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When the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009, it was a great example of how the Sports Karma Gods can sometimes rush in after tragedy strikes to lift a city up and help it rebuild.

But then that was it. No more, said the Sports Karma Gods. Because since 2009, Big Easy sports fans have endured the Sean Payton scandal, the Chris Paul trade, the Hornets changing their name to the Pelicans, the freaking horrible uniforms for this year’s NBA All-Star game and a rash of injuries not unlike the rash Candy Flanders gave me in my sophomore year of high school. Er, ah, moving on.

(But wait before I move on, why can’t the New Orleans basketball franchise be the Jazz again? Will the Utah basketball fans really care if we take their name and change it to, say, the Miners, or the Mountaineers, or the Henricksons, sponsored by Home Plus?)

This string of injured players has really been unprecedented. Anthony Davis was gone forever. He gets back, and now Ryan Anderson is gone for at least more two months, and Jrue Holiday is out for who knows how long, and now Jason Smith had a piece of cartilage chip off his knee (ouch?) and he’ll miss some time. It seems like the only guy who hasn’t been injured is the only guy who always gets injured – Eric Gordon.

Anyway, the real-world relevance of this is the Pelicans have to tank the hell out of their season and get down to the fifth pick or lower, otherwise they lose it this year to the Philadelphia 76ers.

There’s significant fantasy world implications for those who have the aforementioned dinged-up players on their teams, but there’s also plenty of opportunities for owners to play scavenger and scoop up their healthy teammates and replacements.

One is Al-Farouq Aminu. He was already starting before Smith went down, and now he’ll be in line for more minutes and all the stats he can gobble. He’s averaged 10.3 rpg over his last four and will only pad his rebound and block totals and maybe even get some points. Surprised more people haven’t picked him up – maybe they’re getting tired of looking at his jacked-up mug.

The others in the bunch are almost exclusively deep-league options. Those in that camp might remember the Alexis Ajinca mania that broke out when Smith was hurt earlier this year, and Ajinca responded with a 17-7-1 as the starting center.

But that might not happen this go round, since the Pelicans are starting über-stiff Greg Stiemsma at center over Ajinca and giving more minutes to Jeff Withey, who looks like the frontman of Crowded House and plays basketball like him, too.

People keep telling me the Pelicans aren’t tanking, they wouldn’t do that, na no way, but when you start a guy with a name that sounds like an STD, you just might be tanking.

And that’s good news for fantasy owners looking for some gold in the garbage. Right now, that place is in New Orleans.

Here’s what else I saw in the paint last week:

Markieff Morris – Hot again after vanishing for a week or so. He’s the Amir Johnson of 2013-2014, unless Amir Johnson is the Amir Johnson of 2013-2014. Sometimes he’s the Marcus Morris of 2013-2014, and vice versa. Does that make sense? The Suns have a few days off at the beginning of the week, so I’d wait to see if Markieff is still going strong toward the end of the week, when their schedule picks up.

Nikola Vucevic – Giving owners as big of a headache as the one that’s causing him to miss so much time. You have to wait it out. Don’t you?

Dewayne Dedmon – This week’s Deep League Special was brought to Philly from the D-League Santa Cruz Warriors on a 10-day contract and has averaged 7 rpg and 1.3 bpg in his first three games for the 76ers. The 7-footer could be a lot more for a lot of reasons. Philadelphia has been getting blown out lately, meaning more garbage time for Dedmon. There’s no big dudes who can play on the Philly bench. And and should the 76ers sell off their big guys before the deadline (Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young), and Dedmon sticks around, he could actually get decent time. Check these highlights of this dude ballin’ in the D-League it’s worth a click just to hear this bush-league announcer go bonkers.

Ryan Kelly – A lot of people are picking this Dukie up because he’s on the Lakers. Yeah, he caught my eye because he can board a little and swatted three shots in a game last week, but I am not endorsing him for a grab.

Carmelo Anthony – He grew a sack last week, averaging three above his season rebounding average of 9 per game, including a 26-point, 20-rebound outburst in a – surprise! – loss to the Clippers.

Elton Brand – Mad props to a 34-year-old guy playing with the body of a 55-year-old for rejecting 3.8 per game over his last five. If you have a streamer slot with a short-schedule day coming up and need boards and/or blocks, Brand is your guy.

Terrence Jones – A 36-11-1 on Saturday against Milwaukee put the exclamation point on a great run and a sentence that says: This is the breakout! I wasn’t exactly sold on Jones and his sporadic play, but of late I’ve come to see him as a Thad Young in the making. Well, he’s a Thad Young now. He’s actually still out there in some leagues.

Blake Griffin – The Clippers have been winning and Griffin has been scoring at a 25 ppg clip over the last week. So what’s there to complain about? In real life, nothing. In fantasy life, Griffin owners would like to see some more rebounds: He’s hit double-digits just once in his last seven games. Minor gripe? Sure. But Griffin can jump over cars. He can jump over Shawn Marion and Kelly Olynyk to get to 10 rebounds in a game.

Jeremy Tyler – Very, very deep league option here, but an option nonetheless. With old men Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin nursing boo-boos, someone will have to come off the bench behind Melo and Andrea Bargnani.

J.J. Hickson – Averaging 13.2 rpg over his last 6, including a 13-point, 24-rebound effort last week against Golden State. I pimped Hickson heading into the season but also said Portland was dumb for letting him go and would suffer for their stupidity. So I was half right. Or half stupid?

Lance Stephenson – JB covered the breakout boy last week but he’s more than worthy of a little love from Boards-N-Blocks considering the way he’s been hitting the glass of late. Not only has he stepped on the gas in the points column (22, 28 in his last two), but he’s been boarding like a champ, with two straight 10-rebound efforts and 12 against the Clippers on Saturday. And he’s 6-5!

James Johnson – I did some research to find out that his imposing neck tattoo spells the name of his son, but I couldn’t get close enough to read what that name is. In any event, it is kinda scary looking, which might have helped this freak turn away six Buck shots in a game last week. He does everything Tony Allen used to do, so it makes you wonder what will happen if/when Allen comes back. He’s a great play until then.

Al Jefferson – A lot of beastly efforts of late, including a 30-16-1 against the Magic and a 22-14-1 in a loss to the Heat. But with Kemba Walker slated to miss some time, you’ll be seeing more games like the 35-point outburst last week against the Knicks and maybe a couple less boards per. Use your streamer dudes accordingly.

Joakim Noah – I get it. Just like me and everyone else in the world who doesn’t root for the Bulls, you hate Joakim Noah. But if you had him on your fantasy team you’d be stroking his sweaty pony tail. He’s been going bonkers since Chicago shipped away his best buddy Luol Deng, swatting shots and getting near or above that sweet spot of 16-plus boards almost on the regular.

Serge Ibaka – Been a Boards-N-Blocks stud lately, including a 21-15-5 on Jan. 16 in Houston. He’s scoring, too – last night he put up his third straight 20 point game. Well-known guy on mega-popular franchise playing above his head because a guy (Russell Westbrook) is injured = potential trade bait.

Little Big Man of the Week – Goran Dragic. Averaging 7 rpg over his last four, including 10 rebounds and a block to go along with seven assists and 18 points against the Lakers on Jan. 15. Did I mention that he’s a 6-3 point guard? And that his name is Goran? Isn’t that some little turd on “Lord of the Rings” or some other geeky movie? Wait, what? Fantasy basketball is geeky? Oh, yeah. Anyway, some real advice here: After dismissing him as some novelty floor general in Jeff Hornacek’s wacky offense, I’m starting to think he’s for real. He’s a buy, especially with Eric Bledsoe’s return still iffy.

  1. Frank White says:
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    Sup Pete… I swear I stare at that ugly tattoo everytime I see his picture but from what I see, If you look closely, I think it’s a portrait of his son and since his son is the same complection as him he has to put dark shit around it.. Lol.. Look again and tell me what you think

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @Frank White: I can’t look. it blinds me!

    • Principal Blackman says:
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      @Frank White: you are thinking of wilson chandler.

      • Frank White says:
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        Oh yeah your right.. that looks kinda weird too!

        • Slim

          Slim says:
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          @Frank White: I was talking to JB about Wilson Chandlers tattoo a while back and it reminds me of Kuato from Total Recall. “open your mind…”, “OPEN YOUR MIND!”

  2. Frank White says:
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    I’m in need of a big guy and there’s not much I see out there so I picked up Enes Kanter.. Would you drop him for Aminu or Josh McRoberts or just keep him for now??

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @Frank White: Aminu if you need boards and whatever else he can give now, Kanter for upside.

      • Frank White says:
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        Thanks man your always helpful!!

        • Pete Nice

          Pete Nice says:
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          @Frank White: No prob!

  3. Slim

    Slim says:
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    I’m with you on Kelly not helping much with the boards and blocks but… I’ve been thinking about a line and this is what I came up with.

    .440/.820/1.5/15.0/6.0/1.0/0.5/0.8/1.5 in 30 min.

    I think at least 30 minutes is here to stay. His competition for playing time of Gasol, Hill, Sacre, and Kaman all have something in common. Non shoot the 3 and D’Antonis offense is predicated on a PF who shoots 3s. I think there’s upside for 36 min and for every category to be better than my prediction. I’m buying it… while healthy. I’ve always seen him as an extremely high potential Dirk type player who just couldn’t stay healthy when he was at Duke. Right now I see him as a Channing Frye light.

    • Frank White says:
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      Wutup Slim… I know you were talking to Pete but the guys I put up in my question for maybe dropping Kanter, do you think Kelly is worth more then him too?? Thisgoes out to you Pete too. Thanks guys!!

      • Pete Nice

        Pete Nice says:
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        @Frank White: @Slim: Slim has a point, Kelly can give you some stuff in other cats, but as per the theme of the column, he’s not our kind of guy. Also you have to factor in that D’Antoni is nuts and he has been juggling his big men all year with no regard for production/ effectiveness.

      • Slim

        Slim says:
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        @Frank White: I’m with Pete on that one. Aminu now. Kanter if your looking for some upside.

  4. Lasandro says:
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    Crowded House reference! Australia salutes you – they were gods here during the 90’s

    My Love and Oladipo OR AD and Oladipo FOR Wall, Dwight and filler of either Kawhi, or D West, or A Bradley. So a 2 for 3 trade from me. Thoughts and suggestions?

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @Lasandro: 5-cat, 9-cat or other? Dwight is not great in 9. If I had to do something I’d do the AD deal, and I’d want something better than Dwight and definitely Kawhi.

      • Lasandro says:
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        @Pete Nice: Sorry – 14-cat H2H

        • Pete Nice

          Pete Nice says:
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          @Lasandro: Then def need something better than Howard. What’s he ranked in that league?

          • Lasandro says:
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            @Pete Nice: Not as high as I’d like. you’ve basically reaffirmed what I had planned on doing in the first place. thank you!

            I’ve been in talks with someone else re: my AD for his PG and either Henson or Lance. Seeing that i already own Love, I figured I should target his PG instead of his DMC.. but both seem to be on the table, should this trade go forward. What are your thoughts?

            • Pete Nice

              Pete Nice says:
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              @Lasandro: I’m a bad guy to ask about George. I have an unreasonable NBA Mancrush on him. It would kill me to say I wouldn’t do that deal but … I bet I know what JB would say and I would probably agree. I’d rather have DMC.

            • Pete Nice

              Pete Nice says:
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              @Lasandro: But I’d rather keep AD most of all.

              • Lasandro says:
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                @Pete Nice: You’d be interested to know that our friend JB agrees with you – if it’d fit my needs, straight PG for AD swap. DMC would be “too risky” to swap for AD, in his eyes. So there ya go.

                Thoughts on K love for Blake and Pau or Rudy?

                • Pete Nice

                  Pete Nice says:
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                  @Lasandro: naw

  5. Bobby says:
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    What’s up Pete? Frustrated is an understatement. Drop Jonas or Amir?? Thanks man!

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @Bobby: Take your pick based on positional needs. Both are way over-owned in my opinion.

  6. Kevin says:
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    Hey Pete. Still been trying to trade out dwight. nobody’s biting! love what he can do with points boards and blocks. I’m in 3rd place right now with a pretty solid team but I can’t help but think about the FT% going forward.

    lowry, kobe, wall, tyrke evans, reddick, chalmers, oladipo, burke, mo williams.
    dwight, AD, robin lopez, favors.

    Been needing a SF spot to fill on my roster. JR smith became a FA recently. Should I drop dwight or mo williams for JR smith? Maybe just leave it be and hope dwight treats me well? the uncertainty is scary, especially with terrance jones doing good.

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @Kevin: Yeah I’d just roll with him. You can’t drop him. I’d drop Chalmers, Reddick, Burke, Mo and maybe even Oladipo before I dumped Dwight.

      • Kevin says:
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        @Pete Nice: alright. will do. I keep having doubt but thanks for the reassurance.

        do you think a trade with my lowry, favors, and dwight for someone else’s rudy gay and kyrie irving is fair? Thanks in advance, buddy.

        • Kevin says:
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          @Kevin: *rudy gay, kyrie, AND gortat.

          • Pete Nice

            Pete Nice says:
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            @Kevin: will they do Dwight and one of the other two for Gay and Kyrie? will they give a little more than Gortat? If not but you just feel like wheelin and dealin I say what the hey

  7. Jason MacLeod says:
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    Is it worth holding onto Terrance Ross or should I look at guys like J Thompson and Marvin Williams. I only have one power forward on my roster, but I do leaf my league in rbs and blks. I need pts fg% and ftm.

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @Jason MacLeod: Those guys are so bleh but Ross isn’t a must hold guy either. Do what you gotta do but maybe there’s something better out there?

  8. Pops says:
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    Hi Pete,
    Just traded Vucevic for Boozer in one league. Need stats. Not 0-0-0
    I have Pat-Pat. Should I drop him for Antic-Scott-Tucker-or Carroll?
    And any suggestions for Wade?
    This is for my rcl league.

    Thanks

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @Pops: I like Tucker out of the bunch especially while Bledsoe is out. I’d try and move Wade.

  9. yokev_o says:
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    His Ty Lawson for my favors & rubio your thoughts?? 10 team 9 cat h2h league.

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @yokev_o: Hmmm it’s close but I feel like you should be getting a little something more back. anyone on his bench you can pilfer?

  10. TestTickles says:
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    I have Amir and Dunleavy. Would you drop both for Aminu and Augustin?

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @TestTickles: Sounds good to me.

  11. Patrick says:
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    would you drop illyasova for aminu?

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @Patrick: Depends on needs. Illy for points, Aminu for boards.

      • Patrick says:
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        @Pete Nice: i’m implicitly asking: is illyasova ever going to turn it on? if not then theres no reason i should hold onto him. his value last year may have been from brandon jennings cutting up defenses. also his boards are also down

        • Pete Nice

          Pete Nice says:
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          @Patrick: I’ve never liked him. if you see something you like feel free to drop him.

  12. Anthony says:
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    12 teams, 5 keep auction league..h2h most categories. Here’s what’s cooken’:

    My Love ($2) for his Griffen ($4) and Klay Thompson ($2). Arguably three of the biggest steals in our league. My other keepers are…Rose($19), Lebron ($52) and Deandre Jordan ($11). If I keep Love I will try and just keep a cheap guy with upside as my last or with this offer I get two dynamite 4th and 5th keepers. But it’s Love….what do you think?! THANKS A LOT!!!!

    • Pete Nice

      Pete Nice says:
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      @Anthony: I drafted Klay in the RCL this year and at first I was sticking it to JB, who’s not a fan. Now I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. He’s still better than we thought, but not as good as he was looking early on. I say hold onto Love. Isn’t that a song by Survivor?

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