Sleepers. Breakouts. Busts. Bargains. Overrated. Underrated. That’s about all we think about in the weeks (months, for many of us) leading up to the fantasy NBA season. Even if your methods are sound, you’re not going to be right about all of them. Of course, that’s mainly due to injuries that directly affected the number of games played or indirectly affected a player’s role. But despite that, I thought it would be fun to review the season’s biggest overachievers and underachievers. Pat yourself on the back for good ones. Know that we feel your pain caused by the bad ones.

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It’s crunch time fantasy ballers! These are the games that make or break your season. A lot of guys who have been reliable stat-stuffers all season disappear or are rested down the stretch and waiver pickups come up with career performances. Bam Adebayo has been fairly reliable for a while, but came up huge last night going 16-11-8-0-4-5 on 6-of-11 shooting and 4-for-4 from the line. Hassan Whiteside is in Eric Spoelstra’s doghouse for one reason or another, which has opened the door for Bam to flourish. It’s all about the adds and drops at this point, so I’m not gonna get into all the big-name superstars. So let’s dive on into the daily notes, and the game-changing performances in the fantasy basketball playoffs. BAM!

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Alright! Who’s still rockin’ in the playoffs? Some of us got screwed over by late-season injuries and will forever curse the names of the players who hurt themselves and cost us hundreds of dollars and bragging rights amongst our friends. With the season winding down and fantasy playoffs in full swing, there are many players who are suddenly becoming fantasy-relevant down the stretch. The Mavericks have fallen out of playoff contention, but fantasy owners are monitoring them closely because they have some juicy pickups. Maxi Kleber went 3-18-12-1-0-1-0 on 5-of-11 shooting and 5-for-5 FTs and Jalen Brunson went 4-22-4-2-0-0-0 on 8-of-18 shooting and 2-for-2 FTs. Both of these guys have suddenly become viable options, especially with the Mavericks playing four games next week. Brunson has been ballin’ over his last five averaging 21.2 points and 5.6 assists with really nice peripherals. I would definitely add him if he’s somehow available and would strongly consider adding Kleber if you have something to lose. There’s only two weeks left for most of us, so if a guy’s not producing, or you’re like me and lost Malcolm Brogdon, it’s time to cut bait and make a pickup.Here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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What else is there to say about James Harden? He’s been so consistently amazing that it’s easy to lose sight of just how good he is playing. Fantasy GMs that roster him have held a serious advantage all season. Every way you slice this line, it’s amazing. On one hand, he was one board away from a 40 point triple-double. If you look even closer, he was just 2 blocks away from a 5×5. That’s just ridiculous.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
12/25 14/17 3/11 41 9 11 6 3 6

Everything about this line is massive. The turnovers are tough, but we all knew that going in. He continues to be the top play and should keep it going through the rest of the fantasy playoffs. Any team facing Harden better come correct.

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For some of us fantasy basketball players, this week doesn’t matter much. We’ve locked up our playoff spots and are just waiting for them to begin. For others, these last few games are critical to seeding. If you own Karl-Anthony Towns, you’ve most likely locked up a playoff spot by now, because he’s been a beast all year. If that’s your situation, you probably just wanted the game last night between the T-Wolves and the Wizards to come to an end, but it went into OT and KAT hurt his knee in the waning moments of the game. Although it doesn’t seem to be serious, he is still headed for an MRI and the Wolves could play it safe with him given their place in the standings. This is obviously bad news if your playoffs start next week and you don’t have a first-round bye. Towns played exceptionally well prior to the injury going 4-40-16-2-2-1-1 on 15-of-25 shooting and 6-for-6 from the line. More will be known in the coming days regarding his knee, but this would be the worst possible timing, as he’s been cruising all year.

On a lighter note, here’s what else went down last night in the NBA:

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It must be hard to be the second fiddle night in and night out. Constantly being ignored and written off while your teammate garners all the praise. I think the most obvious dynamic duo of this kind in the NBA is Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. A slightly less obvious one is the front court duo of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.  Gobert almost always has a better fantasy line and puts up the gaudier defensive numbers and Favors’ stats would easily benefit if Rudy were to go down with an injury or if he was on another team. Well, for one glorious night, Robin saved Batman and got the villain. Favors went off for the line of 23-18-0-1-3-2 on 10-of-12 shooting and 3-of-4 from the line and led the Jazz to a victory over the Bucks. Derrick Favors is a man who has enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular NBA career. He’s one of the few remaining players who have played for the New Jersey Nets, a team I remember fondly. He’s actually been with Utah for nine years and has been a staple in the starting lineup for pretty much all of that time. He’s shooting a career best 57.8% FGs and is having his best blocks season since 2016. So today, take a second to think about the sous-chef, the vice president, the Derrick Favors’ of the world and how important they really are.

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Whether it’s fair or not, Trae Young will always be compared to the future MVP-caliber player Luke Doncic. It’s not his fault that Atlanta made that draft day trade. While there were some seriously shaky runs earlier in the season, Trae has been on fire recently. He is just barely standard league relevant for the season, but over his last three games, he’s clocking in at a fresh #14 ranking in standard 9-cat leagues, averaging 31.7/3.7/8.7 with 4 3’s. He’s also shooting 93.9% on an insane 11 free throws per game. While he may never be at Doncic’s level, he can still make for an elite fantasy player and is showing off at the moment.

Trae Young

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
17/35 9/11 6/13 49 8 16 1 1 9

So close. I was hoping he could get the 50 mark in this one, but this is an otherwise amazing performance. The 49/8/16 is enormous. The efficiency and 6 3’s are killer. In fact, he is the first rookie to go for 45 points and 10 assists since MJ. The 9 turnovers are whack, but that’s the price you pay for playing a mind-boggling 55 minutes. Hopefully they can set him up in the hyperbaric chamber to recover.

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Damian Lillard got the night off in Portland to get some well deserved rest, and the rest of the Blazers all got a decided boost; none more than CJ McCollum, who went 2-28-10-10-1-0-3 on 10-of-23 shooting and 6-for-7 from the line. This was CJ’s first career triple-double and just shows he’s more of a complete player than people thought. He still didn’t give you much in the way of defensive stats, but this will probably go down as one of his best stat-lines of the season.  Just keep in mind if Lillard misses any other games, CJ and the rest of his Blazer Buddies become viable DFS options. It was a pretty short schedule for a Saturday night with only five games. I guess with no real NFL games in the week before the Super Bowl, they wanted to stack Sunday, with no competition from football. Anyway, there is still a lot to get into so without further ado, here’s what else went down last night:

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All eyes were on Boogie last night, as he finally made his return from an Achilles injury and did not disappoint. He looked a little rusty, but overall gave reason for all Warriors fans to smile. He displayed the ability to hit three-pointers, as he was frequently left wide open, and made the Clippers pay. On the downside, he somehow managed to foul out in just 15 minutes, which is impressive in it’s own right and an obvious Boogie move.

DeMarcus Cousins

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
5/11 1/2 3/4 14 6 3 1 1 1

Cousins showed up and quickly made his presence felt in this one. He’ll be up and down for a while, as he gets in shape and manages his return from injury. Still, this was very promising for Boogie and his fantasy GMs and a scary prospect for the other 29 NBA teams.

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Once a decade or so, a rookie comes into the league and, not only is it extremely obvious that they are special, they immediately hit the floor running. Not since LeBron has a rookie demonstrated All-Star level production, keeping up with and often times dominating seasoned pros in the best basketball league in the world. Luka Doncic provides matchup issues for opposing teams and is such a dynamic offensive force for the Mavs, making every teammate better. While making serious waves in the NBA, in fantasy he still has plenty of areas he can improve. Currently, he’s been hovering around the top 80 in standard category leagues. The main culprits of keeping his fantasy value anchored are his percentages and turnovers. He also has room to grow in the steals department. For now, he’s an exciting, yet flawed player to roster on your fantasy squad, but he’s already one of the most fun players in real life and fantasy.

Luka Doncic

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
10/23 7/10 2/9 29 8 12 2 0 1

Luka was 2 boards short of messing around and was just a savage in this one. He scored at all 3 levels and was the obvious leader of the Mavs. When the percentages start to creep up, look out, because the sky’s the limit for Doncic.

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