I’ve been covering fantasy basketball throughout this season and well… I haven’t been able to write many nice things about the Charlotte Hornets to date. So when I saw they picked up a rare road victory on Wednesday night – 122-117 over the young, rebuilding Houston Rockets – I thought this is finally the Hornets’ time to shine! But alas, one step forward and one step back for this stumbling squad – despite the victory, the real loss was the apparent ankle injury to franchise superstar LaMelo Ball. Let’s dive a little bit deeper into this game and fantasy-relevant injury.

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The 2022 NBA Draft class has been quite a delight, right?

No. 1 overall selection Paolo Banchero is averaging 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game; 15/4/4 for Jaden Ivey (No. 5 pick), 18 PPG for Bennedict Mathurin (No. 6), and 12 and seven for Jabari Smith Jr. (No. 3). We’ve also seen promising flashes from Jalen Duren (leading all rookies with 7.3 rebounds per game), Keegan Murray (12 and four) and Andrew Nembhard (leading in three-point percentage at 40.4). All this positivity comes even without uber-popular Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick who suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury before ever taking the floor in an NBA regular season game. Big things comin’ in the future, for sure.

That leads us into Wednesday night in fantasy basketball, one highlighted by two of the rising rookies I referenced above.

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Basketball is back!

It was a wild offseason in the NBA, one highlighted by more off-the-court news than on. Kevin Durant demanded a trade; then after a long, drawn-out soap opera, ended up remaining in Brooklyn.  The defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics lost their head coach Ime Udoka for the season, after he was suspended for an “improper intimate and consensual relationship” with a female staff member. Lastly and most devastatingly, the basketball world lost all-time legend Bill Russell after 88 of the most accomplished years anyone’s ever seen on this earth.

In terms of impact roster moves, old-school center Rudy Gobert was dealt to the Timberwolves, the Spurs’ best player Dejounte Murray was traded to the Hawks and Donovan Mitchell – after being linked to the Knicks in over 10,000 rumors – ended up being shipped to the Cavs. But without further ado or hoopla, let’s jump right into my NBA preseason predictions and rapid-fire fantasy summaries.

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Tatum is the man in Bean-town.  The prince who assisted the former alpha in Kemba, has now taken the crown.  All hail this efficient volume scorer!  Starting to feel just like another regular game from Tatum.  21 shots in 37 minutes is the kind of usage that makes Tatum so valuable this season.  His youthful pairing with Brown is a huge reason the Boston Celtics are now 6-3 out the gate.

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Even though we haven’t even reached the All-Star break just yet, it is that time of year to start looking towards the head-to-head fantasy basketball playoffs. At this point you probably fall into one of four groups:

  1. Playoffs? Playoffs?
  2. If Paul Millsap comes back soon and Myles Turner turns things around then I have a chance.
  3. I just set my lineup for the next month, I will check back in…wait, Cousins is out for the year!?
  4. Wake me in mid-March.

It is never wise to get too comfortable in fantasy basketball, because just like we saw with the DeMarcus Cousins, injury can change things in a hurry. So, in addition to monitoring your waiver wire and reading Razzball on a daily basis, it is wise to start looking at the make-up of your team and how many games your players are expected to have each week during the fantasy playoffs.

In roto leagues, the only games you need to keep an eye on are your maximum games played at each position. In head-to-head leagues, however, knowing the volume of games each player will have each week is vital, especially in the playoffs. So let’s put on our fantasy basketball beer goggles and look to see if your team is one you want to take home when the bar closes at the beginning of April.

[Playoff schedules below are based on Yahoo default public league settings, going from Week 21-23. Week 21 begins March 12th. Week 22 begins March 19th. Week 23 begins March 26th and ends on April 1st.]

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