Ya know, I used to love the winter.  I like the cold weather, I like snow (hey, when you’re in the south and only see it a few times a year, it’s kinda nice!), my birthday is in December, Christmas is fun, etc. etc.  But now working a 9-to-5, I hate it!  It’s friggin’ dark all the time!  And no different on this Winter Solstice, where I don’t think I’ll ever see the sun this morning and I struggled even through copious amounts of coffee to wrap up this Holiday Edition of Daily Notes – sorry it’s up a little late!  Shout out to anyone reading in Alaska, I have no idea how they do it!  At least this Holiday season, we did get an early stocking stuffer:

Christmas stocking isolated on white background

Making his season debut, Kyrie Irving went 12/4/1/2/0 in 17 minutes against the Sixers, hitting 5-12 from the field and both of his 3PTA.  It just makes so much sense to debut against the Sixers – they’re a staging team.  We saw Brandon Jennings get a rehab game in the D-League, but when the D-League comes to you, you can just debut Kyrie right away!  Not to be too much of a Grinch, but Uncle Drew’s minutes are obviously going to be strictly monitored, and I really worry about how much run he gets in the fantasy playoffs.  With all the fervor and fanfare surrounding his return, I actually kinda see this as a sell-high moment.  I’d obviously need more than draft day value back – missing the first 8 weeks is built into the discount – but if I were getting top-25 value in a deal, I’d take it in a heartbeat.  Not that I think Kyrie’s per-minute and eventually per-game numbers won’t be worth that, I just see it as a smart way of minimizing risk.  If you’re able to move him, then double up the rum in your egg nog, cover that ish with a ton of nutmeg, and sing a Christmas DeMarre Carroll to the fortune of your fantasy team heading into 2016.  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops, plus the 7 Ahead for week 9:

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Early in the day on Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced that All-Star Todd Frazier was traded from the Cincinnati Reds to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-player trade. Wait, I thought this was a basketball blog! Well, one of those guys involved in the trade was Trayce Thompson. Not quite a Splash Brother, but the biological brother of the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson and former NBA player, Mychel Thompson, who now plays in Italy.

As brothers, it’s pretty common to be competitive with each other. We may not be on as big of a stage as the Thompson brothers, but my older brother and I make almost everything a competition between each other, whether it’s games of one-on-one, 10-mile races, or Settlers of Catan.

While Trayce was gaining popularity as a new member of the Dodgers in California, Klay went off for 27 points in the 3rd on his way to a game high 43 points (15-22 FG, 8-13 3PT). It must be a happy time for the Thompson family!

Coming off their first loss of the season, the Warriors blew out the Suns by 25, leading by 40 after the 3rd quarter.

With the game in hand, Thompson, Draymond Green, and Stephen Curry weren’t even needed in the 4th quarter. That was enough minutes for Green to go for a triple double (16/11/10/5) and Curry to drop 25 points and 7 assists. So much for feeling sad about their first loss.

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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has already begun. After announcing that he would be retiring this past weekend, teams will start giving him the Derek Jeter treatment as fans and teams say goodbye to the legend.

There was a lot of fanfare when Bryant returned to Philadelphia on Tuesday night, where his basketball journey began. The hype was there and despite a strong start, the Lakers lost, giving the 76ers their first win of the season. Bryant shot 7-26 from the field, including 4-17 from downtown. Definitely not the homecoming that everyone was expecting.

On Wednesday, Bryant played his last game at the Verizon Center and boy did he leave those in attendance with a memorable performance. Fresh off his poor shooting Tuesday, Bryant shot 10-24 from the field and 4-11 from downtown. Not vintage Kobe, but a marked improvement. More importantly, 12 of his season-high 31 points came in the fourth quarter, as the Lakers defeated the Wizards.

Now this was definitely one of his best games of the season. Maybe with the Lakers’ season over and having already announced his retirement, Kobe will have one less thing on his mind and start to play better. I mean he can’t shoot any worse, right? I wouldn’t necessarily be buying low, but I’d hold onto him and pick him up in any leagues where impatient owners have dropped him. You never know, maybe he closes out his last season healthy and on a tear, a la Mariano Rivera (and that wasn’t an ACL joke).

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Basketball season is approaching quickly, as signaled by the start of our Razzball Basketball Commenter Leagues!  The RCL leagues are a ton of fun, so make sure to get in one of those.  I’ll be hosting at least one or two in the near future, so if you join one of those, just think of this as a list of guys you should let me draft!  We’re starting to get into the more interesting sleepers as we work our way deeper into the rankings.  So lets get into it!

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Ah, the late-round fliers!  Which I think is “fliers”.  A lot of the time, I almost write it “flyers”.  Zach LaVine is a late round flyer!  Eesh, being a married man makes you start getting reallllll corny with the jokes.

So as I’ve mentioned a few times getting through the top 100 (Rank 1-10 | Rank 11-20 | Rank 21-50 | Rank 51-75 | Rank 76-100), there just isn’t many warm bodies out there to call “JB’s late sleepers”.  And, well, a lot of that is because I have guys that are ranked in the 100s on Yahoo and ESPN in my mid-rounds (cough, Jordan Clarkson – ESPN 99 Yahoo 144, what the hey?! aherm, cough cough – I’ve caught the plague!), while just as much is the lack of sexy rookies in good situations.  Jahlil Okafor is awful for fantasy.  D’Angelo Russell loves talking 401ks with Josh Smith by the turnovers at the breakfast buffet.  Stanley Johnson looks awesome, but Detroit has a bigger wing mix than Bdubs.  Asian zing – that one my jam!

With these final rounds of players, it’s also important to factor in league size.  These ranks are [hoping to tailor] for a 12-team league, so I’ll reach for a tad more upside the later we go than go for stability.  Tristan Thompson is going to be mad consistent for some points and boards for the very deep leagues, but lordy he’ll be unownable in a 12er.  You’re fired!  Can’t believe this Trump stuff is still going on…  Anyway, here’s the Top 150 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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The NBA really is Jordan Belfort.  The Wolf of Fantasy Sports!  It’s tantric and never slows down, from the Finals ending less than two weeks before the draft, free agency hitting a week later and we’re already starting summer ball.  And the NBA will soon revel in the excess that is the 16-17 salary cap boost with a TV deal that put Seinfeld reruns to shame.  I need my ludes to get me through!

Even the Spurs couldn’t avoid the world of excess and massive free agency signings, bringing in LaMarcus Aldridge for a cool $80 million.  Loosening up the purse strings!  My first thought was, “dammit, Kawhi is never gonna be the guy!”  Then again, he got over $90 mil with his extension, so there’s that!  But Kawhi Leonard sometimes struggles with the mid-range and long-distance shooting, so L.A. should help Kawhi by opening up some lanes and keeping him in his game.  This is going to be a crazy offense, with Tim Duncan moving to center and likely being his solid old self.  Which leaves us with what to expect from Aldridge…  And, me no likey for fantasy.  After being really durable early in his career, he’s had a few bumps and bruises (I know, I know, playing through a torn thumb tendon gets mad props) and the Spurs – as we all know – love to limit the minutes.  I also don’t think he quite gets to 20 shots a game like we’ve seen the past few years.  I had him 20 in my way too early rankings, but the move drops him a few spots at the least.  L.A. in S.A. is not OK!  Here’s what else has gone on through the first few days of free agency and rookie ball:

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The nitty gritty!  Oh man, ranking an early Top 50 before the draft and free agency is a bigger fool’s errand than hiring the Clippers a FT coach.  Especially since DeAndre Jordan might go to the Mavs!  Cuban will use some sort of Shark Tank invention to help him out at the stripe.  Flubber 2!

We’ve gone through the Top 10 and Top 20 for our early 2015-16 ranks, but 21-50 certainly gets interesting.  My biggest takeaway is the sheer depth at PG.  Almost every team will have a fantasy-viable PG (cough, not the Bucks, cough) so it’s a position to fill up on in the mid rounds.  Sure I’d like to start with one of the top 10 overall elite guys, but I’m likely filling up on a wing and a big, then it’s time to go with the sides.  Mmmmm, this is sounding like a great KFC order…  Here’s my Way Too Early Top 50 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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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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As the regular season comes to an end, we’re going to take a look at injuries heading into next season. Even if you’re not playing in a keeper or dynasty league, it’s never too early to begin to think about next season.

Kevin Durant was one of the biggest disappointments in this year’s draft. What makes Durant such a fantasy stud is not only his ability to fill up the stat sheet, but his durability. Prior to this season, KD missed only 16 games over his first seven years in the league. That’s quite a track record for good health.

Heading into this season, Durant was recovering from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The injury wasn’t supposed to be long term (an initial 6-8 week timetable) so Durant was still drafted in the first and second rounds with an ADP of 12. Unfortunately, Durant continued to have recurring pain in his foot, before eventually being shut down in March.

Despite his inability to recover from foot pain this season, KD should be a top five pick heading into next season. What makes me think that he’ll finally get over this injury?

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As we gear up for the All-Star break next week, owners should pay extra attention to their daily lineups. Guys that are typically playing through minor injuries could miss a game or two, as teams try to give them some extra rest before heading into the second half of the season.

There are already quite a few guys who have played their last game prior to the All-Star break. Sidelined for the last five games, Rockets’ center Dwight Howard is expected to miss about a month after undergoing a bone marrow injection in is right knee. The Rockets plan to reevaluate him in four weeks, in hopes that his knee responds well to this treatment. Howard just can’t catch a break. He’s only played in 32 of the Rockets’ 49 games this season.

The Rockets frontcourt is very crowded, but Howard’s injury should help alleviate some of the playing time issues. Joey Dorsey and Donatas Motiejunas should continue to start, while Terrence Jones and Josh Smith will see plenty of time off the bench.

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