February 1, 2021, 1:29 pm
Welcome, Hoop Ball readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead!
Bradley Beal has had a terrific start to the 2020-21 season, but the Wizards have been dreadful. Beal is the first player in NBA history to lose 10 straight games in which he scored more than 40 points, which is clearly something that is out of his control much of the time. He is far and away the leading scorer in the NBA and is a hot commodity on the trade market. Beal was asked the other day if he was frustrated and he answered by saying “Is the sky blue?” There is a decent chance that he demands a trade and forces his way out of Washington unless they begin to turn things around. Here are the three potential suitors for Beal that could muster up the most attractive trade packages for the Wizards:
- Denver Nuggets
Nuggets receive: Bradley Beal, 2022 first-round pick swap (worse pick)
Wizards receive: Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr., RJ Hampton, 2021 first-round pick, 2022 first-round pick swap (better pick), 2026 first-round pick
- Miami Heat
Heat receive: Bradley Beal
Wizards receive: Tyler Herro, Kelly Olynyk, Kendrick Nunn, Andre Iguodala, 2022 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick
- Golden State Warriors
Warriors receive: Bradley Beal, Ish Smith, Troy Brown Jr.
Wizards receive: Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre Jr., Eric Paschall, 2021 first-round pick (from Minnesota), 2023 first-round pick, 2025 first-round pick
Out of these three trade packages, the Miami Heat one likely offers the most long-term appeal due to the acquisition of two firsts and the young stud Tyler Herro. However, the Warriors and Nuggets both offer packages that would set the Wizards up quite well in the future as well. If I had to rank these three from best to worst for the Wizards, I would say Heat first, Nuggets second and Warriors third. It will be interesting to see if Beal is dealt or if trade talks begin to surface as the season progresses.
Weekly Schedule Breakdown
4 games: Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Jazz, Kings, Knicks, Mavs, Pacers, Pelicans, Pistons, Rockets, Suns, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Wizards, Wolves
3 games: 76ers, Lakers, Magic, Nets, Nuggets, Raptors, Spurs, Warriors
Best Schedule: Heat (Hornets, Wizards, Wizards, at Knicks)
The Heat are 7-12 and are near the bottom of the barrel in the East, but much of that can be attributed to injuries and the loss of Jimmy Butler due to COVID-19. However, Butler is back and the Heat are finally nearing full health. They could use a week like this where they play the Wizards twice and the Hornets and Knicks, who currently sit ahead of them in the standings. If they can get things going this week, they can turn their season around and end up just one game below .500 quickly. If the Heat are at full strength, expect a big week from the reigning Eastern Conference champs.
Worst Schedule: Raptors (at Magic, at Nets, at Hawks)
The Raptors had an awful start to the season, but slowly started to pick things up as the season has progressed. However, they still sit at 8-12 on the season and have a tough schedule this week. Although the Magic and Hawks aren’t the most intimidating opponents, they are playing three road games and the latter two are in a back-to-back set. We could see the Raptors playing sluggish against the Hawks after playing the Nets in Brooklyn the night before. However, they have two winnable games and could make this rough week not so bad if they escape with a 2-1 record. Keep Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, Chris Boucher and Pascal Siakam locked into lineups.
Game of the Week: Nets at Clippers on Tuesday at 7:30 PM ET
The Nets are making a case to be the best team in the East since the James Harden trade and the Clippers have looked like one of the best teams in the West thus far, so this could make out to be an entertaining matchup. The Clippers are a smart team that has the defensive tools to stop superstars as well as the offensive tools to keep up with them, while Brooklyn is still struggling to find their defensive identity. The Nets are 6-3 since acquiring Harden, but they are the worst defensive team in the league in that span and gave up over 140 points to the Cavs and Wizards. This should be a competitive matchup with a playoff vibe to it, so tune in on Tuesday night for the action!
Waiver Wire Watch
Anthony Edwards- The No.1 overall pick is finally showing why he was selected that high as he has gone crazy as of late. Over his last four games, he has seen 29.7 minutes per game, which leads the team, and is second in scoring behind Malik Beasley. In that span, he is averaging 19.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.3 3-pointers per game on 45.0-percent shooting. We could see a starting lineup that includes D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns at some point, which will be an intriguing group to watch. Edwards should see the opportunities to keep producing at a high level and could compete for that Rookie of the Year award if he keeps this up. He should be rostered in all formats while he’s shooting well.
Theo Maledon- The rookie guard has had plenty of opportunities to produce as he is seeing upwards of 20 minutes per game off the bench, but he has not been able to capitalize until recently. With George Hill out, Theo Maledon has played well enough to maintain top-70 value in 9-cat formats over his last three games. Hill may be returning sometime this week, but it is possible that Maledon’s recently play will give him a confidence boost that will help his overall production. He is averaging 13.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.7 3-pointers per game on 60.9-percent shooting since Hill has been out. Grab Maledon off the wire with the hopes that Hill’s return does not send him back down into the fantasy abyss.
Thaddeus Young- Young was restricted to late-round value in the early part of the season due to a crowded Bulls rotation and lack of opportunities to produce. However, over the past two weeks he has cracked top-100 value in 9-cat formats and looks like the player that we all know and love. Over his last five games, Young is averaging 10.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.4 steals on 51.1-percent shooting. He is putting up those numbers in 26.6 minutes per game, which is a role that he should be able to maintain for the entirety of the season. Grab Young if he is sitting on the wire as he should be rostered in all formats going forward due to his potential to maintain top-100 value.
Marcus Smart (strained calf) will miss the next two-to-three weeks with a strained calf that he suffered on Saturday night against the Lakers. Smart’s injury did not look good initially, so this is actually a relief that it is not a more serious injury. However, this is a tough blow for Boston as they just got their starting group back together and healthy for the first time all season.
OG Anunoby (strained calf) will likely miss one week with a strained calf, which means Anunoby will be slated to miss the next three games for the Raptors. He has been a staple for them this season, so the injury is a tough blow. Expect Norman Powell to see the biggest role increase while he remains out and could be a good source of points in deeper formats or in DFS formats.
Jarrett Culver (ankle) will miss 10-to-14 days with an ankle injury that he suffered last Monday. In his absence, Anthony Edwards has and likely will continue to see big minutes as he has played extremely well as of late. It will be interesting to see what happens to the rotation when Culver returns to action.
Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day due to COVID-19 protocols:
Karl-Anthony Towns, Jonas Valanciunas, Grayson Allen, Dario Saric, Tyler Herro
Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day due to injuries:
Trae Young, Onyeka Okongwu, De’Andre Hunter, James, Harden, Terry Rozier, Otto Porrter Jr., Gary Harris, Patrick Beverley, Nic Batum, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steven Adams, Naz Reid, Aaron Gordon, Joel Embiid, Devin Booker, Norman Powell, George Hill
Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of The Week Ahead!