I get why Trae Young vs New York is a thing. I too remember last year’s gentleman’s sweep in the first round, and I understand that any time the Knicks do anything it gets an unreasonable amount of attention because New York, the media, Stephen A., etc. I also know that America is the land of large appetites, so even though the NBA in late March can be a real grind, content must still be pumped into the great yawning maw. Trae turning heel in MSG is cheap heat and the Knicks are highly flammable. Ring the dinner bell, friends. It’s time to eat again.

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Late February, everyone’s favorite little month, often feels like a desperate time in the NBA. The Trade Deadline, with all its promise, hope, and frequent disappointments, has come and gone, and with no cavalry coming to save you, you’re forced to come to grips with reality. Most of the time that reality isn’t pretty. Looking around the league, it seems like everyone is exhausted in ways that have become obvious. The NBA season is a long one, and the All-Star break is closer to the three-quarter pole than the halfway point, so if you haven’t figured out how to win by now, it’s getting awfully late to get it solved. Some teams have already begun to slowly pack it in and wind things down. “Better luck next year,” isn’t being said yet, but the phrase looms in the back of mouths in Indiana, Washington, and Texas. Outside, at least where I live, it’s gray, brown, and soggy, and it can be hard to remember that life and color exist in a universe that looks exactly the same way that a 19-40 season feels. It’s grim. Cold. Still. The NBA landscape can be equally sparse — I’m looking at you, Philadelphia, and your 40-point home loss — so when you see something beautiful and vibrant, you’ve got to celebrate it. So, with apologies to Giannis Antetokounmpo and his 50-point night (my god, he’s good), I’m renting out this Tuesday lede to Trae Young, who was a vibrant, flamboyant shot in the arm at home against a thoroughly game Cleveland group.

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With the trade deadline approaching, many fantasy opportunities will arise from potential trades in the next days. The successful fantasy player does not rest during these days. The successful fantasy player does not have a social life, work, family, or personal time during these days. The successful fantasy owner refreshes Twitter for the latest updates and has three computers and two smartphones open to make the correct add simultaneously in all the leagues they are in. Sleep is for the weak, sleep is overrated.

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Welcome back! It’s Thirsty Thursday and I’m ready to pour you all a glass of green juice as we light up those screens tonight with some cash money. Last week four of the guys from this article finished as a top-12 fantasy scorer. I mentioned Chris Paul had a great shot of hitting 50 fantasy points and what did he do? 56.3 on DraftKings and 52.6 on FanDuel, good for third highest on the night. Tonight, Kevin Durant and James Harden get to beat up on their old team (OKC) sans Kyrie as he isn’t playing home games right now. We also get to see the most exciting player in the NBA tonight, Ja Morant. Did you see that block he had?  Most importantly, we will be build (lineups) Rip City on Nurk and Little! If you don’t get the reference, here you go. 

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Coming off a game in which he went scoreless in 22 minutes, Evan Fournier went OFF for a career-high 41 points, including 10 made triples. At one point I saw an actual fireball coming off his fingers as he flung up splashes before they barely touched his fingers. He added eight boards, a steal and a block to his line. He’s rostered in most leagues (64 percent), but maybe you can sell high on him if his national TV performance swayed some opinions in your league.

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Happy New Year to the Razzball community! I wish everyone good health, happiness, and fantasy basketball goodness. Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season and watched the games, which are some of the few in the year that are scheduled at convenient European times so we can also enjoy them without falling asleep, usually at halftime.

The basketball side of things last week was dominated by none other than DeMar DeRozan, as he became the first NBA player to hit back-to-back game winning buzzer beaters on back-to-back days. One can even say that those games were in two different years, if you didn’t have enough of that uncle who tells that kind of jokes at the Christmas table. Like the all time classic “I haven’t spoken to you since last year” after the New Year’s Eve which usually gets the following kind of reactions.

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The Covid situation and more specifically the Omicron variant has forced most NBA teams to sign players on 10-day deals, in order to fulfil the minimum roster requirement and avoid postponement of games. Most of those players come from the G-League, some from European Championships but the one signing that caught my eye was the return of Joe Johnson to the Celtics at 40 years old. Exactly 20 years ago, the Celtics drafted Iso Joe with the 10th pick and that age gap is the largest one in NBA history. Of course, what would be more fitting than him making a basket in his return with his usual isolation play.

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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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I was chilling out with pops the other night. Yes, your Son is actually a son. I know, mind-blowing. Anyways, we were chatting about who the superstars in the league are. Giannis, LeBron, KD, blah blah blah. Then Jayson Tatum came up. My pops shook his head…..which way though? Up and down or side to side? It was side to side with a crooked frown. For full transparency, he is a Lakers fan but he does know his hoops. He has skills, he said. He can score, he said but he’s missing that extra element that vaults him into the upper echelon. My response? 

I’ve seen him do fantastic things that make me go, daaayyam. I also remember that he and Kobe would train and converse so Mamba passed down secrets, no? Then I remember those games where I’m left completely underwhelmed. Well, last night, Tatum knocked on our craniums with….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
42 5 4 3 0 3 7/13 16/25 3/5

It was the eighth time Tatum has gone for at least 40 points in his career! Now, Tatum is shooting 42% from the field on the season. He has never finished with a mark below 45%. The early-season struggles may be dissipating as he’s been shooting over 50% from the field over the last seven games. Tatum was being drafted at the back end of the first round in most drafts. While he scores a ton of points, the efficiency has improved, and he chips in tres, boards, and some dimes, the defensive stats are lacking at 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks. Fine, they aren’t exactly lacking but in order to be a first-rounder, he will likely need to be in the 1/1/1 club. Get your act together, Tatum!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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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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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