Does anyone remember Zion Williamson? Strange as it sounds, he still exists most clearly in my mind as a cannonball at Cameron Indoor. Basketball Reference tells us that there have indeed been three professional seasons for Zion, but none of them have been able to dislodge the image of him in the clean white and blue from my mind, youthful explosiveness so undeniable that the shoes on his feet crumble when he steps. Teenage Zion made quite an impression.

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The Hart family was one of extraordinary magnitude. Don Corleone would traverse up north and cross the border to pay his respects and kiss the ring of Stu, who had eight sons with Bret and Owen wreaking havoc on the WWF streets for many of years. There’s Smith, Bruce, Keith, Wayne, Dean, Bret, Ross, Diana, Owen, Teddy, Tyson, Mike, Hart, Helen, Martha…..Someone go get Son a ventilator! On Monday, a Hart from another mother represented the family name well, despite not being a part of the family yet I’m sure he’d be welcomed with open arms because of this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 10 2 1 0 3 1/5 6/11 9/9

“That’s my boy,” Stu proudly said. After being told that Josh did not come from his sperm, Stu grabbed that person, flipped him upside down, then piledrived him to China. With no Brandon Ingram on Monday, Hart saw a slight uptick in usage to 21.5%. It was the sixth time he scored at least 20 points this season and 11th time pulling down at least 10 boards. He’s racked up a steal in six straight games and has four games with three steals on the season. He’s a top 90 player for fantasy on a per-game basis. I. Hart. You.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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On Monday, Mr. and Mrs. Hooper packed up the car, coaxed our puppy Buckets into the backseat, and left the Mecca of American basketball (Milwaukee) in our rearview mirror to pay a post-holiday visit to Mama and Papa Hooper in Ohio. Though it runs counter to who I eventually ended up becoming, there actually isn’t any basketball in this particular household, so this Tuesday night recap is coming to you more or less blind. I’ve scoured Twitter and box scores as best I can, and we’re on track to be back home for next Tuesday’s action, but because I didn’t watch any hoops last night, I’m foregoing nominating a lede player here and just getting straight into it.

It was a busy night Tuesday night across the league. Here’s what jumped out to me here in the hinterlands of hoops…

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After defeating the Orlando Magic 93-83 Sunday afternoon, the Miami Heat are now 11-5 without their starting center, Bam Adebayo. Many of those victories also came without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Assuming Butler can stay healthy going forward and Kyle Lowry can make a swift return from the NBA’s health and safety protocol, the Heat can begin their quest to move up the Eastern Conference standings.  They’re no doubt eying the Chicago Bulls who currently are second in the conference with a 19-10 record, due to some postponed games. However, even if the Heat is unable to move up from their current position in fourth place in the conference, their focus will be on health and continuity heading into the playoffs. They’ve gotten needed contributions from fringe players on the roster like Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Omer Yurtseven. The in-game reps these players have received over the past few weeks should only help them later in the season.

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Anyone seen the movie, Red Dawn? *raises hand* Anyone else? A true American classic in which patriotic teens in the good ole’ US of A are able to thwart a Russian invasion on the Motherland. On Monday, the Knicks were the mighty Russians, as they went into Philadelphia against a depleted squad without three of their best players – Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Ben Simmons. The initial invasion went smoothly as the Knicks led by 14 points at halftime but those pesky 76ers came out of the halftime locker room pumped up from watching Braveheart, presumably, and HEEEEEELLLLLLDDDDDDDDD. Like any King of New York does, though, Julius Randle squashed the rebellion to bring victory to its rightful owner as the Knicks eventually triumphed, 103-96.

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Fun fact: There are only three players returning from last season for the Chicago Bulls. That would be Zach LaVine, Coby White, and Patrick Williams. The entire rest of the roster has been turned over and the Windy City faithful are prepping Grant Park as we speak. There are a lot of varying opinions about where the Bulls will end up in the standings, a lot of them that have me like:

Me: “Hey Son, can we play ‘Bulls on Parade’ on repeat on my Chicago Bulls preview?”

Son: “No…. No, I don’t think so.”

Sorry guys.

Regardless of where they wind up in the standings, it won’t really affect their fantasy stock all that much. The Bulls are all in on this lineup in their attempt to earn the city a legitimate playoff berth for the first time in the last six seasons. That means the big dogs are here to play and they should get significant minutes throughout the season.

The Bulls put a competitive group on the floor around all-star Zach LaVine and didn’t even mortgage the future, so it’s safe to say that Arturas Karnisovas has a place at my table any time. Still, there are questions about their defense and their “fit” since they won’t be playing a traditional power forward (as if that were necessary in the modern NBA).

With so many mouths to feed on offense, will that hurt the value of guys like perennial all-star Nikola Vucevic? Will DeMar DeRozan still have a prominent role? Let’s break it down by position.

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Daniel Theis still got the start even with Nikola Vucevic back in the lineup. The former Celtic contributed across the board in his 26 minutes, with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting along with 7 rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks, and a three. Theis (46 percent owned in Yahoo!) has averaged 12.5 PPG over his past six, while also amassing some defensive stats and making close to one triple a game. He’s a great streaming option if he’s still out there in your league.

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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:

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Bad time for Devin Booker to slump, right in the midst of fantasy playoffs. While Booker has hit clutch baskets and the Suns have mostly been winning, Thursday night marked the fourth time in his past six outings he was held under 20 points— mustering just 15, with no threes and five turnovers against just two assists. In this stretch, Book has shot just 37.5 percent from the field and a woeful 17.9 percent from deep, averaging under one made triple per game. Hopefully, he hasn’t shot your team out of a fantasy chip.

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It was tough to write this one until I was absolutely sure we could beat a Nets team without Kevin Durant or James Harden. The Bulls beat the Nets on Sunday 115-107, where they controlled the game from tip to the buzzer. I’m happy to report that I don’t have to commit fandom seppuku, and the Bulls still are very much relevant in the NBA playoff race this season.

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Last Friday I participated in my first fantasy baseball draft, which is the informal cue that we’re beginning to come down the home stretch for this fantasy basketball season. Depending on your league settings, we’re roughly a month out before the fantasy playoffs and the silly season of DNPs, phantom injuries, and more overt tanking tactics. 

To combat the non-competitive play that plagues spring basketball, the NBA has expanded the playoff format this year to incorporate the 9- and 10-place teams in each conference, making the line between buyers and sellers ahead of the March 25 trade deadline harder to see than in seasons past. Trade targets both IRL and fantasy will be hot topics in the coming days, so I decided to see if I could parse what the future holds for the Chicago Bulls, who are currently in 9th place out East and have held my fascination for the last few weeks. 

Currently sitting at 17-20, Chicago will have to hold off the 17-21 Pacers and the 17-22 Raptors if they’re going to return to postseason play for the first time since the Jimmy Butler era. Without a 2021 first round pick and contract decisions to make, I find the Bulls intriguing and genuinely don’t have much of a clue about how they’ll proceed. I’ll give away the game early and say that I don’t have any answers and my crystal ball is on the fritz. What follows is simply a consideration of the pieces that could be in play in the coming weeks. 

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for week 10! It’s time to identify the competitive categories in your matchup and fortify the categories in which you already have an advantage. Based on various punt strategies, I’ll be profiling a few stream options that will increase your chances of winning the week.

Last week’s recommendations featured some players who boosted your win probability (Robert Williams III, Saddiq Bey, Jae’sean Tate) along with a dud (Grayson Allen), so hopefully you were able to find the players that helped your specific situation.

The players listed below players have two or more games remaining in the current week and are rostered in 50% or less of Yahoo and/or ESPN leagues.

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