Sometimes you need to stand back and take a good, hard look at your personal biases as a writer.

When I do that while wearing my NBA hat, I can clearly see that I don’t give the Philadelphia 76ers a lot of love. What can I say? I just can’t stand James Harden. A couple years back he came to my Nets amidst hope and big dreams – a “Superteam” with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – and left the way he always does: As a loser. Harden is one of the greatest regular season players of all time – a true fantasy basketball god over the course of his career – but he crumbles like no other in the playoffs. And can we really say much better for the veteran combination of Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris? Despite big names and strong stat sheet production, this Philly team hasn’t gotten anywhere with this core over time.

Maybe this season will be different? I doubt it. Yet and still, Harden and Embiid had their patented pick-and-roll rollin’ Wednesday night, on their way to a solid 105-94 victory over the pesky, young Orlando Magic. Let’s dive in and take a closer look from a fantasy perspective.

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The Utah Jazz were really a feel-good story early this season, right? With alpha Donovan Mitchell out of the way – absolutely dominating in Cleveland – the young, hungry Jazz stormed out of the gate to a strong start to their season. Lauri Markkanen continues to be one of the best players in the NBA this season, but things have sort of fallen back to earth for the rest of Will Hardy’s inexperienced squad. And well, Wednesday night was no different in that descent – superstar vet Damian Lillard tore them to pieces in another tough loss in this tumble for the Jazz. Let’s jump in and take a closer look.

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I’ve been covering fantasy basketball throughout this season and well… I haven’t been able to write many nice things about the Charlotte Hornets to date. So when I saw they picked up a rare road victory on Wednesday night – 122-117 over the young, rebuilding Houston Rockets – I thought this is finally the Hornets’ time to shine! But alas, one step forward and one step back for this stumbling squad – despite the victory, the real loss was the apparent ankle injury to franchise superstar LaMelo Ball. Let’s dive a little bit deeper into this game and fantasy-relevant injury.

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Something tells me the Pelican won’t fare well in that scenario, right? Well, that was the case Wednesday night when the Celtics’ Scottie Pippen, “Robin” or what have you – Jaylen Brown – torched the young Pelicans to the tune of 41 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Brown led Boston to a convincing 125-114 victory over New Orleans and he wasn’t alone – top dog, Batman Jayson Tatum bullied his way to 31 points and 10 rebounds of his own.

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My first and only allegiance will always be to the Brooklyn Nets, but Ja Morant’s Memphis Grizzlies are my second-favorite team in the game today. I personally felt they played the NBA champion Golden State Warriors better than anybody else in last year’s playoffs – and don’t forget that Morant went down and missed time. This team has everything you want from a modern NBA roster – a true, showstopping superstar (Morant), a dominant defender who also contributes offensively (Jaren Jackson Jr.), a confident, lights-out shooter (Desmond Bane) and multiple other quality pieces (Adams, Brooks, Jones, Aldama and Clarke, just to name some).

But this is exactly what we don’t want from a fantasy perspective. We don’t want Bane and Jackson returning from injuries and eating into Morant’s usage as a top-tier fantasy producer. We don’t want these young, deep, talented Grizzlies to be so good that they are blowing people out and limiting our fantasy minutes. Let’s take a look at how this situation played out on Wednesday night in The League.

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I feel like Scottie Pippen under the shadow of Michael Jordan’s greatness. I feel like John Stockton, always having to sacrifice for Karl Malone to finish the play and get the glory. I mean seriously… having the NBA Wednesday recap after Luka Doncic’s historic Tuesday night feels like ordering a bacon cheeseburger and getting lettuce on a piece of bread.

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It was a “double win” kind of night for sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu on Wednesday, as he sent the Atlanta Hawks home crying in dramatic fashion, while simultaneously earning more playing time in the immediate future. A teammate never likes to see a fellow soldier go down, but Alex Caruso is now in concussion protocol, opening the door to a possible resurgence for Dosunmu who had recently faded into fantasy basketball anonymity. Let’s dig a little deeper into this game, as well as the rest of Wednesday’s fast-paced action in the NBA.

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The 2022 NBA Draft class has been quite a delight, right?

No. 1 overall selection Paolo Banchero is averaging 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game; 15/4/4 for Jaden Ivey (No. 5 pick), 18 PPG for Bennedict Mathurin (No. 6), and 12 and seven for Jabari Smith Jr. (No. 3). We’ve also seen promising flashes from Jalen Duren (leading all rookies with 7.3 rebounds per game), Keegan Murray (12 and four) and Andrew Nembhard (leading in three-point percentage at 40.4). All this positivity comes even without uber-popular Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick who suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury before ever taking the floor in an NBA regular season game. Big things comin’ in the future, for sure.

That leads us into Wednesday night in fantasy basketball, one highlighted by two of the rising rookies I referenced above.

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I was watching Dahmer the other day on Netflix, and there’s a scene toward the end of the series where Jeffrey Dahmer (infamous serial killer) seeks wisdom and guidance from a priest in prison. Dahmer says, “Even in Star Wars, I always liked the bad guys more,” to which the priest replies, “So did I… those characters are written better.”

With that in mind, is there a villain in the NBA whose storyline is written any wilder than Kyrie Irving’s? Back in his Cleveland Cav days, Kyrie was my favorite player in the NBA, and now he even plays for my favorite team – the Brooklyn Nets. And yet, for a plethora of obvious reasons, Kyrie has gone from my favorite to most hated player in basketball. For lovers of The Villain – like Dahmer, who was one himself – has an NBA storyline ever been written like this before?

(1) It all started when Kyrie dropped a bomb on us… apparently the world is flat. That’s when we knew things were starting to change in the young man’s mind. (2) Then he wore out his welcome in Boston, and capped that off by enraging Celtics fans when he stomped on their logo, Lucky the Leprechaun. (3) Then he became THE anti-vaxxer in the NBA – the poster boy for dissent – and cost the Nets their season in the process. (4) Then came Alex Jones, I don’t think I need to say more on that, followed by (5) The Grand Finale, going down as arguably the worst anti-Semite in the history of the NBA.

And yet, after all that disgusting content and embarrassment, Kyrie refused to vanish into Cancellation. In fact, he seemed to return to the court as strong as ever. Is he simply embracing his newfound role as basketball’s Supervillain? Let’s jump into Wednesday night’s NBA slate to get a deeper understanding of Kyrie’s fantasy basketball adjustments.

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With one of the deepest and busiest schedules, Wednesdays in the NBA bring action, drama and monster fantasy box scores. Last night was par for the course – or should I say, par for the court? – as superstars Jayson Tatum, Trae Young, Kevin Durant and a number of others went HAM on a jaw-dropping night of basketball that had as many twists and turns as a gymnast driving a racecar in an episode of Black Mirror.

Not to mention – as always in the NBA these days – injuries, illnesses, rest and load management. I can’t wait to crack this slate open. Let’s dive right in.

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Basketball is back!

It was a wild offseason in the NBA, one highlighted by more off-the-court news than on. Kevin Durant demanded a trade; then after a long, drawn-out soap opera, ended up remaining in Brooklyn.  The defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics lost their head coach Ime Udoka for the season, after he was suspended for an “improper intimate and consensual relationship” with a female staff member. Lastly and most devastatingly, the basketball world lost all-time legend Bill Russell after 88 of the most accomplished years anyone’s ever seen on this earth.

In terms of impact roster moves, old-school center Rudy Gobert was dealt to the Timberwolves, the Spurs’ best player Dejounte Murray was traded to the Hawks and Donovan Mitchell – after being linked to the Knicks in over 10,000 rumors – ended up being shipped to the Cavs. But without further ado or hoopla, let’s jump right into my NBA preseason predictions and rapid-fire fantasy summaries.

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