• 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

  • Furkan Korkmaz
    SG, Philadelphia Sixers

    After an injury-plagued sophomore campaign for the Sixers, Furkan Korkmaz knows this season will be crucial for his future and he is hoping to make big strides this year.

    The one thing Korkmaz has going for him is his shooting ability and that is something the Sixers could surely utilize on this roster. It did not click last season, but Korkmaz will get another chance to prove his worth at some point this season. Still, it is hard to picture him coming out of the gate with a big role on opening night.

    Source: Sixers.com

  • Nikola Mirotic
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    On Sunday, Nikola Mirotic dropped 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting for Barcelona.

    Mirotic's opening appearance for his new EuroLeague club, Barcelona, resulted in a victory, and he did not have to work too hard for most of his buckets at the Supercopa Endesa versus Valencia. Mirotic should find quick success during his return to European basketball, but NBA fantasy players will surely be missing his presence stateside.

    Source: Eurohoops

  • Bruce Brown
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey spoke highly of Bruce Brown’s defensive play, calling him an ‘elite defender.’

    Brown remains in contention for a starting spot with the Pistons, but he is not a high-usage player, and the Pistons have stocked up with offensive threats such as Derrick Rose and the immortal Joe Johnson. It will be tough for Brown to rack up enough touches or minutes this season.

    Source: Pistons.com

  • Kevin Durant
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    There is some optimism in league circles about Kevin Durant's (Achilles) chances of playing this season, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

    Looking back on Durant's decision to return during the Finals, the Nets may want to exude caution when considering KD's return to action. However, Durant is pursuing his rehab with a sense of purpose, and it would be great to see him get back on the court this season. We'll keep you posted when a real timeline on Durant's rehab emerges. This news does not make him a target on draft day for standard leagues.

    Source: New York Post

  • Larry Nance Jr.
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Larry Nance Jr. is the presumed favorite to start at PF heading into training camp according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

    Fedor went on to speculate that Nance Jr. could see a lot of time at the four while Kevin Love starts at center and Tristan Thompson and John Henson compete for back up minutes behind those two. Any uptick in playing time would be a huge boost to the per-minute dynamo that Nance Jr is, and a starting role with a new coaching staff bodes well for that. He's trending in the right direction.

    Source: Cleveland.com

  • Kevin Knox
    SF, New York Knicks

    Coach Fizdale told the Knicks players that no starters have been determined and players had to earn their minutes.

    Kevin Knox will battle with veteran Marcus Morris for the starting small forward spot. Knox has been working on getting his body stronger to be able to take on more contact on drives to the basket. Last season as a rookie, he averaged 12.8 points on a putrid 37 percent from the field. Knox will look to get more looks closer to the basket and increase his field goal percentage to more respectable levels. Knox provided little else outside of points and rebounds last season and will need to improve his shooting and defense to be considered a standard-league player.

    Source: New York Post

  • Bol Bol
    C, Denver Nuggets

    According to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic, Bol Bol could spend his entire rookie season in the G-League.

    Bol Bol was not drafted to be an immediate impact player, but just fell too late fore the Nuggets liking. The 44th overall pick needs to bulk up and show that he could take the bumps and bruises before having his chance on the big stage.

    Source: Nick Kosmider of The Athletic

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    After speaking with Doc Rivers and Lawrence Frank, Dan Woike's takeaway is that Kawhi Leonard's "load management" will not be as strict as it was last year.

    It was reported in July that Kawhi said he wants to play all next season fully and approach load management on a game-to-game basis so this is further confirmation that he will most likely play more than the 60 games he played last year but surely won't play all 82 either. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports speculates that this could be for several reasons. One could be that Leonard can take on more now that he is a little healthier while he believes the Clippers might also limit his per-game minutes to help him play more games. The other idea is that because the Western Conference is so deep, the Clippers will not be able to get a good seed if Leonard sits too many games. Fantasy wise, Leonard finished last season seventh in per game value but 18th in total value since he played only 60 games. Near the top of the second round would be a great place to snag him if he plays around 70 games this season.

    Source: Dan Woike on Twitter

  • Malik Beasley
    SG, Denver Nuggets

    The Nuggets want to extend Malik Beasley and Juan Hernagomez before the October 21 deadline.

    The Nuggets already locked up one of their 2016 first-round picks (Jamal Murray) to a long-term deal and now want to do the same with their other two 2016 first-round picks, Hernangomez and Beasley. If not, the two will likely become restricted free-agents at the end of the season. Both players saw stretches of big minutes last season due to injuries but at full health, Beasley was around 20 minutes per game while Hernangomez was at around 10. Fantasy wise, neither player puts up big defensive stats but Beasley is a very efficient shooter with low turnovers, knocking down 2.0 triples per game last year, putting him near top-150 value at only 23.2 minutes per game. Hernangomez is a decent rebounder and knocked down 0.9 triples per game but he would need closer to 30 minutes per game to be a factor in standard leagues.

    Source: Denver Post

  • OG Anunoby
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Coach Nick Nurse intends to put OG Anunoby "back out there in a primary role."

    With Kawhi Leonard vacating the starting small forward spot, Anunoby is the leading candidate to take the role. Before the arrival of Leonard, Anunoby started 62 games in his rookie season. Last season he started 6 out of 67 games, and missed the entire playoffs due to an emergency appendectomy. He averaged 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.3 blocks over 20.2 minutes per game, while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor, 33.2 percent from 3-point range and 58.1 percent from the free-throw line. He can be picked up as a late round flier in drafts.

    Source: The Athletic