In the battle for the 9th seed out west, LaMelo Ball rose to the occasion while Ice Trae went Ice Cold from three. Despite his 15 assists, Trae Young finished with only nine points as he shot 3-of-12 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown. Danilo Gallinari was averaging 14 points, five rebounds and four assists over the last week. However, he suffered an injury last night and would recommend dropping him for Onyeka Okongwu, who has averaged similar numbers and, with more opportunities, should score more.

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With fantasy playoffs right around the corner, I thought it would be a fun exercise to go team by team and point out one player that should be available on waiver wire in most fantasy leagues. With most fantasy trade deadlines passing, I thought it would be informative that you know who’s available on waivers. A quick note before we get into the article, the percentages are based off of ESPN leagues, the numbers may vary on other platforms, however they shouldn’t change to a significant degree.

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The Denver Nuggets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 124-104, behind a well-balanced scoring attack and more Nikola Jokic brilliance. Seven Nuggets’ players scored in double figures, led by the Joker, who finished the game with 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and one block. It was Jokic’s 14th triple-double of the season and the 71st of his career. Will Barton added 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one block. Aaron Gordon tallied 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one steal. Monte Morris chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds, and eight assists and Jeff Green finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Bryn Forbes (11) and Zeke Nnaji (10) also scored in double figures. Forbes (25), Nnaji (20), Bones Hyland (17), and DeMarcus Cousins (16) played the most minutes off the bench.

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The Orlando Magic beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-108 in a nailbiter in the sunshine state. The vaunted Mavericks defense posed only so much resistance as seven Magic players scored in double figures, led by Chuma Okeke off the bench. Okeke finished the game with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Franz Wagner finished the game with 18 points, two rebounds, three assists, and one steal.  Cole Anthony tallied 16 points, four rebounds, and six assists. Wendell Carter Jr. notched a double-double with 14 points, 14 rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Moritz Wagner tallied 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists off the bench. The last time these two teams played Mo Wagner and Luka Doncic got into a bit of a curfuffle. Wagner has an earned reputation as an irritant and Luka did not forget their exchange. He spent much of the first half talking trash to Wagner, growing bolder and bolder every time a Mavericks player scored on the German. However, later in the game, the Magic seemed to make point of involving Luka in the action when the Mavericks were on defense. Wagner rolled to a number of dunks in pick and roll action with Luka guarding Wagner or in the vicinity as a help defender. With the victory, it was Wagner who got the last laugh, at least for now. Mo Bamba and Gary Harris each scored 10 points.

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The Brooklyn Nets took home the 121-119 victory in this Sunday matinee against the rebuilding, but still pesky San Antonio Spurs. In classic 2021-22 Nets fashion, they gave up a 14-point lead and allowed the Spurs to tie the game late in the fourth quarter and push the game into overtime, where Nets’ rookie Cam Thomas stole the show. Both teams struggled to score in the waning minutes of regulation and overtime, most notably Kevin Durant. As a result, when Durant was doubled on the Nets’ final possession at the elbow, with about six seconds left in the game, he rose up and fired a pass to Cam Thomas sliding up from the corner. Thomas pump-faked, took two hard dribbles and rose up for a one-legged runner fading to his left at the free-throw line. Nothing but net. Thomas’ made floater in overtime turned out to be the game-winner as Lonnie Walker was blocked on the Spurs ensuing inbound play. Even if he hadn’t been blocked, however, the shot wouldn’t have counted. Walker released the shot after the buzzer, as the Spurs had just one-point-four seconds to shoot. The narrow escape victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Nets.

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It is only fitting that we end 2021 with LeBron James as the fantasy star of the night. The ageless superstar scored 43 points while adding 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks en route a 139-106 win. He has been amazing over the past seven games but it has only translated to two wins during that stretch. James sits inside the top-three fantasy players this year and could pass Nikola Jokic for the top spot if he continues this high level of play. Russell Westbrook posted his fourth straight triple-double in the win, finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. Although Russ has his ups and downs on the court, he remains an elite fantasy option with nightly triple-double upside. He has struggled with turnovers and poor shooting numbers this year which has resulted in poor category play. He sits just inside the top-100 and should not move much from this spot.

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The Sacramento Kings defeated the San Antonio Spurs 121-114 behind strong performances from Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. I love me some Tyrese Haliburton. With De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell in the NBA’s health and safety protocol, Haliburton has been handed the keys to the Kings’ offense and he’s put together strong performances in back-to-back games now. Haliburton had a double-double by halftime and finished this game with 27 points (12-19 FG, 3-5 3PT), four rebounds, 11 assists, and two steals. Haliburton’s off-kilter rhythm and unorthodox shooting stroke make him a fun watch and his defensive playmaking make him a reliable fantasy option in any format—bask in the glory if he’s on your roster. Buddy Hield was the other star of the night for the Kings. Hield scored 18 of his game-high 29 points (10-18 FG, 7-9 3PT) in the fourth quarter and finished this game with three rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Damian Jones scored a career-high 23 points and added eight rebounds, one assist, and two blocks. Harrison Barnes rounds out the Kings’ top performers with 14 points (4-11 FG, 1-3 3PT), seven rebounds, and three assists.

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Killian Hayes (11 percent owned in Yahoo!) has been a disappointment in his brief career, but there’s a chance he can help out your fantasy team. Ironically, the less he shoots the more value he provides because his field goal percentage is likely to remain low all season long. He can help in hard to get categories like assists and defensive stats though. Getting more minutes in his last two games has led to 3.5 dimes, 1.5 thefts, and 1.0 blocks per. He’s not worth a pickup yet, but don’t dismiss the thought.

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After years and years of stability in the forms of David Robinson and then Tim Duncan and co., things began to wobble in San Antonio during the baton pass to Kawhi Leonard. After the situation became untenable (and very weird), the Klaw was spun off to Toronto and the Spurs entered the brief and somewhat unsuccessful (by their own standards) LaMarcus Aldridge/DeMar DeRozan era. Now that DD is off in Chicago and LMA is in Brooklyn, what was once just a little bit shaky has become unfamiliar, if not a touch unstable. After 22 straight seasons in the playoffs, the Spurs finished below .500 and stayed home during the 2019-20 postseason. There was a flash of hope last year when San Antonio made the playoffs (well, the play-in) but were bounced by the upstart Grizzlies. 

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The Good Land indeed. It has been a magic time on the western shores of Lake Michigan. Winter became a distant memory, Summerfest returned, and after 50 years, the Milwaukee Bucks are NBA Champions. Though fall is in the air, everything is still glowy up here. This kind of joy will do that to a place: 

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Now, Kevin Durant really did hit that Game 7 jumper and the Nets really were a toe’s length away from the ECF and maybe more. Personally, I find the championship asterisk conversation to be tired and fruitless. However you feel about it, the Milwaukee Bucks are the reigning champs and their title defense begins with the third best odds at repeating, as Vegas likes Brookyln and LA more than the Cream City Champs (the Warriors and the Bucks both begin the season at +900.) With an improved Eastern Conference, there’s no reason to think that the path back will be without challenges.

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As of April 28, LaMelo Ball remains Vegas’ heavy favorite (-350) to take home Rookie of the Year honors. I don’t really have much quarrel with that, especially since the rookie of consequence I drafted this season wasn’t Ball or Anthony Edwards but James Wiseman. Whoops! Who’s the wise man? Not me. Despite missing some time, Ball will be a deserving winner if the oddsmakers in the desert prove to be correct. Of the top three picks, I feel like Edwards is the one who gets the least amount of shine despite being the no. 1 selection. Flying under the radar makes sense, especially when considering that he doesn’t hail from a(n) (in)famous family, his team has been in the postseason one time since 2005 and has been out of contention since November, and he’s not trying to integrate his game into the dying dreams of decaying dynasty. If you didn’t go looking for it (or if you didn’t draft him), Edwards’ fine first year could pass by more or less unremarked on.

Or dude could throw out a 40-burger and make himself the lede of my final Wednesday recap of the season like freakin’ boss.

Anthony Edwards

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
42 6 7 1 1 8 17/22 0/1 3

On the year, Ant is a top-100-ish player, a ranking that is weighed down by the 41% shooting from the floor. There have definitely been some clunkers over the course of the season and I generally have not been very quiet about them. That said, he’s been a top-50 guy over the final month, a top-35 player over the last two weeks, and a top-25 player the last week. The FG% has ticked up over that same span too, from 46% to 49% to 58%! Too late to put a dent in LaMelo’s case for the hardware, but definitely the kind of growth you love to see out of a young player. Keep eating, Ant! We’ll see you next year.

Here’s what else I saw on the penultimate Wednesday of the regular season…

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