Earlier in the year when the NBA released its schedule for the 2015/2016 season, one of the very first things I did was flip forward to December 25th. I was really stoked to see five games, neatly stacked one after the other, for our holiday viewing pleasure. The excitement continued to grow right up until the games went live and we quickly learned that putting the ball through the hoop is, apparently, quite a bit more difficult on Christmas.

Anthony Davis in South Beach for a noon eastern tip-off against the Heat. What a great way to kick off the afternoon after tossing back a few coffee & Baileys, scarfing down some cinnamon buns, and opening some presents, right? Yeah…  no. They needed overtime and the Pelicans still couldn’t hit the 90-point mark. Brow was nice (29/15/4/4/3), as was Chris Bosh, but the game was not pretty. At all.

So I says to myself, I says: “Self, one stinker does not a bad day make. We just got the ugly one outta the way early. This will not be a harbinger of things to come. No, sir, it will not.” Next up we got the weirdly entertaining (and enigmatic) Bulls visiting the dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook & Kevin Durant in front of an always raucous Oklahoma City crowd. Well, Chicago doubled up OKC in the third quarter (32-16) to quiet the crowd and pulled away as nobody other than the Thunder’s two stars bothered to show up. The league’s second most efficient team on offense couldn’t crack the century mark and fell 105-96.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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Man, is it really Thanksgiving Day again? Seems like yesterday that I was thanking that the Wizards were a playoff team….

Paul Pierce is gone and now we got Kris Humphries and Jared Dudley thinking they can play the stretch four. And how has that worked out for us? A 17-point loss to the Pacers on Tuesday and another 14-point loss to the Hornets on Wednesday. The Wizards are looking closer to the Redskins everyday. At least one doesn’t have a racist name.

So rather than complain about my home team, let’s say thanks to all teams and players that have actually helped us on Wednesday – I can try to enjoy Marvin Williams (14 pts, 11 rebs, 2 3s), Nicolas Batum (16 pts, 11 asts, 7 rebs), and Jeremy Lamb (18 pts., 7 rebs., 3 asts.) putting up fantasy worthy numbers against my Wiz kids.

On the Wizards side, Marcin Gortat had a monster double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Gary Neal had 18 points off the bench. Neal is straight buckets off the bench, but consistency will be a problem. I’d suggest investing in Bradley Beal, while he’s getting back into the swing of things after missing a few.

Moving onto the rest of the games:

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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.

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So I Googled “crisis of leadership” because, well, it’s been a pretty annoying ride for NBA franchises in Charlotte since the 90s.  According to never-wrong Wikipedia, the term was coined about something with Trotsky and Communism, I ain’t goin’ there!  It’s been well-documented and scrutinized through the years, but Charlotte certainly seems to make odd decisions behind Michael Jordan.  And before that, they moved to New Orleans, brought in an expansion team called “The Bobcats” (????@#?#$%@#%), and drafted Sean May.

While Charlotte’s follies could be it’s own dedicated article, I’m just going to talk about the planning behind PF/C minutes for 15-16.

TANGENT!  Speaking of planning, we’re debuting a new part of Monday daily notes this season.  The 7 Ahead!  After wrapping up the standard daily notes from the weekend, at the bottom will be a weekly planner for the upcoming 7 nights of NBA action.  Let me know if you like it!  And as always, add any suggestions you commenters have for The 7 Ahead moving forward.  If you don’t like it, ya know, not wanting to read such a long effin’ blog post when you’ve got a case of the Mudiays, just let me know!

FOCUS!  So the Hornets draft Frank Kaminsky 9th in the draft, passing on in-state product Justise Winslow (who looks great in early run for the Heat) and the undeniably awesome Myles Turner.  Part of the argument seemed to be NBA-readiness.  But instead of sticking with the decision, or continuing to play Cody Zeller, another high-draft pick, they instead come out and start Starvin Marvin Williams.  I mean, if you’re just going to take a no-upside PF/C for bench depth, why not go pure upside of my boy Kelly Oubre?!?!  Such a wasted pick and poor planning for the rotation, as now Marvin is running away with the role with a fantastic start to 15-16.  Opening the season with back-to-back dubdubs, Marvin went 15/5/1 with 3 blocks and 5 treys last night.  They need some speed on D and a perimeter player to compliment Al “slow feet” Jefferson, and it’s put Marvin clearly in the ThrAGNOF category.  The blocks were a little fluky, but I don’t think the minutes are.  He’s surged to 34% owned which seems a smidge high, but on low-schedule nights, he’ll be a frequent streaming target of mine.  And if I sounded unnecessarily bitter, it’s because I had him as a $1 REL keeper and let him walk.  Friggin’ Hornets.  What a waste of draft picks only to play the low-paid vet…  Here’s what else happened over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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Yeah. It goes like this right here. It’s the return of the writings of Slim! That reminds of an Outkast song, and that song reminds me of 1998. If you don’t remember it was the year we learned there was yet another way to be disgusted by a cigar. That near, far, wherever you are you probably found yourself at some point rooting for the most unlikeliest of protagonists, Billy Zane. And of course it was the year the ‘Blue Screen of Death‘ truly became a meme, long before anyone knew what a meme was.

Gangstaaaaa… It’s the return… turn…

In the NBA draft that year there were 3 guys drafted that are still playing and should one day be in the Hall of Fame. I’ll give you a hint, the top 3 draft picks were Michael Olowokandi, Mike Bibby, and Raef LaFrentz, and if you were playing fantasy basketball back then you might have gone all-in on one of them. Give up? They are Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce. Pick number 5, 9, and 10 respectively. That’s not to say great players aren’t drafted 1st, but the only thing guaranteed when you are first overall is a whole boat load of money. Something about the use of the word ‘only’ there doesn’t quite feel right.

Return… Ganstuhuhuh… It’s the re…

It seems so easy to see when you’re talking time traveling, something mind unraveling. Get Down. It’s a whole lot harder to do here and now using some funky combination of math, logic, illogical fandom, a random number generator, and of course the occasional dart throw. For some reason though, after about an hour on 350 (or about 176c) it develops a creamy caramel colored crust. Once it cools, just cut it up and consume. So here’s you’re 1st taste. Slim’s, I can’t believe I’m writing this in 3rd person, RCL playoff schedule post.

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You aren’t going to find too many elite fantasy basketball assets sitting on an NBA bench. You’re going to find them on a 50’ wide by 94’ long stretch of hardwood, running their shoes tread-bare.

Fantasy production or “numbers” – essentially the only thing you’re mining for as you prepare for your drafts – is what results from the beautiful union between talent and opportunity.

Talent with limited opportunity (think: Jonas Valanciunas) leaves you with little choice but to sit back and wonder what could have been. Conversely, all the opportunity in the world afforded to players short on talent (I’m looking at you, Courtney Lee) has you questioning why you’re tending to vines that bear no fruit.

Unfortunately, in the world of the National Basketball Association, opportunity is usually held to a finite number each night – and that number is 240. Two hundred and forty minutes is all a given team can distribute amongst its roster during a regulation game. (For our purposes here today we’ll refrain from delving into the impact of overtime/multi-overtime games adding to the pool of minutes, though it does obviously impact the calculus.)

With NBA coaches now regularly employing rotations of nine and 10 men, there are very few players (regardless of talent, youth and good health) who are asked to play more than 75% of a game. In point of fact, during the 2014/2015 NBA season a grand total of six players averaged over 36 minutes of court time. Go just one year farther back and that number jumps to 16. The 12-13 campaign? 22 such players eclipsed the 36 MPG mark and seven ran for over 38 minutes a night. And to really put things into perspective – less than a decade ago we saw nine players average 40 minutes, with the kicker being that none of them missed more than 10 games.

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Time for the undraftables!

It’s an absolute barren wasteland trying to sift through the 151-200 ranks, akin to that 60-year-old retiree scanning a remote beach with his metal detector.  Bleep!  Bleep!  Eureka I found a dime!  But none of these guys are good enough to get dimebags!

We’re finally wrapping up the top 200 (Rank 1-10 | Rank 11-20 | Rank 21-50 | Rank 51-75 | Rank 76-100 | Rank 101-150), with most of these guys untouchable in 12ers.  However, there is some upside to be had with your last-pick fliers and hopefully help out with the deeper leagues.  The deep ballers.  “I’m balls deep in sleepers!”  If only that were the case – a lot of these guys are likely duds or rooks that won’t see enough PT.  “I’m balls deep in DNPs!”  So remember upside is a big factor when you get this late, as no one wants to be balls deep in O.J. Mayo‘s 20 minutes off the bench…

If you disagree with these ranks, be sure to put your fantasy acumen to the test in the Razzball Commenter Leagues!  We need more commissioners and leagues, so sign up a league today, it takes literally a minute – I stop-watched myself – and face off against the best fantasy basketball community around!  Prizes and me shaming myself on YouTube abound!

Back to it, here’s the Top 200 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Who is the hottest team in the NBA right now?  The Pacers are surprisingly playing well and OKC is still winning through injuries, but those Utah Jazz are as tough to score on as the bookish chicks in college!

5-1 since the trade deadline, the Jazz have wins against Portland, San Antonio and now Memphis in that span (their loss was against the Lakers, but we’ll overlook that), and other than that fluke Lakers game, no one has scored over 82 points.  And we all know the key to the Jazz D is Rudy Gobert.  Moving into the starting line-up, Gobert has been playing unreal with a 15/24/1/0/0 line last night on 6-10 FG and 3-4 FT.  He was on a 6-game streak of 3+ blocks, so a random outlier of 0 last night isn’t a biggie especially since Marc Gasol loves his mid-range.

I’ve seen a few comments of owners looking to trade for FG% and a big man boost, and I would be all-in on trying to bring Rudy to those squads.  Even his FT% is improving at 11-15 from the stripe the past 3!  And the Jazz have that oh so saucy 4/4/4 playoff sched.  Yesterday on the Podcast, I asked Slim if he would take Gobert or Hassan Whiteside first in next year’s drafts.  It’s really really close and comes down to a points need (Whiteside) vs. steals need (Gobert).  It’s crazy that probably the biggest value change during the deadline was just the stubborn Jazz finally unleashing the beast that is Gobert.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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After a tough groin injury, we really weren’t sure how long DeMar DeRozan would be Frozen.  “Let it go!  Let it go!  Blah dee, blah dee, blah…”  Trying to reach out to our younger readers.

DD is back and immediately entices with immense cleavage!  Younger readers, alienated.  DeRozan returned after missing a month and a half/21 games for a very solid 20/4/4/1/1 game hitting 9-14 FG.  It was against the soon to be relegated Sixers, so there’s that, but this is mighty encouraging.  In a game where Toronto didn’t need him at all, he started, got 29 minutes, and looks healthy for the stretch run.  Toronto letting the DD out!  I bet chicks aren’t letting the DD out this time of year in Canada, sheesh it’s cold in NC!  Lots of ripples with DeRozan back out there.  The biggest is it looks like James Johnson can go in several leagues, as sad an epitaph as it is…  Played only 15 minutes for 5/2/2/0/0.  Some of that was probably matchup based since the Sixers backup depth is in guards (and Amir Johnson played well), but it’s a swift death.  Terrence Ross also played only 18 minutes as the starter and scored 2 Pts without doing anything else.  Ross is barely 16-teamer worthy now, as one of the deepest lineups in the NBA is healthy top to bottom.  The Raptors bench could probably contend for a playoff spot in the East.  Well they’d have to replace Tyler Hansbrough.  I think one of those inflatable flailing arms things has more ball skills than Psycho T…  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?