Earlier in the year when the NBA released its schedule for the 2015/2016 season, one of the very first things I did was flip forward to December 25th. I was really stoked to see five games, neatly stacked one after the other, for our holiday viewing pleasure. The excitement continued to grow right up until the games went live and we quickly learned that putting the ball through the hoop is, apparently, quite a bit more difficult on Christmas.

Anthony Davis in South Beach for a noon eastern tip-off against the Heat. What a great way to kick off the afternoon after tossing back a few coffee & Baileys, scarfing down some cinnamon buns, and opening some presents, right? Yeah…  no. They needed overtime and the Pelicans still couldn’t hit the 90-point mark. Brow was nice (29/15/4/4/3), as was Chris Bosh, but the game was not pretty. At all.

So I says to myself, I says: “Self, one stinker does not a bad day make. We just got the ugly one outta the way early. This will not be a harbinger of things to come. No, sir, it will not.” Next up we got the weirdly entertaining (and enigmatic) Bulls visiting the dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook & Kevin Durant in front of an always raucous Oklahoma City crowd. Well, Chicago doubled up OKC in the third quarter (32-16) to quiet the crowd and pulled away as nobody other than the Thunder’s two stars bothered to show up. The league’s second most efficient team on offense couldn’t crack the century mark and fell 105-96.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki. He passed Shaquille O’Neal for number 6 on the all-time NBA scoring list.

While Kobe Bryant gains the headlines in his last season, Dirk and Tim Duncan have quietly shown how to adapt their game for the team’s sake, taking less money and adding more wins to their already impressive résumés.

At 37, Dirk isn’t the same fantasy monster that he used to be, but is still valuable. He’s scored 20+ points in three straight games and so far has posted better overall numbers than last season. His game is much different than Kobe’s, with much less wear and tear on his body, allowing him to remain relatively healthy later in his career. Personally, I don’t see any reason why Dirk has to tie the sneakers up anytime soon.

In addition to passing Shaqtus, Dirk hit the game winner in the Mavericks’ overtime win over the Nets. He finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Not bad for a 37-year-old.

Overtime basketball is free basketball and it usually means great stat lines for everyone involved:

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Nerlens Noel,” Colangelo did sing
Was too rail-thin, poor Sixers
Let’s deal as they play
Let’s deal, as they play earning their keep
On a cold winter’s night their hole was so deep
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Tough is the sting of another “L”

Can’t tell you how tough it is to be a Sixers fan this time of year. Getting team gear for this 1-28 squad as a gift would be like getting a lump of coal in your stocking.

Indeed, it is such a cruel joke that Sam Hinkie’s original sin, committed way back in 2013, was stabbing hardcore fans and Pelicans GM Dell Demps in the back by trading a Holiday for a Noel, as in a secretly injured Jrue Holiday for a publicly injured Nerlens Noel. Sure, Hinkie made out like a bandit in the deal, also landing a pick that eventually turned into Dario Saric, but it was also the first deal where he showed he was a two-faced turd who could not be trusted by not disclosing Holiday’s injury. How are you going to start trading your assets and luring free agents when no one wants to play ball with you?

But enough about Stinkie, I mean Tankie, I mean Hinkie. This is about Noel, and about the possibility that he might be dealt during this season’s NBA’s trade window.

Why Noel will get dealt: He’s the only real human trade chip the team has other than Okafor (they have 442 first-round picks piled up. I double-checked the number, J.B., don’t bother editing). And when you’re 1-28, and Jerry Colangelo has just been hired to babysit Hinkie, there’s probably going to be some kind of deal going down. But a better reason is that Noel and Jahlil Okafor are just not fitting together on the floor. His best game of the year – 15 points, 12 rebounds and a block on 50 percent shooting from the floor in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Cavs – was supposed to be the norm for the second-year player. Noel’s rebounding (7.9 rpg, compared to 8.1 last year) and blocked-shot totals (1 bpg, slipping from 1.8) are down. That could have something to do with having no real point guard to get him the ball and zero shooters to space the floor for him and Jah.  That could have something to do with the fact that he plays with mostly D-Leaguers in a “scheme” (we’ll call it that loosely) that calls for constant fast breaks and firing of three-pointers by anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they can shoot or not. Finally, Joel Embiid will be coming back next year, and as such at least one of these three will most likely be gone.

Why Noel won’t get dealt: The Sixers still think they can pair him with Okafor, a la Tim Duncan and David Robinson, and the Sixers might be pessimistic about Embiid’s chances of making it back.

Why this matters to your fantasy team: Noel will have much more value if he’s dealt – depending on his landing spot – than if he stays put in Philadelphia. Boston would be a nice fit – it’s near his hometown, and Brad Stevens would love to have Noel anchoring his defense.

Now, little boys and girls, let’s see what other Boards-N-Blocks goodies Santa put in your fantasy stockings.

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What’s up Razzballers!? After a week of final exams, it’s an understatement to say I’m excited to be back this week. Between impossible questions, countless hours in the library, and spending way too much time calculating my GPA instead of studying, fantasy basketball was my beacon of hope, the light at the end of the preverbal tunnel, and ultimate study break. (Also I’m an engineering major. We hate our lives, so we need hobbies to make our daily existence palatable).

While it certainly helps that both my fantasy football teams have been eliminated from their respective playoff matchups (I HATE DAVID JOHNSON WITH A PASSION), spending a night watching hoops never sounded so great.

With a nine-game slate of basketball last night, let’s discuss the standout performance:

DeMarcus Cousins – Against a depleted Washington frontcourt, Cousins filled up the box score posting 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, and 3 steals while going 1-3 from deep. While his shooting percentage leaves a little more to be desired, Cousins has been playing well while adjusting his game to playing as the starting center. Even with Cousins opening up about his concerns in adjusting to his new role, the big man has managed to continue to provide top tier value while expanding his range to the 3-point line.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

On an unusually quiet Tuesday night in the NBA that saw only four games, the most remarkable item is just how unremarkable everything was. Truth be told, I watched a lot more of the Republican debate on CNN than I did professional basketball. (I’ll withhold political commentary for the most part as Razzball isn’t the appropriate forum, but holy heck is the RNC ever in a pickle.)

The usual suspects (James HardenLeBron JamesDeMarcus Cousins) were all solid for their owners, but it’s not like somebody dropped a 40-burger. Nobody poured in a ton of 3-pointers or threw a massive block party. There were no catastrophic injuries (thankfully) and no statement performances. Just a whole lot of “meh.” You can actually count on one hand the number of players who even saw 36 minutes.

Each of the two early games were decided by a dozen points and offered little in the way of drama or uncertainty about the outcome. The late games followed suit as the Greg Monroe-less Bucks got creamed by the Los Angeles Kobes, while Sacramento took care of Houston by 10 in a matchup of what might be the two most unhappy rosters in the league. Only four of the eight teams even managed to hit the century mark.

I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say is that nobody on Tuesday jumped up and said, “Hey Matty! I want the lead. I deserve the lead!” So take notice, NBA – the lead is not simply given, it must be earned. Be better than Donald Trump, basketball.

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So I’m watching the Bulls and Clip last night, Blake Griffin starts hot, then sorta melds into his normal role.  BORING!  Virtually 20/10 every night, and after scoring 6 early, it looked like your typical BG evening – as plain and simple as a Kia.  With his line at 18/11/2/0/2, Blake was like, “aight, time to either get a Razzball mention for 5-6 blocks, or swing tryin’!”  He became a medieval dentist swinging at Taj Gibson, getting this flagrant 2 for a hit that would make Holly Holm proud.  I’m not the biggest Taj fan, but he mouths “I’m OK” even though he easily could’ve lost 4 teeth.  Can’t keep him down!  Should’ve been cast in Creed…  Even with the premature exit, Griffin’s line was solid and we’re seeing some microscopic improvements to his game that could make 2015-16 a career year.  But when you’re right at career-norms and performing right at draft day value, it’s tough to get a lot of attention unless you pop someone right in the weasel.  And with the comradery helping Taj up and you could make the argument it was a legit block attempt, he’s certainly not missing any games due to a suspension.  So ride your boring, reliable ol’ Kia and enjoy consistency.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball:

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And now it’s time for “Daily Affirmation with Pete Nice.” Pete Nice is a caring nurturer on the order of Stuart Smalley, who once worked with Michael Jordan on his segment on “Saturday Night Live.” He’s also a member of several 12-step programs, but not a licensed therapist.

Pete Nice: I’m going to do a terrific column today! And I’m gonna help people! Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!

Hello, I’m Pete Nice! Well, I’m still getting through the hate email I received after saying that Jahlil Okafor deserved to be the No. 1 pick over Karl-Anthony Towns. I have to admit, it wasn’t my best column, but that’s … OK. I have to give myself permission to do a bad column every now and then. OK, for those of you who read the column regularly, you know that I don’t have guests, I always write the column in some combination of first person, third person and the Royal “We” … and that’s … OK. But yesterday, JB said, “Pete, I can get you a guest that you would be insane not to have in the column.”

So I decided to take a risk – in life, you have to take risks – and, today we have a guest … and his name is DeMarcus C. I’ll protect your anonymity. DeMarcus is a basketball player for a professional basketball team somewhere in Northern California. Well, that’s very good, DeMarcus, you should be very proud of yourself.

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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).

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome back from Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, with leftovers still to spare to get you through a full work-week back.  I even bought a few extra boxes of stuffing since that ran out fast on T-giv day!  Got two or three meals left to go…  God I love Thanksgiving!

And while I added several inches to my waistline, Draymond Green has been stuffing his stats even more!  Back-to-back tripdubs over the weekend for #OccupyDraymondGreen, going 14/10/10/1/2 then 13/11/12/1/4 on Friday and Saturday.  The multi-cat phenom hit two treys as well on Friday – averaging a career-best 1.6 3PTM a game on the season – while his FG% has continued to climb all four seasons as a pro, up to 48.2% this year.  It’s almost like the Warriors have good players or something!  The only knock is his TO are up, but even in standard 9-cat he’s bringing back top-15 value on BBMonster and top-10 on Yahoo.  I remain a little incredulous that a lot of people thought 2014-15 was a fluke (I guess?), and I had to defend a “high” rank a few times in the comments.  So after this Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful Dray is helping our Yahoo F&F team be decent this year and that rank is working out…  Because trust me, a lot has gone wrong.  Friggin’ Rubio…  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops, plus The 7 Ahead for week 6:

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Like LeBron James, I find underwear constricting.  It just smashes shizz together that feels so much more free in some gym shorts or pajama pants.  Let me be free!

And I just can’t imagine what Tyler Johnson goes through…  Must be like putting on shrunken spandex when he’s getting suited up every night!  He certainly brought the full Johnson effort against the Kings, putting up 19/3/3/1/0 with 3 treys on 6-8 FG and 4-4 FT.  That line is longer than…  Ok, ok, we get the idea…  Every time he gets run, he just seems to deliver.  He got a DNP in the opener, played 1:28 in game 2 before seeing an expanded role, and had a couple sub-20 minute games in there.  But in the 7 he’s played 20+ minutes, he’s 11.6/3.7/2.3/0.9/0.7 with 1.1 treys and hitting over 60% from the field.  All with only 1.3 TO!  I would call him a metrics whore, but with assets like we talked about above there, it’s tough not to be!  Even though Hassan Whiteside is tripdubbing here and there with his redonkulous blockage, Johnson finished up down the stretch with the other 4 regular starters.  Gerald Green only played 16 minutes, and it looks like Johnson and Justise Winslow are firmly entrenched as your main two subs.  Johnson certainly isn’t a must-own in 12ers, but that’s three straight Thursday games he’s been a fantastic streamer.  It’s almost like I said that on Monday in The 7 Ahead!  I’m not one to toot my own horn too much, but then again, it’s not as big a horn as Johnson…  I’m just your regular ol’ trumpet while he’s a tuba!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?