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 semi-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 22 Schedule: Games Played
5 Games: LAC
4 Games: ATL, BKN, BOS, CHA, CHI, DEN, GSW, IND, MIL, NYK, PHI, PHX, POR, WAS
3 Games: CLE, DAL, DET, HOU, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIN, NOR, OKC, ORL, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA
Top 3 Adds of the Week:
*Before anybody asks, Ivica Zubac, Richaun Holmes, Alan Williams and Marquese Chriss are all must-own players, but their ownership rates were too high already.
Tyler Ulis- With Eric Bledsoe shut down for the season, Tyler Ulis is officially a must-start player. In his first two starts without Bledsoe in the lineup, Ulis averaged 16.0 points, 10.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.5 triples on 14-of-35 shooting. His FG percentage isn’t going to be the greatest, but there’s so much to like here. Assists are the hardest thing to find on the wire, so Ulis is a no-brainer add.
"I think I'm playing pretty well," Ulis said. "I just need to adjust to my new role. Earl [Watson] wants me to be a lot more aggressive coming out. I'm used to coming in as the backup, facilitating and getting guys involved early. I'm just trying to adjust to it.” Coach Watson said Ulis is “getting better and better,” and the rookie PG is going to have a long leash the rest of the way. In fact, I think he averages 36+ minutes going forward.
Nikola Mirotic- He’s back! Mirotic was in the doghouse a couple weeks ago and wasn’t in the rotation, but the Bulls have decided that they will make a run at the No. 8 seed in the East and Mirotic should be heavily involved going forward. He’s averaging 17.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 3.3 triples over his last three games, and he’s clearly outplaying starting PF Bobby Portis. Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade confronted Mirotic last week and told him that they wouldn’t make the playoffs without his help, so he deserves a lot of credit for snapping out of his funk.
Will Barton- The Nuggets are banged up right now with both Wilson Chandler (groin) and Danilo Gallinari (knee) on the shelf. Barton had been quiet for several weeks, but he came back to life this week with two huge performances. He dropped 22 points with four triples and six assists vs. the Lakers on Mar. 13 and followed that up with 35 points, three assists and seven 3-pointers vs. the Clippers on Mar. 16. He won’t be this good, but Barton has to be picked up right now on a Denver team that needs his offense in the worst way with two of their top scorers out.
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On the Radar:
Skal Labissiere- I’ve been talking him up for a few weeks and he finally showed us all why on Mar. 15 vs. the Suns when he went off for 32 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and one triple in 30 minutes. He’s now played 20+ minutes in three straight games and should be a huge part of the rotation in the final month of the season. Since the DeMarcus Cousins trade, Labissiere is averaging 10.6 points and 6.2 rebounds on 60.5 percent shooting in just 16.9 minutes. The Kings only play three times this week, so that’s why he’s not in my top three adds of the week.
Denzel Valentine- With Dwyane Wade (elbow) out for the season, Valentine is clearly the big winner. While it was Paul Zipser who picked up the start in Wade’s place on Friday, Valentine still played 31 minutes off the bench and I think that’s a fair expectation going forward. He didn’t light it up with just 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and two triples, but you have to love that he hoisted up seven 3-point attempts. The Bulls rank dead last in triples made per game, so the rookie will have the green light from deep. With four games on the schedule, he’s an intriguing add.
"I'm approaching it the same. No added pressure, but I'm not taking it lightly either," Valentine said of his new role. "Stay the course. Get better every game. I've been playing well. I need to finish the season strong.”
Juancho Hernangomez- With Wilson Chandler (groin) and Danilo Gallinari (knee) both out, Hernangomez has played well in two straight games with averages of 11.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 2.0 triples in just 22.5 minutes per game. He has a very fantasy-friendly game and the Nuggets have made several hints that he’s the starting small forward of their future. If you’re in a deeper league and need to stream some triples next week, Juancho should be on your radar with four games on the schedule.
The Drop List:
Trevor Booker: The Nets are going to be “super cautious” with him while he’s dealing with leg soreness.
Sean Kilpatrick- The Nets don’t play around with hamstring injuries. Just ask Jeremy Lin.
Dwyane Wade- He might return for the postseason, but the Bulls have to get there first.
Bobby Portis- He’s done nothing with the starting role. Nothing.
Dion Waiters- More on him later, but the ankle injury looked bad and I expect him to miss time.
David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon- They both looked like solid adds due to the uncertainty surrounding LaMarcus Aldridge, but LMA appears to be 100 percent again.
Thaddeus Young- He hasn’t been worth owning since the All-Star break.
Terrence Ross- He was a top-40 player in his first two weeks with the Magic, but he has disappeared since then.
Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood- It’s been a lost season for both players.
Norman Powell- His minutes are too low when DeMarre Carroll is active.