It’s finally here!  “The lockout is over!”  You’re like, “wtf, a lockout?!”  I’m quoting a Dave Cowens commercial!  And after the 98-99 Lockout at that!  Anything vintage Hornets is nostalgic gold right now.  Ridiculous amounts of bonus points to readers who are Hornets fans and remember that commercial and/or can find the video.  Because I couldn’t!

The return of the Hornets is one of the many things I’m looking forward to this year.  Getting past my horrific Jonas Valanciunas love, finally changing the page to a new season, is another.  But one of the biggest is a healthy (for now) Kobe Bryant and the return of the “Guess Kobe Bryant’s Stat Line”!  Even if you’re a long-time reader, you might not know this one!  It’s like the NBA scheduled the Lakers on a light opening night just for this momentous Razzball event, not because the Lakers are a widely popular team or anything…

I don’t remember exactly what spawned this prestigious contest, but as with everything that is oddly conversational in Razzball, traditions can start any time!  Like how we all guessed what Kobe would do, the like, 5 games he played last year.  So in order to carry this tradition, and to accurately-ish credit the winner, guess the Kobe line will be limited to the PTS/REB/AST projection to determine the victor.  Feel free to guess more stats than that, but when we did it last year with steals and blocks and turnovers, it was hard to say which commenter was closer than another.  The winner gets a shout out in the recap the next day, along with the jealous ire of all other Razzballers… I think Kobe has a big one in the opener vs. Houston… I’m going 31/5/6.  Shoot your guesses below, and happy return to Fantasy Basketball!  We’re pumped for our biggest season to date here at Razzball, and thanks to everyone for checking us out through the offseason!

Here’s some other news and notes since the last wrap-up, and what I’ll be focusing on for opening night (and we’re daily every weekday with the wrap-ups here on out!):

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With the season just a few days away, I’ll be covering the latest injury news for all those last minute drafters. Guys will be held out of preseason games for various ailments, so don’t overreact to every DNP in the preseason box scores. I can’t cover every NBA injury, but will try to cover the biggest injuries to start the season.

Unless you have been living under a rock over the summer, you have seen Paul George’s gruesome injury. He broke his leg in an US Olympic Team scrimmage. The leg injury has a 12-18 month timetable so George will be out for the entire regular season. He may play in the playoffs, but that doesn’t affect us fantasy players.

In redraft leagues, you don’t draft George. He won’t be playing this season, but should return to form the following year. In dynasty leagues, it gets a little trickier. If your team isn’t competing this year, then definitely invest a mid-round pick on him and stash him for the next season. If you think you can compete this year, get someone else who will play this year.

With George’s injury and Lance Stephenson’s trade to the Charlotte Hornets, there will be a lot of playing time and statistics up for grabs. Larry Bird says that the offense will rely more on George Hill. He’s never been the focal point of the offense so there may be some growing pains, but he’s a solid career shooter (44.8 FG%, 80.8 FT%, and 37.1 3FP%) and with increases in the counting stats, should be a solid mid-round value. He’s suffered a knee contusion, but should be ready to go for the start of the season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

[Reposting to the top with Updating Rankings as of October 22nd!

This will be the final ranks we put out before the season starts, so cross your fingers these look good when we reflect on them at the end of the year!]

Here it is, folks!  Below is our official Razzball Basketball top 200, which we’ll be updating through the preseason, listed with Yahoo position eligibility and accompanied by a small blurb for my reasonings.  Which isn’t a word?!  What if I have more than one reasoning!?

And as an extra step up from last year, Slim has included his projection for each player.  All in this one, easy to use list!  Slim and I see eye-to-eye on most things fantasy hoops, but he’ll of course have some differences of opinion.  So if you see a Slim projection that looks variant from my rank, you’ll know why!  And as always, we’re both always hitting up the comments and can [attempt to] explain our reasonings… There it is again!  I want it plural, dammit!  Here’s our one stop shop for our 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Rankings:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So this is why preseason wrap ups are tough.  News flutters around willy-nilly like that bag that dumbass had an obsession with in American Beauty.  And most of the news has about as much meaning…

First there’s Razzball lovebrows Anthony Davis spraining his wrist last night, and Monty Williams held him out as a precaution.  Davis wanted to come back into the game, but Monty was like, “nuh uh, girlfriend!  Shaniqua don’t live here no mo’!”  Not to be out-overreactioned, Russell Westbrook also sprained his wrist on Sunday.  Neither are serious, and this is why the wrap-ups are eye-roll fests through preseason.  A lot of worthless mud to pan through just to get a fleck of gold.  (True story – when I was like 8 or 9 years old, we did a class field trip to pan for gold and a portly kid got a tiny mote worth, the only one to get any.  Then I traded him some peanut butter-filled chocolate my mom packed me for lunch for it.  Talk about knowing your audience!)

Can you believe we’re a week away from opening tip?!  This is the last preseason wrap until next Tuesday to preview the season, and daily from there.  Can’t wait for this shizz to start!  My final re-rankings will be out tomorrow, we’ll get to meet some new writers, and two final preseason Pods (tomorrow and next Tuesday) before we get some real games to talk about on air.  Here’s what else has gone on in the world of preseason NBA action:

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Ahh, it’s good to be back. I feel like a bear coming out of hibernation. Except it’s the fall, not the spring. And I’m fatter, not thinner… Ok, it’s a terrible simile. Just shaking off the rust. But it appropriately illustrates what you should expect from the following cerebral voiding.

This is my bold predictions article, my writing equivalent to a Dubbya Bush “going with my gut!” moment. You want facts, stats, metrics? Keep walking, fella. This here piece is chock full of conjecture, fact-glossing best guesses, and shockingly basic deductive reasoning. Slim and JB are the fact finders, and, let’s face it, the guys whose advice you really should follow. BUT FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BOLD! And if nothing else, the following moves would certainly be considered bold. What I hope you take away from this, good reader, are reasons that I think a few players may be under valued, and therefore grabbed, or higher than they should be, and not reached for.

We’re wheeling and dealing here folks, no reasonable offer refused, so come on down to the lot, there’s a clown making balloon animals for the kids! Take a gander:

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Slim and I dressed up in suits and bow ties, Slim gelled his beard, I flossed for the first time since 2011, and we went in and crashed the Yahoo Friends & Family League!  What fantasy basketball draft isn’t improved with an early Latrell Spreewell joke in the draft chat?

So with the updated Yahoo player ranks eerily mimicking a lot of our sleeper calls, Slim and I had to really pull A Beautiful Mind to get our draft strategy in order.  On top of drafting with some experts, league settings were a major factor in our strategy.  The league is a 12 team H2H, but instead of RCL/default week 21-23 playoff schedule, the Y! F&F is weeks 22-24.  Right away, all Cavaliers were absolutely off-limits.  Looking at Slim’s ridiculously awesome breakdown of playoff schedules, the Cavs have 3 games week 22, 2 in week 23, then week 24 is the final 10 days of the season.  I’m not even going to look at their schedule, since there’s a good chance the Cavs rest their starters for several games in that final 10 days.  The experts knew this too, as Kevin Love fell to 15th overall, with us passing on him with pick 14.

The other main settings differences were roster composition and the league is weekly with only 2 moves allowed a week.  The roster breakdown is PG, SG, SF, PF, C, UTIL, UTIL, UTIL, UTIL, UTIL, BN, BN, BN.  Slim and I unanimously agreed to go PG and C heavy, filling out SG/SF with ThrAGNOFs.  Limited moves also made us want to hoard PG since fewer will break out off the wire.  Here’s how team Razzball (will be co-managed by both of us) panned out:

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I still remember my very first year of fantasy basketball.  I dominated the league, talked smack the entire time, and went into the playoffs with a 1st round bye while already thinking about how to celebrate my championship.  I played a team that struggled all year, barely made the playoffs, and had what I thought was an opposing team of nothing but scrubs.  We both streamed where we could and when the dust settled I lost by a large margin.  All my players played well, I couldn’t understand what happened.  When I added the total games played I realized I lost a hidden, yet easily the most important fantasy category there is, and I lost it by double digits: the category of games played.  I ate every word of trash I talked all year and had to watch two other teams vie for what I considered my championship.

If you are like me and play to win, not just play to compete, then maximizing games played in the playoffs is by far the most important way to do it.  JB chimes in, “But you have to make it there first?”  “Au contraire, mon ami”, I say.   Are you really playing for 4th place?  Does anyone remember who lost in the playoffs anymore than they remember who missed them?  Nay I say, we play to win!  So here it is, the most important 3500 words I’ll write all year as far as winning your RCL goes…

H2H playoff dates are: 1st round March 16-22.  Semifinals March 23-29.  Finals March 30-April 5.  Which should be the playoff schedule for everyone.  If your league uses the last week of the year then I would highly recommend you suggest changing it.  It plays very similarly to the last week of fantasy football.

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