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

    Primarily, this section switches frequently between predictions and news, but in this case it will be predictions that could help fantasy GMs make that leap for the final stretch of the season.  Although most trade deadlines have passed already, we will look at some things that could help GMs have confidence in their squad.

    1. Lonzo Ball will be a top-7 fantasy PG for the remainder of the season– Ball’s shot has improved tremendously this season and if he starts to see 35 minutes per game rather than 31 minutes, we could see a jump in value. Fantasy GMs who bought Ball at the deadline or held onto him will reap the benefits as he is going to have a tremendous second-half of the season.
    2. Ja Morant will turn around his rocky fantasy season– Morant sits outside top-150 value in 9-cat formats, but this will change for the final stretch of the season as fantasy playoffs roll around. Morant will put up top-120 value over the remainder of the season from this point and will help the Grizzlies secure a playoff spot in the process.  Trust Morant.
    3. Gary Trent Jr is a lock for top-50 value– Trent Jr. is a starter for the Raptors and should continue to put up good numbers like he was as a starter with the Blazers. However, he was never able to gain consistent value as he was in and out of the starting lineup depending on the health of C.J. McCollum.  Trent Jr. should be started with confidence every week.
    4. Robert Williams will be a top8 fantasy C and top-30 value for the remainder of the season- Williams is the starting center and it should remain that way even when Tristan Thompson returns. He has been playing phenomenal basketball as of late and has even flashed his playmaking ability at the center position. Over the past two weeks, he is averaging 11.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.4 blocks on 73.9-percent shooting.  Be confident with Williams as it is finally his time.

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    5 games: Pistons, Raptors

    4 games: Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Jazz, Knicks, Mavs, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Wizards, Wolves

    3 games: 76ers, Heat, Hornets, Kings, Lakers, Magic, Nets, Warriors

    Best Schedule: Pacers (Bulls, Wolves, at Magic, at Grizzlies)

    The Pacers currently sit at the 9th seed in the East at 22-26 and are 2 games out of the 8th seed.  They are also just 3 games out of the 4th seed, so one undefeated week could catapult them in the standings.  They will have home matchups with the new-look Bulls and bottom-feeding Wolves before going on the road to the Magic and Grizzlies.  The Grizzlies are probably their toughest opponent of the week.  If the Pacers can escape this week with a 3-1 record or better than they should be in good shape as they continue to compete for a spot in the playoffs.  Start Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. McConnell, Caris LeVert and Justin Holiday this week as the Pacers should have some high-scoring affairs.

    Worst Schedule: Lakers (at Raptors, at Heat, at Nets)

    The Lakers are now down to the 5th seed as they are without Anthony Davis and LeBron James, but another bad week could put them at 6th seed or even 7th seed so they need to be careful before they end up as a play-in team.  The Raptors are their easiest matchup of the week. If they leave that game with a loss, things will only get worse as they play the Heat in Miami and the Nets in Brooklyn as their two games following that one.  Start Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell, but do not expect a huge week from either of them as the Lakers are still without their superstars.

    Game of the Week: Jazz at Suns on Wednesday at 10 PM ET

    The top-two seeds in the West face off on Wednesday night in what should be an exciting matchup.  Although I have been wrong about a few of these in the past, this one is one of the games I am more confident will be a playoff-type matchup as these teams are gearing up for the final stretch of the season.  The Suns are 3.5 games out of the first seed, so it is not impossible for them to be gunning for homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. It will surely be a battle of the backcourts and center as these teams matchup quite well.  Among the matchups we will be looking out for are Conley vs. Paul, Mitchell vs. Booker, Gobert vs. Ayton and Clarkson vs. the Suns bench.  Tune in on Wednesday night!

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Kira Lewis- There have been very high hopes for Lewis as he entered the league, but the Pelicans are flooded with young talent so it has been tough for him to get minutes consistently.  However, he has flashed his potential over the past three games as he has seen 25.6 minutes per game in that span.  In those minutes, he is averaging 13.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.0 triples per game on 45.7-percent shooting.  Those numbers are good enough for top-120 value in 9-cat formats.  It could be worth taking a flier on him since Josh Hart is out for the next month at least. However, it is worth noting that the Pelicans signed Isaiah Thomas, so keep an eye on Lewis’ role before grabbing him off the wire unless you have an open spot.

    Tomas Satoransky- Since being granted the starting job, Satoransky has played phenomenal basketball and is becoming a must-roster player in every format.  He has been a top-70 player over the past two weeks, which is the best value from any player on the Bulls aside from newly-acquired Nikola Vucevic.  In 27.1 minutes per game over his past seven contests, Satoransky has averages of 12.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 triples on 55.9-percent shooting.  If he continues starting and seeing above 25 minutes per game when Coby White returns, he should be a lock for top-100 value for the remainder of the season.  Pick up Satoransky off the wire immediately as he could be a difference maker when fantasy playoffs roll around.  

    Miles Bridges- Although Bridges is already rostered in over 50% of leagues in Yahoo!, he should now be rostered in 100% as Gordon Hayward is out for over a month and LaMelo Ball is out for the season.  Bridges will be relied on heavily along with the backcourt and PJ Washington to supply the offense for the next month.  The group that will be playing is basically the Hornets from last season, but in a much better position to make the playoffs in the East, so they will have to remain on their game if they want to make that a reality.  Over his past four games, he is averaging 12.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 2.3 triples per game on 44.7-percent shooting in 29.2 minutes per game.  Grab Bridges off the wire as he should be a top-100 contributor at the very least over the next month.  

    Injury/COVID-19 Report

    John Collins (ankle) will be reevaluated in a week after suffering an ankle sprain during Tuesday’s game against the Suns. Danilo Gallinari will likely absorb most of the minutes while Collins is sidelined.

    Gordon Hayward (foot) sprained his foot against the Pacers on Friday and will miss at least four weeks before returning to game action. While he is sidelined, Miles Bridges should see a huge boost in minutes and become an important part of their offense.

    Josh Hart (thumb) is out indefinitely after tearing his UCL in his thumb.  Hart has had a fantastic rebounding season as he is averaging a career-high eight boards per game.  Nickeil Alexander-Walker will be the biggest beneficiary of Hart’s injury.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (foot) is out indefinitely as he is dealing with plantar fasciitis.  There is no set timetable, so fantasy GMs should be prepared to be without him for multiple weeks.  Theo Maledon and Svi Mykhailiuk will see a boost in minutes while he is out.

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

    Tristan Thompson, Coby White, Willie Cauley-Stein, KZ Okpala, Tyrese Maxey, Frank Kaminsky

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

    De’Andre Hunter, Kris Dunn, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Tyler Johnson, Landry Shamet, Garrett Temple, Jarrett Allen, Larry Nance Jr., Kristaps Porzingis, Josh Richardson, JJ Redick, Danuel House Jr., Jeremy Lamb, Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Patrick Beverley, Serge Ibaka, Anthony Davis, Wesley Matthews, Andre Iguodala, Giannis Antetokounmpo, PJ Tucker, Ricky Rubio, Malik Beasley, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley, Gary Harris, Otto Porter Jr., Cole Anthony, Joel Embiid, Rodney Hood, Fred VanVleet, 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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