Hey guys, welcome back to The Week Ahead! Every weekend I’ll touch on some of the major storylines across the NBA and will take a brief look at what’s in store during the coming days. Additionally, I’ll have a complete report on the latest injury news and rumors. If you guys have any questions or just need some advice, click here to follow me on Twitter or just shoot me an email!
Week 22 Schedule
4 Games: ATL, CHA, CHI, CLE, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, LAL, MIL, MIN, ORL, PHI, PHX, SAC, SAS, WAS
3 Games: BOS, BRK, DAL, LAC, MEM, MIA, NOP, NYK, OKC, POR, TOR, UTA
Anthony Davis shut down for the season
Is anyone really that surprised? Me and my Rotoworld colleagues predicted the shutdown back in January in our NBA Roundtable column, so hopefully you were able to deal him before your trade deadline. It was revealed that Davis was playing through a torn labrum in his shoulder, so it sounds like he was lucky to even last this long. He will undergo surgeries on both his knee and shoulder, but a timetable hasn’t been set. Once considered a lock for the No. 1 pick in fantasy, I’d much rather take guys like Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Karl-Anthony Towns over him next season. The durability concerns are just too much of a headache.
So where do the Pelicans go from here? Unfortunately, there are not any exciting pickups following Davis’ injuries, as Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson (groin) are the ones who are going to benefit the most and they’re already must-start players. Omer Asik had a nice game on Sunday with 15 points and 14 boards, but he’s also terrible and hasn’t been able to stay healthy this season. However, he is looking at a ton of minutes because coach Alvin Gentry clearly isn’t an Alexis Ajinca fan, so give him a look if you’re desperate for rebounds.
Luke Babbitt scored 14 points with eight boards on Sunday and could emerge as 3-point specialists, while Dante Cunningham may have to log close to 40 minutes a night until Anderson (groin) can return. To be clear, Cunningham has very little upside, so I’m still not trusting him in standard leagues yet. Toney Douglas has been a nice surprise with averages of 13.0 points, 6.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.2 3-pointers over his last five games, so you might as well pick him up until Norris Cole (back) can return. Tim Frazier is another guy to keep an eye on, as he’s averaging 14.7 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 boards and 1.7 steals through three appearances. His role could grow if he keeps it up.
Byron Scott to play his youngsters in fourth quarter
How many of you are sick of seeing Marcelo Huertas and Lou Williams close out games over D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson in a rebuilding season? Coach Byron Scott finally caved last week and said that he will play his young guys in the fourth quarter “no matter what.” We’ve seen Scott break his promises in the past, but he might be feeling the heat from the front office to see what the young guys can bring to the table. “That’s my goal,” Scott said, “is allow them to be out there and play through the mistakes and play through when they’re playing badly. They have to figure out how to come together as a group.” If you own Russell, Clarkson or Julius Randle, their stock just went up pretty significantly. (Source: Orange County Register)
Grizzlies sign Jordan Farmar
Mike Conley (Achilles) is questionable to return before the end of the regular season and Briante Weber’s 10-day contract expired, meaning Farmar will compete with Ray McCallum for the point guard minutes in Memphis. McCallum has not played well at all, so this is a position battle that Farmar could run away with. I’m still not adding him in most leagues yet, but he’s someone to keep an eye because the Memphis roster is a disaster right now. The Grizzlies start a back-to-back set on Monday vs. the Suns and will then play the Lakers on Tuesday.
Malone hints that Kenneth Faried will be rested often
Nuggets coach Michael Malone admitted that Faried’s back is a concern, and it sounds like he has some maintenance days heading his way. "Sometimes I feel that I may have to protect him from himself," Malone said. "I think he wants to be out there, but, you know what? We have 14 games to go, we know what Kenneth is about, we know the high level he's capable of playing at.” The Nuggets won’t make the playoffs, so it makes sense for them to give their younger guys a look. "That just allows us to look at Joffrey [Lauvergne], Jusuf (\[Nurkic] and Nikola [Jokic] that much more," Malone said. "Which I think in the final 14 would be great.” Jokic is a must-start player following this report, Darrell Arthur is worth owning and Nurkic is firmly on the fantasy radar again given his awesome upside. Faried has also already been ruled out of Monday’s game vs. the Cavaliers. (Source: Denver Post)
James Harden dealing with a sore left foot
Harden tweaked his left foot/ankle on Saturday vs. the Hawks and said after the game that it was definitely bothering him. “Explosiveness really wasn't there," Harden said. "Just felt like a couple steps behind. It's frustrating when you started getting into a groove. It's hard to get into the paint, create shots for your teammates. It was tough.” If Harden is unable to play on Tuesday vs. the Thunder, Corey Brewer could enter the starting five, but Michael Beasley could step into an even larger role in the offense. Beasley is one of the best pickups this week and is averaging 17.8 points and 6.8 boards over his last five games, and he’s doing that in just 23.0 minutes.
Note: This will include fantasy-relevant players who have been updated this week
Accurate as of 12:00 pm ET
Brook Lopez is day-to-day with an illness. He was a late scratch on Saturday vs. the Pistons, but the Nets were probably just being cautious since they have nothing to play for. Willie Reed and Henry Sims will split his minutes if he isn’t able to play on Tuesday vs. the Hornets. His status has not been determined yet.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle) is still day-to-day, but the Nets won’t rush his return, especially with Bojan Bogdanovic thriving. Brooklyn does have five games in week 23, so just keep an eye on the injury report.
Jae Crowder (ankle) could miss another week of action, so his owners should probably move on unless they have an IR spot. Marcus Smart was awesome on Sunday vs. Philly, but this is the 76ers we are talking about. Evan Turner is going to benefit the most sans Crowder.
Pau Gasol (knee) has missed four games in a row and is considered doubtful for Monday’s game vs. the Kings. He admitted that he isn’t going to be 100 percent for the rest of the season, but the Bulls have let him and Jimmy Butler play through several different ailments this year. I can’t get behind dropping Gasol, so just hold onto him unless you’re incredibly desperate for production right now. Wednesday’s game vs. the Knicks could be a possible return date.
Kevin Love is still dealing with an illness, making him questionable to face the Nuggets on Monday. He’s already a candidate to get some rest down the stretch and he apparently tweaked his back slightly over the weekend, so there’s a decent chance that he sits. Channing Frye will start if Love doesn’t play.
Chandler Parsons (hamstring strain) was held out of Sunday’s game vs. the Blazers and will have a couple days to rest before the Mavs play the Blazers again on Wednesday. The Mavs only play three games this week, but I’m holding onto Parsons unless we hear that he will miss more time. Fantasy playoffs are all about who is producing right now, so move on if his hamstring issue lingers.
Andrew Bogut (toe) is doubtful for Monday’s game vs. the Wolves, but there’s no way that the Warriors let him play. They haven’t released the results of his MRI yet, so he’s day-to-day for now. Brandon Rush and Marreese Speights will pick up a few extra minutes in his absence.
Andre Iguodala (ankle) is still targeting a return in late March, so leave him on the wire for now. GSW will not rush him back.
Jeff Green (concussion-like symptoms) wasn’t able to play on Sunday vs. the Pelicans and should be day-to-day moving forward. Wes Johnson and Paul Pierce will play more if Green misses more time, but I’m not picking up either of them.
Kobe Bryant (shoulder) is still day-to-day and will remain that way for the rest of the season. He will basically choose the games he wants to play in down the stretch.
Mike Conley (Achilles) is questionable to return before the end of the season, so put him in an IR spot or leave him on the wire.
Pat Riley said that the Heat will be "open minded" for a potential Chris Bosh (blood clots) return this season. There’s still no timetable for a return, so I’m still skeptical that we’ll see Bosh any time soon.
Gorgui Dieng admitted that his hip was sore after Friday’s game, but he’s now had two full days off to recover. He should be ready to roll for Monday’s game vs. the Warriors and previously said that he is “hopeful” to play.
Ryan Anderson (left and right groin strain) sat out of Sunday’s game, and these injuries sound like they could cost him some more time, especially with the Pelicans out of the playoff race. Hold onto him until we hear his status for Tuesday’s game vs. the Heat.
Carmelo Anthony (migraine) didn’t play on Sunday, but the good news is that he has a couple days off before Wednesday’s game vs. the Bulls. He could have some maintenance days down the stretch, so his outlook isn’t great.
Nikola Vucevic (groin strain) has missed eight games in a row and doesn’t have a timetable. If you need production right now, Vucevic is only worth owning if you have an IR spot.
Robert Covington (concussion) could be able to return to action Wednesday vs. Denver according to coach Brett Brown, so feel free to pick him up if he was dropped in your league. His role in the offense should grow with Jahlil Okafor (knee) done for the season.
Meyers Leonard (left shoulder) should be considered out indefinitely and shouldn’t be owned in most leagues.
Willie Cauley-Stein is day-to-day with an illness. He should be considered questionable to face the Bulls on Monday.
DeMarre Carroll’s (knee) timetable still hasn’t been updated, but hopefully we will see him back out on the court in late March. He’s only worth stashing if you have an IR spot.
Matchups of the week:
Spurs vs. Hornets (Mar. 21)
Rockets vs. Thunder (Mar. 22)
Raptors vs. Celtics (Mar. 23)
Jazz vs. Rockets (Mar. 23)
Heat vs. Spurs (Mar. 23)
Mavs. vs. Blazers (Mar. 23)
Warriors vs. Clippers (Mar. 23)
Jazz vs. Thunder (Mar. 24)
Blazers vs. Clippers (Mar. 24)
Raptors vs. Rockets (Mar. 25)
Mavs. vs. Warriors (Mar. 25)
Spurs vs. Thunder (Mar. 26)