December 21, 2020, 4:23 pm
Welcome back, HoopBall readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead!
Finally, we are back to NBA basketball as the season begins tomorrow night when the Nets and Warriors tip-off. It’s been a very short and strange offseason but it’s great to have basketball back. It’ll look different without fans in teams’ large home arenas as opposed to the smaller venues in the Orlando bubble, but hopefully we’ll get back to normal soon. The first edition of The Week Ahead will kick off with some power rankings for the upcoming season.
Honorable mention: Raptors and Mavs
Now here is an overview of the week ahead:
Weekly Schedule Breakdown
3 games: 76ers, Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Celtics, Clippers, Hornets, Kings, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Mavs, Nets, Pacers, Pelicans, Spurs, Suns, Warriors, Wizards, Wolves
2 games: Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Jazz, Nuggets, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Thunder, Trail Blazers
Best Schedule: 76ers (Wizards, at Knicks, at Cavs)
The new-look 76ers will start off their season against the Wizards at home before heading on the road against the Knicks and the Cavs. The 76ers have been bad on the road, but they are playing two of the worst teams in the league and have a favorable week one schedule. Start Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris with confidence.
Worst Schedule: Rockets (Thunder, at Trail Blazers)
The Rockets, who are currently dealing with the James Harden situation, are facing the Thunder at home and the Blazers on the road in their week one matchup. They will have a lot of figuring out to do chemistry-wise, so it could be a rough starting week. You should still start John Wall, James Harden, and Christian Wood with confidence for the upcoming week.
Game of the Week: Clippers at Lakers on Tuesday at 10 PM ET
The Clippers and Lakers are facing off in what should have been the Conference Finals from last season. The Lakers only got better by adding Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol. The Clippers improved by getting Serge Ibaka, and they’ll be hoping that the team has come together a bit with the benefit of added time and a new head coach after chemistry issues derailed them last year.
Kemba Walker (knee) will be out indefinitely with a knee injury and will not rush back. The Celtics are a deep team and will be cautious with Walker so he is ready for the playoffs. Until then, Jeff Teague will probably head the point guard position.
Kristaps Porzingis (knee) was recently cleared to participate in 5-on-zero work in practice, but is still out indefinitely. This is a big blow for the Mavs as their duo of Doncic-Porzingis will be missing the latter half indefinitely.
Jaren Jackson Jr. (torn meniscus) will miss the start of the season due to a torn meniscus that he suffered in the bubble. He is a staple for the Grizzlies organization, so it is tough to see them have to start the season without him.
Draymond Green (foot) is already doubtful for Tuesday’s opener and might not play until the second week of the season.
Derrick White (dislocated toe) will be out for the next couple weeks before he will be cleared for game action. He underwent toe surgery in August and has fallen behind in his progression.
Rui Hachimura (eye) will miss at least three weeks in a surprising development. It shouldn’t affect his conditioning so he might hit the ground running when he is able to return, but it’s still a blow to a Wizards team hoping to make a little noise this year.
Kevin Love (calf) and Larry Nance Jr. (concussion) are questionable to play in Wednesday’s opener after missing the back half of Cleveland’s preseason slate. It would certainly make things easier for fantasy GMs if the Cavs had fewer frontcourt guys to work with, but hopefully these two can get back on the court quickly.
Kris Dunn (knee) and Onyeka Okongwu (left foot) have been ruled out for at least the first couple games of the regular season, while Tristan Thompson (hamstring) still looks like he’ll need some more time to get ready to play. None of these guys are fantasy-relevant but it’s still unfortunate to see that they will be watching their teams’ first games from the sidelines.
Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day:
Rajon Rondo, Gordon Hayward, Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young, Kevin Porter Jr., Draymond Green, Marcus Morris Sr., Dennis Schroder, Giannis Antetokounmpo, D’Angelo Russell
Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of The Week Ahead!