A routine win for the Nets here against the Bulls, who were without Zach LaVine. The Bulls have already mailed it in this season since they have been out of playoff contention for a couple of days now while the Nets are getting ready for their title charge in the post-season. 

Patrick Williams had himself a game yesterday and he showed why the Bulls took him so high in the draft last year. He scored 24 points on the back 64.3% shooting from the field while also grabbing five rebounds and getting two steals. Nikola Vucevic also contributed with yet another double double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, while one of the revelations of the year, Thaddeus Young also got a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. As the season dwindles down the Bulls now have to look forward to the draft and free agency in order to start addressing their problems. They could start with finding a point guard, whether it be through the draft or attempting to make a play for Lonzo Ball. 

As far as the Nets go, it seemed like they did not need to come out of first gear as Kevin Durant put up only 12 points, but had an impressive performance on the glass with nine rebounds as well as six assists. Kyrie Irving did not do much else except score 22 points off the back of three triples while the other member of the big three, James Harden had an unlikely performance with just five points, five rebounds, seven assists, a steal and two blocks. Bruce Brown, though, put up a double-double of 16 points, 12 rebounds to go along with three assists and two steals. The Nets already have their sights and mind and hearts in the playoffs and are waiting to see who their first round opponents will be. This team has high aspirations and anything less than a championship will be seen as a failure. 

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The 2021 NBA Regular Season is coming to a close and the NBA Playoff picture is slowly starting to shape up. When looking at the MVP race, it seems pretty obvious that consensus top candidates are Nikola Jokic in the West and Joel Embiid in the East. These guys have been jockeying for the top spot and most have argued that Jokic has separated himself as the guy due to his availability and his play without Jamal Murray on the floor. Nonetheless, these guys have dominated the headlines, but what about the other guys in their conferences who have been carrying their respective teams in a similar way? As of late, there has been buzz for guys like Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, and even dare I say, Julius Randle. But instead, I want to highlight two guys who have not captured the same kind of late-season hype who really deserve some love. That is why this week, I happy to say that my Hoopers of the Week are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard! Let’s get into it!

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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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I feel like our children’s generation and their children’s generation are going to look back upon our generation and have a gross underappreciation of Kevin Durant. Maybe it’s because of all the narratives floating around but I rarely hear him mentioned as one of the greats. Because in my mind, granted my mind is small and has been heavily influenced by trees and mushrooms, he is one of the greatest to ever play the game. He’s a seven-footer who has handles like a guard, is a career 1/1/1 player, a career 27-point scorer, and a career 49/38/88 shooter. He’s got the hardware and is one of the most unstoppable offensive forces in the game. Because he’s missed so much time this year due to injury, he’s been out of the consciousness of many but Dudeisamazingant reminded us of his ability yesterday.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
42 10 2 1 0 5 7/13 16/33 3/4

In 40 minutes. The 58th time Dudeisamazingant has scored at least 40 points in a game. Durant has played 28 games this season and he’s the number six player on a per-game basis. Over the last seven seasons, he’s finished as the numero uno player for fantasy three times and been top five in six seasons. I hope he stays healthy so I can continue to watch his greatness.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been as plugged into fantasy basketball as I am this season, but I feel like I’ve heard Neil Olshey’s quote about Anfernee Simons’ potential over and over again this year. If you’ve somehow missed it, here’s what the Blazers GM said back in June:

“He’s as talented as anybody we’ve ever drafted since I’ve been here, in terms of just natural gifts. He’s not the player [Lillard] and [McCollum] was, but in terms of just natural, God-given, basketball ability, Anfernee is as gifted as anybody I’ve ever drafted.”

It’s the kind of quote that grabs attention. Considering that he said it almost a year ago and it’s still rattling around in my head, it’s also a quote that sticks. Anfernee Simons, reads a dusty card catalog in my mind, Extremely gifted? Simons, who is still just 21 years-old, had played 142 NBA games prior to last night and his career numbers don’t exactly make you forget about Damian Lillard. But game 143 pulled the curtain back a bit and lended some credibility to Olshey’s big talk last summer. Simons was on.

Anfernee Simons

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
27 4 4 2 0 9 9/13 0/0 0

Those nine triples he hit? They were consecutive. In total, Simons connected on 13 straight threes over four games. Mercy. That’s some heat from deep. Unfortunately for our game, the minutes haven’t been consistent enough for the reigning Dunk Champ for many of us to be in a position to capitalize on his hot shooting. We’ll just have to admire the feat from the other side of the waiver wire. Still, nine (or 13) straight will get you into the lede around here.

Here’s what else went down in the NBA on Tuesday…

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I used to hate blowing up inflatables. Basically anything and everything that the kids bring to the pool. Breath iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin. Bllloooooooooooooooooooow. Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin. Blllllooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. Good thing I don’t smoke anymore. Iiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Cough. Wheeze. Cough. Blloow. The worst would be blowing up the sex do…..Uh, nevermind. The pumps for inflatable beds are the best. Press a button, listen to the whirrrr, and watch the bed rise, like yeast in the oven. So. Cool. That’s what it was like watching Jusuf Nurkic last season, in the Bubble ironically. He played his first game on July 31st and inflated for 17.6 points, 10.3 boards, four dimes, 1.4 steals, and two blocks in 31.6 minutes. In the playoffs, he averaged 32.3 minutes and put up 14.2 points, 10.4 boards, 3.6 dimes, 1.4 steals. and 0.2 blocks. Then the Bubble popped, both literally and figuratively. He played 12 games to start this season then proceeded to miss the next 32 games. Upon his return, he played 10 games and averaged only 21.4 minutes. Over the last two games, though, he played 29 minutes in each. He’s slowly been inflating. Yesterday, he played 29 minutes again and….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
16 19 5 1 2 2 0 6/13 4/5

Top 25 player over the last three games. He’s inflating at the right time as the Blazers are sitting at 7th in the Western Conference and could make some noise in the playoffs if everyone is healthy.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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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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The Lakers held down the fort against a very depleted Utah Jazz team that was without Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert to name a few. 

The Jazz needed contributions from their role players and bench mob and some did step up. Jordan Clarkson, Sixth Man of The Year candidate, scored 27 points off the back of five triples while also getting five rebounds, dishing out four dimes, and stealing the ball once. Joe Ingles had an impressive outing with a double-double of 20 points and 14 assists while also getting three steals. Ersan Ilyasova took advantage of all the minutes tonight and scored 20 points with six threes while also hauling in five boards and stealing the ball an impressive four times. 

The Lakers had three players score 25 or more points. Andre Drummond flirted with a double-double of 27/8 while also stealing the ball twice and getting three dimes. Dennis Schroder had an excellent game scoring 27 points, handing out eight assists, and grabbing six rebounds, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 25 on 44.4% efficiency and also had five rebounds and two steals. 

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Just an overall tough night as a basketball fan in terms of the level of competitiveness in the NBA last night. Only one game was decided by ten points or less. We had blowouts ranging anywhere from 12 points all the way to a whopping 53 points! But with blowouts comes a handful of big-time performances and some nice performances by some bench guys that do not typically see a lot of playing time. So with that in mind, here are the Friday Night Primetime Performers from last night’s games across the league.

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