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 9 Schedule: Games Played
4 Games: BOS, CHI, CLE, GSW, LAL, LAC, MIN, OKC, SAS
3 Games: ATL, BKN, DAL, DEN, DET, HOU, IND, MEM, MIA, MIL, NOR, NYK, ORL, PHO, POR, SAC, UTA, WAS
2 Games: CHA, PHI, TOR
In weekly leagues, there are some difficult decisions to make with only two games on the schedule for Charlotte, Philly and Toronto. The only players I would start from those teams are Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum. I want to say Joel Embiid as well, but you just never know if he’s going to get a random night off.
DeMarcus Cousins may face discipline from NBA?
Cousins’ owners in weekly leagues should be on red alert, as the Sacramento Bee published a video of several incidents between various media outlets and Cousins after his latest incident with Kings’ reporter Andy Furillo — Cousins was recorded confronting Furillo and can be seen jabbing a finger near his face. Sam Amick of USA Today is reporting that there is a "strong sense that a penalty is coming,” so he could be in danger of missing some action. Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein would be looking at a boost in value if a suspension is handed out (link)
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Top Three Adds of the Week
Jon Leuer- Other than Lou Williams, Leuer would by my choice for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. He’s scored 17+ points in three out of his last four games, and he’s played 31 minutes in two straight. Leuer is shooting 50.4 percent from the field on the season and flirts with close to 30 minutes each night. He won’t win you your fantasy league, but Leuer is worth owning in standard leagues because he doesn’t really hurt you in any category.
Marquese Chriss- I still think he’s more of a stash because he will be a little inconsistent, but his upside is obvious. He has played 31 minutes in two straight games and coach Earl Watson said he wants him to become the team’s Draymond Green. He has per-36 minute averages of 14.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.2 steals and 1.2 triples, so I don’t see how you can leave that on the wire.
Brandon Jennings- Derrick Rose tried to return from his back issue too early and he’s in danger of missing more time because he’s Derrick Rose. In three starts this season, Jennings is averaging 13.0 points, 5.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 turnovers.
The Drop List:
Monta Ellis- In the five games before he strained his groin, Ellis averaged 7.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists on 39.3 percent shooting. It’s possible he returns on Dec. 19, but Indiana only has three games in Week 9.
Dario Saric- With the 76ers nearly at full strength, Saric is basically limited to minutes in the teens as a backup small forward.
Quote of the Week:
"I think I'm too good to be playing 8 minutes," Nerlens Noel said. of his role in Philly "That's crazy. That's crazy. That's crazy. We need to figure this s--- out.” He’s not lying, but hopefully this gives the front office some motivation to get a deal done.
According to Chris Mannix of The Vertical, Ricky Rubio’s market has “shriveled consistently because of how he has played this year.” The Wolves have a 7-18 record which is the second worst in the West, so if they don’t turn things around they will have more incentive to give Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones more burn at the expense of Rubio. His fantasy owners should be rooting for a trade.
When asked what he’s looking for before the deadline, Celtics GM Danny Ainge said he wants to upgrade the offense. "Late-game offense, I think, is important,” Ainge said. “I think that's always one of the most challenging things to find. I think that's why we do hear a lot of talk about transcendent players. And I think that those kind of players that can finish games against great defense are the most difficult kind of players to find in the NBA. So I think that rather than positionally, I just think that whatever position those players are in. Those are the most challenging players to acquire.” In case it’s not obvious, Ainge is implying that he’s looking for a star. It’s worth noting that the Celtics have been linked to Gordon Hayward in the past, but he won’t be cheap (h/t MassLive).
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the research that rival teams have done on Nerlens Noel is “not good.” The report adds that rival teams have doubts about the way that Noel carries himself in addition to his “habits.” This report came out before Noel blasted the 76ers about his role, so finding a trade partner might prove to be difficult.
Wojnarowksi expects the Heat to explore trades for Goran Dragic, and I would expect the Heat to ask for draft picks and cap relief in exchange because it’s never been more obvious that they are in full-blown rebuild mode. Tyler Johnson would be a stud if Dragic left Miami and Josh Richardson would be fun to own as well.
Wojnarowski also dropped an interesting nugget regarding Brook Lopez, saying that the franchise “values him” and that they won’t move him just to move him. He’s on the books through the 2017-18 season, so the Nets don’t need to trade him this year.
In a recent podcast, Wojnarowski said the Pacers are not looking to trade Paul George. "I know teams have been calling Indiana and asking about Paul George and the answer is absolutely, positively no,” Woj said. ‘He's not available, there's no conversation to be had, don't even make offers to us. We're not moving Paul George.’” (h/t Hoopshype)
Shortly after the Rockets agreed to a four-year deal with Donatas Motiejunas, they weren’t happy with the results of his physical and almost immediately renounced his rights. He’s now a free agent, but he can’t sign with the Nets for one year after they previously signed him to an offer sheet that Houston matched.
Injury Report: Accurate as of Dec. 17 at 2:00 PM ET
Jeremy Lamb (rib cage strain) is questionable for Saturday's game vs. Atlanta. Marco Belinelli will be a nice pickup in deeper leagues if Lamb sits since he’s already stealing some of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s minutes.
Taj Gibson suffered a right hip contusion on Friday vs. the Bucks and wasn’t able to return to the game. It sounds minor, but the Bulls haven’t provided an update as of Saturday morning. With Nikola Mirotic out of the rotation and in the doghouse, Bobby Portis is the next man up if Gibson misses time.
Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles) said he is expecting to return to action this month. Wow, I didn’t see that coming. He was listed as out indefinitely and there were some rumors that he may retire after the season. His return will push Harrison Barnes to small forward which will slow down rookie Dorian Finney-Smith. Feel free to pick up Dirk, but I don’t like his outlook with the Mavs tanking. Andrew Bogut (knee) is likely a couple weeks away which means Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri are still relevant, while J.J. Barea (calf) could return as soon as Week 9.
Monta Ellis (groin) hasn’t been updated in a while, but he was previously ruled out until at least Dec. 19. With Rodney Stuckey (hamstring) expected to miss a couple games, C.J. Miles and Glenn Robinson III will benefit.
Chandler Parsons (knee) is now considered day-to-day and could make an appearance in Week 9. His workload will be limited and while he should be picked up in standard leagues, he needs to be treated like a stash. James Ennis (calf) is also on the verge of a return, so Troy Daniels and Troy Williams will lose most of their value.
Wayne Ellington strained his hamstring on Friday and is questionable for Sunday’s game vs. Boston. Tyler Johnson (illness) is also questionable, while Dion Waiters (groin) has been ruled out. Justise Winslow should be owned in standard leagues.
Anthony Davis (lower left leg contusion) could have returned to the game on Friday according to coach Alvin Gentry, but he was held out as a precaution due to the lopsided score. Regardless, it’s another reminder of how fragile AD is and it’s why I’m worried about his outlook for the rest of the season on the struggling Pelicans. Terrence Jones should be owned in standard leagues.
Derrick Rose (back) is questionable to play Saturday vs. Denver, but I wouldn’t count it. That’s why Brandon Jennings is a solid pickup for Week 9. Carmelo Anthony (shoulder) is expected to play and it sounds like he was simply rested earlier in the week.
Jerryd Bayless (left wrist) had surgery on Thursday and is expected to miss the rest of the season. This means that Sergio Rodriguez will be relevant for a while, at least until Ben Simmons (foot) is able to return. That’s also not a lock.
Victor Oladipo (wrist) has missed two games in a row and didn’t practice on Friday. He’s iffy at best for Saturday’s game vs. Phoenix. If we don’t get good news by Sunday, weekly owners will have a tough decision to make. There are no great pickups with Dipo out.
Rudy Gay (hip) has missed two games in a row. The Kings listed him as doubtful for those two games, suggesting he may miss more time. He is day-to-day, but they won’t rush him back as they continue to tank. Omri Casspi is a nice pickup even though he missed Friday’s game with an illness.