During draft season, I joked with the other Razz writers that, according to my extremely unscientific research, 100% of LA guys were in on LaMelo Ball. The echo chamber and hype bubble were too well-constructed for this not to be the case (also I didn’t really do much research and threw out evidence that didn’t support my theory. I’m Mister Hooper, not Doctor.) LaVar’s greatest creation was not the trio of ballers he sired (or those ugly shoes), but the machine he constructed to discuss them ad infinitum. Put off the Ball family brashness, I was lukewarm on LaMelo when drafting and missed out on an extremely fun and productive rookie year. The hype will be hot again next season, I assume, especially if the Hornets show some fight against one of the beasts of the East, so I’ll probably miss him next year too. But perhaps there’s a backdoor to one of these Balls. While little bro is taking up all the shine, Lonzo Ball has taken another step forward, especially as a shot maker. The vision and passing has always been legit (even my hater-ass was quick to concede that after watching him at Summer League) but the stroke has been sanded down and his 3-point percentage now creeps towards 40%. Still shy of 24-years-old, he’s putting it together.

Last night, playing in the aptly named Ball Arena in Denver, Lonzo consistently got where he wanted to go on the floor and then dimed up his teammates once he cracked the Denver defense open. The highlight package below isn’t spectacular, but if you want to watch a dude move to the exact spots  where he’s most dangerous, then I have the clip for you.

Lonzo Ball

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
16 12 12 4 2 4 6/14 0/0 4

It was another busy Wednesday in professional hoops. Here’s what else stood out:

Joel Embiid

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
17 7 1 1 3 1 7/16 2/2 1

Sleepwalking through 25 minutes and still contributing in every cat.

Tobias Harris

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
17 7 6 0 1 1 6/12 4/4 0

I kind of feel bad for Tobias Harris. Sure, he signed a fat 5-year/$180M contract, so we’re talking about rich guy problems, but it’s so clear that he’s never going to be The Man. And I’m not just talking about basketball. With the Sixers, Embiid is (correctly) the center of gravity. In those Goldfish commercials, Bobi blows Tobi off the screen.

Boban Marjanovic Bobi And Tobi GIF by Goldfish

How can you compete with that kind of star power?

Seth Curry

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
20 3 1 0 1 4 8/12 0/0 1

Everyone on the roster for the Sixers played and scored. That’s a pizza party where I come from.

The Atlanta Hawks — currently the fifth-best team in the Eastern Conference — who started Clint Capela, John Collins, Lou Williams, Solomon Hill, and Brandon Goodwin were down 67-39 at half. We’re skipping Hawks blurbs on principle and instead moving to the audience Q/A portion of our program.

“Hey Hooper, what’s your favorite thing about NBA basketball?” Great question. It’s definitely the amount of regular season games and the reliance on conferences to determine which 16 teams get invited to participate in the postseason.

Chuma Okeke

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
18 3 3 3 2 3 7/12 1/2 2

Well, the trade deadline definitely opened the door for Chuma. He hasn’t been all that since the great Orlando teardown, but he’s been a top-100 player over the last month, which was certainly more than he was chipping in before. He’s got a bit of a PJ Washington feel with fewer boards. A 1/1/1 threat, but not quite there yet.

Gary Harris

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
19 6 7 0 1 1 9/16 0/0 0

Best game he’s had since…2018?

Mo Bamba

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
9 7 2 1 2 1 4/9 3/4 2

Even with Wendell Carter Jr. struggling with fouls, Bamba couldn’t crack 25 MP. Mo Wagner is here now to serve as a wet blanket (8 MP). Frustrations abound, even by Magic standards. He’s a per-36 monster and a useful player in limited minutes, but it seems like there’s a real ceiling on how much of the court he’s going to see.

Darius Garland

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
25 2 10 4 0 2 10/24 3/4 6

On an absolute tear. Top-40 player over the last week and month. Maybe the season averages will obscure the ceiling that has been on display during a time when absolutely no one is paying attention to the Cavs. It will be interesting to see who remembers this run come draft season.

Isaac Okoro

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
15 5 2 4 0 1 4/12 6/6 0

Yesterday I sung the praises of Jae’Sean Tate’s impressive rookie campaign and how he’s responded to the minutes that the Rockets showered him with. Okoro is the other side of that coin. He’s averaging 30+ MP across all 56 games as a 20-year-old rookie. The growing pains are obvious, but there’s defensive potential here. I haven’t written him off.

Jarrett Allen

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
17 13 1 1 2 0 7/12 3/6 0

Like Garland, there were a few down times for Allen that will skew his season numbers. He came into his own in Cleveland though, and they’re committed to him going forward. Plenty to like next year and beyond.

Nikola Vucevic

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
26 18 3 0 2 3 10/22 3/4 2

This was kind of a big game for the Bulls and they didn’t get the result they needed. They’re chasing the Wizards (stifles laugh) for the 10th spot in the East (cackle catches in my throat) and the next highest scorers were Lauri Markkanen with 14 and Coby White and Garrett Temple with 12. Look, I think the play-in is cool, and I’m definitely not a stickler for tradition, but dipping deeper into the standings for excitement means that you’ve gotta engage with abjectly flawed basketball teams. Relegation, anyone?

Julius Randle

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
34 7 3 0 1 4 12/23 6/6 0

King stays king.

RJ Barrett

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
22 7 6 2 1 3 9/15 1/2 2

It’s fundamentally impossible for a Knick to be under-discussed. That said, if Randle weren’t having the year he’s had, all we’d be talking about is how much better RJ looks in year two. Every single statistic has gone in the right direction.

Andre Drummond

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
17 11 2 1 1 0 8/12 1/4 2

Keep banging that drum, mon.

Anthony Davis

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
26 5 2 3 1 2 10/20 4/6 3

A classic good news/bad news game for Laker fans. You can practically see the rust falling off AD, but there’s still a LeBron-sized hole in this team. Oh, and they lost to the Wizards, who have won seven of their last eight. Spoiler season.

Kyle Kuzma

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
11 7 8 0 2 2 4/12 1/1 0

Season high in dimes and a pretty well-rounded effort. Could have gone better for with more efficient shooting though.

Bradley Beal

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
27 3 3 1 0 3 11/18 2/2 4

Believe it not, this was the lowest scoring total Beal has produced in his last ten games. He’s nice.

Russell Westbrook

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
18 18 14 2 0 1 7/16 3/4 2

Averaging a triple-double on the season. That’s still good for the MVP, right?

The MVP case for Russell Westbrook - Welcome to Loud City

Or nah.

Alex Len

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
18 9 1 0 2 0 7/13 4/7 0

Daniel Gafford (13 MP) was available, but who I am to question Scott Brooks, leader of the streaking ‘Zards?

Devonte’ Graham

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
25 5 7 1 2 5 7/19 6/9 4

Third-straight game with 24+ points and 6+ dimes. I feel like we’re getting dangerously close to Graham prank calling LaMelo. “Yeah, man. Season’s cancelled again. Crazy right? Anyway, no need to follow up without anyone or check the news or anything. Maybe kick it with Gelo a bit? Love you, bro.”

PJ Washington

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
19 3 2 1 1 2 8/16 1/2 1

True to the state that bears his name, there have been peaks and valleys with Washington this year. Despite some rough patches, he’s still turned in top-100 value and is a hair away from being a 1/1/1 player (1.6/0.9/1.3). It hasn’t been a huge leap, but he’s 22 and I haven’t seen anything that would scare me off for next year.

Miles Bridges

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
19 4 4 2 1 2 6/14 5/5 2

run away GIF

There goes Son!

Jayson Tatum

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
35 8 8 1 0 4 12/23 7/8 3

Played 40 minutes, so I guess the ankle is alright. He’s a bucket, you know that, but he’s also been getting busy on the glass for the last month (up to 9.2). The blocks are bit light for a 6’8″ athlete of his level, but we’re picking nits. First-round lock for the next, um, while.

Jaylen Brown

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
38 7 4 0 1 7 13/23 5/6 1

Yesterday, after being shaken up twice against the Thunder, Brown said that he was “OK.” Classic undersell.

Tristan Thompson

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
12 13 3 0 2 0 5/9 2/4 2

Playing like a man who has incentives on the line. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the last time he double-doubled was…

…early February. The Time Lord has returned, deflating Thompson’s already-limited appeal.

Aaron Nesmith

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
15 9 0 3 3 2 6/12 1/2 1

Before you do anything hasty, understand that there was no Smart and no Kemba. Congrats if you caught lightening in a bottle though.

Dejounte Murray

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
22 10 11 1 0 1 8/17 5/5 3

A victim of playing for a team I’m thoroughly uninterested in, Murray has been better than I realized. My man has grabbed more than 400 rebounds this season and has more steals than De’Aaron Fox. Catch you next year, dude.

DeMar DeRozan

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
20 4 8 1 0 0 7/13 6/7 2

This is exactly the line you’re thinking about when it’s the fourth round and you’re looking to grab some floor. Guy is a pro.

Jakob Poeltl

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
6 7 2 2 2 0 3/5 0/0 1

I added Poeltl after Blair did his write up on him back in February. He’s been a top-15 player this week, a top-25 player over the last two weeks, and a top-35 player over the last month. Keep reading Razzball, dear reader, the writers here are good at this.

Jimmy Butler

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
29 8 6 1 0 0 11/23 7/7 1

As a guy who recently relocated to Milwaukee and loves to see the home team win, I want absolutely nothing to do with Jimmy and the Heat in the first round. Zero.

Bam Adebayo

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
21 11 2 1 0 0 7/11 7/8 2

Zero point zero. I don’t think I can be any clearer about this. None.

Norman Powell

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
24 5 4 1 1 2 8/14 6/6 2

CJ McCollum

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
26 4 6 1 0 4 10/15 2/3 1

Do you think the “C” stand for “Cliff”? If so, we could be onto something.

Damian Lillard

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
23 3 5 2 0 2 6/15 9/9 3

A broken clock is right twice a day. I guess this qualifies as “right enough,” though Dame’s still a little out of sync.

Ja Morant

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
10 3 8 1 1 2 3/11 2/2 4

That FG%?

Ja Rule -Its Murda (Instrumental) | Gotinstrumentals | #1 Instrumentals Source

The turnovers kinda suck too. Not the performance you were looking for during this time of the year.

Jonas Valanciunas

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
19 6 1 0 1 1 8/13 2/2 1

Jaren Jackson Jr.

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
13 5 2 0 2 2 4/15 3/4 0

The two bigs played 24 minutes apiece and the timeshare is going to cannibalize the value of both. JJJ has turned in a top-5 season in frustrating people who drafted him. That number gets a bump because of the knock-on effect for players relying on JV during winning time.

Brandon Ingram

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
27 7 5 0 0 4 11/22 1/1 6

It’s hard to get much shine when you play next to Zion, but BI has been cranking out top-40 value all season long despite contributing fewer than 1.5 combined blocks and steals. You’ve gotta be getting busy elsewhere to compensate for the lack of D, and Ingram has been doing just that.

Zion Williamson

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
21 2 0 2 0 0 8/17 5/7 3

Zion’s like, “I’m the future! Point-center, baby! I’m a problem!

Nikola Jokic

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
32 7 8 3 3 2 12/20 6/8 6

Jokic’s like,

waving no way GIF by NBA

One of those three blocks was a controversial one on Zion at the end that sealed the W, but in a league where star calls happen, this guy (seriously this guy) is the star.

Michael Porter Jr. 

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
28 8 1 1 1 3 12/21 1/2 2

Be still my heart. Top-10 player for the last month. The shooting isn’t falling off. This is what he is.

Facundo Campazzo

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
19 6 10 2 1 3 6/9  4/4 4

Oh, now you go off with the dimes? Where were you last week when I was chasing assists and never got there? Fa-cu!

Paul George

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
25 10 4 3 0 3 9/21 4/6 5

Not a bad night, but not enough to get the Clippers past the Suns, who clinched a playoff berth with tonight’s win. If only there was a simple, straight-forward explanation for the Suns rising in the West.

Chris Paul

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
28 3 10 3 0 4 10/15 4/4 3

Point God? You bet. Sun God? Look, I won’t tell Apollo if you won’t.

Mikal Bridges

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
13 7 1 3 2 2 4/8 3/4 2

Don’t sleep on the other Bridges, as this dude can also play. Actually, don’t sleep on any Bridges. That’s not where you’re supposed to sleep.

Bojan Bogdanovic

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
24 3 4 1 1 1 7/16 9/10 1

Rudy Gobert

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
12 10 0 1 5 0 5/7 2/2 0

Classic match-up between two small-market teams in the West who incorporate the color purple into their branding. What similarities! I bet it will a competitive, fun, excite—

154-105 F.

Buddy Hield

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
18 5 7 2 3 3 6/12 3/3 2

“Hoop, you didn’t really give the last word to the guy who plays for the team that got beat by damn-near 50, did you?” What can I say? He’s my Buddy. Also, I think this might legitimately have been his best game of the season. What a competitor.