plantar fasciitis) is still a ways away from returning to NBA action and it is unlikely that we see him at all this season. Luckily, TJ Warren has been playing out of his mind and the Pacers have been playing well as a result, but Sabonis is a huge piece of their team.

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

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