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

    The 2020-21 season has been interesting to say the least.  The Jazz continue to soar as they boast the best record in the NBA, while the former powerhouses of the East such as the Heat and Celtics are struggling to find their groove.  We could see some interesting trades shake up the landscape of the NBA come deadline time. Here are my thoughts on three trades that could happen prior to the deadline.

    1. Three-team Blockbuster between the Pelicans, Celtics and Hawks

    Celtics receive: John Collins, Eric Bledsoe, Rajon Rondo, JJ Redick

    Hawks receive: Aaron Nesmith, Nicolo Melli, Robert Williams III, Jeff Teague, three first-round picks from the Celtics and one second-round pick from the Celtics

    Pelicans receive: Kemba Walker, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, one first-round pick from the Celtics and two second-round picks from the Celtics

    The Celtics do this because Collins, Bledsoe, Redick and Rondo can help them win immediately and they can part with the picks and young pieces to make that happen now.  They also shed Walker’s salary for a much friendlier contract in Bledsoe’s.  The Hawks do this trade because they get four draft picks and two young assets in Williams and Nesmith as well as a return to Atlanta for Teague.  The Pelicans do this because Kemba Walker is a scoring threat to complement Ingram and Williamson and provide some veteran leadership.  Also, they get back three draft picks and a young asset in Langford and get to ship Redick to a winning organization.

    1. Lonzo Ball gets a change of scenery

    Bulls receive: Lonzo Ball, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Willy Hernangomez

    Pelicans receive: Thaddeus Young, Coby White, two second-round picks

    The Bulls easily pull the trigger as they get to dump Thad Young’s contract elsewhere and get Lonzo Ball in return.  The Pelicans do it as Coby White, Thad Young and two second-round picks is one of the better offers they will get for the young guard that has been rather disappointing thus far in his career.

    1. The Heat go for it all!

    Heat receive: Victor Oladipo and PJ Tucker

    Rockets receive: Duncan Robinson, Meyers Leonard, Kelly Olynyk, Precious Achiuwa, one first-round pick and one second-round pick

    The Heat get Oladipo to pair with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo while keeping Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro, so this deal seems like a no-brainer.  They also get a defensive stud in Tucker.  The Rockets will do this as they get a sharpshooter in Robinson, a young asset in Achiuwa and two draft picks.

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    4 games: 76ers, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Kings, Knicks, Nets, Nuggets, Pelicans, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Thunder, Warriors, Wolves

    3 games: Cavs, Hornets, Jazz, Lakers, Magic, Pacers, Spurs, Suns, Trail Blazers, Wizards

    2 games: Mavs

    Best Schedule: Grizzlies (Pelicans, Thunder, Pistons, Suns)

    The Grizzlies have four home games against three bottom-tier teams and one solid playoff team to cap off the week.  The Pelicans and Thunder are the 13th and 14th seeds in the West and neither team has been able to find their identity on the court, so the Grizzlies could take advantage of that on back-to-back nights.  After that, they face the 14th seed in the East in the Pistons.  The West is very competitive as the Nuggets are currently the 7th seed and sit at 15-11, so it will be tough for a team like the Grizzlies to rustle their way into a spot.  Make sure all of your Grizzlies are started this week as they are in for a huge offensive week.  The Grizzlies are very deep, so it all really depends on who you have, how deep your league is and what your biggest need is.  However, Ja Morant, Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke, Jonas Valanciunas and Grayson Allen are the biggest names for them over the past two weeks.

    Worst Schedule: Mavs (Pistons, at Rockets)

    The Mavs are in this spot solely because they are the only team that has two games this week and one of the teams they are facing has a stout defense.  The Pistons matchup is a very winnable game that should feature a ton of offense, so make sure all Mavs that would typically be in your lineups are locked in. However, they face a tougher matchup with the Rockets on the road.  Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are must-starts regardless, but this is not an ideal schedule for a Mavs team that has struggled to find a groove. Josh Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith are also worth starting in standard leagues with daily lineups as they boast top-120 value over the past two weeks.

    Game of the Week: Jazz at Clippers on Wednesday and Friday at 10 PM ET

    The Jazz and Clippers face off twice this week in what could be a preview of a playoff series in the second round or conference finals.  We could end up having a playoff vibe if everyone is able to suit up as the Jazz have won 18 of their last 19 games and the Clippers are 20-8 on the season.  The Jazz offer a balanced scoring attack as they had four 25-point scorers the other night, which is a rare occurrence.  These are two of the deepest teams in the league as well, so we should have an extremely competitive matchup with some star power as Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert will have to deal with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.  Tune in on Wednesday and Friday night to see if the Clippers can end the hot streak.

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Kendrick Nunn- Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Nunn has played extremely well and is looking like the player that was in the running for rookie of the year last season.  In his past five games, he is averaging 18.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 3.0 triples per game on 50.7-percent shooting.  The Heat have moved Tyler Herro to the bench and he has also seen an uptick in production with the new rotation.  Nunn has put up top-60 value in 9-cat formats since being moved to the starting lineup, so he is definitely worth rostering in all formats.  Give him a look as it seems that head coach Erik Spoelstra is returning to the lineup that included Nunn starting full-time.

    Jakob Poeltl- LaMarcus Aldridge has been out for a few games with a hip injury and it does not seem as though a return is near, so Poeltl has become a must-roster player in all formats. Over his past seven games, he has put up top-60 value in 9-cat formats while seeing 28.2 minutes per game.  In those contests, he has averages of 9.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks on 66.7-percemt shooting.  He has had spurts like this in the past, so there is a chance that this is a short-term add that becomes less valuable once Aldridge returns, but he should be rostered in every format immediately due to the value he brings to the table until Aldridge returns. 

    Nerlens Noel- This is purely a speculative add based off the notion that he should be starting now that Mitchell Robinson will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a hand injury.  Noel already boated late-round value on the season as he is averaging 2.0 blocks per game and shooting 55.1-percent from the field in just 18.2 minutes per game.  However, he has been a top-80 value over the past two weeks with averages of 6.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks on 65.2-percent shooting.  He should be rostered in all formats as he brings great value in rebounding, blocks and field goal percentage for the immediate future.

    Injury/COVID-19 Report

    Larry Nance Jr. (finger) will miss approximately six weeks after undergoing successful surgery on his finger.  Nance Jr. has been unable to catch a break in his career as it seems that he is in a constant cycle of injuries.  Look for Taurean Prince to see more minutes while Nance is out.

    Mitchell Robinson (fractured hand) will miss the next 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair his fractured right hand.  He suffered the injury by colliding with his own teammate, Julius Randle.  Nerlens Noel will likely benefit from Robinson’s absence.

    Anthony Davis (Achilles) exited Sunday’s game with an Achilles injury and it seems as though it could be serious.  He said after the game that he would be cautious returning to the court, so we could see Davis miss an extensive period of time. Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell will likely benefit from his absence.

    Lauri Markkanen (shoulder) is out for the next 2-4 weeks with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder.  While he is out, rookie Patrick Williams will likely see the biggest boost in minutes and step into the starting lineup.

    Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day due to COVID-19 protocols:

    Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, P.J. Washington, Jrue Holiday, Frank Ntilikina, Theo Maledon

    Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day due to injuries:

    Tony Snell, Rajon Rondo, Deandre Jordan, Devonte’ Graham, Gordon Hayward, Wendell Carter Jr., Gary Harris, Will Barton, Draymond Green, Victor Oladipo, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, De’Anthony Melton, Desmond Bane, Goran Dragic, D’Angelo Russell, Jarrett Culver, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Cole Anthony, Evan Fournier, Joel Embiid, Rodney Hood, Marvin Bagley III, OG Anunoby, Russell Westbrook

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

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

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