Oh man, things are going to get saucy in the second round!  After Slim and I (and most of you commenters) seemed to more-or-less agree on most of my top-10, here’s where I gotta get my defending pants on.  They kinda look like waders, but they’re decked out in OKC branded colors and logos.  I call them my “Dion Waiters”!  BOOM!  Offseason jokes are in in-season form!

While we’re all watching StanVan complain about the LeBron calls and crossing our fingers Steph is healthy enough to come back for game 3, there’s no better time to dive into the deep end of hoops rankings a good 5 months too early.  Can I put Ben Simmons in the top-25 yet?!  Pssshhh, thing be gettin’ crazy outside the top 10, but not dat crazy!  Here’s my Way Too Early Top 25 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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It’s finals week! Ugh, that makes it sound like I’m back in college…

“Oh no, I haven’t studied!” “…oh thank god!”

But you wanna know who DID study for all of his exams?! Harvard’s own Jeremy Lin. “Ohhohohohoho look at me, I’m from the Ivy League!” Linsanity is book-smart, plays in the NBA, and can get away with an Elmer’s Glue mohawk that makes that moron from Blink-182 jealous. On top of all that, he’s fantasy relevant as a H2H finals pickup! In RCL leagues with the “daily-tomorrow” setting, he’s going to be an early stream for me in the finale with a Tuesday matchup against the Sixers. Sure he’s cooled off a little bit his last two games, but 9/4/4/5/0 is still pretty saucy – his damage against the Bucks – which he put up last time out. In the finals, it’s all about streaming and anything that isn’t nailed down can go. It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean when they use their silverware in their cannons. Would it work in real life? Probably not. But in fantasy, dream away! This metaphor has gone wayyyyy downhill, if only I had an Ivy League edjamucation I might be more creative… Good luck in the Finals if you’re still in the playoffs, Razzball Nation! Here’s what went down this weekend in fantasy hoops action, plus the 7 Ahead for Week 22:

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Ya know, Brandon Knight and The Dark Knight metaphor work pretty well as a parallel to my time here on Razzball Hoops.  In 13-14, Knight was one of my first bolder calls that panned out (hey, it’s easier for me to forget the bad ones OK!  …cough, MCW, cough…), exploding onto the scene as the Bucks PG like Batman Begins.  I guess that implies I exploded onto the scene, let’s just say I feel like I was better than Batman & Robin, so that’s a plus…  Then he was somehow even better for most of 14-15; the rare sequel that’s better than the original in The Dark Knight.  In my second season, I was the only ‘pert to have #OccupyDraymondGreen top 100!  Take that, Christopher Nolan!  Then he was traded to the Suns, and thus far this season, we’ve only seen flashes of the former brilliance.  Exactly like The Dark Knight Rises.  He got a bigger budget with his max deal, and also got a longer run time.  And while Anne Hathaway is hot and all, there’s a lot of things that just didn’t make sense.  Only time will tell if Knight can break this analogy, because the next stop for Batman is this horrific looking dawn of justice movie hooblah.  Whatever the hell it’s called…  Why in the hell is Affleck going from Oscar-winning director to star of a CGI clusterF$*#?!?!?!  Not like he needs the money!  Knight returned last night (hah!) for 10/2/5/0/1 in 25 minutes off the bench after nearly 2 months out due to a groin.  He looked pretty good out there, even though he shot only 2-9.  Was cutting hard and ran into a mess of big men to scuffle for a board, so he’s not just coasting until the end of the season.  Good timing before the fantasy playoffs!  Hopefully you were able to hold; while I think he’s gonna be ho-hum compared to his numbers pre-injury with the Suns tanking, I do think he’ll be must-own.  So here’s to hoping he’s finally healthy, and buck the trend of both the Batman franchise, or movies by Christopher Nolan.  I have to buck the trend of this analogy too!  Now THERE’S some pressure for 16-17 ranks!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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Winter might not officially end for another couple of weeks, but Spring looks to have sprung for us up here in the northeast. Temperatures are climbing, the last of the snow has melted, the pretty girls are starting to peel away their heavy winter apparel, and the Toronto Raptors are reminding Canadian hoops fans why it’s never a good idea to buy into the idea that “maybe this will be our year.”

You’d think after nearly blowing a 15-point lead to the Blazers on Friday, and then actually blowing it against the visiting Rockets on Sunday, my Raps would take out some of their frustrations on the woefully bad Brooklyn Nets…yeah, not so much. Thanks to getting outscored 35-14 in the 2nd quarter, they were down 16 at half…to the Nets. The 18-45 Nets. That Toronto came back to win on the strength of 48 points from their All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry (23) & DeMar DeRozan (25) is besides the point. These extended periods of disinterested play against inferior competition are what have caused their early playoff exits each of the past couple years and Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre was just the most recent example of the team failing to learn from their past mistakes. If history is any indication, there’s going to be a lot more where that came from…

Whatever. I’m preemptively upset about it happening again and I don’t want to talk about it anymore, alright? Let’s just move past it.

For variety’s sake, we’ll change up the format again this week and break down Tuesday’s six pack game-by-game with a focus on the noteworthy fantasy performers who are helping and hurting owners as the playoffs fast approach.

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Well, there won’t be too many rainbows though!

Coming into the season, I thought it would be really hard for Devin Booker to do much this year. Then both Suns combo guards go down, and Booker took off, playing some really solid ball in his first full month as the starting 2, scoring 17 PPG on 45% from the field. But February was unkind, as the grind caught up to him and the FG% fell to 33.6% and the scoring down to 13.5. He has been able to maintain a great FT volume though even in cold stretches, so he doesn’t completely turn into a dirty pirate Booker. Last night against the Heat he found his stroke again, breaking out of his ice cold slump and hitting 11-21 from the field (3-7 3PTM), along with 9-9 freebies, for 34/3/4.  LeVar Burton ain’t got nothin’ on me!  I could see a lot of owners dumping him in this cold stretch, so it might be worth double-checking on his availability in shallowers.  Long-term, it kinda sounds like the Suns have soured on Brandon Knight a little, so I could see them moving his contract this offseason, especially with caps expanding and teams more able to adsorb the $.  If that happens, I could see the Suns starting Booker but making him overrated on draft day.  I like the kid’s game for how raw he came into the league, but the AST have been sporadic at best and he doesn’t get steals.  If not for a little FT volume he’d be a pretty clear-cut ThrAGNOF.  Don’t overpay!  And let’s get my boyfriend Knight a better job…  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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It’s unusual for teams to be clinching playoff spots this early in the season. The Warriors are on a historic pace to challenge the ’95-96 Bulls for the best single-season record in NBA history, at 72-10.

Because of this, the Spurs are flying under the radar, something that they seem to do every season. By beating the Pistons on Wednesday, the Spurs improved their home winning streak to 29 games and are now 51-9 on the season. That’s 17 straight 50+ win seasons. Absolutely incredible.

Marcus Morris (16 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists) the oldest Pistons’ starter was 8 years old when Tim Duncan (12 points and 8 rebounds) made his debut. And when Duncan is ready to call it a career, he has two young studs to continue the Spurs’ legacy: LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard.

Just like David Robinson and Duncan, Aldridge has played nicely along with Duncan. He grabbed a double-double against the Pistons with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists. Meanwhile, the reigning Finals’ MVP, Leonard, posted a 27/6/5 line with 2 steals.

While the Warriors have a shot at 72-10, both the Warriors and Spurs are still a ways away from matching the Bulls’ record of 44 straight wins at home.

Now onto the other nightly notables:

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You’d think a team decimated by injuries would throw in the towel. Not the case with the Bulls. Already missing Jimmy Butler (left knee strain), Nikola Mirotic (appendicitis), and Joakim Noah (shoulder surgery), Derrick Rose was a last-minute scratch due to right hamstring tendinitis. The Bulls won anyways, their third straight victory.

Playing alongside a makeshift lineup, Pau Gasol played through the flu, just missing a triple-double with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists. While it wasn’t Michael Jordan’s flu game, it was a still a pretty strong line.

Even with the Bulls’ starters ailing, there is value to be had on the roster. Under-owned guys like Taj Gibson (17/7/7), E’Twaun Moore (17 points and 3 rebounds), and Doug McDermott (14/5/2), can and should be relied upon down the stretch for both the Bulls and your fantasy teams. McBuckets also had the dunk of the night.

They won’t win you a championship on their own, but don’t overlook lesser named (and owned) guys during your playoff push.

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With any All-Star list, it’s impossible to include everyone who is having a great year. There are only 12 roster spots and there will always be well-deserving candidates that just don’t fit on the roster. It’s what makes the All-Star selection so noteworthy.

With the All-Star Game this weekend, here is my list of valuable fantasy all-stars who just don’t receive as much love:

Eastern Conference:

Kemba Walker – The Hornets are right in the hunt for the 8th playoff seed in the east and that’s due to the play of Walker. Al Jefferson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (more on him later) have missed most of the season, while Nicolas Batum (11/6/5) has been in and out of the lineup. Walker produces night in and night out with whoever is playing alongside him. Walker scored 25 points with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals to lead the Hornets to another victory.

Nikola Vucevic – Vucci Mane has been the cornerstone of the Magic and has single-handedly won the game for them with a few recent game-winners. He did much of the same on Wednesday with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. He’s only 25 so there’s still time for him to make the roster one of these years.

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The last Tuesday before the All-Star break featured five games spread all over the USA. From South Beach to NYC, Wisconsin to Texas, and finishing up in the Bay Area out west, we had a handful of contests that featured some big fantasy lines.

In lieu of a Thursday night double-header as a result of the abbreviated week, TNT snagged the two marquee games on Tuesday. First up was the Spurs and Heat featuring the Kawhi Leonard show. He served fantasy owners a generous helping of popcorn (23 points, nine boards, four dimes) with just the right amount of butter (three steals, a block, and a trey). Despite a few quiet games recently, you’re not moving Leonard for anyone outside the top-5.

Also jumping at 8pm were tilts between the Wizards and Knicks, and Celtics and Bucks. John Wall put on a show at the Garden, dropping 17 dimes to complement his team-high 28 points. He and backcourt mate, Bradley Beal combined for 54 points, five steals, eight triples, and only three turnovers. The Wizards needed every bit of it as they narrowly escaped New York with a three point win. Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, a wild and foul-filled last few seconds allowed the Bucks to steal one from the visiting Celts. Greg Monroe made his case for 6th Man of the Year as Jason Kidd decided it would be best for him to come off the bench on Tuesday. In 30 reserve minutes, Moose went off for 29/12/3/1/2. He was a team-best +11 and you have to wonder if him being so dominant as a reserve has Coach Kidd considering this as more than just a one game thing? So long as he’s getting the run, owners should continue to bank on the third round value he’s been returning on the season.

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ESPN picked a good one for their weekly Wednesday night NBA showcase. Stephen Curry vs. John Wall, two of the best point guards in the league. It was a very high scoring, up-tempo game, with the final score 134-121. And the stars did not disappoint.

Curry started out on fire, scoring 25 points in the first quarter and 36 in the first half. He cooled down a little bit, but still knocked down 11 of his 16 three point attempts, en route to 51 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals. Wow. Just like his Charlotte buddy Cam Newton, can they crown him MVP already?

John Wall was doing his best to cover Curry, but it’s a difficult job, even for a strong defender like Wall. Since he couldn’t stop him, Wall tried to match him offensively, finishing with 41 points, 10 assists, and 3 rebounds. He even knocked down all 3 of his three-point attempts, a facet of his game that is nowhere near the level of Curry. It was nice to watch two point guards with very different styles of game dominate the box score.

Oh, and lost in this point guard matchup was that Draymond Green got his league leading 10th triple-double with 12 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. He even added 5 blocks as a point forward!

As a Wizards fan, I figured that the Warriors would win the game, but was happy to see the Wizards play the defending NBA champions close for stretches of the game. Now onto the other nightly notables:

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