Hello and welcome back to the Week Ahead. Every Saturday I’m going to be right here breaking down the weekly schedule and the latest injury report, and I’ll also include some hot pickups for your fantasy team and some players you should consider dropping. Everyone loves rumors, so I’ll also provide some insight on some of the trending topics around the league. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter by clicking here!
Week 19 Schedule: Games Played
4 Games: ATL, BOS, CLE, DAL, GSW, MIA, MIL, NYK, OKC, PHI, PHO, TOR, UTA, WAS
3 Games: BKN, CHA, CHI, DEN, DET, HOU, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIN, NOR, ORL, POR, SAC, SAS
Top 3 Pickups of the Week
1.) Jusuf Nurkic- It took him just one game to become the starting center in Portland and he’s going to run away with the job after his monster performance on Thursday night. In 34 minutes vs. the Magic, Nurk Alert racked up 12 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks on 6-of-12 shooting. He’s a +41 in just 55 minutes as a Blazers and said that he’s “finally” happy.
“It was a tough two years that is all I can say,” Nurkic said of his time in Denver. “Just frustrated and not being in position that I am supposed to be for some reason, but I wish [Denver] good luck. I am just having fun here and I love it man… This is the first time after two years I’m having fun.” The Blazers are utilizing his playmaking ability in the post just like they did with Mason Plumlee, so his fantasy arrow is pointing straight up. My expectations for him are very high going forward and playing next to Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum will open the lane for him.
2.) Terrence Ross- If Ross didn’t shoot 4-of-17 from the field in his Orlando debut, he would be getting a lot more hype right now. The big takeaway was that Ross started and played 33 minutes with a 23.6 usage rate, posting 13 points, five rebounds, one assist, three steals and two 3-pointers. Ross will handle the ball more in Orlando and he said he’s looking to “become a better playmaker,” so he should see an uptick in assists despite averaging 0.9 dimes per game in his career. He has the green light from beyond the arc and attempted eight 3-pointers in his debut, so the upside here is very real.
“He had his foot on the gas, which is what I want.” coach Frank Vogel said. “I want him to be aggressive and looking to score. He took a couple bad shots. I wanted him to go out and play confident and aggressive. He really has the ability to attack in closeouts. If you don’t get to him, he is bombing a three. If you do get to him, he is very electric off the bounce and makes good decisions in the paint.” On a Magic team that is severely lacking in talent, Ross should be a focal point of the offense.
3.) Willie Cauley-Stein- He had the best game of his career on Thursday night with 29 points, 10 rebounds and one block on 14-of-22 shooting. He may not come close to scoring 29 points again this season, but the big takeaway is that he played 35 minutes and that he looks like the clear winner of the DeMarcus Cousins trade. WCS doesn’t have any competition for minutes other than Kosta Koufos and an incredibly raw rookie in Georgios Papagiannis, so he could be a workhorse going forward.
“I’m sure they’re going to expect it,” WCS said of the energy he brought to the Kings on Thursday. “I’m going to play like that for hopefully the rest of my career. Just playing with that intensity and that aggressiveness is where it’s at.” He struggles to create his own shot and has to generate most of his points off lobs, dunks and putbacks, but at least that will keep his FG percentage high. As long as you’re not expecting him to score like he did on Thursday, WCS should be fun to own going forward.
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On The Radar:
Richaun Holmes: With Nerlens Noel in Dallas and Andrew Bogut expected to be bought out, Holmes is a very intriguing flier in standard leagues. Joel Embiid (knee) is out for at least three more games, and Jahlil Okafor looks lost out there. Holmes is the backup center right now, but badly outplayed Okafor on Friday night with 12 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and two steals in just 26 minutes. Holmes is shooting 53.0 percent from the field on the season and has per-36 minute averages of 15.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 2.0 blocks and 0.6 3-pointers. We might not see Embiid for a while because this is the 76ers and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Holmes leapfrogged Okafor completely, so he’s certainly worth taking a flier on if you’re feeling lucky.
Marquese Chriss: If Chriss didn’t average 3.0 fouls in just 19.0 minutes per game on the season, I’d call him a must-own player. He showed his upside on Friday night with 17 points, seven rebounds, one assist, two blocks, two steals and two triples, and the Suns are clearly in tank mode evidenced by their decision to give DNP-CDs to both Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight on Friday. He has arguably more upside than any rookie in fantasy other than Joel Embiid and is a solid pickup for the stretch run if you can handle some bumps in the road.
Justin Anderson: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. There was no better possible landing spot for Anderson than in Philly. With Robert Covington expected to play more small-ball PF, that means Anderson will get to compete with Nik Stauskas and Gerald Henderson for minutes on the wing.
”Justin Anderson is a talented, strong and defensive-minded wing who will fit nicely in [Brett Brown's] system," 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said. "I’m certain Justin’s toughness and edge will add a tremendous amount to our team.” Anderson has a lot of upside with per-36 minute averages of 16.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.9 triples. That’s basically an aggressive version of Danny Green. I absolutely love him in Philly and while he’s listed as “On The Radar,” in this article, I’ll go ahead and tell you that I added him in all my standard leagues.
The Drop List:
Ersan Ilyasova- His value has been shattered in Atlanta. He’s strictly the backup to Paul Millsap.
Deron Williams- He was waived by Dallas and is expected to join a contender where he will be a backup PG.
Reggie Jackson- He hit rock bottom on Thursday with four points on 1-of-6 shooting in 20 minutes. There’s a reason the Pistons couldn’t trade him for a fun pack of potato chips. Ish Smith is the better player.
Emmanuel Mudiay- He’s been demoted to the third-string PG in Denver.
Chandler Parsons- Even after a week off for the All-Star break, Parsons is still limited to 13 seconds per game.
Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton- Chris Paul is back. Enough said.
Ben Simmons- To the surprise of no one, the 76ers have red-shirted another rookie.
Tyson Chandler- He’s probably going to be rested way too much to rely on in standard leagues.
David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon- Pau Gasol looked awesome in his return to action Friday.
Lucas Nogueira- The Serge Ibaka trade has completely ruined his value.
Bojan Bogdanovic- His role will be cut in half in Washington.