Finally, we’ve got some action to break down on the court! And what better venue than the Summer League, where raw NBA rooks and sophs go to strut their stuff and get fantasy basketballers needlessly excited. Remember all the Mario Hezonja hype last Summer League?! Hopefully I did pretty well to quash that! Wow, surprised I was right that “quash” was a word… I thought people were just saying squash too fast!

But one guy I definitely don’t want to squash/quash is second-year PG Cameron Payne. We were pretty big on this guy coming out of the draft last year, and he really surprised as a rookie overtaking D.J. Augustin as the backup to Russell Westbrook by going 14.6/4.4/5.6/1.9/0.3 in per-36 during 2015-16, with only 2.3 TO. He didn’t shoot particularly well (41%), but a lot of that was due to nearly 40% of his shots being treys. In his one start of 2015-16, he went 17/3/7 against the Spurs who shockingly weren’t resting anyone.

In the Orlando Summer League which wrapped a couple days ago, Payne led the league in scoring at 18.8 Pts a game, averaging 4 AST to only 2.5 TO. Not huge in the AST total, but that’s a ton of usage for a very few giveaways. The deep ball was still a little meh only going 4-14 from the perimeter, but he did have a 14-14 FT game in there. The Thunder squad (or quad, maybe?) went 4-0 in the games he played, and Payne looks primed for a bigger role with OKC.

With all the talk on Russell Westbrook being shopped (and even if he isn’t traded pre-season, a deadline deal would be very likely), a lot of focus has been on what newly acquired Victor Oladipo could do. No Westbrook and no other big-time creators would obviously be big for RainbOladipo. But lost in that noise is what it would mean for Cameron Payne. I think he’d all but certainly shift into the starting line-up (or at least near-starting minutes, if they still wanted to start Andre Roberson), and give a nice low-TO line with a handful of dimes and steals. The FG% might be lacking, but he would become a top-80ish asset in my mind. So while visions of sugarplums and rainbow lines for Oladipo might cloud your Christmas Eve dreams if Westy is traded, don’t forget about the huge opportunity it would give Major Payne. Here’s what else has caught my eye thus far during 2016’s Summer Ball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki. He passed Shaquille O’Neal for number 6 on the all-time NBA scoring list.

While Kobe Bryant gains the headlines in his last season, Dirk and Tim Duncan have quietly shown how to adapt their game for the team’s sake, taking less money and adding more wins to their already impressive résumés.

At 37, Dirk isn’t the same fantasy monster that he used to be, but is still valuable. He’s scored 20+ points in three straight games and so far has posted better overall numbers than last season. His game is much different than Kobe’s, with much less wear and tear on his body, allowing him to remain relatively healthy later in his career. Personally, I don’t see any reason why Dirk has to tie the sneakers up anytime soon.

In addition to passing Shaqtus, Dirk hit the game winner in the Mavericks’ overtime win over the Nets. He finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Not bad for a 37-year-old.

Overtime basketball is free basketball and it usually means great stat lines for everyone involved:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

After making history this weekend with arguably the best Halloween costume from an NBA player of all time, LeBron James made his way into the NBA record books becoming the youngest player to score 25,000 career points. Despite the record-breaking basket coming against the hapless Philadelphia 76ers, the feat nonetheless is one of the most impressive in recent memory. With all the scrutiny surrounding the potential decline of the Artist Formerly Known as King James, tonight’s performance was an instant reminder of how effectively he can impact the game not only on the hardwood, but the fantasy box score as well.

Registering 22 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks on 9-19 shooting, James had his most well-rounded performance of the season. Moving forward, James should begin to impact other areas of the box score (assists, rebounds, steals, and FG percentage) as the Cavs offense clicks.

As the Cavs begin to realize the full potential of their All-Pro floor spacer in Kevin Love, James ability to facilitate and control the pace of the game will open up his true fantasy potential. Pencil him in for at least 20 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists on .500+ shooting. All hail the King.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Woooo, Jimmy Buckets is back!  And Tom Thibodeau does what Tom Thibodeau does…  Runs his guys to death.

After missing exactly 3 weeks with his elbow injury, Jimmy Butler returned last night and played a ridiculous 39-and-a-half minutes for 19/9/1/0/0.  Almost 40 minutes?!  And he shot 6-20!?  Sure he’s taken a ton of shots the past week to be sure the elbow is healthy, but the aggression in that 7-10 FT really solidifies he should be 100% the rest of the way.  That is, until Tibs plays him 63 minutes in a 3-OT game!  Sheesh, I gotta wonder if I’ll ever be huge on Bulls again…  Derrick Rose and all-a-dat, Joakim Noah goes through injury spells…  And Tibs refuses to run his starters on any sort of minutes limits.  I’m more posing the thought than really setting any personal beliefs in my fantasy bedrock, but Rose for sure I could never draft.  You can call that Fred Flintstone because it’ll make my Fantasy Bedrock!  I don’t think I’m using that lyric right…  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

You don’t mess with the Bojan!

We’re into week 2 of the standard H2H playoffs, moving into the semis, and the squads with bye weeks are hoping to avoid the layover letdown.  It’s like the NCAA Football championship thingy, the playoffs or bracket or 4-team finals or whatnot, who knows anymore?!  But they have to wait like 4 months from their final regular season game to the title!  That’s how long this week has seemed for my sitting around, lazy, bored bye week teams (speaking vicariously of course, I had zero!).  Luckily it’s now how you enter the playoffs but how you exit, and with only two weeks left, you gotta ride the hot ThrAGNOFs!  Bojan Bogdanovic fits the bill to a T (did I say that right?) with 12+ points in 4 straight and 17+ in 3 of 4.  Also has chipped in multi-treys in the past 3 and if treys or points are a need, it’s time to ThrAGNOF!  Why you don’t pay for these guys, as they literally grow on trees.  Seriously, Bogdanovic’s great uncle was Groot.  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Oh man, Russell Westbrook has turned into Oscar Robertson meets Michael Jordan!  It’s like the first time you heard your favorite off-the-radar album, you’re like, “it sounds like Godspeed You! Black Emperor meets Between the Buried and Me on acid!”  And right at the end of yet another tripdub with monster scoring Friday night (40/13/11), Andre Roberson pulled a Van Damme from Kickboxer and kneed the shizz outta RW’s face.  Friggin’ Roberson and his fat knees!  After the game, the fashion photographers were like, “Russell, show me your good side, no no the other way, give me Le Tigre!  Ferrari!  MAGNUM!”

Luckily facial reconstruction for face dents doesn’t include a long healing period; maybe they just went in under the skin and used a Pops A Dent!  It’s been reported he could’ve even come back yesterday if it were the playoffs.  I’d guess he’ll miss another game or two, but looks like we dodged a bullet.  More like, Westbrook’s cheek caught the bullet, just it bounced off his Adamantium!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Man, what an exciting trade deadline!  Thanks for checking out our Trade Deadline Live Post, where you can read about all the trades that went down yesterday

And off the emotional roller coaster of those deadline deals, the NBA is finally back after a week away.  I certainly need to consult my physician since it’s definitely lasting more than 4 hours…  Especially after seeing Serge Ibaka pull a Goro right out of the 2nd-half gate!  Twas an empty big man line, but 21/22/0/0/0 is a nice way to start a shortened week!  Hit 8-12 from the field and 5-6 FT which twill get it done.  Serge didn’t take a trey, and while he hit a few jumpers, look how much closer to the hoop his shot chart was:

Serge Ibaka Shot Chart

With Enes Kanter on his way to OKC to bring his own brand of mid-rangeness, I think Ibaka can look forward to a nice boost in FG%.  Sure it may cost him a trey here and there, but Serge should still seek shots from the seashore.  And while Kanter had his share of nice rebounding games with the Jazz, putting him out there for his mid-range O is going to help Serge’s post presence.  I really like the move for Ibaka’s value.  Here’s what else went down last night in our return to NBA action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Christmas has always a great day for basketball fans. We got a great slate of games, including some pretty amazing performances from John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and Dwayne Wade. We even got to see the Knicks’ teammates come to Qunicy Acy’s aid for a fight with John Wall.

Unfortunately, a few stars were missing from the Christmas games. The Thunder beat the Spurs in San Antonio, despite having superstar Kevin Durant on the sideline. He missed his fourth game in a row due to an ankle sprain. Durant was quoted as saying, “I can’t play basketball. I can’t run. I can’t jump. I’m not just sitting out just because. If I could play I would play. But I can’t play.”

Based on his comments, owners should expect to see him out another week or so. The injury is not related to his surgically repaired foot, but is similar to an injury he had in 2009, when he missed nine games. While Perry Jones will replace KD in the starting lineup, Durant is impossible to replace in real life and in fantasy. Owners will have to just wait for his return.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Up until this year, Jimmy Butler looked like he was always going to be a Wesley JohnsonIman Shumpert type of wing. Can get you 13-15 points on a good night, hits a few three balls, shoots crappy from the field and nabs a few steals here and there.

His improvement was steady over his first three seasons, but heading into this year’s fantasy drafts, the thought going through most people’s minds was: This guy’s a sleeper, sure, but Derrick Rose is coming back. If Rose is finally healthy, Butler is a non-factor, and even if he isn’t, we’re not missing out on much.

Right here I instruct you to crank up the volume on your device/computer as loud as you can and click on this link.

Butler came into Friday’s tilt against the Blazers with a string of four straight games where he topped 20, including a 32-point explosion against the Pacers. I’m singling out that Blazers game as a caveat, as Da Bulls entered Portland with no Rose, no Pau Gasol, no Kirk Hinrich and no chance of winning. Butler, who had nine points on 3-13 shooting, joined his teammates in chucking up prayers to try and stay in the game, and almost none of those prayers were answered.

I will say this. The Portland game does expose Butler as a guy who cannot carry a real NBA team. In other words, he is not a healthy Derrick Rose in Derrick Rose’s prime. I think Butler’s value is intrinsically tied to the health of this squad. If, for example, Gasol is healthy, but Rose isn’t, Butler is very valuable. If both are healthy, still valuable, but not as much. If neither is healthy, he will be up and down, struggling against good teams, dominating bad ones.

Long-term, I see a sell-high wing. Yeah, it’ll taste good right now, but later tonight, your significant other will be relegating you to sleeping on the couch. And it won’t be because you snore.

Still hungry? Order up one of these flavors:

Please, blog, may I have some more?