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

    With trade buzz beginning to travel throughout the NBA, here are ten players that I believe will get traded and their potential destination:

    1. Kevin Love- Rockets or Suns
    2. Andre Drummond- Celtics or Mavs
    3. Karl-Anthony Towns- Suns, Hawks or Warriors
    4. JJ Redick- Clippers, Nuggets, Bucks or Mavs
    5. Danilo Gallinari- Nuggets, Raptors or Rockets
    6. Bogdan Bogdanovic- Knicks or Sixers
    7. Andre Iguodala- Lakers or Mavs
    8. Marcus Morris- 76ers, Spurs or Clippers
    9. Robert Covington- Spurs, Mavs or Nuggets
    10. Aron Baynes- Clippers or Celtics

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    4 games: Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, Hawks, Hornets, Jazz, Knicks, Mavs, Nets, Nuggets, Pelicans, Spurs, Thunder, Warriors, Wizards

    3 games: 76ers, Cavs, Grizzlies, Heat, Kings, Lakers, Magic, Pacers, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Suns, Trail Blazers, Wolves

    2 games: Clippers

    Best Schedule: Pistons (at Cavs, Cavs, Bulls)

    The Pistons are battling injuries themselves, but they are facing a Cavs team that is in shambles in terms of health and the locker room.  Kevin Love has shown frustration on the court and has made it known that he is unhappy in Cleveland.  The Pistons are lucky enough to play them twice in one week in the midst of their struggles, so that automatically starts them off on the right foot.  After those two games, they are playing the Bulls at home which is a winnable game.  The Pistons could end the week 3-0 if they are on top of their game, so start Andre Drummond and other Pistons that you typically would with confidence.

    Worst Schedule: Spurs (Bucks, at Celtics, at Grizzlies, at Raptors)

    The Spurs are playing three of the top-5 teams in the Eastern Conference and two of the games are on the road, so this will be a tough week for them to remain in the playoff picture in the West.  They are playing the best team in the NBA, the Bucks, at home before heading to Boston to play the Celtics.  After Boston, they head to Memphis to play the Grizzlies.  Lastly, they will play the Raptors in Toronto.  This will be a tough week for the Spurs, but start DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge with confidence nonetheless.

    Game of the Week: Clippers at Nuggets on Sunday at 8 PM ET

    Two of the best teams in the NBA will face off on Sunday night in what should be an exciting matchup.  Due to the fact that the Clippers are not playing a back-to-back, Kawhi Leonard should suit up, which means they could be at full strength. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray will have to be on top of their game to keep up with the duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.  Tune in on Sunday night for an exciting matchup between two dominant squads.

    Waiver Wire Watch 

    Larry Nance Jr.- Although there are no current averages to back this claim, the likely departure of Kevin Love will throw the door wide open for Nance to easily produce middle-round value.  Love has made it clear that he is unhappy in Cleveland and wants out, so Nance could run into some huge minutes.  If he is starting and seeing over 30 minutes per game, he has the potential to produce early-round value for the rest of the way.  I would pick him up and hold onto him as even if Kevin Love is not traded he should produce late-round value at the very least.  

    James Johnson- Johnson just returned to action after missing extended time due to personal reasons, so this is more of a speculative add than anything else. Jimmy Butler was out on Sunday night, but even when Butler returns we could see Johnson eat into Meyers Leonard’s minutes and carve a role in the rotation.  Johnson is an experienced veteran and an enforcer that will always keep his teammates is good spirits.  His experience alone could earn him a role that will allow him to produce late-round value.  Give him a look if you have an available spot in your league.

    Jordan McRae- If anyone is in need of scoring and triples, McRae is your guy, and he also contributes in other areas.  The Wizards are constantly battling injuries and he is the health rock thus far, which has earned him a solid role in the rotation. Over the last two weeks, McRae is averaging 20.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3 triples per game on 43-percent shooting.  He has a secured role in the Wizards’ rotation even when the team is fully healthy, so add him if he is floating around the wire in your league.

    Injury Report

    Jonathan Isaac (leg) will be out at least two months with a severe knee sprain and bone contusion in his left leg.  If everything goes as planned, he will be back at full strength by the playoffs, but he will be brought along slowly upon his return.  Terrence Ross and Wesley Iwundu will see an increased role in his absence.

    Kyrie Irving (shoulder) opted not to have shoulder surgery and could return sometime this month, but a return is unlikely until the All-Star break. Until then, Spencer Dinwiddie will continue to put up All-Star numbers and hold down the fort.

    Here is a list of guys who are day-to-day:

    DeAndre’ Bembry, Jabari Parker, Cam Reddish, John Collins, Kemba Walker, Caris LeVert, DeAndre Jordan, Lauri Markkanen, Kevin Porter Jr., Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Draymond Green, Malcolm Brogdon, Alex Caruso, Justise Winslow, Jimmy Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo, George Hill, Donte DiVincenzo, Nerlens Noel, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jrue Holiday, CJ McCollum, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley III, Dejounte Murray, Davis Bertans, Bradley Beal

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

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