First off, Merry Christmas! Hopefully you enjoyed the smorgasbord of NBA basketball on Sunday, the first Christmas basketball with the Lakers playing but not this guy. And they’re better of for it. But with Christmas now a full calendar year away, let’s ring forth towards the new year!

And along with the new year comes a new look to The 7 Ahead! You know, New Year New You. All that nonsense. Well, I’m the same, still ballin’ out of control like Deion, but this series gets a facelift for 2017. And, of course, a little #millennial touch. Welcome to the new 7 Ahead! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Oh man, no rest for the wicked! Speaking of wicked, oh man quick shout out to the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, that brewery rocked! But yeah, an absolutely amazing slate to catch me back up on the daily notes, with 4 overtimes last night. Including a super size me doubler in Miami! Most of the other games stayed close too, and 20 of the 22 teams in action last night topped 100 points. Fantasy orgasm! And leading the charge on such a big-and-tall NBA night was of course Isaiah Thomas! Career-high 44 points for IT2/3, putting up a 4/3rd’s of a full line of 44/3/6/1/1 on 10-16 FG (7-10 3PTM, 17-17 FT) including a big three in extra time in the OT win.

I’m just glad this groin thing got worked out! …That sounded wrong… If you have a smaller groin muscle, does it heal faster?! I’m not saying he doesn’t have a kick stand down there with a line like this, but just wondering! After semi-breaking out last year (well he was only 2/3 better than his career year in 13-14 for the Kings), IT2/3 has taken an even further step up – scoring 26.6 PPPG, upping the FT volume to 8.8/per at 90% (remember when he was like 70% the first few weeks, that changed quick!), and even though the steals are only at 0.9, he’s drastically cut his TO rate to only 2.2 despite all the added USG. After a slow start due to injuries, the Celtics look like a pretty tough team at full strength right now, and maybe IT2/3 can lead this squad into a deep run. I’ll be cheering for them! (cough, REL bias, cough…) Here’s what else happened on an action-packed Tuesday night of Holiday Season basketball:

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JB was on a long-weekend celebrating his birthday so I’m handling Monday’s daily notes this week. Wish him a happy birthday when you get a chance!

The walking triple-double machine that is Russell Westbrook fell a little short of his usual triple-double on Monday night, but no one will be complaining about 46 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. He scored 18 points in the 2nd quarter to give the Thunder a halftime lead, before the Hawks stormed back and won the game.

Westbrook may want to talk to Andre Roberson (14 points, 5 rebounds), who shot just 1-7 after passes from Westbrook. Whether he continues to average a triple-double or not, it’s clear that Westbrook is a fantasy monster and has been well worth the first round price.

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[Editor’s note – We’re going to be having our Podcast out first thing tomorrow morning due to some scheduling stuff. Catch you with our sexy voices then!]

Man, what a night for highlight-reel dunks!

GIFs so nice I had to put up twice! Wait, that didn’t really work… But yeah, telling everyone that Gordon is cuttable sure made me feel great while writing the notes this morning! Stupid Clippers getting Lob City-ed against them! Taste of their own medicine! Career game for Gordon, going 13-21 FG (4-8 3PTM 3-6 FT) for 33/7/2/0/0. Actually, ya know, that’s not really the best line. 3 turnovers, no D stats, and 50% FT shooting… I feel a little better now re-thinking it, and good thing highlight-reel plays aren’t bonuses! Although I wish they were for my Semaj in REL! Feel free to scoop up Gordon in any leagues as I’m sure he was a popular drop, but I still wouldn’t be losing key assets for him. Let’s see if he can carry this success a few more games, fix the FT issue, and deliver on the D stats we’re know he’s physically capable of. 0.8 STL/0.6 BLK – lower stocks than last year – in an expansion of minutes?! Where’s the beef?! Hopefully I give you more meat to chew on in the notes today! Here’s what else happened last night in Fantasy Basketball action:

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Man, without fantasy, blowout NBA games featuring sub-.500 teams might be more insufferable to watch than Vanderpump Rules. I would know, because I was watching both last night – L.A. hipsters being the absolute worst on the TV with the wife, then professional NBA players being the absolute worst on the iPad!

But of course some guys played well in the Denver @ Dallas travesty – a game I know Slim watched as well due to his Nuggets-bias – including Nikola Jokic going for a career-high 27/11/4/0/1. Hit 10-12 FG, 7-7 FT, and after Salah Mejri looked like Hassan Whiteside with 3 blocks in the first few minutes, Jokic really helped anchor down better post play.

Side note on those first two buckets for Jokic – look at Dwight Powell struggling to play D on centers. Just sayin’ based on our Pod this morning! Anywho, this is obviously the right step forward for Jock Itch to get unleashed, and he should have no problem working his way up to 30+ MPG every night now, right? RIGHT?!

[email protected]#% You, Malone. So that tells me both A) you don’t reward players for playing well, B) but you do punish players for playing poorly, C) actually that makes total sense! It’s why we keep seeing the rotations wildly different night-to-night with no consistency for good performers. It’s exploitative coaching 101 – you don’t reward your underlings for doing something good, only punish them if they disobey. This also tells me it’s yet another Jusuf Nurkic slam, who went 4/6/2/1/0 on 2-6 shooting with 3 TO, and got thrown around a little by Mejri. I think Slim chose the wrong time to be REL-biased by the Nuggets, shoulda stuck with his Jazz! Here’s what else happened last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Man, hell of a weekend!  Injuries, DNPs, I got a credit card hacked, went to a wedding, saw the sorry Panthers beat Jay’s sorrier Chargers… Out of control out there!  Thankfully we’re nearing Christmas, time to see some family, gets some time off work, and hopefully get our fantasy teams healthy…  But noooooooooooooo!  The fantasy gods gave us a bah humbug last night, with Nerlens Noel finally debuting off knee surgery, only to go down with a kankle.  He was looking pretty good too, especially with a little dunk on his first basket!

The hair on the other hand…  I dunno…  Shot 3-5 FG, hit his 2 FT, for 8 points and a steal in his first 10 minutes of the season.  Sucks it ended prematurely with another injury, and especially on the Sixers, who are treating everyone with kid’s gloves and have too many centers anyway.  Also sucks we don’t have any idea what his role will be, as Joel Embiid sat this one out to further maintain his EMBIIIIIID minutes.  As long as it’s under 4 hours, we’re good!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in Fantasy Basketball action:

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If you love your ThrAGNOFs (who doesn’t love their 3PT shooters when they get mad hot!), then last night was a Monday for you! I imagine ThrAGNOF-lovers were like Al Pacino watching the NBA last night:

Even the ultimate ThrAGNOF (well he’s must-own, so like, ThrAGNOF on steroids) Klay Thompson fit the bill! Went nuts against the Pacers for a career-high 60 points in only 29 minutes. C’mon Kerr, let him go all 48 and chase Wilt! It was the most points scored in under 30 minutes in NBA history, and a much better movie than 30 Minutes or Less. Shot 21-33 for a 60/2/1/0/0 line with 8 treys. Doesn’t get ultimate ThrAGNOF any better than that!

Yay Klay, yay Klay! Steph has a new calling after his NBA career – Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. How did that not distract him?! Great game from Klay, and this what you get from him. Scoring outbursts, and not a whole lot else. So be happy you’re likely winning Pts and 3s this week, especially if you own some of the other big ThrAGNOF games last night! Here’s who else was notable in Fantasy Basketball on Monday Funday:

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In a matchup where they might’ve gone ahead and whipped em out to see who was bigger, this round went to Joel Embiid! The Sixers snapped the longest stretch of NBA games without back-to-back wins (108), by besting Hassan Whiteside and the Heat 101-94.

Look at Embiid flex those guns. So much man meat in the paint right there! Ok, I’m done with that, but it was awesome to see such prototypical, turn-back-the-clock big men face off against each other, with each being the current face of their respective franchise. Embiid had one of his best lines of the year, going 22/5/0/1/3 on 7-13 shooting, mainly highlighted by only one TO. He’s only had one game with 2 TO, and all the others 3+. On the flip side, Whiteside was a monster, going 32/13/0/0/2 on 13-19 shooting and hit 6 of his 8 FT. For the love of big man stats! Whiteside was 0-3 from the stripe in his previous game, so hopefully something has righted the ship there. Someone in the comments asked where Embiid might go in drafts next year, and I said 30-40 range. But at this rate, that might be too conservative! Let’s see him get through a full season first, and be sure none of that giant EMBIIIIIID gets hurt. I lied, I got one more in! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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Could there be anyone else in the NBA that everyone can get behind and root for than Jrue Holiday?!  At this rate, he needs to run for prez in 2020!  And just to make him even more likable, he’s now wearing rec spec goggles.  Soooooooo dope!  It’s like he’s playing ball underwater!  When he hit this stepback, I’m pretty sure I heard him say “you miss me?!” on the game broadcast, but I have a feeling it was my mind playing tricks on me…

Jrue didn’t take any time to shake off the rust, going 21/2/7/1/1 on 8-14 shooting against the Blazers Friday night (including that sexy crossover), then 22/2/9/1/0 on 9-17 shooting against the Hornets on Saturday.  14:4 AST:TO to start it off, shot over 50% both games…  Just so awesome!  I know what I’m thankful for!  And just to make things EVEN MORE awesome, he rewarded Tim Frazier owners who remained patient, by showing they can co-exist.  Bi-partisan!  12/3/8 and 17/5/8 for Frazier in those two games, plus the Pelicans won both of them.  And they weren’t against cupcakes either, winning at home against the Blazers then the Hornets.  Pass the beignets, we got a party goin on!  As a Frazier owner in a couple RCLs, I’m going to hang strong until his numbers tell me otherwise.  Unfortunately, I’m not a Jrue owner anywhere though…  Depressing!  But I don’t even care, Jrue is a boss, and if he beats me in some fantasy matchups, I will tip my cap and be rooting for him anyway.  You’re my boy, Jrue!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops:

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As I try to do in my opens, I pull in some real-life news or experience to try and humanize the open. No one wants robot reporting! Just ask Mark Cuban. And that whole situation seems like such a cop out, “I’m going to ban reporters, and the reason why is that I want more human reporting!” Something else is going on there…

Anywho, for this open, I actually have relevant life experience! As previously mentioned regarding Derrick Favors, I too have suffered from IT Band Syndrome. It’s an inflammation of a thin band of nerves that connect from your hip bone on the outside of your leg, past your knee, and connected to your lower leg. Sometimes it can manifest itself in a mad sore hip, but usually it impacts the outside of your knee. When it flares up, it feels like a bone-on-bone “catching” on the outer part of your knee, like you have some horrific scar tissue from a torn meniscus (something I’ve also had). The real annoyance of the injury is you can feel awesome for a few days, then it flares up out of nowhere. You’re just walking normal, and all the sudden that “catch” makes your knee feel like you re-tore something. It’s pretty friggin’ frustrating.

So when I heard Favors was starting last night despite a flare up of knee soreness again on Saturday, I wasn’t the most surprised. I bet it felt great in warm-ups! Then at some point, I’m guessing he felt that same nerve irritation, and he ended up leaving early. I know his frustration. As a nerve thing, this isn’t really a consistent pain-tolerance thing, or a sprain to play through. It feels fine, then a sudden flare up makes your knee feel unstable. I didn’t watch any of this game, but he apparently didn’t look right, and went only 6/2/0/2/0 in 21 minutes. As I mentioned on the Pod, I nabbed some shares of Trey Lyles on Sunday given Favors’ knee issues and knowing this could be a long-term thing, getting rewarded with an 18/5/2/2/0 line with a trey. A trey from Trey! With leaving games early a persistent issue now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Favors gets treatment for a few weeks, and I would take the flier on Lyles where I could. It took me about two months of rehab and a session of dry needling to stimulate the nerves to finally shake my IT issues. Don’t watch if you don’t like needles! Here’s what else happened in fantasy hoops action last night:

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