• The All-Star break is over and it’s time for us to get back into the flow of the NBA action and make our runs for the fantasy basketball playoffs.

    Are your teams geared up and ready? Do they have a playoff berth locked up or are you still scrambling for one of those highly-coveted playoff spots?

    Whatever situation your teams are in, we’ve got you covered here at Hoop Ball.

    Thursday night brought us the first wave of NBA games after the All-Star break and boy did we get a huge serving of some massive stat lines from some of the usual suspects.

    Many Happy Returns

    The Orlando Magic got a couple of players back. Nikola Vucevic (hand) and Aaron Gordon (hip) both looked good after missing significant time with their respective injuries. Vucevic filled up the stat sheet nicely with 19 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 24 minutes. While Gordon scored nine points, got five boards and five dimes in 25 minutes. Unfortunately, their on-court comeback was spoiled by the Knicks, who ended up coming away with the 120-113 victory.

    Emmanuel Mudiay was unimpressive in his first start, while Jarrett Jack fell out of the rotation with a DNP-CD. Michael Beasley had a subdued performance while still recovering from an ear irritation from earlier in the week. Tim Hardaway Jr. led all Knick players with 23 points, three rebounds, six assists, a trey, a steal and a block.

    D12 Does Glass

    Dwight Howard was a monster on the glass and finished with 24 boards to go with his 15 points and lone blocked shot, while Kemba Walker dropped 31 points and seven dimes to lead the Hornets to a 111-96 victory over the Nets.

    Good news for the Nets is that D’Angelo Russell appears to be playing better. He started alongside Spencer Dinwiddie in this one and scored 19 points and handed out five assists. Also, coach Kenny Atkinson is “hopeful” to see Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) and Caris LeVert (concussion, knee) back for Monday’s game against the Bulls. So we likely won’t see Dante Cunningham repeat his 22-point, 12-rebound career game any time soon.

    The New-look Bulls and an Unleashed Bobby Portis

    Bobby Portis had a career-high 38 points off the Bulls’ bench, with eight rebounds, six treys and two assists. The Bulls deployed a new starting lineup with Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba getting shuffled in. Nwaba stepped up with 21 points, nine boards and a full stat line in 33 minutes, while Felicio logged just 12 minutes and finished the game with five points and three rebounds. Lauri Markkanen had a quiet night with three points and eight rebounds. Zach LaVine hit five triples en route to his 23 points, three rebounds and four assists. Yes, it’s time to add Nwaba, again. As long as he’s getting solid minutes, expect him to deliver some solid lines you won’t get from your average fantasy free agent.

    The game was close, but the new-look Bulls would end up falling to the Sixers, 115-116.

    Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons combined for 62 points and respectively stuffed stat sheets, while Robert Covington was still quiet with eight points to his name.

    When Wizards Make Your Win Streak Go “Poof!”

    Yup, the Wizards snapped the Cavs’ win streak with a 110-103 win on the road. Not even LeBron James’ 32 points, nine rebounds and eight assists were not enough to carry the Cavs in this one. What happened? Well for starters, recently acquired George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance Jr. all struggled in this game, leaving James to his own devices. J.R. Smith was his only real bastion of help with 15 points and three triples.

    To their credit, the Wizards did play well. Bradley Beal flirted with a double-double, dropping 18 points and nine assists, while Tomas Satoransky came up huge in another start with 17 points, eight dimes and two steals. Ottto Porter Jr., dropped a Porter-esque line with 15 point, eight boards, three treys and two steals.

    Westbrook In The Clutch

    Russell Westbrook nailed an open 3-point shot to lift the Thunder over the Kings, 110-107. Not only did he win the real-life game, Westbrook also dropped a big trip-dub with 17 points, 15 boards and 11 dimes. He got the help he needed from Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, who chipped in 23 and 26 points, respectively. Not to be forgotten was Steven Adams, who had an excellent performance with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.

    Old man, Zach Randolph led the way for the Kings with 29 points and 12 rebounds, while Bogdan Bogdanovic was huge disappointment with just four points and five turnovers in 19 minutes. Buddy Hield filled in the void left by Bogdanovic’s poor game with 19 points, nine rebounds, three triples and four assists. Skal Labissiere returned to action on Thursday and looked pretty good with 10 points and two blocks in 26 minutes off the bench.

    Splash It Like It’s Hot

    The Warriors fended off a fourth-quarter run by the Clippers to hold on for the 134-127 win. This night belonged to Stephen Curry, who went thermonuclear and splashed down eight triples on the Clips en route to his game-high 44 points. He also added 10 dimes and two steals to round out his impressive night. Kevin Durant added 24 points, while Draymond Green stuffed the stat sheet in his customary fashion. JaVale McGee got the start ahead of Zaza Pachulia, who played just seven minutes. McGee failed to inspire much awe himself with just six points, four rebounds and no blocks in 14 minutes.

    Lou Williams did his thing with 21 points, 12 assists in 34 minutes off the bench. Tobias Harris looked good once again with 22 points on solid shooting. DeAndre Jordan had himself a sweet double-double with 16 points, 14 boards, three steals and a block. Milos Teodosic entered the starting lineup for the injured Avery Bradley and delivered 14 points, four triples and two dimes (don’t worry those will follow). Meanwhile, Danilo Gallinari’s shooting woes continued with a 33 percent shooting night from the field, but was still able to finish with 15 points.

Fantasy News

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    In a recent fan question session Bucks' GM Jon Horst hinted towards signing Giannis Antetokounmpo to a supermax extension when eligible.

    Horst mentioned that he cannot technically discuss an extension until he is eligible, but said Antetokounmpo will be a Buck for a long time. The Greek Freak will be eligible next summer and is all but sure to get a supermax extension.

    Source: Fox Sports Wisconsin on Twitter

  • Tacko Fall
    C, Boston Celtics

    Tacko Fall (mild knee sprain) is expected to miss one week after a collision in workouts.

    With training camp two weeks away, Fall should be ready to roll by then. He is currently on an Exhibit 10 contract, battling for the final roster spot with Javonte Green (partially guaranteed) and Kaiser Gates (Exhibit 10). Fall is an intriguing talent at 7'7" but is not expected to be fantasy relevant in his first season even if he does make the team with the Celtics already carrying four center eligible players on guaranteed contracts.

    Source: Jared Weiss on Twitter

  • Nicolas Batum
    SG, Charlotte Hornets

    According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been informed that, "The agenda is youth and development."

    The article adds that both players will have a chance to compete for minutes but the Hornets' top priority will be to develop their younger players which bodes well for Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, Devonte Graham, P.J. Washington and Willy Hernangomez. Miles was already putting up near top-100 value to close the season at around 25 minutes per game while the rest of the players could all produce fantasy value if given the minutes so they should at least be put on the watch list to see how the preseason plays out.

    Source: Charlotte Observer

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting and drained seven triples as Serbia topped Czech Republic 90-81 to finish in 5th place.

    Bogdanovic also added four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block and was certainly one of the most impressive players in the tournament. Although he has the talent to be a successful full-time starter, the 27-year old will likely be relegated to a similar 25-27 minute, off-the-bench role he played last season with Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and newly added Trevor Ariza also on the wings. Nikola Jokic also did his usual thing this game with seven points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Boban Marjanovic and Nemanja Bejlica were not really involved in this one, playing only two and eight minutes, respectively.

    Source: FIBA

  • Donovan Mitchell
    SG, Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell scored 16 points with 10 assists as US beat Poland 87-74 on Saturday to finish seventh place in the tournament.

    Mitchell was an efficient 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from downtown but the bigger story of course was USA's disappointing showing as this was only the second time that they finished outside the top-3 in the FIBA World Cup since 1978. Kemba Walker (neck), Jayson Tatum (ankle) and Marcus Smart (hand/quad/calf) all sat out the final game as they now have two weeks to rest before the start of training camp.

    Source: FIBA

  • Evan Fournier
    SF, Orlando Magic

    Evan Fournier scored 16 points to lead France in their semifinal loss to Argentina by the score of 80-66.

    This was a really poor showing all around in an elimination game by the French team. Fournier scored an inefficient 16 and was joined by Frank Ntilikina's 16 as two of just three French players in double figures.

  • Rudy Gobert
    C, Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert was invisible in France's loss to Argentina in the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup, scoring just three points and pulling down 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.

    This just wasn't enough from Gobert, who couldn't impose his will against a weaker Argentina squad on paper. Joining him in the "forgot there was a game" club was Nicolas Batum, who consistently finds a way to do nothing in heavy minutes. Batum's line in this one was a paltry three points (1-of-6 shooting), five boards, one assist and a block.

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills was the star for Australia, scoring 34 points and hitting four triples against Spain, but Australia fell in double overtime 95-88.

    Mills did as much as he could but he just didn't get enough help from his supporting cast. Joe Ingles couldn't find the basket and only had four points (to go along with 10 rebounds and seven assists). With that off night of shooting from Ingles, the Aussies needed someone like Matthew Dellavedova (six points) or Aron Baynes (six points) to step up.

  • Ricky Rubio
    PG, Phoenix Suns

    Ricky Rubio approached a triple-double in the semi-final win over Australia with 19 points, seven boards and 12 assists in 38 minutes.

    It was another big line for Rubio in the semis, who has been a stalwart for this Spanish run to the finals. He was inefficient from the field (6-of-19) but ran the offense well and should be a factor again in the final game.

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol carried Spain to the FIBA World Cup Final in a double-OT win over Australia, finishing with 33 points, six rebounds and four assists.

    Gasol had a great outing to lift Spain here and they should have a great shot at winning the title against Argentina. We'll see how this high workload summer affects him going into the new season.