How could you be so Dr. Evil? You’re bringing out of a side of that I don’t know. Maybe this was the beginning of the end for legit Kanye, when we started to see the side of him that we (he) didn’t know? Sorry Yeezy fans, but his last great album was Graduation. But maybe that’s what we all need to do…graduate. Onto better seasons. Onto changes perceptions. Onto the playoffs.

As we move into (or closer to) the playoff part of the season, strategies change. For your squad, perhaps you’ve sat middling in the standings when it comes to certain categories. What if you punted 3 cats for the sake of bolstering the other 6? In a head-to-head format that’s all you need (me personally, I’m not the biggest proponent of this move). Or, if it’s not a roster building strategy, perhaps what changes is just the way you assess the value of certain players. At this point in the season injuries, losses and trades have adjusted the mindset of so many teams that a few names seemingly so awful just a month ago may now be the key to your playoff push. Can you change your mind on them before the others in your league? Can you find their value in spite of their potential pitfalls?

When they have 5 games in a week where basically everyone else has 4…yep. (Pour one out for all the Russy owners. Worst possible timing for a short week. Good luck to ya!)

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The Warriors are now fighting to regain their composure after the massive injury to Kevin Durant.  Unfortunately, without him, this is a much weaker squad than last year.  This was quite obvious in their 87-94 loss to the mediocre Bulls squad on national TV.  Although, Matt Barnes did an admirable job of filling in KD with a massive 2/0/0/0/0 line…

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The biggest news of the night comes from a guy who barely played at all. Less than 2 minutes into the game between Golden State and Washington, Warriors’ center Zaza Pachulia (12 points, 8 rebounds) fell into Kevin Durant’s left knee. KD walked away gingerly before heading to the bench and being whisked away into the locker room. Diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee, Durant did not return to the game.

Is this karma from the Basketball Gods for his comments about not wanting to come home to play for the Wizards? Kidding aside, this is terrible news to the Warriors, fans of the NBA, and fantasy owners. Hopefully KD’s injury isn’t long-term, but more will be known after examining the MRI results.

In the meantime, the Warriors wasted no time in reaching out to free agent Matt Barnes and are expected to sign him later this week. Released by the Kings after trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, Barnes is excited to rejoin the Warriors, after playing for them from 2006-2008. I wouldn’t rush to add Barnes until more is known about KD’s injury, but Barnes has been useful for fantasy purposes before.

On happier notes, here are the other nightly notables:

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The most exciting part of the evening, was clearly the debut of the Pelicans shiny new front court. While the Pels did get overwhelmed by the Rockets shooting, the chemistry was obviously there with the New Orleans big men. I would say though, that they’re both a bit tentative, and that will change as they get more comfortable and assertive. I am not scared to say though, that this is possibly the greatest PF/C duo in NBA history. Up there with McHale and Parrish, and Duncan and Robinson. Both bigs have absurd skillsets. I think the key for the Pelicans will be the play of Jrue Holiday, and how involved in the offense he is. Tonight, he was locked down by Beverly, but more slashing in the pick and roll should really help him. I could see his efficiency being extremely high, given the opposite player in the pick and roll.

At any rate, here’s your recap for most of Thursday night! Thank goodness the break is over…

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C.J. McCollum, last year’s Most Improved Player, continues his ascension as one of the best shooting guards in the game. In a battle for the 8th playoff spot in the west between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks, McCollum dropped 32 points (13-21 FG), none bigger than his runner with 0.9 seconds left that sealed a Blazers’ win:

Ultimately the game winner, it came right after Dirk Nowitzki hit a clutch three to put the Mavericks up 113-112 with 3.9 seconds to go. Nowitzki turned back the clock in the game to post 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 4 threes, but it wasn’t enough as McCollum put the nail in the coffin.

The 4th year guard is having a career year, but has been shooting even better lately. In the last 5 games, he’s knocked down 13-28 from deep and shot 55.8% from the field overall.

Having such an efficient backcourt mate has taken some of the pressure off of Damian Lillard (29 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 threes), who is having his best shooting season of his career as well.

Unfortunately, both guys will need to continue to step up, if the Blazers have a chance at the playoffs, as guard Evan Turner broke his right hand in the third quarter of the game. No timetable has been announced, but he should miss at least a couple weeks. The injury should open up opportunities for Allen Crabbe (4 points) and Maurice Harkless (8 points, 7 rebounds).

It was a short slate of games on Tuesday, as only 3 games were played. JB made sure to make it known to me that he had to recap 11 games on Monday. Boy, did I get lucky this week! Here are the rest of the nightly notables:

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Even Tom Brady would agree it’s time to do some hot Yogi!

Since getting to the Mavs on a 10-day deal, all Yogi Ferrell has done is play 37:29 MPG (which would be 3rd highest in the NBA) and lead Dallas to 4-straight wins. Break up the red hot Cubans! And the Mavericks were straight dealing in Portland Friday night – especially early – hitting their first 7 shots and building a big lead, which was just enough to hold Portland off. No one was hotter than Hot Yogi either! I think we have a new nickname! Shot an absurd 11-17 FG, including tying a rookie record (!!!!!) 9-11 3PTM, for a 32/2/5 line.

I do have to wonder on that huge last one though, what in the world is Al-Farouq Aminu doing?! He just stands there deer-in-the-headlights as the dude who hit 8 treys in the game has the ball wide open, and just lets him take the open shot! God, I hate Aminu, he’s always a craw in my fantasy side! Or something like that… Anyway, you’re of course adding Ferrell where you can if he’s somehow survived on your wire over the weekend, but let’s not expect the second coming of Steph Curry or anything. They already have a Curry on this team! Side note – anyone see Seth Curry‘s awful muttonchops this game?!

Even Dirk Nowitzki is like, “Ewwwwwww! You look like the Fall Out Boy singer!”

After the game, news broke that he’s going to sign a 2-year before his first 10-day expires (I’m not sure how much is guaranteed, but still is cool to see him get paid!). Time to crack open the scotch and smoke a fatty! And by fatty, I mean a Cuban! Wait, not Marc Cuban, ahhhh! While it’s a fun story for Hot Yogi, in 18 D-League games he averaged only 2.7 treys, and he only hit 8 treys in 10 games for Brooklyn. Sure, he wasn’t getting this kind of run, but he had an opportunity on a worse team and didn’t find the trigger like this… So enjoy this ride while it lasts if you nabbed him, but beware minutes crunches – when you hear Deron Williams‘ knee crunches – as he limps his way back onto the court. Until then, Hot Yogi!

Here’s what else went down over the weekend in Fantasy Basketball action:

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Down at halftime and without fellow All-Star DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry took over in the 2nd half, carrying the Raptors to an overtime victory against the Pelicans. He hit a big time step back jumper with just 4.3 seconds to play to secure the win. Lowry finished with 33 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, and a season-high 6 threes.

After returning to the court on Sunday, DeRozan experienced swelling in his ankle, forcing him to sit Tuesday’s game. He’s already been ruled out for Wednesday’s game, giving Lowry another chance at monster scoring numbers.

Known for pouring it on in stretches, it was his 3rd straight 30+ point game, the longest streak of his career. Had he scored 1 more point last Wednesday, he’d have a streak of 5 games. You’re already starting Lowry regardless, but the loss of DeRozan really ups Lowry’s value.

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Was it enough to topple the visiting Boston Horford’s? Well, no, because the evolution of Muggsy Bogues, Isaiah Thomas, is as as it gets in the 4th quarter, but you can’t say the Hawks had their winning streak snapped due to anything Tim Hardaway Jr. did. We knew from his days as a Knick that he could fire up shots, but as a Hawk this year he’s starting to play with a much higher efficiency, and from a fantasy perspective it’s exactly what we need. I’ll save that for a moment, though, and focus for a second on why it’s what the Hawks need, too. Sure, an efficient scorer is every team’s need, but when you trade one of the greatest shooters, especially while defended, in NBA history in Kyle Korver there’s a chasm-wide role left to fill. It seemed as though the Hawks were planning on throwing in the towel to rebuild with Carver’s trade a harbinger of future moves and a move towards their youth. But whether it’s still a play for the future (THJ is a free agent after this year) to showcase his value, or simply a pure replacement to Korver, Hardaway Jr.’s never played like this before. The league’s taken notice, but have you yet for fantasy?

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So my lead on Tuesday morning about Derrick Rose disappearing on his team (Gone Girl 2 – Gone Rose!) I thought would be a pretty bad low point for the Poppycockers. But I dunno, I think they may have hit it last night! Rose was surprisingly vintage Rose – considering all the rumors he wanted a buy out or the Knicks should suspend him for a while – for 25/2/4/1/0 on 11-16 shooting. That said, he was -21 in a 1-point loss, while the bench kept the Knicks in it. In the end though, the Poppycockers just didn’t have an answer for this new, upstart PG who is taking his offensive game in the league by storm! And of course I’m talking about T.J. McConnell!

Melo, you just got skeeted on! “What is that in your hair?! Is that hair gel?!” “No, Melo, it’s Dapper Dan!” Yup, hit the buzzer-beater to beat the Knicks 98-97, for NY’s 9th loss of their last 10. To quote the immortal Friends like I love to do, “There’s rock bottom, then 50-feet of crap, then” the Knicks! But hat’s off (because it would mess up the gel) to T.J. running away with the Sixers PG job, playing a team-high 34 minutes of 8/6/7/2/0 on 4-6 shooting with 2 TO. Pretty solid, efficient line. On the flip side, Sergio Rodriguez is turning into melted White Chocolate, going 14 minutes of 2/1/4/0/0 on 1-7 shooting with 3 TO. The two could still flip flop, but T.J. has always been a Brett Brown guy, and this was a pretty big moment. Dapper D should probably be owned in all 12ers, although if you have AST locked down, I’m not sure what else you’ll be happy with. 2 steals in 4 straight is nice I guess, but no 3s, low scoring, bad FG%… Wait, why do I hate on this guy but love Ricky Rubio?! I guess it’s all in the spiciness, baby! Here’s what else went down in fantasy hoops action last night:

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The Wizards have been playing much better as of late. Despite being down 18 points in the second quarter, the Wizards came back to win to push them over .500.

John Wall knocked down the game-winning jumper with 5 ticks left, to complete another fantastic performance with 26 points, 14 assists, and 6 rebounds.

Now that’s what Steve Buckhantz calls a dagger!

Wall was voted Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December and continues his strong play in the New Year. There hasn’t been a better player in the East over the last 6 weeks.

Now the Bulls were missing Jimmy Butler (illness) and Dwyane Wade (rest), but I don’t care. I’m going to take every opportunity to talk positively about my Wizards. They’ll disappoint me soon enough so let me enjoy my moment.

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