Choo Choo!

Watch out league, The Dieng Train is about to run ya over like you’re Magic defenders! Our season chugs along through Thanksgiving (although with our jeans barely fitting), heading into December with 3 guys flirting with Oscar Robinson for tripdub averages, Brow looking redonk, and a multitude of other breakouts and disappointments, but I don’t want the Dieng Train to slip under the radar! Like a German train station, Gorgui Dieng remains regular, consistent, and otherwise just mundane, bringing true multicat performance after performance from a big (minus treys). After a slow-ish start, the Dieng Train put together a nice weekend with a rainbow 11/7/2/3/4 against the Suns, then 15/6/2/1/2 in a tough-matchup-for-a-big against the Warriors. And even though I said “minus treys”, he actually hit a triple in each of them! Shot 11-22 overall, committed only 2 combined TO, and after hitting only 6 treys last year, maybe this is a part of his game we’ll start to see expand. Before you Dieng Train detractors type “BORING!” in the comments, I know his per-36 is a smidge down from last year. That said, he’s played 36+ minutes in 4 of the past 5 games, and it’s all due to that beautiful, cuddly, Tibby Tibs treatment. Run your starters to death! But well, when one of your starters is a effin’ train, you ride that rail! Here’s what else went down over Thanksgiving weekend in fantasy basketball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome to the semis! Hopefully your week 1 matchup of the playoffs didn’t go as badly as most of mine… And with a mix of my awful bracket in the Razzball Bracket Challenge, who’s ready for baseball season?! Haha, I keed, I’m still alive in a few leagues and still have my-Heels-as-champ pick alive and well.

And just like the Hoosiers – one of virtually all the teams in the Sweet Sixteen I got wrong – Victor Oladipo went ham over the weekend, including living up the RainbOladipo nickname for 45/5/3/3/2 against the Cavs Friday night. Shot an unreal 16-22 FG including banging 6 treys. With a game like that, I would’ve expected the Magic to BEAT the Cavs! But then again, they’re coached by Scott Skiles… SKIIIIIIIILES! Oladipo kept it up last night for 21/6/3/0/2, giving him 7 straight games with blocks and multi-blocks in the last 4. Better shot blocker than Serge right now! In per-game, Oladipo is still only ranked 45th (42nd in total) according to BBMonster, so he’s still finishing right at my pre-season rank. If only this team was coached by someone else, I would be going Eric Bledsoe-nuts for this guy in my 16-17 ranks. Scott Skiles – ruining basketball one player at a time… Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, plus The 7 Ahead for week 20 and the semi-finals of standard league H2H playoffs:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Lob City was alive in well in Houston on Wednesday. Chris Paul was throwing DeAndre Jordan alley-oops left and right. By halftime, Paul already had 11 assists. He finished the blowout with 15 points and 16 assists, while Jordan added 23 points and 16 rebounds. Jordan even shot over 50% from the FT line (7-13 FT, but not by much!). J.J. Redick also knocked down 5-9 from the 3PT line to finish with 25 points. It was all Clippers from the beginning and the Rockets just couldn’t find an answer.

James Harden did his usual thing, trying to carry the disappointing Rockets, but it wasn’t enough. He finished with 33 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. Big men Dwight Howard (6 points, 7 rebounds) and Clint Capela (3 points, 3 rebounds) were rendered useless against Jordan. The only other bright spots for the Rockets were Trevor Ariza (16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 threes) and newly acquired forward, Michael Beasley, who scored 16 points and grabbed 8 rebounds off the bench. Coming over from China, Beasley makes a good waiver wire add for all teams.

The Rockets started the season with lofty expectations, but are currently tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the 7th playoff spot. If they finish 7th or 8th, they’ll end up playing the San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors in the first round of playoffs, something that nobody wants to do.

The Warriors, by the way, won their 50th straight game at home on Wednesday, dismantling the New York Knicks by 36. Stephen Curry hit 8 threes and scored 34 points (6 rebounds and 4 assists), before sitting out the 4th quarter of the blowout.

I don’t think anyone saw the Warriors playing on an historic level or the Rockets playing this poorly at the beginning of the season, but that’s why you play the game!

Now onto the other nightly notables:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Do-you-want-s’more?

That was the last time I saw a Butler as mechanical as Jimmy Butler… “He’s more machine now, than man!”  Well, that was more a bartender, but ya know…  Godzilla returned from a pretty scary knee injury faster than I thought, going 24/11/6/1/0 in 34 minutes Saturday night exactly a month after “straining” his knee.  I’m sorry, when I hear nonspecificity with a knee injury, it’s scarier to me than realizing Deebo from Friday would lead our presidential candidates right now.  “WHY THE HELL IS IT EATING ALL THE SATELLITES!?”  Future came sooner than we thought on that one…  Focus, JB!  Aziz, light!  Godzilla did have some warts with the 5 TO and fouling out (actually the first time he’s fouled out in his career!), but when you’re a lizard-beast born from nuclear winter, it’s tough to have a blemish free outing!  I preached caution in trying to buy Buckets low, so hopefully you were bolder than me.  More daring.  Basically let’s hope you treated this like a giant Dorito, while I was a tasteless vegan vegetable straw.  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, plus The 7 Ahead for week 19 (last week of the regular season!!!!):

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Well, there won’t be too many rainbows though!

Coming into the season, I thought it would be really hard for Devin Booker to do much this year. Then both Suns combo guards go down, and Booker took off, playing some really solid ball in his first full month as the starting 2, scoring 17 PPG on 45% from the field. But February was unkind, as the grind caught up to him and the FG% fell to 33.6% and the scoring down to 13.5. He has been able to maintain a great FT volume though even in cold stretches, so he doesn’t completely turn into a dirty pirate Booker. Last night against the Heat he found his stroke again, breaking out of his ice cold slump and hitting 11-21 from the field (3-7 3PTM), along with 9-9 freebies, for 34/3/4.  LeVar Burton ain’t got nothin’ on me!  I could see a lot of owners dumping him in this cold stretch, so it might be worth double-checking on his availability in shallowers.  Long-term, it kinda sounds like the Suns have soured on Brandon Knight a little, so I could see them moving his contract this offseason, especially with caps expanding and teams more able to adsorb the $.  If that happens, I could see the Suns starting Booker but making him overrated on draft day.  I like the kid’s game for how raw he came into the league, but the AST have been sporadic at best and he doesn’t get steals.  If not for a little FT volume he’d be a pretty clear-cut ThrAGNOF.  Don’t overpay!  And let’s get my boyfriend Knight a better job…  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I love Sports.  WORST CLICHE OPEN EVER!  But seriously, what makes sports awesome is you can have very little interest in one-particular game, then all the sudden you’re watching something unbelievable.  A great example was that 2013 Alabama Auburn game that I flipped on for the 4th quarter then the way short field goal ended up being an Auburn TD.  I had no stake in that game!  But sooooo glad I just happened to flip to it…  Then it happened again on Saturday night.

I know what you’re saying…  “But JB, it’s GSW and OKC, you weren’t planning your whole weekend around that matchup?!” Well, I have none of those guys on my favorite teams (who are we kidding, none on my REL team), and was out Saturday night anyway at my buddy’s house.  We kinda nonchalantly put it on in the background, then the next thing you know, Stephen Curry is running back out of the tunnel like a gladiator after his injury and we watched one of the best regular-season NBA games I’ve ever seen.  If not THE best.

In case you missed it during the depths of the offseason, I wrote a pretty lengthy rant on the awfulness that was Interstellar.  At some point during the movie, Anne Goaway says something like “Love is the ONE THING that can transcend time and space” or some crap expository dialogue…  Well, Christopher Nolan, looks like you need to do a 4-years-too-late re-write!  It should be “Stephen Curry’s jump shot is the ONE THING that can transcend time and space”!  I don’t think I need to transpose his numbers ever again; he just is the best at basketball.  And the game was a little bit of a microcosm of his career – started fine but not awesome, got a kankle, but persevered and was able to get back into the game, then was the best shooter the NBA has ever seen.  Cleaning house of awards and records like Mad Max: Fury Road last night!  To think he went to college less than a mile from my childhood house and I sat right behind him once at a Davidson College game!  I should’ve tried to nab his mouthguard when it was hanging out on a FT shot…  Here’s what else went down over the weekend of fantasy hoops action, plus The 7 Ahead for Week 18:

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?

With the NBA preseason in full swing, the fantasy basketball season is now less than a week away. Unfortunately for me, it will not come quickly enough as my fantasy football team is slowly imploding with each passing week. For struggling owners, fantasy basketball may be the life from the turbulent waters of fantasy football, representing an opportunity to return to the shores of fantasy success. This means I’m turning my full attention towards fantasy basketball draft prep in order to numb the pain of my football failures.

With a majority of fantasy basketball leagues carrying a shallow bench (usually three players), it is pivotal for owners to nail their late-round picks. These selections carry added weight since these players will contribute toward the final outcome every week. In order to win, every rostered play must be in the lineup and hold enough value to warrant their spot. Backend production may seem marginal compared to a team’s aggregated weekly totals, but selecting solid backups with upside late in the draft raises the ceiling of your team.

While there are a plethora of high-upside, low investment players to consider this season, Boston Celtics forward Amir Johnson is currently one of the more undervalued fantasy sleepers heading into the regular season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?