In the race to the 2021 NBA Playoffs, this grueling time in the league is also part of what defines players and teams as great, compared to just good. There are young teams on the rise looking to make a name for themselves and provide a statement for their organization that they are next up on the NBA Powerhouse totem pole. Teams like these have a group of young guys playing with a chip on their shoulder and are looking to prove the world wrong. Then there are the established veteran teams/players that know that seeding in the playoffs is everything and that finishing strong means just as much as starting out the season hot. These teams tend to have a top-20 caliber player with a handful of pieces around him that he needs to help elevate in order to reach playoff contention.

For this week’s Hoopers of the Week, he represents those young squads looking to put the NBA world on notice and show that he is ready for the bright lights of the NBA postseason So, representing the “Up Next” is first-time All-Star forward Julius Randle for the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference. Let’s get right into it!

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The Lakers held down the fort against a very depleted Utah Jazz team that was without Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert to name a few. 

The Jazz needed contributions from their role players and bench mob and some did step up. Jordan Clarkson, Sixth Man of The Year candidate, scored 27 points off the back of five triples while also getting five rebounds, dishing out four dimes, and stealing the ball once. Joe Ingles had an impressive outing with a double-double of 20 points and 14 assists while also getting three steals. Ersan Ilyasova took advantage of all the minutes tonight and scored 20 points with six threes while also hauling in five boards and stealing the ball an impressive four times. 

The Lakers had three players score 25 or more points. Andre Drummond flirted with a double-double of 27/8 while also stealing the ball twice and getting three dimes. Dennis Schroder had an excellent game scoring 27 points, handing out eight assists, and grabbing six rebounds, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 25 on 44.4% efficiency and also had five rebounds and two steals. 

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This is probably one of the toughest parts of the season for NBA players, coaches, and fans alike. Teams are jockeying for playoff position as the postseason gets closer by the day. Players across the league are missing games due to injury or being sat for tanking purposes.

This weekend we are missing a lot of fire power as Donovan Mitchell went down with injury yesterday, Jamal Murray is out for the rest of the season, and a handful of teams are sitting their top guys to conserve their health heading into the postseason/offseason.

So, on this week’s edition of the NBA Friday Night Recap, there are going to be a handful of games you may have never heard or never expected to have such a great performance. With this all-in mind, let’s get right into it and take a look at some of Friday’s top performers under the bright lights!

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Pat Connaughton benefited from the absence of Donte DiVincenzo, playing 26 minutes off the bench. He hit four of his 11 threes to score 14 points, while also hauling in eight rebounds. It was Connaughton’s third straight double-digit scoring game, and he’s dropped in 11 threes in that stretch. However, he’s as streaky as they come as he finished with single-digit point totals and only three triples over his previous seven outings. If you’re desperate for threes you can stream him and hope he gets hot from deep, and he provides solid rebounding for his position as well (five percent owned in Yahoo!).

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What is up everybody! If you’re still reading this column, then either you’re my biggest fan (Hi, Son!) or you’re still in the hunt for your fantasy basketball championship. As I mentioned last week, most of my teams are D.O.A. (Drunk off absynthe) after some massive injury and trade woes (including Oladipo, who had both). I’m likely finishing in the top 50 in RazzJam despite my top picks all missing significant time, so I’m cool with that. But you, my dear Son (best editor ever, bee-tee-dubya), you might be in a position to win. So, let’s do away with the singular player approach and take a look at the hot players that you could still acquire for your basketball squad. And! In case you didn’t know, I’m ranking pitchers every week over the summer on the baseball side of Razzball, and I’m in charge of QBs over on the fantasy football side. If you need fantasy help in those sports, come on over and ask away! 

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for week 16!  The goal of this post is to find you stream candidates who will help you win your matchup in eight or nine category H2H leagues.  The annual tank-a-thon is in full effect for some teams, while others will begin resting their stars in preparation for the playoffs.  All that to say, there will be some diamonds in the rough that surface as we near the end.

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Razzball Nation! Welcome back to our in-depth look at a player who has been nothing short of underwhelming for at least the past week.

“There are times

When you’ll need someone

I will be by your side

There is a light that shines

Special for you and me”

I am not exactly sure to whom Common was referring to in that J Dilla banger but what I do know is that I have been by your side all season long compadres. So much so that I hope you took your boy’s advice last week and made a stealth move for Zach LaVine before he exploded for that 50-burger and then put up another 30 two nights later. In fact, over the course of three games last week Mr. Lavine scored 101 points, drained 13 threes, 20 assists, and 19 rebounds. WOW! It is that type of late-season surge that could have made all the difference in your league and catapult your team to the top of the standings. Sadly, we are not here to gush about young Zachary and his awesomeness. Instead, we remain in the Windy City to focus on another Chi-Town player who has had a rough go over the past week and beyond.

With the regular season winding down, it is likely that trade deadlines in most formats have come and gone. Therefore, I will not be suggesting trade options moving forward but instead, I will be nudging you towards dropping or benching these players for a hotter pickup.

It is time to move on from…

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Vince Carter is one of my all-time favorite players, mainly because of his ability to execute dunks that look nearly impossible, even for NBA standards. Just ask Frederic Weis.

Good lord…One of, if not, the greatest dunker in NBA history and I have to admit I miss this kind of energy dunk in today’s NBA. That was until Miles Bridges did this to poor Clint Capela.

Mind you Capela is a strong rim protector, which makes the dunk that much more impressive. One of those plays that make you grimace just by watching it. Loved it. Also, note the reactions of the other players on the court in both videos.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Malachi Flynn was the most successful one as he continues to take advantage of his opportunity with great performances and was a top 90 player last week. Bobby Portis was ok, while Deni Avdija fizzled with only nine minutes in his last game and can be safely dropped again. Both the “Sell” candidates Derrick Rose and DeAndre Jordan did nothing to improve my view on them so they will remain as such.

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