• 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.

    Wire Watch

    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.

    Injury Report

    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.

    Nikola Vucevic (hand) and Aaron Gordon (hip) are expected to return to the Magic tonight.

    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.

Fantasy News

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    In a recent fan question session Bucks' GM Jon Horst hinted towards signing Giannis Antetokounmpo to a supermax extension when eligible.

    Horst mentioned that he cannot technically discuss an extension until he is eligible, but said Antetokounmpo will be a Buck for a long time. The Greek Freak will be eligible next summer and is all but sure to get a supermax extension.

    Source: Fox Sports Wisconsin on Twitter

  • Tacko Fall
    C, Boston Celtics

    Tacko Fall (mild knee sprain) is expected to miss one week after a collision in workouts.

    With training camp two weeks away, Fall should be ready to roll by then. He is currently on an Exhibit 10 contract, battling for the final roster spot with Javonte Green (partially guaranteed) and Kaiser Gates (Exhibit 10). Fall is an intriguing talent at 7'7" but is not expected to be fantasy relevant in his first season even if he does make the team with the Celtics already carrying four center eligible players on guaranteed contracts.

    Source: Jared Weiss on Twitter

  • Nicolas Batum
    SG, Charlotte Hornets

    According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been informed that, "The agenda is youth and development."

    The article adds that both players will have a chance to compete for minutes but the Hornets' top priority will be to develop their younger players which bodes well for Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, Devonte Graham, P.J. Washington and Willy Hernangomez. Miles was already putting up near top-100 value to close the season at around 25 minutes per game while the rest of the players could all produce fantasy value if given the minutes so they should at least be put on the watch list to see how the preseason plays out.

    Source: Charlotte Observer

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting and drained seven triples as Serbia topped Czech Republic 90-81 to finish in 5th place.

    Bogdanovic also added four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block and was certainly one of the most impressive players in the tournament. Although he has the talent to be a successful full-time starter, the 27-year old will likely be relegated to a similar 25-27 minute, off-the-bench role he played last season with Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and newly added Trevor Ariza also on the wings. Nikola Jokic also did his usual thing this game with seven points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Boban Marjanovic and Nemanja Bejlica were not really involved in this one, playing only two and eight minutes, respectively.

    Source: FIBA

  • Donovan Mitchell
    SG, Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell scored 16 points with 10 assists as US beat Poland 87-74 on Saturday to finish seventh place in the tournament.

    Mitchell was an efficient 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from downtown but the bigger story of course was USA's disappointing showing as this was only the second time that they finished outside the top-3 in the FIBA World Cup since 1978. Kemba Walker (neck), Jayson Tatum (ankle) and Marcus Smart (hand/quad/calf) all sat out the final game as they now have two weeks to rest before the start of training camp.

    Source: FIBA

  • Evan Fournier
    SF, Orlando Magic

    Evan Fournier scored 16 points to lead France in their semifinal loss to Argentina by the score of 80-66.

    This was a really poor showing all around in an elimination game by the French team. Fournier scored an inefficient 16 and was joined by Frank Ntilikina's 16 as two of just three French players in double figures.

  • Rudy Gobert
    C, Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert was invisible in France's loss to Argentina in the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup, scoring just three points and pulling down 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.

    This just wasn't enough from Gobert, who couldn't impose his will against a weaker Argentina squad on paper. Joining him in the "forgot there was a game" club was Nicolas Batum, who consistently finds a way to do nothing in heavy minutes. Batum's line in this one was a paltry three points (1-of-6 shooting), five boards, one assist and a block.

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills was the star for Australia, scoring 34 points and hitting four triples against Spain, but Australia fell in double overtime 95-88.

    Mills did as much as he could but he just didn't get enough help from his supporting cast. Joe Ingles couldn't find the basket and only had four points (to go along with 10 rebounds and seven assists). With that off night of shooting from Ingles, the Aussies needed someone like Matthew Dellavedova (six points) or Aron Baynes (six points) to step up.

  • Ricky Rubio
    PG, Phoenix Suns

    Ricky Rubio approached a triple-double in the semi-final win over Australia with 19 points, seven boards and 12 assists in 38 minutes.

    It was another big line for Rubio in the semis, who has been a stalwart for this Spanish run to the finals. He was inefficient from the field (6-of-19) but ran the offense well and should be a factor again in the final game.

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol carried Spain to the FIBA World Cup Final in a double-OT win over Australia, finishing with 33 points, six rebounds and four assists.

    Gasol had a great outing to lift Spain here and they should have a great shot at winning the title against Argentina. We'll see how this high workload summer affects him going into the new season.