February 22, 2018, 3:32 pm
All-Star weekend has come and gone and the NBA season now hits the home-stretch. This isn’t a normal Week Ahead, after all it’s a Thursday, but we’re now entering the second half of games during this two-week fantasy matchup. Let’s take a look at what can help you snag a win over the next four days.
Games Played Breakdown
Three Games Remaining: Cavs, Hornets, Sixers, Wizards
Two Games Remaining: Blazers, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Jazz, Kings, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pelicans, Pistons, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Thunder, Warriors, Wolves
One Game Remaining: Hawks, Nets, Pacers, Raptors
On the back half of this two-week extravaganza, four teams are only playing one game. Owners of Pacers’ players have been doomed from the start. They had one game on the front half and now just one game this week.
The flip side shows the retooled red-hot Cavaliers playing three times over the next four days. The Cavs haven’t scored less than 120 points in their last four games. Their new pieces, Rodney Hood, George Hill, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson are all worth adding for the rest of the season if they’re available in your league.
The other team to watch the rest of the week is Cleveland’s opponent tonight – the Washington Wizards. The Wiz also have three games over the next four nights and it’s a group that represents a lot of fantasy potential, starting in Cleveland tonight and followed up by matchups with the Hornets on Friday night and the Sixers on Sunday.
For teams with two games remaining this week, the Rockets and Warriors are the usual suspects to find great value. But you shouldn’t ignore the Clippers over these next four days. Their high-powered offense heads to Golden State tonight in what should be a fast-paced, high-scoring affair. The Clips then travel to Phoenix tomorrow night. The Suns haven’t allowed less than 107 points in their last seven games.
There’s one guy that stands out for the rest of the week. This player will not be available on your waiver wire but if you already own him, you’re in for a treat. Jimmy Butler is feeling quite rested after sitting out the All-Star game in Los Angeles this past weekend – a nice reminder that L.A. nightlife is undefeated. Butler will be fresh when the Wolves travel to Houston to play the Rockets tomorrow night. He follows that up with a home game on Saturday night against his former team – the Chicago Bulls.
Elfrid Payton, PG, Suns
This former lottery pick was cast aside by the Magic for a second-round pick just two weeks ago but Payton has absolutely crushed in three games with the Suns. Not only did he go for a triple-double last time out but he’s averaging 20.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 57 percent from the floor and a 3-pointer in a Suns uniform. Elf could end up bringing a lot more value than that second-rounder.
Mario Hezonja, SF, Magic
The Magic may have sold off one former lottery pick but this one is getting more playing time than ever before. In Hezonja’s last ten games, Mario has been super – averaging 16.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.9 blocks with 50/43/86 shooting splits in 29 minutes per game. He’s scored 20-plus in his last three games. The Knicks need to watch out for Mario tonight, even off the bench.
Darius Miller, SF, Pelicans
Miller’s 3-point volume has been excellent over the last month. He’s had only one game without a 3-pointer made in that time and is averaging 2.4 makes and 44 percent from deep. With DeMarcus Cousins out for the rest of the season, there’s more shots to go around. Watch for Miller’s volume to continue to see an improvement.
Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps) has apparently been cleared and his return is up to him at this point. That said, head coach Gregg Popovich has said that he would be “surprised” if Leonard returns this season. Needless to say, things are looking bleak.
Ricky Rubio (hip) didn’t practice on Wednesday and should be considered questionable for the Jazz’s game with the Blazers on Friday.
Marcus Smart (hand/thigh) is expected to return to the Celtics to play the Pistons on Friday.
Lonzo Ball (knee) is expected to return to the Lakers on Friday night.
Jordan Bell (ankle) will not play tonight against the Clippers but is expected back for the Warriors as soon as Saturday against the Thunder.
May 31, 2020, 8:10 pmKz OkpalaF, Miami Heat
Kz Okpala's offensive game has come a long way since January according to Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon.
Okpala is already viewed as an NBA-ready defender, and once his offensive game is up to speed the Heat will have a hard time not getting him into the rotation. He spent 20 games in the G League and five with the Heat before the suspension slowed down his progression in 2020. Okpala got off to a slow start due to injuries, and a trade on draft day took away his chance to play in summer league. While this season is unlikely to amount to anything, Okpala is someone to watch in deeper leagues next year.
Source: Miami Herald
May 31, 2020, 8:03 pmGabe VincentPG, Miami Heat
Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon, stated that Gabe Vincent's knee is "good to go".
It sounds like Vincent would have no problem being NBA ready if the Heat decided to call up the two-way guard when play hopefully resumes July 31. Vincent is a strong 3-point shooter with the ability to attack a closeout, but it is still unlikely the Heat will need to put him on the floor for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
Source: Miami Herald
May 31, 2020, 7:51 pmShake MiltonSG, Philadelphia Sixers
According to projections by Mike O'Connor and Derek Bodner of The Athletic, Shake Milton will be a starter for the Sixers whenever play relaunches.
Milton was thriving for the Sixers when the season was suspended due to COVID-19, and some risk remains that Ben Simmons will bump him from the rotation when the stoppage in play is lifted. In 16 starts with the Sixers, Milton averaged 14.1 points, 2.2 3-pointers, 3.6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.1 steals. As a 3-pointer specialist along, Milton has earned a slot in 12-team formats, but things are going to be more difficult when he is forced to play off-ball in a fully healthy lineup in Philadelphia
Source: The Athletic
May 31, 2020, 7:42 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
On a recent ESPN podcast featuring Adrian Wojnarowski and his colleague Zach Lowe, Wojnarowski stated that Kevin Durant (torn Achilles) would not play for the Nets this year.
Wojnarowski went onto say that he had no source that had relayed that information to him. The Nets have largely been deferring to Durant and the medical staff when it comes to his prospects for playing this year. While the organization may get hopeful that KD will lace it up for a playoff run, all signs are still pointing to him waiting until 2020-21.
Source: Anthony Puccio on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 7:43 pmEric GordonSG, Houston Rockets
Rockets guard Eric Gordon has improved his diet, focused on sprints, and has apparently shed 12 pounds in the process, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
Gordon has battled knee ailments for essentially his whole career and has dealt with his fair share of nagging injuries this season as well. Losing weight to create a lighter frame would seem sensible, especially with the knee issues. The Rockets, remember, fully adopted the "small ball" lineup and move fast so Gordon is smart to keep his endurance and fitness at high levels. He's going to have to play well and make shots for the Rockets when the NBA returns to action, otherwise coach Mike D'Antoni won't be able to justify giving Gordon minutes. We don't anticipate much fantasy value out of him if and when the league starts back up.
Source: The Athletic
May 29, 2020, 6:03 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the NBA is planning for a Board of Governors vote on Thursday, during which they are expected to approve Adam Silver's proposal for re-starting the season in Orlando.
The trend lines are all moving in this direction, and this adds another bullet point on the schedule as the league prepares for launching games on July 31. Adam Silver has been able to bridge any divides between ownership and the players, and has been taking into account all his key constituent's views as we approach approval of a plan for moving forward. We still have plenty of items to resolve before we see game action, but the NBA is gaining momentum as these details come into place.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 4:44 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
On Friday, the Wizards resumed holding voluntary workouts at their practice facilities.
The Wizards have joined a chorus of teams that are returning in limited capacities to their facilities at this point. The NBA as a whole is continuing its march towards the resumption of play with a target date of July 31 now established. The District of Columbia also entered phase one of reopening today, and it makes sense for the team to proceed on a similar trajectory.
Source: Candace Buckner on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 4:03 pmJulius RandlePF, New York Knicks
Part of the Knicks' off-season thinking is to shape the roster around RJ Barrett, and it unclear where Julius Randle will fit in those plans.
Barrett and Randle have similar offensive styles, as they typically have an advantage relying upon their strength to attack the basket, but neither has a component deep ball at this stage in their careers. As Barrett is the younger option it makes sense that the Knicks want to sign shooters to give him more space to operate with. Randle's lousy percentages and turnovers has made for a disappointing season with the Knicks thus far, and Barrett will also need to make some strides in the shooting department to become a 12-team asset. Randle is under contract for next season is owed at least $4,000,000 in 2021-22.
May 29, 2020, 3:46 pmJayson TatumSF, Boston Celtics
On Friday, the Celtics' announced that their practice facilities would reopen on June 1.
That leaves us with four NBA teams without access to their facilities. Things are beginning to accelerate throughout the league as teams ramp up activities in hopes of resuming competition in Orlando on July 31. So far so good, but the NBA still has many hurdles to overcome on the path to resuming the season.
Source: Celtics PR on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 3:40 pmRJ BarrettSF, New York Knicks
The Knicks reopened their practice facility for voluntary workouts on Friday.
Another step in the right direction for the NBA's return to action at the end of July. It's still unclear if the Knicks will even be involved in whatever plan is agreed upon, but it is good to learn that the players can now access their facilities in New York. Only five team facilities have not opened up in some capacity at this point.
Source: Knicks PR on Twitter