Luguentz Dort

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Congratulations! You made it to the end of a fantasy basketball season full of injuries, health and safety protocols, and postponed games. Now what?

Spoiler alert: It isn't less stress. You can't enjoy the new Shang Chi in peace like a normal nerd. Playoff participants still need to set lineups, and consolation participants need to avoid punishments.

So here are some players on the waiver you need (or need to avoid) to help you in the final stages of the fantasy year.


Booms

Luguentz Dort Guard/Forward Oklahoma City Thunder

Dort hasn't taken the massive leap many hoped after his 30-point performance in the playoffs, but he is still improving and showed what he is capable of this past week. In his last three games, the former Arizona State Sun Devil is averaging 32.3 points on 51.5 percent shooting, 5.0 made threes, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals a game.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is already the future of the Thunder, but if Dort continues to perform at this level, he can be another building block for the team as well.

Nerlens Noel Forward/Center New York Knicks

For all of the conversation around Ben Simmons and Rudy Gobert being Defensive Player of Year, it's Nerlens Noel who holds the best individual defensive rating in the NBA. Normally, that hasn't translated into fantasy relevance this season, but he gave fantasy managers some help this past week.

Noel put up 8.0 points on 80 percent shooting, 9.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.3 blocks per game in his last three contests. If you need a boost in field goal percentage and defensive stats, there are few better specialists than him.

Kevin Huerter Guard/Forward Atlanta Hawks

It's been tough for Huerter to shine with so much competition in Atlanta, but he showed what he can do with decent minutes. Red Velvet showed that smooth shooting stroke, averaging 18.7 points on 59.5 percent shooting, 3.3 made threes, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals in three games.

With Danilo Gallinari still fighting a foot injury, Cam Reddish still weeks away from reevaluation and De'Andre Hunter out, Huerter will continue to have plenty of chances to put up big numbers.

Jae'Sean Tate Guard/Forward Houston Rockets

Tate's journey to the NBA has taken him from the NBA Summer League to Belgium to Australia and back. Now, he is putting up some numbers in the Association and showing he belongs in the league.

In his last four games, Tate averaged 14 points on 66.7 percent shooting, 5.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 block. He is stuffing the stat sheet for Houston and he can stuff it for you if you pick him up right now.

Busts

R.J. Barrett Guard/Forward New York Knicks

The Knicks have been a roll lately, but Barrett has had a rough time finding the same consistent success. He's still been able to score (13.8 points this past week), but he's only shooting 37 percent from the field, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in the last four games.

Barrett still averaged nearly 36 minutes in that same stretch so he is still getting plenty of runway to take off. But with such minimal contributions in anything other than scoring, it may be time to cut him in favor of a more versatile option.

Eric Bledsoe Guard New Orleans Pelicans

Bledsoe has been a fantasy roller coaster this season, but the valleys have been more consistent than the peaks. In his last four games, the Kentucky Wildcat alum averaged 12.3 points on 36.4 percent shooting, one made three-pointer, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists, a far cry from what he has produced his last few seasons in the NBA.

Despite averaging over 30 minutes a game, there are plenty of streaming options that will be better for your mental health in the playoffs. Any remaining Bledsoe managers should feel free to drop him.

Lauri Markkanen Forward/Center Chicago Bulls

Many fantasy managers were hoping that Markkanen's season would get back on track after the trade deadline, only to be greeted with even worse stat lines as his minutes continue to evaporate. In his last four games, he's only scored 6.3 points on 32.1 percent shooting, 1.5 made threes, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

It seems the Bulls are hellbent on limiting Markkanen as much as possible with restricted free agency on the horizon in the offseason. This means his value as a fantasy asset is pretty over. Feel free to drop him without regret

Coby White Guard Chicago Bulls

Markkanen isn't the only Bull struggling in this critical time for fantasy managers. Coby White has been a victim of lineup volatility, finding himself playing 12 minutes one game and 33 minutes another. This week, he has averaged 10.8 points on 33.3 percent shooting, 2.3 made threes, 3.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game as a result.

White's outlook is slightly better than Markkanen's as the former has filled in as a starter since Zach LaVine has entered the health and safety protocol. For this week at least, White has a better shot at producing decent playoff numbers if you're desperate.

Paul George grabbing a rebound in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals

Barry Gossage/Getty Images

In a must win game for the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George was finally able to look like the best player on the floor in a playoff game.

After a slow start, George poured it on in the second half on his way to a game high 41 points in Game 5. The performance elevated the Clippers over strong outings from the likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul as L.A. outlasted Phoenix 116-102.

The Clippers don't have much time to bask in their win however as they have to turn around and play two more elimination games just to make it out of the West. The Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead as Los Angeles struggled to find their identity without Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers are to stave off elimination any longer, George has to continue this level of play.

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Ben Simmons disappointed in the playoffs this season

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Following a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and coach, Doc Rivers, are questioning if Ben Simmons is the right guy to be running their offense through moving forward.

Offense being the key word here.

Simmons is an all-world defender possessing the ability to guard virtually any opponent on the court from the perimeter to the rim. But it was his lack of offensive help throughout this playoff season that stood out beyond any accomplishments this year. Simmons joined Rudy Gobert as unanimous selections for the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this year and also finished fifth in the NBA in assists per game with 8.8 per contest.

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The Lakers looked lost in the Valley

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.

After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.

LeBron James LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.

The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.


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