I’m the big, fat loser this year in our 9-cat league’s championship game. Am I happy I made it this far in a totally insane season? Yep. Am I upset I lost? It always stings, but one week can make or break you and I don’t feel bad losing to a team I lost to the only time I faced them in the regular season. It feels like the right team won.

All that said, this season was completely wackadoodle and probably the most benefit you’ll get from reading these words is this introduction where I’m going to attempt to break down my thinking on the season and how we all got here.

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The Hornets were buzzing to have LaMelo back and that showed on the court with their victory over a Detroit Pistons team that is already officially out of playoff contention and without their best player in Jerami Grant. 

Frank Jackson surprisingly led the way for the Pistons off the bench with 25 points, seven rebounds, and three assists while he shot. 42.1% from the field and hit six triples. Rookie Killian Hayes played nearly 32 minutes as he continues to progress back from that hip injury and to prove to the many doubters that he is not a bust. You cannot call someone a bust when he has barely played. Last night he put up 10 points, six rebounds, and six assists as well as two steals. “Beef Stew” Isaiah Stewart had an underwhelming game with only nine points and two rebounds while playing the bulk of the minutes in the stead of Mason Plumlee who was held out for rest purposes. 

For the Hornets, LaMelo Ball was up to his usual shenanigans, as he returned to action and made Hornets announcer Eric Collins lose his cool and go bananas in his booth. His full-court passes were in full effect as shown through his eight total assists that went along with seven rebounds and 11 points. Malik Monk also returned to action and scored 11 points, stole the ball once, and grabbed two boards in 22 minutes of action. Meanwhile, LaMelo’s best bud on the team was flying even higher than usual to throw down his passes. Miles Bridges scored 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Miles has really come into his own this season and one upside of Hayward’s unfortunate injury is that now Miles has an even bigger opportunity to do so. We cannot forget about Scary Terry Rozier, who scored a game-high 29 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out four assists. An excellent season as well for Rozier. These Hornets are fighting and LaMelo’s return may now be that extra punch they need to stay in a play-in spot. 

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The New York Knickerbockers are absolutely streaking! They now have nine consecutive wins following the rout against the Raptors yesterday at MSG. 

First for the Raps yesterday, Fred VanVleet had an exceptional night, scoring 27 points and dishing out 11 assists while OG Anunoby also contributed with 27 points while grabbing five boards and also stealing the ball twice. Pascal Siakam also had a pretty good game in which he put up 26 points, seven rebounds, and five assists with a steal. Kyle Lowry, however, had an underwhelming game shooting 10% from the field and going 0-8 from beyond the arc. An obvious anomaly for a player of his caliber. 

Julius Randle continued his Most Improved Player as well his All-NBA case dare I say yesterday. He scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while shooting 5-7 from beyond the arc! RJ Barrett also had a great game posting a 25/12 double-double while also dishing out four assists. Reggie Bullock continued his three-point party knocking down three more. Nerlens Noel only had one point but showed his worth on defense by swatting four shots and getting two steals while also hauling in five rebounds. 

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An extremely encouraging pattern is beginning to emerge with my every-other-week recapping of the Wednesday night games: Happy returns that are highlighted in the lede. You see, it was my distinct pleasure to highlight KAT’s return from his early season wrist + Covid absence, and I was the one who placed Kevin Durant in this place of prominence when he came back from the extended hammy vacation. Now, I’m due up for the recap on the night Jaren Jackson Jr. returned and you know damn well that I’m going to make him the lede. Welcome back, Jar—

Ah. Actually not. Sorry JJJ, I’m breaking up the welcome party and going with the 40 piece instead. We’ll see you later in the recap, because this lede (and maybe all of the Western world) belongs to…

Julius Randle

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
40 11 6 1 0 6 11/21 12/13 4

This is second time in the last week that Julius has gone 40+/10+/6+ with 6 made threes. Wut. That’s just unspeakable heat from New York’s Caesar, who led the Knicks to an OT win against the Hawks last night. Woe to those of you having wrestle this monster in head-to-head playoffs. It might be better just to simply bend the knee when Randle is going like this.

Here’s what else stood out on another busy Wednesday in the Association…

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If your league has been around a while, you have likely started the fantasy playoffs already. If not, you’re likely starting them very soon. There’s always a shift that happens after the all-star break as teams decide they need a drastic shift or they choose to tank.

As a result, players often slip into fantasy relevance that were once forgotten, or borderline, plays. All rankings in this article were taken from Basketball Monster and are the 9-category player rankings for the last two weeks of the season in PER GAME value, not total value.

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Hey everybody, it’s me Keith! Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Blue’s Clues and every episode starts like that… Anyways, let’s get down to business.

It’s officially NBA silly season with the trade deadline already in distant memory, and plenty of teams are not super interested in winning basketball games right now. If a team can finish 10th and get into the play-in, they may be more interested in resting their guys and getting a better draft pick.

So which teams are doing that? And, more importantly, which players benefit the most from this shift?

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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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Fox has been on an absolute tear. In the last month, he’s shot 50.2% from the field and 80.2% from the line while averaging 28.3/3.5/6.1 and almost 2 steals per game. I still think the percentages are bound to fall, but this hot stretch might take Fox straight through the season, prompting many to take him too early in drafts next year. Be careful is all I’m saying, but enjoy the production for now.

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(W) BUCKS -VS- LAKERS
With King James and Tha’ Brow out, we hoped this was the Drummond show.
Unfortunately, after all that time off, his big toe wasn’t ready.
Jrue Holiday: Complete baller, Jrue the Damajah is on point.
Rare for the PG to be the “Glue Guy.”
On this roster, he steadies the ship and makes the tough plays.
Efficiency, rebounding and 5 STOCKS, this guy does it all.

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