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Change is a part of life. Smoking is no longer allowed on airplanes. As an ex-smoker that took multiple trips to Asia, it boggles my mind that we were allowed to puff in the back of the airplane. GOOD CHANGE. Turning the channel when watching a game due to boredom, then missing the play that blows up Twitter. BAD CHANGE. The Texas Blind Salamander. A creature that had its eyes reduced to two black spots over time. WHEN SITUATION FORCES CHANGE. Before I continue, the Texas Blind Salamander truly fascinates me. It had eyes. So, a male and female salamander fell into a cave together one day millions of years ago? They obviously had sex and made baby salamanders. I gotta imagine that they all tried to find their way back up, but just continued having sex and figuring out ways to survive. Over time, evolution just said, F it. No need for those things anymore. Welcome to your New World Order. I salute you Texas Blind Salamander. Why am I talking about change in Pacers preview? Well, for starters, the state voted for Obama back in 2008. CHANGE. Then, eight years later, the state went back to its Republican roots and backed Trump. CHANGE. Alright, let me back off the politics before I get told to “go back to my country,” even though I was born here. Before the 2016 season, Larry Bird replaced Frank Vogel with Nate McMillan at head coach. After the season, Larry Bird stepped down. Then, Paul George, their best player was traded. Lot of change went down for the Pacers last season.

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Playoff basketball – yes spelled “basketball” – is underway, got some great games to kick it off, including from our boy PBev!  While I’m coming around and trying to watch more playoff hoops (baseball is still fresh and new, sue me!), I’m still more excited for the hopes and dreams of 2017-18 fantasy titles.

In case you’re still catching up, here’s my Way Too Early Top 10 ranks, which hopefully mostly hold up (they mostly come out at night…) for the 2017-18 season.  Of course my boldest call of Rudy #10 gets greeted by a first quarter knee injury in game 1 of the playoffs, hooray!  C’mon Rudy, just stay healthy, no one in fantasy cares how you play in the playoffs!  Hah!  So let’s all hope none of these guys in my 11-25 get injuries their next postseason game…  Here’s my Way Too Early Top 25 for the 2017-18 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Timing.  It’s a bitch.  Losing one of your bedrocks the weekend before the H2H playoffs is the injury gods spitting into our faces and hitting us across the jaw!  No joke, last night I had a dream that DeMarcus Cousins straight cold-cocked Salah Mejri in the face.  Must’ve lingered from a convo I had with Grey last week about how there’s no more NBA fights, and Mejri always seems to wanna mix it up.  Weird how spot on that dream could be!

Anywho, my trip out West certainly didn’t help my focus!  We got some awful news Saturday that LaMarcus Aldridge is going to be out indefinitely with minor heart arrhythmia.  He missed the final 9 games in his rookie year and 10 days in 2011 due to heart-related issues, so if the further testing done today is positive, maybe we could get him back by the semi-finals next week.  For teams scrapping their way in a do-or-die quarterfinals in the playoffs, unless you have an open INJ spot, Aldridge can probably go.  Get well soon, LA!  In the meantime, David Lee (12/6/2 – 18 mins) and Dewayne Dedmon (9/7/0/0/2 – 22 mins) should get a little added run, but those numbers quoted there were in that weird game Saturday night against the Dubs, with Kerr and Pop benching everyone.  I’m sure ABC was THRILLED when they heard GSW was DNPing everyone and the Spurs were going to be without Kawhi Leonard and LA!  I’m not huge on Lee, but I think he’s your biggest benefactor, and could help deeper leagues or be a streamer for those boring Pts/Reb cats.  Hopefully losing LA doesn’t make you a Ded Mon!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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Uggghhhhhhh. I hate when the intro has to be about a bad injury, but alas, tis what tits with fantasy sports. After playing pretty well against the Pacers last night (21/4/0/2/1 in 28 minutes), Rudy Gay went down in the third quarter and had to be carried off the court, with tests indicating he tore his Achilles. He’s had issues with that Achilles in the past with a partial debridement, but it gave out at absolutely the worst time. Yeah, maybe he didn’t handle wanting to get out of Sacramento the most gracefully (who WOULD want to play there?!), but at least he showed up, ya dig?! Now he has to stick it out while rehabbing, this was going into a contract year… It just sucks. I’ve never been the “biggest” Gay fan, but I’ll be rooting for his rehab and hopefully he can be vintage Gay a few more years on a new squad.

In the meantime, it opens up a ton of wing minutes in SAC. Arron Afflalo of DNP-ville got 31 minutes last night, aided by Garrett Temple having to play backup PG because Ty Lawson is nursing a kankle. A R Ron! went for 11/1/1/0/1 in his usual snoozefest line, with Temple going 9/4/3/0/0 with a trey. Yikes. Matt Barnes might move back into the starting 5, but he’s hit-or-miss, depending on how drunk he is at the night club. Hey oh! 7/4/4 for Barnes in 20 minutes, and Ben McLemore only got 4 minutes this game. It’s a real trainwreck without Gay, and I don’t see any sort of clear answer on this team to fill in the void. So you’re likely looking elsewhere on the wire for Gay’s scoring, and hopefully you sold high after a red hot start through the first stretch of the season. Get well soon, Rudy! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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As I try to do in my opens, I pull in some real-life news or experience to try and humanize the open. No one wants robot reporting! Just ask Mark Cuban. And that whole situation seems like such a cop out, “I’m going to ban reporters, and the reason why is that I want more human reporting!” Something else is going on there…

Anywho, for this open, I actually have relevant life experience! As previously mentioned regarding Derrick Favors, I too have suffered from IT Band Syndrome. It’s an inflammation of a thin band of nerves that connect from your hip bone on the outside of your leg, past your knee, and connected to your lower leg. Sometimes it can manifest itself in a mad sore hip, but usually it impacts the outside of your knee. When it flares up, it feels like a bone-on-bone “catching” on the outer part of your knee, like you have some horrific scar tissue from a torn meniscus (something I’ve also had). The real annoyance of the injury is you can feel awesome for a few days, then it flares up out of nowhere. You’re just walking normal, and all the sudden that “catch” makes your knee feel like you re-tore something. It’s pretty friggin’ frustrating.

So when I heard Favors was starting last night despite a flare up of knee soreness again on Saturday, I wasn’t the most surprised. I bet it felt great in warm-ups! Then at some point, I’m guessing he felt that same nerve irritation, and he ended up leaving early. I know his frustration. As a nerve thing, this isn’t really a consistent pain-tolerance thing, or a sprain to play through. It feels fine, then a sudden flare up makes your knee feel unstable. I didn’t watch any of this game, but he apparently didn’t look right, and went only 6/2/0/2/0 in 21 minutes. As I mentioned on the Pod, I nabbed some shares of Trey Lyles on Sunday given Favors’ knee issues and knowing this could be a long-term thing, getting rewarded with an 18/5/2/2/0 line with a trey. A trey from Trey! With leaving games early a persistent issue now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Favors gets treatment for a few weeks, and I would take the flier on Lyles where I could. It took me about two months of rehab and a session of dry needling to stimulate the nerves to finally shake my IT issues. Don’t watch if you don’t like needles! Here’s what else happened in fantasy hoops action last night:

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It’s been over 24 hours now.  The sun rose.  The sun set.  People played basketball.

Regardless of how you felt through Tuesday night, I think pretty much everyone can agree it was morally exhausting.  My wife actually wanted to watch the SNL Election Special last night that we DVRed, and all the laughing I did through the year plus of skits just got no response from me this time.  Well, the Jay Pharoah as Ben Carson was still pretty boss… But it was a poor DVR choice!

With all the divisiveness and vitriol flying around, I just don’t know if democracy is working any more.  Bring back a monarchy!  Hell, The Walking Dead is doing it…  (I think I’m going to make Nene‘s nickname King Ezekiel, but I’ll work on graphics for that later)  No more Healthcare.Mozgov, it’s time to [re]embrace Lord Covington!  His followers were jumping off the bandwagon like they were in Paris in 1789, but now we need a strong leader to get behind!  23/6/1/1/1 with no TO for Robert Covington against the Pacers for by far his best line on the season, hitting 8-16 FG with 5 treys.  Just needs to get in more uptempo games!  Honestly, I know I lost some RobCo faith, but I’m back on the bandwagon.  I’m a flip flopper!  Sue me!  So be sure he wasn’t cut in your 10 or 12 team leagues, and scoop him up if so.  Looks like his shot is back.  It is worth mentioning that USG-whore Joel Embiid got a DNP though, so that might have helped things open up, but then again Embiid tweeted this yesterday.

Embiid 2020!  If it becomes a contest of which candidate – Embiid or the incumbent – is bigger in the downstairs, we all know who would win that one!

Apr 15, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during warm ups before a game against the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s what else went down in Fantasy Hoops last night:

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We did it! YES WE CAN!! Make rankings great again! Oh man, I’m ready for election season to be over… But I’m even more ready to have my top 200 out into the world!

So I don’t really have a sound philosophy for these final ranks… We do all of our rankings for 12-team, 9-cat H2H, since that’s how we play our Razzball Commenter Leagues. Shameless promo time! We need more RCL Players out there in Razzball Nation! Just follow that link and either start up or join an open league today! Anywho, in a 12-team RCL league (13 roster spots), you’re only drafting 156 players, so most of these ranks are guys you’re not drafting. Do I rank guys all as sleepers for your final pick? I’m not sure that really helps anyone. So the final ranks here are a blend of sleeper potential, and possible last-roster-spot-usability for a specific build. Is Arron Afflalo REALLY going to be your last pick? Meh, probably not, but maybe he has a hot month and it could be the first month! You never know… If you’re still catching up, check out all our ranks in the Top-10, Top-25, Top-50, Top-75, Top-100 & Top 150 which you can also find linked above in the 2016-17 Ranks menu. Here’s our final big rankings post, the Top 200 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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It’s late-round magic time! And by late-round Magic, I’m not talking about Stephen Zimmerman! Who? Exactly…

As we hit the trip-digs in picks, it’s time to go all-out for your guys. In standard leagues, you’re hoping to maybe hit a home run on one of your final 3-4 picks, and the others flame out immediately. Why? Because you want to know for sure who you need to hold on to and have quick cuts for the first wave of wire gold. Maybe I’m overly pessimistic, maybe you’re hoping for 2 to work, but all we really want to know is “answers”. I still do my ranks as best as I can to signify “seasonal-value”, but I might get a little crazier with risk than stick with the status quo come draft day and the clock winding down.

If you’re catching up, check out all our ranks in the Top-10, Top-25, Top-50, Top-75 & Top-100. Now it’s time to get into the fun sleeper land. Here’s the Top 150 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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It’s all starting to come together!

50-75 always feels like that nebulous range where we get out of the sure things and start veering into the mess that is the sleeper-range, but don’t want to go too nuts for your guys. There’s just a little too much value on the table to reach for a potential superstar like Patrick Patterson! Hah, I keed, but you know what I mean.

Hopefully you’ve checked out my Top-10, Top-25 and Top-50 as we start getting into the late-middle rounds. Things are starting to get hairier in the comments too! But give me all your thoughts and quibbles you have, because I’m just one idiot that gets to pose my thoughts to the smart collective. Together as a think tank, Razzball Basketball is going to own the hoops-o-sphere! Just need to pay more attention when we play stupid Chris Liss in the Yahoo F&F Final… Ugh! Here’s the Top 75 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

(you can also put your quibbles with my ranks to the test in the 2016-17 Razzball Basketball RCL Leagues, now open and 100% free to join, start a league and sign up now!)

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I don’t know BoBo! You don’t know Bobo! Let’s call the whole thing off!

Who is this Bojan Bogdanovic we’re seeing lately!? Once a disappearing act at the starting 2 in Brooklyn, BoBo has moved to the 3 and it’s done wonders for his numbers. As we all know, the Nets’ SG position is the NBA’s Bermuda Triangle, so once he broke free of the curse, he finally started rackin’ up da goods! After putting up 44 on the Sixers earlier in the week, it seeming like less of a fluke after going 26/3/5/1/0 against the Bulls last night in only 29 minutes. It was uber-efficient too, going 10-17 from the field with 2 treys and 4-4 FT. What’s surprising about this scoring outburst is in these 70 Pts the last two games, only 18 have come from treys. As a starting F, he’s 18.9/4.2/2.4 with 2.2 treys in 10 games, further proof that the Nets SG position has been hexed by Miss Cleo. “I have drawn the ThrAGNOF, fluke, relegated to D-League and sub-15 minute cards!” At 55% owned, BoBo the bear could easily still be on the wire in your league, as he was even out there in one of my RCLs. Unfortunately he didn’t fit my needs – read: I was out of moves. Ugh! I got antsy with streaming as my non-bye week playoff teams are getting hexed by Miss Cleo too! “I have drawn the suck, suck, brick, and suck card!” Here’s what else went down last night in NBA action:

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