Welcome to the first edition of The Week Ahead! Every Monday I’ll briefly touch on some of the major storylines across the NBA and will take a quick look at what's in store for us in the coming days.
Steve Alexander made some great recommendations for players to look for in this week’s Waiver Wired, so be sure to check that out if you have some dead weight on your roster (everyone does after Week 1).
Week 2 Games Played:
4 Games: ATL, BRK, CLE, GSW, HOU, IND, MEM, MIA, MIL, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, PHX, POR, SAC, TOR
3 Games: CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, DET, LAC, LAL, MIN, NOP, SAS, UTA, WAS
2 Games: BOS
Things to look for:
Will Boston trim down their frontcourt rotation?
As my colleague Michael Gallagher pointed out on Sunday, the Celtics have used close to 50 lineup combos this season and none of them have played more than 7.0 minutes per game. Look, I love Brad Stevens as much as the next guy, but this has to stop. Tyler Zeller, David Lee, Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko are still fighting for minutes, but this has turned into a fantasy wasteland. Until the frontcourt rotation is trimmed down to four players, Johnson and Lee are the only players that I’d want to roster moving forward, but they will be low-end assets until further notice. It’s better to avoid this situation if possible.
Can Kevin Durant keep it up?
When asked if he would sit out in any of the Thunder’s games this week (they play four games in five nights which started on Sunday), Durant was clearly agitated and fired back with a hilarious response. "I'm really tired of ya'll talking to me like I'm a 19-year-old vet," Durant said. "I was out a year. Not even a whole year. I'm alright. I can play those minutes. It's not like I'm struggling the next day. I want to play every minute. But I can't do that. I feel great enough to play as much as coach wants me to play. But I'm not 39 years old." It will ultimately be up to the Thunder if they want to rest their superstar, but this quote is certainly encouraging. Durant was able to play 53 minutes in an overtime win over the Magic, so I would guess that his foot issue is well behind him. Congrats are in order if you gambled on him in drafts and I don’t see how he doesn’t finish as a top-3 fantasy option this season.
What is wrong with the Rockets (James Harden)?
How bad are the Rockets? Well, they are the first team in NBA history to lose by 20 or more points in the first three games of the season. To be fair, Dwight Howard has only played in one game while Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas are also beat up, but you could argue that they would be fine if James Harden was his normal self. However, that clearly isn’t the case as Harden is shooting just 22.2 percent from the field through three games and he doesn’t look too interested out on the court. In fact, he looks incredibly lazy and he hasn’t been creative at all on the offensive end and seems content with just pulling up from long range where he has connected on just three of 32 attempts. I still think he will turn it around and this is way too early to panic, so maybe a date with OKC on Monday night will light a fire under him.
Will Stephen Curry give the rest of the NBA a chance?
Probably not. How much longer will Curry have to play like this before people start to pass the baton from LeBron James as the No. 1 player in the league? Curry is averaging an absurd 39.3 points, 7.3 assists, 5.7 boards, 2.3 steals and 5.7 3-pointers in just 33.0 minutes per game, and he is making a lot of people look foolish for not picking the Warriors to repeat. These numbers are obviously not sustainable, but Curry is the hottest player in the NBA right now and could hold off Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis as the top player to own in fantasy. James Harden, your thoughts?
Is Kobe Bryant done?
If you know me, then you know that the Black Mamba is and will always be my favorite player. If the first three games of the season are any indication, Bryant would have been better off calling it quits after his should injury last season. He is averaging 17.3 points on 31.4 percent shooting from the field, and some of his shots have been way off. It’s possible that he is still shaking off some early-season rust, but you have to wonder if his role will diminish down the stretch if the Lakers don’t turn things around quickly. "I’m the 200th best player in the league right now," Bryant said. "I freakin’ suck." Hopefully a date with the Nuggets on Tuesday will help him find his form again.
Is Jrue Holiday ready for more minutes?
Without a warning, Holiday played a season-high 27 minutes against the Warriors on Oct. 31, yet he was only cleared for 20. Head coach Alvin Gentry said after that game that Holiday will now be allowed to play 25 minutes per night, but his owners need to keep in mind that he won’t play in both games of the Pelicans’ back-to-back set on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7 which means he will only suit up twice this week. Holiday’s fantasy arrow is pointing up and all he needs to do is stay healthy, but those of you with weekly lineups should probably keep him stashed on your bench.
Is Aaron Gordon legit?
I made it a point to target Gordon in the late rounds of all of my drafts and I succeeded in the majority of them, and I have to say that I am thrilled with my investment. His minutes are still low (19.3 per game) which is to be expected since he wasn’t healthy during the preseason, but he is still averaging 10.3 points, 5.7 boards, 0.7 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. Gordon played some of the best defense that I have seen on Kevin Durant last week and he gave the Bulls all kinds of trouble on Sunday night, and it looks like his momentum from the summer league has carried over into the season. The Magic will have no choice but to feed him more minutes if he continues to play this well, and I’m confident when I say that he should be owned in all leagues moving forward.
Kyrie Irving (knee)- Irving reportedly ramped up his workload in practice this week, but the Cavaliers are still being super secretive and won’t release a timetable for his return. I’m no doctor, but some of those offseason reports that suggested that Irving could be held out until January now seem to be legit. For now, his owners can do nothing except to remain patient. Mo Williams will continue to run the point in his absence and is a must-start fantasy option.
DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles)- An MRI confirmed that Cousins is dealing with a strained right Achilles, and while he is listed as day-to-day, it sounds like he will miss Tuesday’s game against Memphis and Wednesday’s against the Suns. That means we may not see Cousins until Friday in a showdown with Dwight Howard and the Rockets, so his owners should have a backup plan ready. Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein will each see a boost in minutes, while Rudy Gay will have a much heavier load on offense in the short term.
Jodie Meeks (foot)- Meeks had surgery on Nov. 1 to repair a non-displaced fracture of the 5th metatarsal in his right foot and will be sidelined for 12-16 weeks. Stan Van Gundy said that Reggie Bullock will take most of his minutes off the bench, but that isn’t enough to warrant attention in most fantasy leagues. I’m hoping that rookie Stanley Johnson will tap into some of those minutes as well, as he is only averaging 18.7 minutes through the first three games. As for Meeks, he can be dropped everywhere.
Wilson Chandler (hip)- Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said that Chandler will miss the next 7-10 days, so it’s safe to rule him out for Week 2. Danilo Gallinari will continue to take as many shots as he pleases, while young guards Gary Harris and Will Barton will continue to see extended minutes. This Nuggets’ team is desperate for another scorer, so I’d suggest holding onto Chandler for now.
Andrew Bogut (concussion)- Bogut has missed the last two games and remains without a timetable to return, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the Warriors held him out for another week since they got off to a fast start. With four games on the schedule, owners in deeper leagues should give Festus Ezeli a serious look if he is still floating around the waiver wire.
Robert Covington (knee)- Covington suffered a right MCL sprain during the preseason and was initially given a two-week timetable, but it sounds like he will beat that timetable and is on track to play in Monday’s game vs. the Cavaliers. He did admit that he is only 85 percent and the 76ers will monitor his minutes, but it’s time to grab him if an impatient owner decided to cut ties with him. Philly is starving for any kind of offensive talent and could use another shooter alongside Nik Stauskas, so it won’t be long before Covington is firing on all cylinders for the 76ers.
Terrence Jones (eyelid)- Jones needed stitches above his right eye when Stephen Curry accidentally scratched him last week, and he ended up sitting out of Sunday’s game vs. the Heat. Jones has a strange injury history and this seems like another fluke accident, so I’ll be very disappointed if he doesn’t give it a go vs. the Thunder on Monday night. His owners just need to be patient for now as this is a guy who has early-round potential when he is on his game.
Exciting matchups to look for this week:
Rockets vs. Thunder (Nov. 2)
Grizzlies vs. Warriors (Nov. 2)
Heat vs. Hawks (Nov. 3)
Clippers vs. Warriors (Nov. 4)
Knicks vs. Cavaliers (Nov. 4)
Spurs vs. Wizards (Nov. 4)
Raptors vs. Thunder (Nov. 4)
Bulls vs. Thunder (Nov. 5) The Thunder have arguably the hardest schedule of the week
Rockets vs. Clippers (Nov. 7)
Thanks for reading everyone! Feel free to shoot me an email with any questions and be sure to follow me on Twitter!