• There are only four games slated for Tuesday, March 22nd and let’s just say these games are better suited for fantasy more than reality.

    The Honorable Mentions: The Heat will try to hold on to the third seed in the Eastern Conference as they face a depleted Pelicans team, and the Hornets will look to take down the Nets in Brooklyn.

    Now for Tuesday’s ‘must watch’ game of the night.

    Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    Tip Time: 8 pm (est)

    Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

    Player Matchup: Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook

    The Rockets (35-35) are walking a thin line between moving up in the standings or falling out of the playoff picture. Houston sits just a half game behind the Blazers for the sixth seed, but only lead the ninth-place Jazz by one game.

    The team’s star player, James Harden, is listed as ‘questionable’ after missing practice on Monday due to an ankle injury he sustained in Saturday’s game against the Hawks. However, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle says that Harden “seemed expected to play.”

    “We’ve got to win some games – it’s that simple,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Obviously, winning them all is the objective and is the goal. (This) will be a big game.”

    If the Rockets want any chance of beating the Thunder, they will need the league’s second leading scorer on the court. Harden has torched his former team twice this season with averages of 35 points, six rebounds, five assists, 1.5 blocks and 2.5 steals in those two meetings.

    Houston’s center Dwight Howard has been in the headlines lately for using the product Stickum. (Stickum is a product that helps players get a better grip on the ball.) The NBA has not penalized him for using the league’s illegal product, and he will be available for Tuesday’s contest.

    “I don’t know why people are making a big deal out of it,” Howard said to the Houston Chronicle. “I do it every game. It’s not a big deal. I ain’t tripping.”

    The 11-year veteran has been playing well through the month of March, averaging 12.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per game while shooting 63.8 percent from the field. In the previous two games against the Thunder, Howard has struggled with averages of 12 points and eight rebounds per contest, while only shooting 42.1 percent from the floor.

    Houston has gone 5-5 through the month of March and the main reason for their mediocrity has been their inability to stop their opponents from scoring. In the past 10 games, Houston has surrendered an average of 106 points to their opponents.

    The Thunder (48-22), who started the month of March struggling, have now gone on a four-game winning streak and sit comfortably in the third seed with a 3.5 game lead over the Clippers. After taking a hard fall on his elbow during Saturday’s game against the Pacers, Kevin Durant is expected to play in Tuesday’s contest.

    Durant has been amazing this season, averaging 28 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. Through the month of March, the eight-year veteran has taken his game to another level averaging 28.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.

    (Be sure to stay close to Hoop-Ball.com for updates on the status of tonight’s players.)

    Russell Westbrook is arguably my favorite player to watch in the league. Over his last 10 games, Westbrook has averaged 20.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 10.9 assists per contest. In the two meetings against the Rockets, Westbrook has averaged 25.5 points, nine rebounds and 12.5 assists per game.

    The Thunder have been on a scoring tear over their four-game winning streak, putting up an average of 121 points per game. They have, however, also given up 102.7 points per game to their opponents. If you are someone who enjoys a fast-paced, up-and-down game with very little defense, then this is the game for you.

Fantasy News

  • Miles Bridges
    SF, Charlotte Hornets

    Miles Bridges, the second-year forward out of Michigan State, had a decent season for the Hornets, but he wasn't too kind to fantasy owners who were high on him in drafts last fall.

    Bridges' ADP was inside the top-100 in both Yahoo (83) and ESPN (94) after draft season concluded last October. At the current juncture, he ranks 162 in 9-cat and 148 in 8-cat; not the jump forward many thought, fantasy GMs and analysts alike, Bridges would take in this his second season in the league. The Hornets obviously still have reason for optimism and have far from given up on him, but there's also reason to believe the 2020-21 campaign could be a pivotal one for Bridges in terms of showcasing the progress he's making in getting fully adjusted to the NBA.

  • Dwayne Bacon
    SF, Charlotte Hornets

    Third-year guard Dwayne Bacon, the 10th pick of the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft, did little to improve his game during the 2019-20 season, finishing the year with very underwhelming numbers.

    Bacon has always torn it up in the G League but has never been able to translate his production to the NBA. He averaged just 17.6 minutes in 39 games, his fewest games played in three NBA seasons, although this one got cut short by the on-going coronavirus pandemic. His biggest problem seems to be his shot, as his averages from the floor this year were paltry, at best. After shooting 47.5 percent from the floor in 2018-19, Bacon took a big step back (34.8 percent) this season. He was also pitiful from beyond the arc (28.4 percent) and from the free throw stripe (66.0 percent). It seems unlikely that the Hornets will extend the $2 million qualifying offer lined up for Bacon this offseason, so there's a decent chance he suits up elsewhere in his next NBA appearance.

  • Nicolas Batum
    SG, Charlotte Hornets

    Nicolas Batum played only 22 games during the 2019-20 regular season (the last of which came on January 24), finishing the year ranked outside the top-225 in categories formats.

    The veteran swingman had an injury-riddled campaign, Batum's fifth with the Hornets. He averaged just 3.6 points, 4.5 boards and 3.0 assists in 23.0 minutes per night. A longtime threat from deep, Batum shot 28.6 percent from three, which was also a disappointing development. He only has one year remaining on the gigantic, $120 million deal he inked prior to the 2016-17 season, and the Hornets are probably wishing it wrapped up after this season. They have no use for Batum moving forward, but they owe him $27 million next year. Yikes.

  • Cody Martin
    PF, Charlotte Hornets

    Cody Martin, the sixth pick of the second round of the 2019 NBA draft out of the University of Nevada, showed signs of productivity during his rookie campaign with the Hornets, averaging 5.0 PTS, 3.3 REB, 2.0 AST and 0.8 STL in 18.8 minutes per game (48 games).

    Those per-game numbers actually put him below his twin brother, Caleb (who was not drafted), despite Cody playing in 30 more games. Cody ranked right around 300 in 8 and 9-cat leagues on the season but was playing well to close out the year. He snuck inside the top-230 over the final two weeks prior to the COVID-19 pause, and was a streamable player in March due to his versatility and consistency.

  • Devonte' Graham
    PG, Charlotte Hornets

    Devonte' Graham emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the departure of Kemba Walker, taking over the reins as the starting point guard and finishing the season ranked 55th in 8-cat and 77th 9-cat scoring formats.

    After averaging just 14.7 minutes per game in his rookie season in 2018-19, Graham got thrust into the spotlight in 2019-20, jumping to a playing time of 35.1 minutes per game. The 24-year-old sophomore saw an across-the-board improvement in his stats and became a solid source of threes and dimes for small-ball fantasy lineups. Graham shot just 38.2 percent from the field but ticked other boxes with averages of 18.2 PPG, 3.5 3PG, 7.5 APG and 1.0 SPG. If he can somehow rein in his poor shooting and allow the game to slow down for him, he should be someone to watch come 2020-21.

  • Terry Rozier
    PG, Charlotte Hornets

    Terry Rozier ranked inside the top-75 in both 8 and 9-cat fantasy leagues on a per game basis in 2019-20, his first season with the Hornets after four years with the Celtics.

    Rozier swapped places with longtime fan-favorite and Hornets legend, Kemba Walker. Rozier inked a sign-and-trade for three years, $56.7 million ($18.9 million annually) that included Walker going to the Celtics. Starting all 63 games he played this season, Rozier averaged 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.7 threes per game for an underwhelming Hornets squad (23-42). Fellow backcourt mate Devonte' Graham unexpectedly put up outstanding numbers from the outset, so that put a bit of a damper on Rozier's first season with the team, as the two finished with similar numbers and fantasy rankings. Look for the backcourt tandem of Graham and Rozier to stay together moving forward for the Hornets, at least for next season. They will likely inhibit each other's fantasy ceilings, however.

  • PJ Washington
    PF, Charlotte Hornets

    P.J. Washington was one of bigger pleasant surprises from the rookie class of 2019, making a name for himself with the Hornets as a key player and finishing the season ranked 142/159 in 8/9-cat per-game value and 126/136 in 8/9-cat on total value.

    As a rookie, Washington proved doubters that he was far more NBA-ready than initially projected. A strong Summer League and promising preseason run, translated reasonably well into viable fantasy value. Washington ended up playing 58 games for the Hornets and notched averages of 12.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.5 3PG, 0.9 SPG and 0.8 BPG in just over 30 minutes per game. Still, Washington's biggest weakness remains his .647 shooting percentage from the free throw line. Overall, he gets solid marks for passing the eye test and flashing some promising impact on the box score on occasion.

  • Cody Zeller
    C, Charlotte Hornets

    Cody Zeller took a step backward during the 2019-20 season, finishing the year ranked 178 in 8-cat and 185 in 9-cat.

    The emergence and immediate productivity of rookie PJ Washington was a key reason for Zeller's rather disappointing year. He played in all but seven of the Hornets' games but had a rough stretch in February that included three straight DNP-CD's to close out the month. Zeller, as one might expect, came back strong after that absence, averaging 11.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 blocks in five games to close out his 2019-20 campaign. Zeller will be an unrestricted free agent after next season.

  • Caleb Martin
    SG-SF, Charlotte Hornets

    Caleb Martin, twin brother of Cody Martin, closed out the 2019-20 season playing his best basketball of the season for the Hornets after spending the majority of the year in the G League.

    Martin played over 35 minutes in both of the Hornets' final two games in March. He finished inside the top-270 in both 8 and 9-cat leagues and was ranked inside the top-125 during the final two weeks before the season was suspended. In 21.7 minutes per game over the course of those two weeks at the end of February and into March, Martin put up per-game averages of 8.9 PTS, 2.5 REB, 1.8 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.5 BLK and 1.8 3PT. In addition, he went 20-for-37 from beyond the arc (in 18 games played), good for 54 percent. That is a very promising number, albeit in a fairly small sample size, so the Hornets are obviously hoping he can maintain his prowess from deep next season.

  • Malik Monk
    SG, Charlotte Hornets

    Despite the departure of Kemba Walker, Malik Monk remained mostly unimpressive in 2019-20 with averages of 10.3 PPG, 1.1 3PG, 2.9 RPG and 2.1 APG to finish ranked 257/277 in 8/9-cat per-game value.

    Monk logged 55 games for the Hornets this season but could not hold any real momentum, except in February where he was able to string together an eight-game streak of double-digit scoring. His strong run came to a screeching halt when he was suspended indefinitely for violating the league's anti-drug program. Monk was eventually reinstated during the hiatus brought about by the coronavirus.