I won’t put you to sleep with a long and drawn out introduction today, as I‘m sure you all want to learn who to pickup to help your team win in the fantasy playoffs, so I will just make a brief mention of my awe for the performances Stephen Curry has been blessing us with during the last month or so. In his last 20 games he is averaging 33.6 points, 5.5 triples on 50%/90.7% shooting. Unreal… As unreal as some of the plays he has made during this streak, like this one.

Ridiculous. I also read that if Steph was to go 0/500 for his next 3-point attempts and then immediately retire, he would still have a better 3pt% than Ray Allen. His MVP case is getting stronger by the day, especially when you consider the talent around him or more precisely the lack of it. Even fans in Philly have acknowledged the fact with MVP chants for him.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Facundo Campazzo has not dazzled with his performances, but with Monte Morris injured on top of Jamal Murray being sidelined, I still like him as a valuable playoff contributor. Marcus Morris also will continue to benefit from Kawhi’s injury that will cost him at least the next 3 games while Jalen McDaniels continues to have a solid 32 minutes role in Charlotte. Finally, “Sell” candidates Millsap and Harrell continued being non-factors in fantasy.

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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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Brawls in the NBA have been very rare lately, compared to the old days. Just ask Ron Artest. This is of course an improvement and it usually takes something unique to sparkle one nowadays. And in a weird twist of fate, what created one in yesterday’s game between the Lakers and the Raptors was OG Anunoby lifting Dennis Schroeder like he was made out of feather.

Ok, either Anunoby is way too strong or Schroeder is way too light, as he was almost zoned out when he lifted him and immediately went for the apology. Anunoby seems like a very chill dude so I bet he didn’t even realize what he was doing at that moment, but it still created a rare scuffle.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, both Chuma Okeke and Gary Trent Jr. were awesome, with the former producing top 30 and the latter top 50 fantasy production this past week. Jaden McDaniels and Hamidou Diallo were also productive and certainly worth rostering, while Evan Fournier, who was mentioned in the “Sell” column had a great week but is currently out due to COVID-protocols. I don’t even mention Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who was also in the “Sell” column since he hasn’t played yet and I have serious doubts that he will play again this year. The general consensus seems to disagree with me, as he is still owned in 97% of Yahoo leagues.

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The buyout market has always been a contentious topic in the NBA, but especially this year as LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin went to the Nets while Andre Drummond signed with the Lakers. These moves would normally cost teams current or future assets, but this is not the case in a buyout situation. This is especially a concern for smaller market teams that lack the allure to convince players to join them via the buyout market, essentially widening the margin between big and small-market teams. I am not sure if this is in the immediate agenda of the league but even as a fan I have to admit that it feels a little bit like cheating for a team to get players of that caliber for essentially no cap space hit. Another unfortunate side effect is that trades for these players are unlikely to happen, as rival executives know that the players will be eventually bought out and are reluctant to give anything of value for them. All in all, it seems like a situation that needs to be further explored for potential changes next year.

Getting back to the fantasy talk and regarding last week’s suggestions, I hope you followed my advice on selling Al Horford, as the Thunder announced he will not play again this season as they shift their focus to tank…ahem to player development…Tyler Herro was also featured as a “Buy” candidate and has since improved his shooting and peripheral stats, while Jordan Poole also had a good run but is a drop due to Stephen Curry’s return.

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There are some players who left their mark in the NBA more with their personality rather than with their game. This is not meant as disrespect for their game but more of praise of their personality and a major example of this has to be Brian Scalabrine. The original “White Mamba” played five seasons for the Boston Celtics and was one of the most beloved players. His unorthodox style and physique made him stand out but his lack of athleticism always had casual fans go “I could easily beat this guy one-on-one”, “why is this guy even in the NBA?”, and other similar comments. Well, a high schooler actually challenged the 43-year-old Scalabrine to a one-on-one game, and the man, the myth, the legend agreed.

The total annihilation that followed really puts in perspective how much of a difference the level of these players are to an everyday or above-average player. I will wrap this introduction with a quote from Mr. Scalabrine that said, “I’m closer to Lebron than you are to me” to a casual heckler.

Regarding last week’s “Buy” suggestions, Kenyon Martin Jr. has been mediocre, Moses Brown has been must own with Al Horford being a strong trade candidate and getting more and more rest days, while Danny Green proved an awesome suggestion with some of his best performances of the season coming this past week. On the “Sell” front, Kevin Love has yet to play and I highly doubt he will ever this season if he remains in Cleveland, while Kendrick Nunn has predictably lost some of the usage he enjoyed with the Heat injuries.

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The NBA trade deadline is one week away and with the addition of the playoff play-in tournament, more teams are expected to be buyers than before. This makes the roster spot and fantasy value of many veterans in rebuilding teams quite precarious and I would expect a number of them to be moved to less ideal fantasy situations before the deadline. This could also provide more opportunities for younger guys to generate fantasy value, so it would be wise to stay especially active during the next week in an attempt to try and capitalize quickly on trades, by adding the correct players from the waiver wire. Fantasy goodness is about opportunity after all so all these potential roster changes can shake up the rotation of many teams. Finally, this year we have seen a record number of cases of teams flat out sitting veterans when they don’t fit in their timeline, so that could be interesting to watch in the future, with names like Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin already on that list.

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I would like to dedicate today’s intro to Joakim Noah, who announced his retirement from the game of basketball this week. Noah was a player who based his career solely on defense, but he was an imposing presence in the paint and a great defensive anchor, resulting in two All-Star appearances and a Defensive Player of the Year award. During his two best years in Chicago, he was also a solid fantasy contributor, finishing both years inside the top 20 with solid big man stats plus out-of-position assists. His unique free throw shooting style was also memorable, albeit usually for the wrong reasons.

This week is double for many leagues, counting stats up until the 14th of March, due to the All-Star break. I am really perplexed by the fact that the NBA decided to organize an All-Star game this year, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, but it will at least be a good chance for players to get a breather and nurse some of their lingering injuries, as they get ready for the second half of the season.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Saddiq Bey and Jalen Brunson have been solid, Jae’sean Tate got fewer minutes than I thought but I still like him, and Saben Lee was underwhelming. If you are losing minutes to Dennis Smith Jr, you are in trouble. But he is a rookie, so he gets a pass. Finally, Elfrid Payton was, is, and will remain a “Sell” candidate with the season he is having in New York and is currently also injured.

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I have repeatedly mentioned my dislike for Anthony Edwards’ fantasy game and he has recently also been featured in the “Sell” column, but the man can fly. The man can definitely fly.

Poor Watanabe, I credit him for trying to contest but he had no chance. Next year, if he can improve his percentages and learn to handle all his athleticism, he could be a different player. Finally, before moving to the fantasy side of things, I have repeatedly touched on the subject of NBA officiating and another great example happened last week, with JJ Redick getting ejected for passing the ball to the referee.

I can not offer any more comments on this really. If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Joe Hart and Jae Crowder are both on a roll and I hope you capitalized on your chance to add them last week. Grayson Allen was also fine but a level below the two mentioned, Dorian Finney-Smith was a complete disaster combining for a total of 4 points in 2 games while Blake Griffin is still not playing and is a deserving “Sell” candidate.

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We have already seen a good chunk of the season and can safely see how the stats and teams are shaping up. An interesting topic every year around the NBA is the MVP race and this year it is supposedly a very ambiguous one, with Lebron being Lebron, Embiid and Jokic stepping up, and Durant returning to his pre-injury form. However, the true MVP this year in my mind up to this point is someone that is not being mentioned so often as the aforementioned players and is only ranked 7th in ESPN’s early MVP rankings.

Stephen Curry is carrying the Warriors to the playoffs by averaging 30.1 points per game on a ridiculous 66.9% True Shooting Percentage. Opposing defenses have been often helpless and left standing to watch in awe as Steph dribbles, razzles and dazzles through them, making tough shot after tough shot with insane accuracy. The most mind-boggling stat is that in 2016, Curry won the first unanimous MVP award by averaging……… 30.1 points per game, on a ridiculous 66.9% True Shooting Percentage, the exact same stats that he is currently averaging. The fact that he is only viewed as the 7th candidate for MVP is atrocious in my mind. Plus, he can casually do this at the end of games.

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Russell Westbrook has always been a controversial figure in basketball. There are those who love his competitive spirit, ability to lead and mentor his teammates, and dynamic and physical play. There are also those who criticize the lack of progress in his shooting, defensive commitment, and success in the playoffs. Whatever your take is on Westbrook, in terms of fantasy, there was one moment that proved to be a major turning point. And it wasn’t a trade, an injury, or anything else related to his play.

Over the summer of 2017, the NBA changed the delay of game rules, making it so that a free throw shooter is no longer allowed to go beyond the 3-point line, or he will be assessed a delay of game violation. Westbrook’s ft% average before this rule was 82.4%. His average after it is 70.3%. And he is shooting a whopping 7.1 free throws per game for his career, so you can understand the fantasy impact this has. His shooting woes this year (41.3%) along with a major decrease in steals (0.8) and increase in turnovers (4.9) has him ranked 207th in per-game value. Let that sink in…Take an extra moment, you need it. Now see things clearly and try with all your might to trade him if you drafted him, taking advantage of his name value and the owners in your league that like him in real life, because he is actively hurting your fantasy team, even if you are punting turnovers.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, all were serviceable, with Thaddeus Young leading the bunch with three excellent fantasy lines. Beware that from the “Buy” suggestions, De’Anthony Melton hurt his shoulder and is questionable, so feel free to stream his spot, if necessary.

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