The Slayer got Slayed! Or something like that…

After showing up to Friday’s game against the Lakers in a Slayer shirt, Russell Westbrook is trying to show he’s heavy even though he looks like an outcast from an 80s version of Annie. Are those leggings?! And I guarantee whatever he’s listening to isn’t Reign in Blood… Westy is always trying to be fashion-y, but while he spent Friday night and Saturday cutting holes in some other band’s T-Shirt for his next statement, he overlooked the Blazers and The Omen! Damian Lillard just went mad ham on Westbrook, going 31/7/9/2/0 with 8 treys, including 5 down the stretch for a comeback win. This was after going rainbow on the Warriors Friday night for 40/3/10/2/2 and 6 treys. Hopefully these stats don’t lie, and the plantar fascia is healed up for Lillard to be healthy the rest of the way. However, it is a concern as the Blazers have shown caution holding him out so long and they’re obviously not a playoff team. Hell, they even sat C.J. McCollum with no injury at all! If you’re a top playoff team with great PG stats, I might ride this Omen streak a few more weeks then sell to try to minimize some risk. A big argument in my high Lillard rank was his durability, but with a lingering injury like plantar fascia, it could easily crop back up by late-March and April and cost us games. Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, and The 7 Ahead for week 12:

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I’m as surprised as you are, that Withey is relevant.  In spite of the odds, he has been stuffing the stat sheet like crazy this past week, with nearly a double double, 3 blocks, and 1.6 steals per game over the last 5!  I have no idea how long this will keep up, but while Favors is out, he’s starting to look like a must own. Probably just a short term add, but those stats are too sweet to turn down!

Not a whole lot of big news this week, but in Raptor land, Carroll is set to miss 6-8 weeks worth of games, and is probably a cut in standard league.  I don’t see an immediate pickup, but it’s worth keeping an eye on James Johnson and Terrence Ross, to see if anyone can run away with the job.

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I’m living at home with my parents temporarily, while work is being done on my condo. I didn’t want to be bothered living there while they’re painting and installing new carpeting and flooring. As a result, I’m getting kicked off the television so that my mom can watch her shows. I missed the Sunday Night Football game for “Downton Abbey” and then had to turn off the Wizards/Cavs and Knicks/Heat games for “Law & Order.” I guess it’s a fair trade, since I’m getting so many home cooked meals and leftovers for lunch.

Fortunately SVU ended early enough for me to catch the Thunder’s dismantling of the Grizzlies. Kevin Durant returned from a toe injury to post 26 points and 17 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook continued his near triple-double stat lines with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. You always worry with Durant’s foot being a problem last season, but it was nice to see KD back, after only missing one game.

It was all Thunder in this game, as the Grizzlies played down due to injuries. Mike Conley was out because of a sore left Achilles and Courtney Lee, who started for Conley, left early in the second half after injuring his hip. That left Mario Chalmers, who exploded for 23 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, and 4 threes. It’s unclear how long Conley and Lee could be out, but Chalmers would become the starter by default. It’s not like the Grizzlies will give Vince Carter lots of minutes!

Now onto the other Wednesday night games:

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Much has been written about Jimmy Butler and Bulls lately. Butler publicly criticized head coach Fred Hoiberg saying that the team needed to be coached harder. Reports then came out that there is growing tension in the locker room between Butler and his teammates. With Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose taking back seat roles this season, there are questions around Butler’s leadership. Just because he is paid well, doesn’t mean he’s the leader.

Leader or not, Butler willed the Bulls to victory over the Pacers in overtime. He scored 7 points in the final minute to force OT, before knocking down the game winner on an alley-oop tip in with 1.2 seconds remaining. The Pacers tried an alley-oop of their own on the ensuing inbounds, but Butler defended Paul George on the lob to preserve the Bulls’ win.

For the game, Butler finished with 28 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. This was a much needed game for Butler, as Rose was a game time scratch with right hamstring tendinitis. As long as Butler is producing, owners shouldn’t worry about the drama surrounding the team. These things usually get blown out of proportion when teams are playing below expectations.

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In an NBA landscape characterized by Steph Curry’s wizardry and Golden State’s record-breaking start, casual fans have missed one of the most interesting subplots from the first quarter of season: the East’s ascension to respectability. With a winning record against the Western Conference (60-58) and ten teams over .500, 2015 has marked a rebirth for the historically lesser conference, now sporting more top-to-bottom depth than in recent memory.

While it’s easy to say, “welcome to the party, we’ve been waiting for you for at least the past decade,” restoration of competitive balance in the East finally appears to be a tangible goal. With two of this season’s biggest surprises in the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets squaring off to open yesterday’s nine-game slate, last night’s contest may have actually been the first iteration of competitive basketball for this particular matchup since the mid-2000s.

With the Hornets emerging as the victors, it begs the question: are they actually good?? For a team with disillusioned hopes of postseason basketball heading into the season, their early successes may still spark skepticism after each passing victory. But with a +3.6 point differential and the fifth placed ranking in the standings this year, the Hornets actually appear to be a legitimately solid basketball team.

One of the main catalysts behind the turnaround, Nic Batum has played excellently on the wing as a secondary ball handler and defensive stopper. For fantasy owners who did not abandon the Batum bandwagon after a disappointing 2014-2015, the Frenchman has more than delivered this season, elevating his status to one of the primer fantasy wing options. Batum continued to produce last night with a near triple double of 13 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in addition to a steal and a block. Vive la France!

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So after working overnights, it’s a big change working standard hours and doing Razzball in the wee-hours of the morning.  Instead of following sports all night, you wake up to them!  Which in some cases is nice; others, infuriating.  At least I don’t have to go to sleep mad!

On the annoying end, in fantasy football I’m going into a must-win game against an Aaron Rodgers owner.  Plus I recommended a friend play Kyle Rudolph over Richard Rodgers.  How annoying was that 70 yard hail mary?!?!?!  Ahhhhh!  Luckily I don’t care as much about fantasy football, since it’s 100% luck.  We don’t play that ish here at basketball, we at fantasy hoops play a game of skill!  And very few are as skilled as Kawhi Leonard, who went 27/8/3/2/1 to continue his dominant season.  On top of his normal multi-cat, he was mad hot hitting 9-13 from the field including a nuts 7-9 3PTM.  Instead of texting my buddy Kap all night about how giddy it made me, I wake up to just the one text of “Kawhi banged 7 threes!  How much of a boner did you get?”  The answer is, I constantly wake up during the night half mast!  Kawhi’s been a wet dream all season…  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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Wow, how good is Russell Westbrook? Two nights after dropping 40 points and 14 assists against the Grizzlies, Westbrook scored 43 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds on Wednesday. The Thunder controlled the game, but never really put the game out of reach for the injury-riddled Pelicans. Whenever the Thunder needed a basket, Westbrook had no problem getting to the hoop or finding the open man. My only knock on Westbrook’s game is the turnovers, but when you’re posting near triple doubles every night, you’re allowed to turn the ball over as much as he does.

Now his stats are inflated a little because Kevin Durant has been sitting with a hamstring injury, but Westbrook is still a top 10 talent even with Durant in the lineup. Should Durant leave the Thunder next season (to go to, say, the Wizards!!!), Westbrook would enter my top three, along with Steph Curry and Anthony Davis.

Now onto the other notables from Wednesday night:

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Summer is here!  And what else do you think about during summer than campy dancing shark mascots?  Or Sharks trying to dance campy?  Or campy shark movies!?  “Tequila’s on you guys, and I’m super thirsty!”  Maybe that should be the tagline for my new donate button…

While it’s way too friggin’ hot to do anything constructive outside, we get to go the great indoors to get our first look at NBA rookies in Summer League!  And there’s almost always one surpriser, one Shyamalan twist…  Except, well, in a good way.  Myles Turner already had the ingredients to be a fantasy beast heading into the draft (which we mentioned in our mock a month earlier), then he landed in one of the most ideal situations to a team needing a big man contributor right away.  On top of his already fantasy-friendly skill set, Turner murdered it in summer ball for a 18.7/8.3/0/0.7/4.3 slash line over three games, hitting 8-10 from the stripe and 2-3 treys.  Ibaka-lite might actually be more fitting than I jokingly quipped!  Even Larry Bird has chimed in saying Turner is better than they thought, and his only real competition for minutes is Jordan Hill.  While Turner did have an 8 foul game in there (it’s comical it takes 10 to foul out), it’s about the only knock on a guy who took 11+ shots every game and made at least half of them every time, averaging over 60% from the field.  Plus only 3 total TO.  It’s easy to dismiss popcorn stats like that in Summer League, but the opportunity is there and I think he might be the #1 rookie big off the draft board in 9-cat leagues, as crazy as that sounds.  If Jahlil could just make an effin’ FT!  Where’s a good FT coach like Andris Biedrins when you need them…  Here’s what else went down through Summer League action, which wrapped up over the weekend:

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“Dude, you can’t make a title caps to make the pun work, or else it’s a stupid lazy joke!”  Well, ya know I’m pretty effin’ rusty out here catching back up with Summer Ball and this final batch of free agency moves!  I’m as old and as rusty as Deron Williams, who completed his buyout with the Nets, turned it into piles of gold he buried in his backyard, and will be eating Mulligan’s steak with Mark Cuban.  The rich stay rich, just with the richer!  Wait, did that make any sense?  While D-Will has just as much risk as an active Claymore mine sitting on your desk (and giving it a fourth grade girl), I think I might actually buy in a bit.  He’s in a steady decline, but when looking at his numbers last year, it’s easy to forget he came off the bench for a bit – and his bench numbers were horrific.  As a starter he was 14.3/3.6/7.1 with a steal per and only 2.4 TO.  And interestingly enough – nearly 33 minutes a game while staying [mostly] healthy!  Must be the new bacon and eggs diet.  He shot pretty horrible – sub 40% as a starter – but it was 39.6% vs. 32.3% as a sub.  Couldn’t figure out how to get it done off the pine!  Sounds like a merit badge the Pawnee Rangers would give out.  Moving to Dallas, he’s surrounded by SO MUCH better talent that he should have no problem falling into comparable numbers as his starting days in Brooklyn, maybe even with a few more dimes, a few less TO, and playing as the starter all year (if he stays glued together).  This is likely D-Will’s final chance to be on a winner, and after a very sub-par 14-15 I think he could be a draft day value.  Either that or he’ll be a hot spinning cone of meat!  Here’s what else has gone on in the past week of fantasy basketball:

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The 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball season is officially in the books!  But we won’t be slowing down too much, with a lot of great off-season content planned and my Way Too Early Ranks for 2015-16 coming in a few weeks…

In 14-15 we had ups (#OccupyDraymondGreen baby!), we’ve had downs (cough, MCW, cough), but what matters most is we had fun I finished better than Slim in the REL league!

And one of the highest of highs from last night was James Harden‘s triple double, going 16/11/10/1/1 in only 27 minutes against the Jazz.  Only took 8 shots!  That’s what Mel Gibson tried to tell the police anyway…  3-8 FG, 2-5 3PTM, and more of that oh-so-sweet FT volume hitting 8-8 freebies.  Assists, rebounds and steals all went up this season, along with the obvious scoring and he was at a career best 8.8-10.2 FT a game entering last night.  The TO are brutal, but he also chipped in a career best 0.7 blocks in an absolutely elite year.  So I can say with pretty good confidence he’ll be my #1 player for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball season.  Was durable (81 games this season, 73+ the past 3 years), consistent, and I just love mustache rides.  Take me to the promised land in 15-16, Mr. Beard!  Here’s what else went down on the final night of 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball:

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