The Slayer got Slayed! Or something like that…

After showing up to Friday’s game against the Lakers in a Slayer shirt, Russell Westbrook is trying to show he’s heavy even though he looks like an outcast from an 80s version of Annie. Are those leggings?! And I guarantee whatever he’s listening to isn’t Reign in Blood… Westy is always trying to be fashion-y, but while he spent Friday night and Saturday cutting holes in some other band’s T-Shirt for his next statement, he overlooked the Blazers and The Omen! Damian Lillard just went mad ham on Westbrook, going 31/7/9/2/0 with 8 treys, including 5 down the stretch for a comeback win. This was after going rainbow on the Warriors Friday night for 40/3/10/2/2 and 6 treys. Hopefully these stats don’t lie, and the plantar fascia is healed up for Lillard to be healthy the rest of the way. However, it is a concern as the Blazers have shown caution holding him out so long and they’re obviously not a playoff team. Hell, they even sat C.J. McCollum with no injury at all! If you’re a top playoff team with great PG stats, I might ride this Omen streak a few more weeks then sell to try to minimize some risk. A big argument in my high Lillard rank was his durability, but with a lingering injury like plantar fascia, it could easily crop back up by late-March and April and cost us games. Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, and The 7 Ahead for week 12:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m living at home with my parents temporarily, while work is being done on my condo. I didn’t want to be bothered living there while they’re painting and installing new carpeting and flooring. As a result, I’m getting kicked off the television so that my mom can watch her shows. I missed the Sunday Night Football game for “Downton Abbey” and then had to turn off the Wizards/Cavs and Knicks/Heat games for “Law & Order.” I guess it’s a fair trade, since I’m getting so many home cooked meals and leftovers for lunch.

Fortunately SVU ended early enough for me to catch the Thunder’s dismantling of the Grizzlies. Kevin Durant returned from a toe injury to post 26 points and 17 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook continued his near triple-double stat lines with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. You always worry with Durant’s foot being a problem last season, but it was nice to see KD back, after only missing one game.

It was all Thunder in this game, as the Grizzlies played down due to injuries. Mike Conley was out because of a sore left Achilles and Courtney Lee, who started for Conley, left early in the second half after injuring his hip. That left Mario Chalmers, who exploded for 23 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, and 4 threes. It’s unclear how long Conley and Lee could be out, but Chalmers would become the starter by default. It’s not like the Grizzlies will give Vince Carter lots of minutes!

Now onto the other Wednesday night games:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

No, no, no, we never root for injuries. It’s terrible fantasy karma. But as one of the main cliches as fantasy lays out – injuries are the great equalizer. They end campaigns and create opportunities. Fortunately the torn ACL to Jarrett Jack isn’t going to end anyone’s campaign! But the opportunity for Shane Larkin is monumental.

Last Saturday night, we saw the dreaded non-contact knee buckle from Jack against the Celtics, and we got the somber news yesterday afternoon that he has a torn ACL and meniscus. “Wahhhhhh, I bet I never start a game again!” Meh, the Wahhhh gag just seems too mean right now… And if you listen to the Pod, you know I’m a Jack supporter and of course everyone in Razzball Nation wishes him a speedy recovery. But with the starting job open, Larkin-the-Herald-Angels-Sing immediately steps in as the no-question starter. While he’s looked mad impressive to me the few Nets games I’ve watched and he’s certainly a must-add, I’m not banking on top-50 value or anything. His skill set should make him more valuable than Jack as the starter with more 3s and STL, but I imagine he’ll have fewer AST with the same bad TO. Add Larkin everywhere, and if he starts absolutely gangbusters then sell high. I also could see Donald Sloan having a bigger role than most envision – after that nice run he had in Indy to start last year, I was really impressed with him as a player. Here’s what else went down over our first weekend of 2016, and The 7 Ahead for Week 11:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So, I married a Jew 11 years ago. I should elaborate, and let you know that she’s a woman, and more importantly, that I’m not jewish myself, so there is a blending in our house of different cultures and holidays, which is dope, IMO. We celebrated the first night of Chanukah (pronounced HHHHHHHHHHHa-nu-Kah. When you sound like you’re bringing up a goober, you’ve nailed it) last Sunday night, and my boys dug it. On Christmas Eve, we will get both our families together for a Christmicah dinner. But what does this have to do with fantasy basketball, Dan? Well, it doesn’t at all, but upon reflecting on the season, I realized that even though my elder son got clothes yesterday in an entirely anti-climactic fashion from his maternal grandparents, he should just suck it up and be thankful that at least they’re clothes that he would want to wear. What I’m saying, gentle reader, is that you should appreciate the gifts as they come, whether it’s what you wanted exactly or not, and re-gift away the excess junk. And in that spirit, I present to you some gift-ish fantasy players you should definitely be thankful to get, or get rid of:

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After a tough loss in Detroit, it’s safe to say things have yet to take flight for this year’s Houston Rockets. While many came into the season thinking Houston’s out-of-this-world lineup had the potential to challenge the incumbent Golden State Warriors for the title as best team in the West, those dreams came crashing back to earth weeks ago (and Kevin McHale is still searching through the wreckage for the cause of the incident). Last night’s struggles are just another indication of this season’s overall trend: the Houston Rockets are looking more like Team Rocket when they step on the court.

Even a near triple double from James Harden (29 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) wasn’t enough for Houston to surmount a surprising Pistons squad. With Harden passing 40 minutes for the fourth straight game, it’s looking like the Rockets are going to be riding their thoroughbred until the saddle cracks. In fairness, a monster game from Harden is probably the best chance Houston has to win every night, but for fantasy owners, the team’s struggle bodes well for the Beard’s outlook. Harden is going to score in abundance while racking up rebounds, assists, 3s, and steals as Houston fights to stay in the playoff hunt early. I think these past five games are particularly telling for the current state of the team as well as Harden’s prospects for the next few weeks as they try to right the ship (or the rocket).

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Hoops fans were treated to a pretty entertaining six-game slate on Tuesday night, and those who were able to stay awake into the wee hours of Wednesday morning (for us East coasters anyways), saw history made at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors set a new benchmark for best record to start an NBA season by winning their sixteenth straight game to open the 2015-2016 campaign.

For all intents and purposes, the game between the Warriors and the visiting Lakers was over before it started. GSW entered the contest as 17-point favorites and it took them all of 10 and a half minutes to cover that number. The Dubs were up 34 after three quarters and LA had the look of a team that might as well have just stayed home – they walked in defeated. (Aside: Byron Scott needs to go. Awful, awful ball coach.)

Unfortunately the blowout factor was in full effect as none of the Warriors starters were needed in the fourth quarter, evidenced by Stephen Curry and Draymond Green playing a game-high 30 minutes each. However, in honor of this Golden State team destroying the league so far this season, here are the lines for each of their starters tonight:

  • Chef Curry – 24/4/9/2/0, four triples, zero TOs
  • Klay Thompson – 11/3/2/0/1, two triples, one TO
  • Harrison Barnes – 8/2/1/0/0, two triples, one TO
  • Draymond Green – 18/7/5/1/2, two triples, 7-11 FGs
  • Andrew Bogut – 8/7/2/0/2, 4-7 FGs, zero TOs

Those are pretty pedestrian numbers (relative to each player’s typical contributions this year), but these are the types of lines that we’ll occasionally see with a team as dominant as the Warriors. For season-long owners you just have to move on to the next game and hope it’s a more competitive affair. And for DFS players, you know for the future to fade GSW players on nights when they’re huge favorites as the main guys won’t be needed for the full 48. At some point we’ll also have to keep an eye out for DNP-Rest days, though I can’t imagine that will happen until Golden State loses their first game. (For the record, the teams standing in the way of a 28-0 Warriors team hosting the Cleveland LeBrons on Christmas Day are: Phoenix twice, Sacramento, Utah twice, Charlotte, Toronto, Brooklyn, Indiana, and Milwaukee twice. Seriously – who of those teams is scaring you if you’re the Dubs?)

Let’s take a look at the non-Bay Area happenings on Tuesday night…

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How do you decide who is most deserving of the lead between these two stellar performances?:

  • Player A – 25 points, 18 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 10-15 FGs
  • Player B – 22 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks, 10-14 FGs

I’m going to give the nod to the player who posted his gaudy stats in a winning effort and that would be Player A, also known as Detroit center, Andre Drummond. The Pistons asked a lot from their franchise big man, and he responded with 39 minutes of terrific play that helped lead his team to a win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. Drummond was a +17 in a five point win, and even made the Cavs pay when they intentionally fouled him in the fourth quarter. After starting 1-4 from the line, AD made four of his last five to help seal the deal. It was a great overall performance and at this point the only thing fantasy owners need to fear is this heavy workload catching up to him later in the season. But at only 22 years old, there’s no reason why Drummond can’t make 2015-2016 his career campaign.

Player B is Miami Heat center, Hassan Whiteside. In just his 77th career game, Whiteside treated fantasy owners to his second points/boards/blocks triple-double. Unfortunately it was in a losing effort to the visiting Timberwolves, and was accompanied by four turnovers and a 2-9 mark from the charity stripe. Despite the sub-par free throw shooting (which was a bugaboo coming into the season), Hassan is providing first round returns and very likely earning himself a max contract when he hits free agency in the summer of 2016. Similar to Andre Drummond, there are no legitimate threats to Whiteside’s value other than injury, so it’s a “sit back and enjoy the ride” opportunity for his owners.

Honorable mention goes to Brooklyn’s pivot, Brook Lopez, who wasn’t too shabby himself on Tuesday night, dropping a 24/10/1/1/3 line in a two point win over the visiting Hawks. BroLo only turned the ball over once in 35 minutes and made 11-21 from the floor against a reasonably stout Atlanta front line. He may not be posting the monster lines like Whiteside and Drummond, but he’s chugging along as a third round per-game value in 9-cat leagues which is likely providing his owners with a solid return on their draft day investment.

Let’s take a look at what else shook down on a highly entertaining seven-game Tuesday evening…

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Maybe he didn’t call glass on his clutch three with 1:05 left in the 4th, but when you’re Dirk Nowitzki, a future hall of famer, who cares? I know fantasy owners don’t care whether it was a swish or a banked in three. All we care about are the final stats. And, boy, did Dirk deliver.

Down one going into the second half, Dirk took over for the Mavericks, leading them to a 10-point win against the Clippers. Dirk finished the game with 31 points and 11 rebounds on 11-14 shooting, including 5-6 from downtown. It was vintage Dirk.

Midway through the 3rd quarter he caught a Zaza Pachulia pass off of an offensive rebound and without squaring up, knocked down an one foot fade away jumper without hesitation. He knocked down threes with DeAndre Jordan in his grill. It was truly a great game.

As a fan of the game, it’s amazing to watch games like this, but as a fantasy owner, you have to realize that these games aren’t as common for the 37 year-old as they used to be. It was Dirk’s first 30-point game since December 28, 2014. In his 18th year in the NBA, Dirk is still a top 50 player when he plays, but just be aware his minutes are monitored more closely and he sits on back to backs, hurting his total overall value.

Now onto the other nightly notables:

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Monster.

Beast.

Man-child.

Demigod.

The list of superlatives that can be applied to Andre Drummond is a long one. The Pistons big man went berserk on Tuesday night with his second straight 20/20 game. To be precise, he went for 25 & 29 – the second 25/25 of his career. For perspective on just how good he’s been so far this season:

  • Only player since NBA/ABA merger to have 75 points and 75 rebounds through his first four games
  • First player since Kareem with multiple 20/20 games in his first four games
  • No other Piston has had a single 25/25 game in the last 30 years

Drummond had 11 offensive rebounds tonight which was more than any other player had in this game…combined. If the points and boards weren’t enough, he also tossed in three steals and a block for good measure.

The one knock on AD has always been (and will continue to be) his poor free throw shooting. At .403 FT% for his career, it’s quite the albatross. But this season – early as it may be – Drummond is up to .576 (19-33), making owners who thought they were punting the category feel pretty darn good about their chances across the board.

The stars seem to have aligned for Andre to post a truly special season. Lane-clogging Greg Monroe is gone. Stan Van Gundy isn’t afraid to play his starters heavy minutes and the team is winning (i.e. rewarding this approach). A summer of work with a shooting coach is paying immediate dividends at the foul line. At this point, the only thing that could conceivably derail this train is injury…and Drummond has only missed one game in the last two years, so there are no concerns about chronic or lingering ailments.

Now on to the rest of the happenings from an eventful Tuesday night of round ball…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Flashy player.  Ridiculous opportunity.  Buzzy preseason.  A lot of times it ends up fizzling out, sometimes it works out OK, and one time it’s C.J. McCollum.

C.J. went absolutely bonkers in his 15-16 debut, hitting 14-22 from the field including 6-9 3PTM for 37/6/1/1/0 and no TO.  Video game numbers!  So he’s a shooter, and he does what NBA shooters do – keeps draining em when they hot!  But I think we need to take a step back and consider a few things:  Other than massive Pts and treys it was fairly empty.  This was against the Pelicans, who without Brow, might look worse than the Sixers; they look horrific.  And the third thing that no one seemed to mention while anointing McCollum the next big thing in combo guards this preseason – he’s got a pretty extensive injury history.  He’s at the pinnacle of a sell high for me.  Do I think he’ll be hot garbage all the sudden?  Of course not.  But do I think he scores 37 again this year?  I don’t.  Well, unless they faced the Pelicans every night…  I’d shop around in the 40-50 range of ADP and see if you can get lucky.  As with all fantasy takeaways off one game, it’s always good to keep from overreacting.  Compared to fantasy football, we’re at the same point as about 9 minutes into the first quarter of week 1.  Still a long way to go.  Here’s what else went down during the first full slate of fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?