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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I won’t put you to sleep with a long and drawn out introduction today, as I‘m sure you all want to learn who to pickup to help your team win in the fantasy playoffs, so I will just make a brief mention of my awe for the performances Stephen Curry has been blessing us with during the last month or so. In his last 20 games he is averaging 33.6 points, 5.5 triples on 50%/90.7% shooting. Unreal… As unreal as some of the plays he has made during this streak, like this one.

Ridiculous. I also read that if Steph was to go 0/500 for his next 3-point attempts and then immediately retire, he would still have a better 3pt% than Ray Allen. His MVP case is getting stronger by the day, especially when you consider the talent around him or more precisely the lack of it. Even fans in Philly have acknowledged the fact with MVP chants for him.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Facundo Campazzo has not dazzled with his performances, but with Monte Morris injured on top of Jamal Murray being sidelined, I still like him as a valuable playoff contributor. Marcus Morris also will continue to benefit from Kawhi’s injury that will cost him at least the next 3 games while Jalen McDaniels continues to have a solid 32 minutes role in Charlotte. Finally, “Sell” candidates Millsap and Harrell continued being non-factors in fantasy.

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Vince Carter is one of my all-time favorite players, mainly because of his ability to execute dunks that look nearly impossible, even for NBA standards. Just ask Frederic Weis.

Good lord…One of, if not, the greatest dunker in NBA history and I have to admit I miss this kind of energy dunk in today’s NBA. That was until Miles Bridges did this to poor Clint Capela.

Mind you Capela is a strong rim protector, which makes the dunk that much more impressive. One of those plays that make you grimace just by watching it. Loved it. Also, note the reactions of the other players on the court in both videos.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Malachi Flynn was the most successful one as he continues to take advantage of his opportunity with great performances and was a top 90 player last week. Bobby Portis was ok, while Deni Avdija fizzled with only nine minutes in his last game and can be safely dropped again. Both the “Sell” candidates Derrick Rose and DeAndre Jordan did nothing to improve my view on them so they will remain as such.

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I used to love watching Animal Planet. That is, when they actually used to show freaking wild animals in their natural habitat. Now it’s a bunch of BS shows that IDGAF about. Anyways, watching a cackle of hyenas or a pride of lions working together to take down prey was always an exhilarating watch. That’s usually because the prey was a big, burly beast who could F shit up. It would take hours and a coordinated precision to take it down. Sometimes they trudged home empty-handed, but every once in a while, they would overcome and feast. Last night, a pack of Pacers Voltron’d up and took down the hurly-burly Grizzly for a 132-125 victory. Domantas Sabonis produced 18 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, and one steal. Malcolm Brogdon contributed 29 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists, and one steal. Caris LeVert went for 34 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal, and three blocks. It took 48 minutes, but the Pacers finally defeated the Grizzlies, 132-125 as Jonas Valanciunas was a freaking beast, going for 34 points, 22 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. He shot 16-for-25 from the field.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Is Mason Plumlee the Great White Hope? This is the second consecutive time I’ve written him up for the lede to this internationally renowned fantasy basketball blog, and y’all know how precious this real estate is. Not good enough? How about the fact that not since B-Rabbit has a white guy gotten the folks in Detroit to get up off their seats, bob their heads up and down, and raise their hands to the sky? Still not feeling it? Then how about this?

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We’re still pretty early on in the season, but it’s always a good time for some hot takes. What follows will be the totally legitimately definitive ranking of each NBA team when it comes to their fantasy production.

I took the top 100 players in total value and by per-game value, figured out how many were on each team, and ranked them. Very scientific stuff, I know. But no worries, there is a point. We’ll discuss what that means for each team, and for fantasy owners that may have the players mentioned, or have their eye on a player mentioned.

If a team has fantasy gold, does that mean they have great pace? Is it because they have a great record? Without further ado, here are your answers.

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Hey there all you Razzball readers! The Duke is coming at you with an entire rundown of the Western Conference from a 9-cat fantasy perspective. We’ll start with a top 20 player ranking, then go team by team looking at all the viable fantasy options for the 2020-2021 season and see how to fit them into your roster to bring home another chip for the mantle!

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Coaches often become the scapegoat in situations where a team is underperforming, both realistically and sometimes in their owner’s eyes. A quick fix is to fire the coach and patience is often in short supply in situations like these. NBA fans are used to that, but Kenny Atkinson’s firing from the Nets is one of the most undeserving one of recent memory. His Nets are almost surely making the playoffs, either from the 7th or the 8th position, he coached the full season without Kevin Durant and most of it without Kyrie Irving. Last year he made the playoffs with the highest paid players on the team being Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, and Jared Dudley. Let that sink in for a moment….

He seems like an obvious hire for the Knicks, to be honest, or even for the underwhelming Bulls. Hopefully, he gets his chance soon as he seems very deserving. Maybe the pressure from Rodions Kurucs to get him fired was too much for the owners to overcome…

On the fantasy front, I have to admit last week was not a great week in terms of my suggestions. Royce O’Neal and De’Andre Hunter were mediocre, while Jae Crowder pulled a Houdini and disappeared from the rotation and the scoreboard in his last three games. Even Cody Zeller, who I suggested as a “Sell” candidate got his minutes back and unsurprisingly proceeded to have a team-low -16 in last night’s double overtime loss in Atlanta.

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In Dave Hickey’s seminal basketball essay, “The Heresy of Zone Defense,” he celebrates and argues that the game of basketball has been fair, civil, and liberated, from its very inception. Hickey celebrates basketball’s continuous evolution toward freedom, though he has nothing but contempt for college basketball and (naturally) zone defense. By the time Hickey wrote and published his essay in 1995, zone defense had been outlawed in the NBA in favor of the now defunct illegal defense rules. Obviously, the illegal defense rules morphed into its own form of limiting monotony, and though it does not appear that Hickey expected such an evolution, there’s no doubt that he’d support its elimination once it ceased to inspire innovation. In 2020, zone defense is back with a vengeance, but the reality of zone defense today is different from the one Hickey saw as dangerous, uninteresting governance.

Please, blog, may I have some more?