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 in addition to a drop list. This week is the FINALS for the vast majority of owners, so I’d like to wish good luck to all of our readers. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter by clicking here!
Week 23 Schedule: Games Played
4 Games: ATL, BKN, CHA, CLE, DAL, DET, HOU, GSW, IND, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, NOR, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, PHX, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS
3 Games: BOS, CHI, DEN, LAC, MIN, POR
Top 3 Adds of the Week:
Seth Curry: His ownership dropped by nearly 20 percent after a couple of quiet weeks, but he rewarded his patient owners by dropping 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting with four assists, three rebounds and three triples in a win over the Clippers on Thursday. The Mavs started Nerlens Noel at center that game which pushed everyone down one position, so Curry started at point guard and coach Rick Carlisle hinted that he will likely continue to do so.
"We've got to look at Curry at point with a really conventional team out there," Carlisle said. "We're going to give this a look. I don't know how many games it's going to be. It may be the rest of the year, it may not.” As for Curry, he likes the idea and believes this experiment could extend into the 2017-18 season. "I like being involved in plays,” he said. "At certain times when you play the 2, you can not touch the ball for four or five possessions. That's not getting me going energy-wise. I like bringing the ball up the court, feeling like I'm involved, then getting off the ball some, too.” Expect fireworks from Curry the rest of the way. (h/t to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon).
Skal Labissiere- He’s been on my radar for weeks and the Kings are finally starting to set him loose. It seems like the Kings are going to rest different veterans every night, so the minutes will be there for the rookie. The Kings actually ran a lot of offense through him on Friday night and he responded with 10 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and one block in 27 minutes.
“As he gets more experience, he’s able to get the ball in spots on the floor over experienced guys. He’s learning. We’ve got to play through him,” head coach Dave Joerger said. “I think we chuck up a lot of shots, and he went three, four. five minutes without touching the ball. When you throw him the ball it doesn’t mean he has to score it. He’s a very willing passer, and he’s going to be at some point in his career a guy who’s going to demand a double team. We have to play through him a little bit better.” We’re seeing a lot more bigs running the offense these days like Draymond Green, Nikola Jokic, Julius Randle and Jusuf Nurkic, so Labissiere’s fantasy arrow is pointing straight up.
Buddy Hield- I’ve been critical of Hield, but he’s improved a ton this month and has scored 18+ points in three straight games. His efficiency is way up and he looks confident out there, posting averages of 15.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.6 3-pointers on 50.0 percent shooting in March. He’s also hitting his 3-pointers at a 47.7 percent clip in that span and is shooting 81.0 percent at the free throw line. The Kings are resting veterans left and right, so Hield should be able to average 30+ minutes a night the rest of the way. With four games this week, Hield is worth deploying in your lineups.
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On the Radar:
Ersan Ilyasova- It’s not clear if Paul Millsap (knee) will miss more time, but if he does, Ilyasova will continue to be a nice option even though he hasn’t shot the ball well in two straight games. He’s still averaging 11.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.8 triples over his last five games, and considering how thin the waiver wire is at this point in the season, he’s a decent streaming option with four games on the schedule.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson- I’ve accepted that the Nets aren’t going to play him big minutes, but he’s shown his upside over his last two games with a combined 24 points, 23 rebounds, four assists, one block, three steals and two turnovers in 37 minutes. The Nets are eventually going to shut down some veterans, so maybe RHJ will take on a larger workload in Brooklyn. Until then, he’s just a steals and rebounding specialist.
Noah Vonleh- Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless have fallen off a cliff, so Vonleh has been getting the bulk of the PF minutes these days. He’s played 28.4 minutes per game over his last five outings, averaging 9.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.6 steals on 58.6 percent shooting in that span. Those numbers obviously don’t jump off the page, but with the waiver wire picked clean in a lot of leagues, you could certainly do worse than having Vonleh at the end of your roster in deeper formats.
K.J. McDaniels- This one is sneaky and it may never work out, but McDaniels is a popular name in fantasy circles for a reason. He’s an elite shot-blocker that is finally getting some decent burn in Brooklyn, averaging 12.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.0 steals and 1.0 triples in 23.6 minutes per game over his last three outings. If the Nets shut down just a couple of veterans, McDaniels should be able to finish the season in impressive fashion.
The Drop List:
Yogi Ferrell- He had a decent run, but the Mavericks are going to roll with Seth Curry at the point.
Will Barton- He will have a tough time holding onto value with Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler healthy again.
Mason Plumlee- The Nuggets can play more small ball with Gallinari and Chandler back.
Reggie Jackson- It’s been a lost season for Jackson.
Ryan Anderson- His ankle was the size of a baseball after he rolled it on Friday.
Nick Young- He’s completely out of the rotation again.
Injury Report: Accurate as of Mar. 25 at 2:00 ET
Paul Millsap (knee) has missed four games in a row and coach Mike Budenholzer was non-committal when asked if he would play on Sunday vs. the Nets. My guess is no, especially since they should be able to beat the worst team in the NBA pretty comfortably without him. Millsap didn’t even travel with the team to Milwaukee for Friday’s game vs. the Bucks, but coach Bud downplayed that decision. “It had nothing to do with travel,” he said. “I just don’t think he’s in a place where he could play. We’ll see how the next 24-48 hours go and keep evaluating it.”
Kent Bazemore has missed three games in a row with a right knee bone bruise and is expected to be re-evaluated in the next few days. In his absence, Taurean Prince has been producing some low-end value, but Tim Hardaway Jr. is the big winner — THJ has scored a combined 54 points in his last two games with six 3-pointers.
Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) has missed six games in a row and doesn’t have a timetable to return. He can be dropped in most leagues as the Nets will continue to be cautious. K.J. McDaniels is thriving in his absence.
Avery Bradley (stomach illness) missed Friday’s game and spent the night in a hospital as a precaution to keep him hydrated. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, but I would be a little surprised if he played. He’s a hold unless you’re in an extremely tight matchup.
LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea in his right eye on Friday and may miss Saturday's game vs. the Wizards. He was having trouble seeing out of his right eye due to some swelling, but there’s no word on how his visit with a specialist on Friday night went.
Kevin Durant (knee) was doing some full-court sprints at shootaround on Friday. He was also doing some dribbling drills and he’s been taking jump shots for a few days. There’s no official timetable, but KD is expected to re-evaluated in the next couple days and a return in early April is likely on the table.
Ryan Anderson (sprained right ankle) has already been ruled out of Sunday's game vs. the Thunder. His ankle is the size of a baseball and he will likely miss additional time. The Rockets will likely play more small ball with Trevor Ariza at the four, and while Sam Dekker will have to play more, there are no great pickups.
Hassan Whiteside (sprained ankle) did not practice with the team on Saturday but is expected to play Sunday vs. the Celtics. He was able to play with 13 stitches in his right hand on Thursday, but rolled his ankle in the final minutes and didn’t return to the game. He downplayed the injury and didn’t sound concerned, so even if he does miss Sunday’s game, he should be fine for next week.
John Henson (left thumb sprain) is expected to be sidelined for approximately a week. You would think that Greg Monroe would get a boost, but that isn’t the case. Instead, Thon Maker has been playing a few more minutes and Spencer Hawes has entered the rotation.
Carmelo Anthony (sore left knee) and Derrick Rose (sore right foot) are both listed as questionable for Saturday’s game vs. the Spurs. With the Knicks in tank mode, both players should get several DNPs down the stretch and they are on shut-down watch. If you’re in a deeper league, keep an eye on Chasson Randle.
Joel Embiid had successful minor arthroscopic surgery to address a meniscus tear in his left knee on Friday. He’s expected to resume basketball activities this summer, so he should be a full go for training camp. Before the knee injury, Embiid was on pace to be a first-round pick in fantasy leagues next season.
Jahlil Okafor (knee soreness) did not play against the Bulls on Friday night and could miss more time. This is the same knee that he had surgery on last year and he’s been battling soreness for months and months. Richaun Holmes is a must-start player, but deep-league owners should keep an eye on Shawn Long — Long had the best game of his career on Friday with 18 points, seven rebounds, one assist and two steals in 19 minutes.
T.J. Warren (left foot contusion) has missed two games in a row and it’s unclear if he will be good to go for Sunday’s game. Derrick Jones Jr. and Jared Dudley will get a bump if he misses more time, but they aren’t fantasy pickups.
Derrick Favors (knee) will not play against the Clippers on Saturday, and while he doesn’t have a timetable to return, he was spotted getting up some shots on Friday. Even if he returns this coming week, his workload will be very limited.