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Listen, as a Hawks fan I have a special place in my sports heart for Joe Johnson. It’s special because of this strange dichotomy I call reluctant gratitude. The Hawks sucked. Hard. For years. And gave up far too much to get him, but once Joe Johnson arrived in Atlanta back in the ’05-’06 season the Hawks became a legit playoff team, with Johnson ascending to perennial All-Star level. Yet that damn contract (only to be rivaled by Allan Houston from 2001 as potentially the worst of all-time) handcuffed Atlanta into the nothingness that is the perpetual second-round, upper-middle tier of the NBA. It was awful.

However, Brooklyn came along and washed our bored tears away when they gulped down his albatross contract to usher in the new era of Atlanta basketball (still perpetual upper-middle tier, though). But when you think about it, that’s just what Joe does: usher in the next chapter for a franchise. Well, that and play incredible (dribble) ball-stopping (dribble) isolation (dribble) basketball (five more dribbles, contested shot with 3 second left). It started in Phoenix as Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash began their revolutionary 8-second offense, then shifted to Atlanta for the next seven years where he made six All-Star teams before becoming the epitome of the catastrophe that was the Brooklyn Nets post-prime project alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. And now? Smack dab in the middle of the Rockies, Joe’s the biggest free agent signing the Utah Jazz have locked in for the past 10-15 years. At 35 years old he’s shooting 49% in 31mpg during their first five contests. Could it be that a new era is beginning in Utah with all of their young talent (and without Gordon Hayward as of yet)? They just crushed both the Spurs and then the Mavs, and I’m getting quite jazzed about the makeup of this team. Could they reach the playoffs for the first time in 5 years? Well, probably. Joe’s there now. It’s time for a new era.

And for this week…four games for the Jazz. Here’s the 7 Ahead for Week 3!

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What’s up Razzballers?!? I’m back and will be handling the daily recaps from Tuesday night this season. We had a total of 9 games so let’s get to it!

Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James – Whenever the Rockets are in town, you know that fantasy stat lines are going to be great for both teams, with the increased pace of play. The Cavaliers were the beneficiaries of the Rockets’ matchup and all the main guys delivered. Kevin Love posted 24 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block; Irving scored 32 points with 4 threes; and James nearly messed around and got another triple double, finishing with 19/13/8. They played almost as well as their costumes from James’ yearly Halloween party. Don’t forget the shoutouts to the Warriors!

J.R. Smith – Smith knocked down 5-11 from downtown to finish with 15/3/2. Iman Shumpert (8 points, 2 steals, and 2 threes) seems to after suffering a concussion from opening night, but the steals just aren’t enough to help fantasy owners, except for the deepest of leagues.

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new-girl-schmidt-hashtag-excitement

In what became a weekly manifesto for fantasy basketball, our cap’n, my cap’n, JB Gilpin, decided to hand over the reins to his precious afterthoughts from last season. No, literally. This series was the actual afterthoughts to his daily thoughts that happened every weekend. Well, JB…after thought no more, because this is all I got!

When JB asked me to take over the 7 Ahead, I was most likely still drunk on the booze of an incredible 2015-2016 NBA Regular Season and Playoffs, not thinking about what it actually meant. The more my withdrawals kicked in and I couldn’t wait for the start of the new season to finally effing get here, though, the more I realized how great this article is. If you’ve read me on the football or baseball sides of all things Razz, you may have read my definition of wisdom before. If so, you’re welcome…here it is again: Wisdom is looking to the past to know what’s going to happen in the future before it happens. It’s telling the future. It’s planning on what could happen. It’s everything that is the essence of the 7 Ahead.

Each weekend we’ll be looking forward towards the fantasy basketball horizon of the next seven days. For those of you in weekly leagues, this series may be especially helpful, as I’ll highlight the teams with the most beneficial schedule for your matchups, and which particular players from hose teams may be available for your streaming pleasures. Also, we’ll discuss the game slate for each day over the next seven days, and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be asking some questions and want your responses. This is a dialogue, kids. No monologues here. Those stayed in the past with JB’s novellas that he called this series. And by the way, what in the balls is a ‘bottom dollar’? Does Dame Dolla own a lot of those? Anywho…here’s the first installment of the 2016-2017 7 Ahead.

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So if you haven’t listened to this morning’s Podcast yet, you wanna know what’s fun when you run the world’s awesomest Fantasy Basketball blog?! Coming home to no internet! And your ISP having no way to fix it until the next day! It just makes you think about how we in the fantasy basketball world rely on the internet, when so much of the world is still without it… I’m over here stressing like a madman wanting to be sure Razzball Hoops can still deliver our silliness, when the world at large still has a long way to go. Even though it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, I want to tell my family at the Razzball Nation table that I’m just thankful to be here, and thankful for everyone reading! …and thankful I can get to work a few hours early to bang out today’s recap… Without the internet, I wouldn’t have a job with a software company, Razzball wouldn’t exist, I’d be working at some factory or some ish, fantasy basketball would likely not exist…. Imagine calculating fantasy hoops by hand! Ahhhhh! Awful! I’m very fortunate to merely exist at this point in time and space. And to wrap up this sappy open, I want to say I’m the bigger man and certainly wouldn’t ousT What Cable provider I use… Crooks.

Anyway, so with limited hoops watching last night due to an inconsistent 4G stream, I didn’t get to watch the Celtics game and two of my REL rocks, but had a little better service to watch most of the first half of the Spurs/Sac game. First off, have you seen the new Kings arena?! The Golden 1 Center doesn’t look real! It looks like where they’d play football in Starship Troopers, ya know, with that silver football? Wasn’t there talk that this team could move a few years ago? Geez! Well for as bad as the Kings manage their personnel, they certainly can hire some Star Trek architects, that’s for damn sure. But for as cool as the new arena looks, Kawhi Leonard looks better. Sleeker. Sexier… “You are ruining moving day for us!” 30/3/5/5/0 last night, giving him back-to-back 30 Pts/5 Stl games for the first time in NBA history. Ok, don’t fact check that, I’m sure it’s happened before… [edit – Rotoworld must be reading us, because about an hour after this posted, they put out this latest news blurb on Kawhi this morning…]

I feel like he’s one of the birds from Finding Nemo. “Mine! Mine mine! Mine!” But what an absolute superstar, and maybe he belonged right next to KAT a tier below the big-4 in my ranks. Maybe even within the big 4! 7-7 FT last night, giving him a 22-22 clip to begin the season. He only committed 1 TO last night too! If you watched any of this game, the Kings actually started pretty hot, and the other starting 4 Spurs looked horrific. It was all Kawhi to open the scoring, putting in San Antonio’s first 9 points. It was Kawhi 9 to Sacramento 16 halfway through the first… With the rest of the Spurs struggling a bit out of the gate, Kawhi put his team on his back, and absolutely looks like he’s in the MVP discussion. Makes you pretty happy for having a later-round pick in standard snake drafts! Here’s what else went down last night in Fantasy Hoops action:

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Holy schnike, what an opening set of games! And what a night for Believeland! The Cavs get to raise their banners and get their ring pops to open the 2016-17 NBA Season, then top it off by playing a disjointed group of SUPER streetballers that a high school team might be able to beat. Really, Knicks?! 17 assists to 18 turnovers?! Just an absolute collapse by New York after a nice 2nd quarter run. I guess they’re going to end up going 115-1… Then a mere 50 feet away, the Windians pick up game 1 in the World Series, shutting out the Cubs 6-0. The dude who wrote Major League couldn’t have even foreseen this!

After seeing what LeBron James did last night, it made me want to link MAC’s comment on our staff picks article. Of course I’m overreacting to one game, but man did Bronny Bron look hungry from some MVPness (be sure to say that word out loud). 19/11/14/0/1 for his first career Opening Night tripdub, as the Cavs stand-n-shooters all hit their threes boosting the dimes. Monster dunks early and often, but still had his deficiencies in FT (1-2), treys (0-3) and TO (4). If Cleveland can keep rolling like this, and the MVP talk remains clamorous, we all know we need to be shopping him in a month or two. As we mentioned a few times in the offseason, his schedule in the H2H Playoffs (or at the end of the Roto season) is fraught with DNP landmines. I got The King in one of my RCLs, and if he’s still around by the All-Star Break, I have a feeling I’m going to have trouble dealing him away. But others in your league are likely a little less competent with foresight and don’t read Razzball, even though it’s a Shakespearean Tragedy! So hopefully in those leagues, you’ll be able to capitalize. Who knows, in Razzball leagues, maybe the hate and talk of trading him will create a buying opportunity! And maybe even the Knicks will turn it all around and fight the Cavs for the best record in the East… Hah, now we’re getting into some super crazy talk! Here’s what else went down across the first 3 NBA Openers last night:

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Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry reacts after a turnover in the second half against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Barclays Center in New York City on April 27, 2014. The Raptors defeated the Nets 87-79 and tied the series at 2-2. UPI/John Angelillo

Draft season is now truly upon us with all sites having listed their official rankings for the fanatics, but how accurate those rankings are will well and truly depend on the structure of your league. One of the many attractions to the fantasy sport of basketball is the many different strategies that can play out, and of course the variety of settings and types of leagues that can be afforded to those that take the time to be commissioner of one of our favorite past times.

One of the big minefields that I spend scrupulous hours changing my ranks is trying to balance the variety of categories. The biggest minefield for me is turnovers.

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More ranks, here we come!

Whew, I admittedly had a little rankings-shock after writing War & Peace with my Top-10 there.  I gotta whittle this down a little bit if we’re gonna have the ranks done by September like I hope!  No one wants to wait until early October to read about the 198th ranked Jeremy Lamb…  Or maybe they do!

I must preface these ranks with an admission – I’m buying more and more into punting.  I’m Todd Sauerbrunning it!  You can pull off some pretty crazy rankings changes when you knock off some categories in BBMonster valuation.  And before everyone gets all snotty with their comments, I know I’m going to bounce around using some 9-cat valuation for some guys, then take out some cats for others.  Ranks can’t be a one-size fits all, they change each player you draft.  It would be like ranking a white wine high with a steak recommended as the pairing, THAT’S BLASPHEMY, DAMMIT!  Here’s the Top 25 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Oh man, things are going to get saucy in the second round!  After Slim and I (and most of you commenters) seemed to more-or-less agree on most of my top-10, here’s where I gotta get my defending pants on.  They kinda look like waders, but they’re decked out in OKC branded colors and logos.  I call them my “Dion Waiters”!  BOOM!  Offseason jokes are in in-season form!

While we’re all watching StanVan complain about the LeBron calls and crossing our fingers Steph is healthy enough to come back for game 3, there’s no better time to dive into the deep end of hoops rankings a good 5 months too early.  Can I put Ben Simmons in the top-25 yet?!  Pssshhh, thing be gettin’ crazy outside the top 10, but not dat crazy!  Here’s my Way Too Early Top 25 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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The H2H season is over! Hopefully you triumphed over your leagues with Ws in the final week, and kept from being rocked by the DNP-obsessed NBA. NBA coaches and GMs are just trolling us fantasy players! Ya know what Dwane Casey? You’re flat out dumb, your mom is ugly, and you’re a n00b coach!

Erstwhile all these benchings, we got a big return yesterday afternoon with Blake Griffin rejoining the Clip. On top of Doc saying he was mad out of shape, we also got news his quad is still bothering him and he’ll be playing through the pain. Oh, wahhhhhhhh Blake! What about the pain of getting slugged in the face by one of the most jacked NBA players in the league!? Or as you see it, sorry his skull caused your hand such pain! Hopefully you were only stashing Blake in IL leagues, as he only put up 6/5/4/0/0 with a TO in 22 minutes. He shot 2-7 from the field, and looked more gassed than Zoolander’s Balls Models friends… Did anyone even see the 2nd one? Looked awful… Anyway, Doc said he was going to be really careful with Blake, so if your league continues on until the bitter end, be prepared for continual low-minutes and Doc to hop in on the DNP obsession. Hopefully it’s just a fad, like Angry Birds or those skinny rubber wristbands… Oh wait! Here’s what else went down over the championship weekend in fantasy basketball:

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I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! Winning a fantasy hoops season is like the little engine that could, with tough decisions along the way and navigating a billion injuries. But hell, if your railroad tracks get demolished, there’s not much you can do (cough, stupid REL injuries, cough…). Unless ya know, you’re Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom and have some nice Mario Kart music fueling your escape

Trust me, I’ve never run a marathon – mostly because I don’t want to have to pay for one of those dumb 26.2 bumper stickers – but I ended up cutting Myles Turner as a desperation stream in a cutthroat 5-4 playoff win last week in one of my RCLs. It feels like I sold out to sprint past 1st place during mile 24! Now I’ve lost control of my bowels, my muscles are spasming out of control, and I’m probably sputtering into not completing the race. Fortunately in the JB vs. Slim RCL I had the luxury of the bye and held strong. Strong and steady wins the race (as does 1st round byes…)! Turner went nuts for 24/16/1/0/3 on 11-17 FG last night, in a hell of a way to celebrate his 20th birthday. Dude can play pro ball like this, vote, drive, and CAN’T celebrate with a beer?! It was a strong way to break through that nebulous rookie wall, even though he’d been pretty solid lately anyway. And with a possible DNP from your main Pacer, another big game could be coming to close out your week in the semis. Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?