When we moved from California to Wisconsin last October, we knew it would be hard. Catching the tail end of fall was the final gasp of good air before the dual jaws of winter and the pandemic clamped down on us. From there, we just had to ride it out. Hiding indoors, online, and in the NBA calendar was all there was to do. As the days got darker — in every sense — we were subjected, over and over again, to the Milwaukee mantra: Summers make winters worth it. Having no experience to draw on, we had to take these hearty midwesterners at their word. 

They were right. 

Ice thawed and snow melted. Patches of terra firma sprouted and then turned green. The Bucks exercised Miami demons in Game 1 of the Playoffs and squeaked past the Nets by the margin of a single shoe size. The Hawks were feisty but underseasoned, and then there was the block and the steal and the alley-oop over Phoenix. “Bucks in six” was the song of the summer. Flowers for The Good Land. 

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Hello once again, Razzballers. Not sure why I’m saying hi like it’s a surprise you’re here, but we’ll just go along with it and I’ll act disappointed you didn’t bring nachos. Nachos, man, will no one think of me? As the arrival of the newest NBA season comes closer (nearer?), it’s that time again to go over the specific teams and do our yearly ritual to pontificate, debate, and articulate what we see before us. Don’t ask me why it sounds like some slogan from the corporate zeitgeist where synergistic methods on trending markets do something or whatever. I just wanted nachos. For my first preview, we’ll be tackling the Los Angeles Clippers, a franchise that has really made me question why I follow sports at all, and then I remembered I know this pain. I was born in it, molded by it. As a Padres fan, it’s always nice to see darkness, my old friend. Exiting stage left from last year’s playoffs (or right, I don’t think it matters which direction) once again in the Conference Finals was both expected and surprising. There were many caveats as to why it happened yet again, but there were also a lot of great developments that could help the Clippers in their goal to finally reach the NBA Finals. So let’s see how the Clippers are shaping up and the fantasy implications henceforth. Medieval vernacular, why not?

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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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The ridiculous and predictably bad “condensed” NBA schedule has finally reared its ugly head. The injuries are rolling in faster than me when they say there’s free cake in the break room, and fantasy teams everywhere are hurting. Hopefully you have multiple IL spots. I have two in the league I run usually, but we upped it to three midseason.

If your commissioner didn’t have such foresight, RIP. But there’s good news: You don’t have to hurt anymore.

When players go out, that means other players step up to fill the void. So who should we be grabbing for the week? Who is going to win us our fantasy playoff matches?

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Lauri Markkanen shot the ball exceedingly well, making eight out of 10 attempts for 18 points. Everything else about his night was concerning though, especially the minutes, which also topped out at just 18. Markkanen’s playing time has taken a hit—he’s been under 24 minutes in five of his past six outings. In those limited runs, he’s failed to corral more than six rebounds in a game, and totaled just two assists, one steal, and one block. With fantasy playoffs looming, he could be a cut candidate. Chicago just embarked upon a four-in-five-nights set, so let’s see if he can slingshot his hot shooting from last night into some real momentum.

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The fantasy hoops world is one of diversity, danger, and drip. Some parts of the world are in constant drought with bricks raining down from the heavens. In others, there are only waterfalls that splash to the rhythm of a metronome. Tucked on the highest peak in the most remote part of the world lies a pantheon of extraordinary magnitude: The Nikola Pantheon. Nikola Jokic has been sitting on its iron throne for much of the season, as he has been the numero uno player in fantasy hoops. Nikola Vucevic has been valiantly trying to unseat Jokic. While he’s been a tier below Jokic for much of the season, there have been moments when the guardians of the Nikola Pantheon have discussed making it a timeshare. Last night, Vucevic went for 32 points, 17 boards, five dimes, and one block while shooting 14-for-29 from the field and 4-of-7 from downtown. Jokic went for 27 points, eight boards, 11 dimes, one steal, and one block in only 27 minutes. What a Jokic! Vucevic is the number 11 player for fantasy and has been narrowing the gap somewhat, but the divide is still a massive one. The iron throne on the Nikola Pantheon is no joke as it will be inhabited by Jokic for the foreseeable future.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Carmelo Anthony has been a reliable source of points and treys on good efficiency, and stayed on brand Thursday night with 20 points and four triples, while hitting all four of his freebies and turning the ball over just once. Adding Norman Powell to the mix shouldn’t have too much of an impact on Melo, who should continue to get minutes in the mid-20s and put up enough shots to retain value.

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The trade deadline is only a few days away, and we are pretty much guaranteed a trade or two that will shake up the NBA landscape. Whether you’re at the top of your league or near the bottom, stashing someone right now before it all goes down gives you a jump on the competition. Unless you can sit around all day waiting for the news, you need to have the foresight here to stash some folks and hope for the best.

Here are the top guys who should see their situation get better, in order of importance, with their respective percentages owned across Yahoo! leagues. We’ll be looking at projected 9-category value for this list, so it might be different if you’re playing a different format.

If you’re looking for an add, simply move down the list until you find someone who is available and go snag them and hope for the best, as long as you agree with my reasoning! Quick note: Most of these stats were gathered before the games on 3/21.

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