With the season just a few days away, I’ll be covering the latest injury news for all those last minute drafters. Guys will be held out of preseason games for various ailments, so don’t overreact to every DNP in the preseason box scores. I can’t cover every NBA injury, but will try to cover the biggest injuries to start the season.

Unless you have been living under a rock over the summer, you have seen Paul George’s gruesome injury. He broke his leg in an US Olympic Team scrimmage. The leg injury has a 12-18 month timetable so George will be out for the entire regular season. He may play in the playoffs, but that doesn’t affect us fantasy players.

In redraft leagues, you don’t draft George. He won’t be playing this season, but should return to form the following year. In dynasty leagues, it gets a little trickier. If your team isn’t competing this year, then definitely invest a mid-round pick on him and stash him for the next season. If you think you can compete this year, get someone else who will play this year.

With George’s injury and Lance Stephenson’s trade to the Charlotte Hornets, there will be a lot of playing time and statistics up for grabs. Larry Bird says that the offense will rely more on George Hill. He’s never been the focal point of the offense so there may be some growing pains, but he’s a solid career shooter (44.8 FG%, 80.8 FT%, and 37.1 3FP%) and with increases in the counting stats, should be a solid mid-round value. He’s suffered a knee contusion, but should be ready to go for the start of the season.

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So this is why preseason wrap ups are tough.  News flutters around willy-nilly like that bag that dumbass had an obsession with in American Beauty.  And most of the news has about as much meaning…

First there’s Razzball lovebrows Anthony Davis spraining his wrist last night, and Monty Williams held him out as a precaution.  Davis wanted to come back into the game, but Monty was like, “nuh uh, girlfriend!  Shaniqua don’t live here no mo’!”  Not to be out-overreactioned, Russell Westbrook also sprained his wrist on Sunday.  Neither are serious, and this is why the wrap-ups are eye-roll fests through preseason.  A lot of worthless mud to pan through just to get a fleck of gold.  (True story – when I was like 8 or 9 years old, we did a class field trip to pan for gold and a portly kid got a tiny mote worth, the only one to get any.  Then I traded him some peanut butter-filled chocolate my mom packed me for lunch for it.  Talk about knowing your audience!)

Can you believe we’re a week away from opening tip?!  This is the last preseason wrap until next Tuesday to preview the season, and daily from there.  Can’t wait for this shizz to start!  My final re-rankings will be out tomorrow, we’ll get to meet some new writers, and two final preseason Pods (tomorrow and next Tuesday) before we get some real games to talk about on air.  Here’s what else has gone on in the world of preseason NBA action:

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So we’re through my top-50 and now getting into the mid-rounds.  We’re taking this through the whole top 100, but some of these are going to be gold and some fool’s gold.  As in, Larry Sanders‘ gold.  If I got to the end of a rainbow and Larry Sanders was there, I’d ask for a refund…

Through the Top 20 and Top 50, I think I’ve done the rankings pretty well.  They tell you towards the end of high school, “the smart ones get the As, but the most successful get Bs.”  I might have made that up since I never studied for virtually anything and got Bs…  But a 3.00 GPA thus far sounds about right!  Rankings are based on my final updated top 200, comparing them to the FantasyPros aggregate Draft Day Rankings along with Basketball Monster’s Total Value for 9-cat leagues on the season.  Slim then grades me.  I asked him, “will you give me As if I show you my double-Ds?”  He then flunked me…  Here’s a look back at the Top 75 for the 2013-14 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Probably because he’s, well, Elton Brand, I haven’t paid much attention to him.  It’s like telling me, “Hey JB, Robert Parrish is on the wire, what’da think?!”  Brand is getting tons of run lately with Gustavo Ayon and Pero Antic still hurt decimating the Hawks 5s (and Paul Millsap out as well), to the tune of 40+ minutes the past two games and 30+ in 4 of 5.  And grandpa Elton topped off his big run with a rainbow line last night, 7/13/3/2/2 in 42 minutes.  That’s like an Andrew Bogut line!  Had a comment last night asking if Brand is a flash in the pan.  More like flash in the bedpan!  Yeah, I don’t see any sustainability here with none of the aforementioned hurt guys really out that long.  But hey, maybe a one-game stream?  The Hawks are going at Boston tonight who lack any sort of consistency up front as well and Brand could get ya another multi-cat gem.  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hoops:

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Despite the two nationally telecast Opening Night games (with the Heat/Bulls starting at 8:00 PM EST), the season really started at 7:00 with the Magic against the Pacers.  Non-fantasy players probably didn’t know this game ever happened.  All the sudden in the second quarter, Andrew Nicholson just went off, going 8-9 in the first half with 18 points.  Next thing you know, ESPN Fantasy Basketball is down.  Why RCL is on Yahoo!  But despite the Magic losing the lead and the offense going stagnant early in the third, Nicholson only played another few minutes in the second half and got stuck at 18 points in 19 minutes, only taking one additional shot and going 8-10 on the night.  Womp womp.  I never thought too much of Nicholson and don’t think he’s a guy to go rush to the wire for (unlike ESPN fantasy players!), and don’t forget Tobias Harris sat out with the ailing ankle.  19 minutes sounds about right for Nicholson, and he’s obviously not going to be a 48 PPG scorer per 48.  But I hope the kid enjoyed the moment in the sun during that first half shooting spree.  You temporarily broke Fantasy!  He was like the Fantasy Basketball Kevin Ogletree.  Here’s what else went down last night in the NBA:

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After re-ranking the top 10top 20, and top 50, it’s easy to see there’s been big changes since last May.  Below are the Razzball Updated Rankings with the previous May rankings in parentheses before the adjusted rank:

(68) ↑ 51. Derrick Favors – Utah declining to bring back either Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap gives you a slight inclination on their thoughts on Favors, and they’re already talking contract extension with their emerging big as well.  I love his athleticism, and if I miss out on Serge Ibaka who I’m high on early, I’m gonna want to reach on Favors to win blocks. I think he’ll be a top-5 NBA swatter.

(51) 52. Kemba Walker – Kemba has been higher on virtually every rankings I’ve seen, and I’m just not top-50 high on him.  He had a really solid season last year, but the terrible FG% still worries me as I feel like he forces some offense.  The acquisition of Big Al is going to give the Bobcats/soon-to-be Hornets an actual scorer down, and I don’t think that translates into helping Kemba all that much.  I like Gerald Henderson a lot too to take a bigger scoring role.  The 2.0 steals a game last year was elite, but I see those going down along with the scoring, and a comparable 5.7:2.4 Ast:TO ratio.  All that spells a slightly down ranking for me.  Although to be fair, he’s played in every single Bobcats game in his career, so there’s that reliability that can’t be ignored.

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The period of free agency continues to shape the fantasy basketball-scape with fresh meat on terrible teams and players signing with contenders to be relegated to bench duty.  With baseball in full swing and the NFL getting half of the ESPN air time no matter what time of year it is, a lot of NBA moves have been made under the radar.  Look for every division to get a team-by-team breakdown and some early fantasy thoughts on the new faces in new places:

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This team led the league in blocked shots per game in three of the last four seasons, and was second in the one that it didn’t.

This team also finished in the Top 6 in rebounding in the last four years.

Who is this team? Without cheating and looking at a stats site you’d have to guess the Lakers, with Dwight Howard, or a defensively minded team like the Spurs, with Tim Duncan leading the block-n-board bash, or Da Bulls, with high-end Crafty Breuer Joakim Noah, his pony tail and the other dudes swatting shots and grabbing clankers.

Nope, nope and nope. It’s the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that – despite having blocks leader Serge Ibaka (3.0 bpg) in the hizzouse – just doesn’t pop into your mind as a team that would pile up a mound of boards and blocks. We see Kevin Durant blowing guys away on the break and rising up for those improbable three-ball makes, and we see Russell Westbrook somehow getting to the cup and somehow getting it to go.

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I’ve got to say, growing up a huge Charlotte Hornets fan, I am going to finally have a favorite team again next year.  I mean, the Bobcats is such a horrific name for a professional sports team that it actually made me not cheer for them.  If they follow my logic – citizens of New Orleans, I’m sorry, you’re no longer cheering for your NBA team.

If you missed it the other night, the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery was selected (coincidentally right when a huge Powerball was built up and won – conspiracy?!) with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning another #1 pick.  Nerlens Noel, or Captain N as I’m going to call him, looks like he’s heading to one of basketball’s friendliest cities.  Just don’t leave for another team in a televised special.  Honestly, my first thought was, “great, another talented player I have to navigate through injury estimates with.”

Anyway, I doubt any NBA rookies will crack the top 100 for fantasy this year, it’s a pretty weak draft class, but that’s why these way too early rankings will be capped at 100 before readdressed closer to the season when they’ll expand to 200.  As always with rankings this early, it’s May, the Finals haven’t even started yet, and there will be a lot of revisions.  But here’s how I see things shaking out as of right now:

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It was yet another nail in the proverbial coffin for the Lakers last night, as they lost yet again to the Milwaukee Bucks and Kobe Bryant left the arena with another injury, an apparent bone spur in his foot that flared up. He was spotted on one crutch Tiny Tim style. If the Lakers make the playoffs, Kobe will have to declare, “God bless us, everyone!”

For fantasy owners, this is a devastating injury, because as much as Kobe will want to play through it, we saw him be ineffective after the ankle sprain and I bet misses a few games right in your playoff run. You definitely can’t drop him either, so depth through the playoffs will be brought to the forefront. Hopefully you can brave the injury like Maximus in Gladiator and still put it in the throat of the weirdly effeminate Joakin Phoenix. Wait, that sounds more like Caligula than Gladiator

Here’s what else went down last night:

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