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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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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This week the internet and NBA Twitter were set on fire with the release of ESPN’s NBA Top-25 Players Under the age of 25. Many agreed, many disagreed but in the end the list gave commentators and basketball fans something to openly debate. With the NBA world all discussing the top young players in the game, this was the perfect time for some of these guys to either show why they deserved to be on the list or show why they deserved to be higher up on the list. This week we are going to focus on two of the Top-5 players who were ranked on this list. These guys have had a great season thus far and really showed out this week with some primetime performances and some big time wins over top-level competition. With all that being said, this week’s Hoopers of the Week are rising stars Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic. Let’s get into it!

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Now, this is what I’m talking about! Last Friday we were stuck with a handful of games that were blowout games that were done by the end of the first half. Completely uninteresting and lacking any kind of competitive spirit. This week we’ve got a few career-high performances, two overtime games, and a big-time walk-off buzzer-beater. This is what games under the Friday night lights should look like. Especially when nearly every team is still legitimately in the hunt for either a Top-8 seed in the playoff or for a shot in the Play-In tournament to make the postseason. With such a great night full of great performances, you know we have to highlight the players who shined the brightest. So, with that being said, here are some of the top performers who came up big last night. Let’s get right into it!

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This season has been filled with great storylines, interesting teams and has been one of the most parody-filled NBA regular seasons in recent memory.

If the season ended today the Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, and Phoenix Suns would all be in the playoffs. The race for league MVP goes about 15 players deep, ranging from guys like James Harden to Nikola Jokic to Damian Lillard and a bunch more. The competition across the league is truly at an all-time high.

But still, in the mix of all this excitement and parody in the NBA, there are still a handful of top-level talents that are not receiving their just due. Guys that have been balling out for a majority of the season or have come on strong as of late who are not getting the kind of recognition they deserve.

So, for this week’s Hoopers of the Week, we are going to show some of those guys some much-needed and well-earned respect. These guys are Russell Westbrook in the Eastern Conference and Devin Booker in the Western Conference. Let’s get into it!

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Just an overall tough night as a basketball fan in terms of the level of competitiveness in the NBA last night. Only one game was decided by ten points or less. We had blowouts ranging anywhere from 12 points all the way to a whopping 53 points! But with blowouts comes a handful of big-time performances and some nice performances by some bench guys that do not typically see a lot of playing time. So with that in mind, here are the Friday Night Primetime Performers from last night’s games across the league.

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Everybody knows that the best way to become well-liked and gain trust in a new environment is to first create a good first impression.

Well, when it comes to NBA basketball, the best way to really show your worth after being moved by the trade deadline is by balling out for whatever new team you land on. So, this week we are going to focus on guys who are setting up shop somewhere else in hopes of finding a new home after Thursday’s much-anticipated NBA Trade Deadline.

In particular, we are going to lock in and praise two guys who were having pretty good seasons thus far as part of their previous teams and kicked off post-NBA Trade Deadline weekend with a bang as members of their new teams.

With that being said, this week’s Hoopers of the Week are newly acquired Chicago Bull Nikola Vucevic staying in the Eastern Conference and former NBA champion Norman Powell who has gone west as a new member of the Portland Trailblazers. Let’s get into it!

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The NBA Trade Deadline is officially in the books and we all know what that means. New faces in new places. Teams are tanking. Contenders are making their final push for the playoffs. And most of all, the lights get brighter as every game means more than the last.

But no matter what time it is in the NBA season, we all know that nothing shines brighter than the Friday Night Lights! So, to kick off Post-Trade Deadline weekend in the NBA, here are some of the top performers from Friday night’s great slate of games.

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All Hail the Ant-Man!

In what has been a really interesting NBA season filled with parody, suspense, and competitive play, one of the league’s most exciting players this season has been rookie shooting guard Anthony Edwards for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Between all the SportsCenter Top-10 worthy poster dunks and the flashes of a James Harden-like offensive arsenal, Edwards has slowly played himself into a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate this season.

This is a guy who I personally criticized early in the season for his lack of aggression on the offensive end and the fact that he was not much of an impact player despite going No. 1 overall in this past year’s draft. Nonetheless, throughout the season he has slowly developed a stronger, more consistent offensive package and is starting to really utilize the god-given athleticism that helped propel him to the top of draft boards.

But this week, in particular, Anthony Edwards displayed the peak potential of what he was projected to become coming out of the University of Georgia. That is why this week I have to shine a bright spotlight on Edwards as he has come along very strong in the second half of the season thus far. So, this week Anthony Edwards is running solo as my lone Hooper of the Week!

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The second half of the season is in full swing as we finish out the first full week of NBA basketball since coming back from the All-Star break. This may be the most grueling part of the season, but this is also the stretch where we see a lot of guys play a bit out of their mind.

Sometimes it is to help propel their team to a playoff position. Sometimes it is to help create a solid highlight tape for themselves as they head into free agency. Sometimes it is even to prove the doubters wrong as way of showing those in the comment section that they swung and missed on their perception of certain players.

With all that being said, there are a lot of guys who fall into this category across the NBA. Ironically, a handful of them were gathered together last night under the bright Friday Night lights. All faced with an opportunity to do something special with the world watching. So, after a night filled with thrilling finishes and plenty of season-high benchmarks, here are the Standout Performers from this week’s slate of Friday Night games!

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