So Russell Westbrook played yesterday… Ummm… What?

After hurting his knee in last year’s playoffs, then requiring a second surgery on October 1st, Westbrook was one of the biggest fantasy news stories early in preseason with an uncertain timetable.  Well that table has expired much earlier than anyone expected, and Westbrook was out there without a minutes restriction last night.  It’s like the first surgery was done in Hostel, then the next one at the X-Mansion.  Seriously, reports ranged from from early to mid-December as a target return date, but a little Adamantium in your bones goes a long way!  The good news is he’s back, but the bad (and frankly, not shocking) news is he was mighty rusty.  In nearly 33 minutes, Westbrook shot only 5-16 (0-2 3PTM 11-14 FT) for 21 points, with 4 Reb and 7 Ast and 4 TOs.  Besides shooting like Michael Chiklis, you’ll take that line any day.  Very encouraging to see Westbrook get to the line that frequently, and the minutes were indeed non-limited.  He looked pretty Westbrook-ish in highlights as well.  Even if Westbrook isn’t quite the player he was the past few seasons, all owners are looking at a steal for where they got him post-second surgery.  Here’s what else I saw over the weekend in fantasy hoops action:

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Man, what a huge night it was across the NBA with nearly every team in action.  It obviously all starts with the shocker Philly put on the Heat, and Michael Carter-Williams‘ unreal debut.  I was following with my co-workers during the game and tweeted that if he got a triple-double in his first NBA game, the universe would implode.  Thankfully MCW was a steal short and we’re all still here.  His final line of 6-10 (4-6 3PTM 6-8 FT) 22 Pts 7 Rebs 12 Asts and 9 Stls might actually win some owners their matchups this week on its own.  Just preposterous.  Most steals in NBA history in a player’s debut.  Ok before we all go nutso, remember the Heat played without Dwayne Wade (rest), don’t have a PG, and had all their hands weighed down with new championship rings.  So that’s not really an excuse, but so what?!  The shooting efficiency was fantastic (the biggest knock on him coming into the year), plus he had only one turnover (his second main knock).  “Nice knockers!”  Thanks Young Frankenstein!  MCW indeed moves up a fair bit in value in my eyes, but this is likely his best line on the year.  MCW was wildly inconsistent in college and I don’t expect much consistency on a terrible 76ers team (I know they just beat the Heat, but c’mon).  Look for John Wall to lock him up on Friday and cool the hype.  Despite inconsistencies, it goes without saying that MCW should be owned in all leagues now (78% Yahoo, 59.4% ESPN), so if for some reason he’s available in your league, you gotta get him.  I’m not expecting MCW to be an elite player, but will continue to contribute even in down games.  Here’s what else I saw across Fantasy Basketball last night:

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Whewwww-eeee!  What a fun draft.  A good four-and-a-half hours after the draft start time I had picked my 17th player, and I think I really like my team.  But with a lot of picks, I did feel a bit like Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo trying to defend them; “it’s a real good deal this one, real good!”  Thanks again for filling out the league loyal Razzball Nation, and again thanks to our friends at RotoGold.com and the TDBSportsNetwork (which you can catch me on their “The Double Bonus” Show throughout the season and from last Wednesday) for helping class up the joint.

So if you missed the post launching the league, the Razzball Elite Dynasty League had our inaugural draft last night, an all-out brawl of an Auction draft with some really interesting bidding wars.  Looking at you Ben from RotoGold and you pumping up Giannis Antetokounmpo for $15 late!  The league is 20 teams, 12 starters (two of every position and two UTIL) and five bench spots.  Using my abacus over here, that’s 340 players owned.  Neeedless to say, things got really interesting once we were in the bottom end of starters.  There is no inflation, we voted on a true Dynasty application, with lifetime contracts.  Free agent pickups all must be done with your $100 yearly FAAB, and those players can be kept on a $1 lifetime contract.  So FAAB bidding will be a critical element through the season.

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Listen, I know a lot of drafts have gone down, but I think we’re still right in the sweet spot of the drafting season.  And while we’re in that sweet spot, why not start up an RCL Hoops league where we need more commishes!  I am putting an embargo on comments unless you start up a league!  Haha – kidding.  But what’s less funny is the curse of my love for Trey Burke, as he’s going to have surgery on his index finger.  “Don’t you point at me!”  “I can’t help it, it’s the cast!”  The original report of him missing 8-12 weeks had him a 100% no bueno in my book, but then he tweeted out (I guess using other fingers) that it should only be 4-6 weeks.  Apparently he’ll be in a splint three weeks and will be reevaluated.  As in – “my fingy still hurty!”  I’m moving Burke way down and taking it as a sign to completely cool off my love for him.  As in Arnold in the last bad Batman movie cool.  “Tonight’s forecast – a freeze is coming in!”  John Lucas III becomes the starting PG it appears in most games and probably needs to be owned in deeper leagues, but I wouldn’t drop someone that good for him. Lucas III didn’t crack the updated rankings because I don’t see season-long impact from him.  Alec Burks could start some games at the point as well, and remains ranked as I think he plays both guard positions and minutes all year.  That is despite a horrible 1-13 shooting performance last night…  The Jazz are also re-evaluating trading for the Bulls’ Marquis Teague in a possible trade.  Then there’s a rumor that free agent Jamaal Tinsley might also get signed.  Sounding more and more like the Jazz PG is going to be a black hole this season.  So I’m avoiding them all, but still holding Burke in 12+ team leagues (like my 1st RCL League) and hoping.  Here’s what else has been going down through the preseason, and a final rankings update:

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Maybe because I didn’t follow the NBA preseason as closely last year as I was working exclusively on Football, but I feel like there’s been a lot more preseason injuries in only the first week of action than in year’s past.  Then again, Rodney Stuckey wasn’t even on the court, and slammed his thumb in his car door and needs surgery.  It’s gonna make for a hell of a hitchhiking thumb in that cast!  What it is with Detroit athletes and getting hurt in their cars?  Not even a month ago Nate Burleson broke his arm reaching over to keep some boxes from falling and slamming into the median.  All Detroit athletes need to avoid using motor vehicles.  Maybe that’s proof right there Obama shouldn’t have bailed out GM.  Give them all mopeds.  Oh wait, yeah that won’t work, will is Monta Ellis?  Maybe segways?  I’ve got it!  Just tell Andre Drummond he has to carry every Detroit athlete to where they need to go until his FT% goes above 50.  He’ll be like a Detroit athlete tauntaun.  See, tell me why I’m not an NBA coach.  I already had moved Kentavious Caldwell-Pope way up before the Stuckey injury with how the Pistons coaching staff was praising him, and look for KCP to move to right around 100 overall in my next rankings update.  Here’s what else went down since we last looked in at preseason action:

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Continuing on with updated rankings after the top 10 and top 20, below rounds out my to 50.  Previous rankings are in parentheses next to these updated ranks, with up and down designations only for guys hopping up or down significant spots.  Have fun grilling these!

(22) 21. Nicolas Batum – A lot of commenters have wondered why he’s not in the top-20, and as I said in my previous 20-50 rankings, the declining FG% (45.1% to 42.3%) and 3PT% (39.1% to 37.2%) from 2011-12 to 12-13 gives me pause.  Despite playing over 8 more minutes a game in 11-12 to 12-13, his scoring average only went up 0.4 Pts a game and he only averaged 12 a game after the All-Star Break with his wrist injury.  He’s said the wrist is completely healed, and despite not needing surgery I would be worried with Batum as my second-rounder as the wrist could plague him again.  He’ll still be a multi-cat workhorse, but I see no way he chucks up 6.1 3′s a night with new acquisitions Mo Williams and C.J. McCollum also manning the perimeter.  Yeah their PT may not overlap too consistently, but I just don’t see the three point output mimicking last year.

(23) 22. LaMarcus Aldridge – Another big fantasy asset I’m slightly down on, the Blazers could very easily have another rough first half and look to trade their franchise big.  The rumors have been swirling for quite some time, and there’s virtually no destination where I think he would be a better fantasy player than in Portland.

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Heading into the upcoming Fantasy Basketball Season, Razzball will be interviewing local NBA beat writers for some actual in-depth basketball knowledge to shed some additional light on our fantasy basketball knowledge.  Keep your eye out for an interview for every NBA team through the summer.  This installment comes courtesy of Dan Feldman from leading Detroit Pistons blog PistonPowered:

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Larry Sanders was so incredibly tasty during the 2012-2013 fantasy season.

He was so good. In a lot of ways amazing. The F/C was a regular drop/add for me throughout the year, coming on board to pile up double-doubles and blocks and games where he just went off – that triple-double on Nov. 30 where he put up 10 Pts, 12 boards and 10 blocks and a 17-20-2 on Dec. 21. He also had a stretch from Feb. 20-April 5 where he had double-digit rebounds in 18 out of 23 games.

And on Feb. 19 at 8:44 p.m., I added him for keeps in a transaction that vaulted the Punk Rock Gods to the Floor Generals League Championship.

In a similar way, Col. Sanders is so incredibly tasty all the time.

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The period of free agency continues to shape the fantasy basketball-scape with fresh meat on terrible teams and players signing with contenders to be relegated to bench duty.  With baseball in full swing and the NFL getting half of the ESPN air time no matter what time of year it is, a lot of NBA moves have been made under the radar.  Look for every division to get a team-by-team breakdown and some early fantasy thoughts on the new faces in new places:

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As we continue to navigate through the NBA Playoffs, it’s been a fun challenge to rank for the 2013-2014 season.  There’s still free agency.  There’s still a draft.  Hey, at least we know there will be a season unlike 2011!

If you missed it, my top 10 then top 20 came out last week.  Hey, it’s early, you might say “way too early” (see what I did there, it’s in the title!) so these rankings are subject to change.  And I want no accusations of flip-flopping!  It’s not my fault if all the sudden Dwight Howard goes to the Bobcats and becomes a first-rounder!  OK, so that is as likely as Rony Seikaly… returning.  You gotta stop on the word that rhymes Jean-Ralphio!  Man I’m liking that show.  Also, random side note, Googling Rony Seikaly to spell his name correctly broke Google.  I searched it and it would freeze, despite everything else working.  Weird.

As I battle my ADHD to get into the rankings, let’s just dive into it:

Please, blog, may I have some more?