We start the New Year off with disappointing news about one of the NBA’s and fantasy’s best players. The Cavs announced on New Year’s Day that LeBron James would miss the next two weeks with knee and back strains, an absence that could reach as many at 10 games. The Cavs are hopeful that the two weeks of treatment, which will include anti-inflammatories, will help get James back to 100% and prevent further injury. James has been a durable player his whole career, never missing more than five straight games so the news is definitely rare.

You’re not going to find a replacement for James off waivers and will just have to wait out the two weeks until your star player is hopefully healthy and back in the lineup. For the Cavs, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will see upticks in fantasy value, as they are asked to carry more of the offensive load.

Love missed Wednesday’s game against the Bucks with back spasms, but is expected to return to the lineup on Friday against the Hornets. This could be a monster game for Love and Irving, as the Hornets won’t have Al Jefferson or Lance Stephenson (more on them later).

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The new year brings us the glorious 2nd coming of the Durantula, again.  Kevin Durant looked better than expected going 44/10/7/0/1 with 6 3s and 12-12 FTs.  Sure you could argue the stat line was OT aided but just that Durant played 40 minutes after missing 6 games tells me there is nothing wrong with his ankle.  I imagine any buy low window is long gone after this game but he might be worth one last attempt to trade for.  If you thought this is why I watched this game though you would be wrong.  I wanted to see the Steven Adams vs Alex Len match-up.  Lurch with 9/7/1/1/0 in 27 minutes and Len with 2/6/0/0/1 in 22 minutes.  There is no question Adams is the guy to own.  Neither are part of the offense but at times Len looked bored and unsure of what he was supposed to be doing on both ends of the court.  That is a sentence I will never write about Steven Adams.  His aggression does one of two things.  The foul trouble associated will give him a few duds but it will also lead to big games which I don’t think Len has in him this year.  There were a ton of huge stat lines in this 137-134 overtime thriller but perhaps the stat that tells the biggest story was the 6 technical fouls.  Including two and an ejection for…

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Happy New Year’s Eve, Razzball Nation!

May your champagne be stocked, your last night of horrific eating before a New Year’s resolution be gorged, and your lists of things to reflect on be lengthy.  Number one on my list right now is my groin is healthy!  Rough, rough injury for the Charlotte Hornets and fantasy owners’ front lines with Al Jefferson out at least the next month with an adductor strain.  Not that you need it, but Dr. JB is linking a little pic here [FAMILY FRIENDLY!].  Enough groin talk already!

When I heard Big Al was out for a month, I made the same face as Bill Walton’s Basketball-Reference picture…  Lots of shock waves across the Hornets, with Bismack Biyombo likely starting at the 5.  I don’t think he plays 30 minutes a night, but the boards-n-blocks upside puts him into the Rudy Gobert conversation.  Like Gobert, Biyombo won’t be winning a game of knokout anytime soon…  Shooting 44% from the FT line this season, and under 50% in his career.  A big winner here is Marvin Williams, who should be owned in 14ers and worth a bookmark for shallower.  Off 8/14/3/3/0 Monday night, the Hornets are going to move Cody Zeller into a lot of C minutes as the Hornets have no real front-line depth.  Williams hit a couple of treys in that game as well, and as with all Hornets, is in line for a few more shots with Big Al’s 16.3 FGA distributed to the masses.  For deep leaguers, don’t forget about Noah Vonleh who was sent to the D-League recently for a little seasoning.  He’s expected to be called back up momentarily, and as you’d assume with a team losing their best player, the Hornets are likely to fall even further in the Eastern standings.  Vonleh might get some experiential run as the season presses on to develop the 9th overall pick in this year’s loaded draft.  Here’s what else went down last night across the NBA:

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A popular sleeper on draft day (well, made more popular by us!), Markieff Morris had been driving fantasy owners crazier than Joaquin Phoenix in The Master.

Through the first 10 games, Markieff had numbers eerily identical to what he did last year despite four more MPG.  His engine is on hybrid!  But for as atrocious as his previous 4 games were, broke out in a big way against the Celtics for 30/7/5/4/0 hitting 14-21 shots including a trey.  And only 1 TO!  Career-high scoring for Kieff, after four games in a row under 12 and three of those scoring single-digits.  “I found the beef, it’s Jeff Green‘s terrible D!”  While my Kieff teams are loaded with swagger after this big Monday, there is something slightly concerning with his stats.  Only 1-1 FT last night, and now is under half as many FT makes a game compared to last year, in nearly 5 more minutes a game (playing 39 bumped up his minutes finally!).  In 13-14, Kieff-er Sutherland was at 3.2-4.0 at the charity stripe, but is suddenly more like Donald Sutherland and not attacking the cup.  Less driving means fewer OREB (down from last year sinking his REB per-36), and his dimes have fallen a smidge as well.  None of these stats are major, but it seems he’s not creating and the Suns G-rotation is handling all the rock.  Another week of big stats with weak FT numbers and low-ish dimes – on top of Hornacek’s tendency to roll the hot hand, even the starters – and I’d actually sell high.  The steals and handful of blocks are nice, but not loving the lack of aggression and new role as more a spot-shooter, which could make him benchable to Horny a lot of games if he’s cold, something we’ve already seen a little of with the waffley minutes.  Where’s the beef?!  Let’s hope not in the waffles, but ya never know, that could be good!  Fried chicken n waffles is out of this world.  Here’s what else happened on an unusually busy Monday night of action:

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“Hey Kobe, I’m open, I’m open!”  That’s every Laker…

Despite the plausibility that the Lakers are a real NBA team, they once again proved the contrary with yet another blowout loss.  Well, I guess they’ve been in some games, but c’mon!  Kobe Bryant is trying to do everything himself, like an asexual chronic masturbator.  15-34 FG last night (3-12 3PTM 11-16 FT) for 44/5/3/0/0.  After a 1-14 brickhouse Friday night, that’s a 16-48 weekend (33%).  At least Sunday was good!  Ish.  Most concerning are those treys, going 3-17 from deep in both games.  He’s never been a good three-point shooter, especially the past four years.  Glasses anyone?   Russell Westbrook has got a guy…

As I’m sure Kobe would appreciate to no end, I have a comp for him.  Dwight Howard.  Hah!  Mostly kidding, but Kobe is Dwight-ing (new adjective) your FG%.  In H2H it’s not a paramount concern, but in Roto it’s getting scary.  I don’t know what you do about it except try to trade Kobe high to a team at the top of your FG% standings.  Then let Kobe and that ridiculous volume sink them like the whole Purple and Gold franchise.  I keed of course!  There’s just nothing there.  Like hairs on Carlos Boozers‘ head or anatomy on Ken’s crotch.  Kobe vs. NO tonight, 5-on-1!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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What a night, what a night!  While we didn’t see the fireworks of say, a QB drafted by San Diego saying he’d only play for the Giants, but we had some interesting reaches, some surprising fallers, and one very happy/newly re-acquainted Hornets fan!

The crew and I had a blast tweeting through the draft, so I have a few other thoughts sprinkled in the first round recap below.  It didn’t go quite (read: at all) like Slim and I’s mock draft, but here’s how the draft went down, with a fantasy outlook for these rookies for the 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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It’s weird enough that the basketball team that plays in Utah is called the Jazz. I’ve never been to Salt Lake City, but I’m preeetttyyy suuurrree that it’s not crawling with disciples of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

Now, said weirdness is multiplied by the recent resurgence of Enes Kanter, which very well could ensure the continuance of a veritable Ottoman Empire at the Utah Jazz center position.

No, it hasn’t lasted 624 years, and no it hasn’t swallowed 32 provinces and all kinds of vassal states in Southeast Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

But between Mehmet Okur and Kanter, the paint has been patrolled by a native of Turkey for the last 10 years.

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As JB and I sit at our local Starbucks at 4 PM, him in a 2-piece flannel Carolina Panther outfit he just woke up in and me in only my usual loin cloth, we notice that there are some very odd looking people who drink coffee in the middle of the afternoon.  It isn’t just for yuppies and house wives anymore.  Middle schoolers walk in, talking about how badly they need their caffeine.  Really?  Was your long day of sleeping in class stressful?  More than anything, a coffee shop has become a place to be seen, and fortunately for us on this day, it was worth watching.  A couple of girls walk in, one on her phone talking, laughing and the other with a nasty scowl on her face.  She must have said something on the phone because all of a sudden the other girl starts yelling like a banshee and slapping the girls face as hard as she could.  In what I feel was an appropriate response, JB began his play-by-play a la Howard Cosell, “There’s another left by George he’s getting into Fraziers head.”  We all knew what was coming, “I think he hurt Joe Frazier, I think Joe is hurt!”  Right when JB was about to formulate that iconic saying, the girl on the phone delivers a thundering overhand right, dropping the aggressor and immediately ending the altercation.

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In yet another bad turn for fantasy top-100 Cs, JaVale McGee joins the triage with Tyson Chandler as centers with broken legs.  However unlike Chandler with the impact fracture, McGee discovered a stress fracture in his tibia with the ominous “out indefinitely” declaration.  It’s a very tough break (ugh) for the Nuggets and fantasy owners hoping to see stat lines of 10/10/5  when the Nuggets were on the slate.  All joking aside, I hate seeing players get injuries and it’s my least favorite open in news recaps in any sport.  There are a select few that are funny (my favorite will always be Bartolo Colon trying to swing for the fences and throwing out his back, and I have little sympathy because he’s a roider), but I wish McGee a speedy recovery.  For fantasy, he’s droppable in virtually all leagues.  A tall guy with a stress fracture isn’t swell, plus he was only playing 16 minutes a game anyway.  J.J. Hickson and Tomfey Mozgov get immediate boosts in value, Mozgov is decent when he’s not getting posterized, but Hickson I think is the biggest takeaway and probably should be scooped up in most leagues if he’s not owned already.  He proved he can be valuable with starting minutes and is a quality big man.  Here’s some other headlines from over the weekend:

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As an ancient proverb goes – “I’d like to introduce you to an old friend and a new friend.”  Ok, so I made that up.  But it sounds good!

For an old friend I’ve mentioned a few times and pumped up in my last rankings update before the season started up, my boy Omri Casspi had another solid outing last night that probably was under the radar.  In 24 minutes, he went 7/8/5 with no turnovers, 2-4 from the field and 3-4 from the line.  He just looks awesome every time I see him play.  Did you know he was the first Israeli to play in the NBA?  He’s pretty much Chandler Parsons but with Chandler Parsons in his way.  After a ho-hum first two games, his past two have been fantastic – and this last one without hitting a three which is a big part of his game.  Not necessarily a must own in 12-teamers, but definitely worth a look, and needs to be grabbed in 14+.

Then my new friend – Gal Mekel on the Mavericks.  You’re like, “who the eff is Gal Mekel?  I thought this was NBA not WNBA!”  Mekel was signed to a three-year deal by the Mavs this offseason, and became the second Israeli to join the NBA.  Cut to Amar’e Stoudemire going, “Hey, I should count!”  With Shane Larkin dealing with an ankle injury, and no Devin Harris for a while, Mekel is getting full-on backup PG run and playing well doing it.  He got his 2nd 6 assist game last night going 9/4/6 and hitting a 3.  Sure some run was in junk time, but with the oft-injured Jose Calderon the only one ahead of him (hasn’t played in over 68 games since 2007), Mekel could find his way into starts.  Of course, now I’ve ruined my play on him in the REL League.  Let’s just hope no one in that league is reading!  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hoops:

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