If you recall back to last week, I remember talking up Jon Leuer as an interesting deep league play.   Loved the out-of-position threes, the boarding, the all-around production.  I said I would probably go after him in REL, and then Slim tells me he’s probably not bidding on him this week.  So I figure, I can dangle a few bucks and if someone beats me to him so be it.  But it shouldn’t have been you Slim!!  He Leuered me in with scoffing and brush-off ness.  Slim, you want to repay me for this horrific slight of hand?  Trade him to me!  I guess I should talk more about Leuer than rant…  Just over 27 minutes last night for 16/12 with a three on 7-14 shooting.  This now marks five straight games of 23:30+ minutes, averaging nearly a double-double a game on top of almost a three a game with a few blocks.  He’s not going to turn into some superstar, but he’s a great stretch the court center, which fits Mike Conley trying to drive and dish.  Sorry Kosta Koufos, but your outside shots are labradoodles!  That term needs to be added to the glossary…  I see Leuer continuing his PT as a double double threat while Marc Gasol is out, with a handful of threes, steals and blocks to help out deeper leagues.  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hoops:

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Now I’m not sure about this, but when Taj Gibson had a couple good games over the Thanksgiving week, I probably recapped and gobble-gobbled at it.  My jowls flapped around like Boss Nass bein’ all “Hmmpphhherr Rumpity-Doooo, Taj Gibson, rabble rabble rabble!”  At least that sounds like me… Now you see what I deal with in my inner monologue!  It’s like I battle a drunk Kenny Rogers.  Which is to say, I battle Kenny Rogers.  Gibson has been a scrate-up beast the past four, going 23/8, 18/4, 26/14 5 blks, and 19/6/0/1/1 last night.  Bringing big time energy to that front line as the main big off the bench, he’s playing insane out there, shooting 67% from the floor in those past 4.  I watched the game last night and was impressed with his spark, but then again, the Heat bigs are awful.  They got out-rebounded 49-27 last night!  Back in the day, I used to love Taj when Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah battled injuries.  But now… it took some time and four in a row to buy it.  I think it’s because the Bulls are my least favorite team.  Sorry Bulls fans!  Boozer & Noah just yell on virtually every rebound and definitely every single putback attempt.  It’s unreal!  It’s like Maria Sharapova is rebounding.  And Gibson does it at least 50% of the time.  He’s becoming the Bulls Sex Panther.  “50% of the time he’s yelling… every time!”  But regardless of how annoying he/the Bulls bigs are to watch/listen to, he’s playing like a must-own in all formats.  At 33% owned in Yahoo and 24% in ESPN, he’s hot while a lot guys are not.  I don’t think he’s going to turn into a set-it and forget-it guy the rest of the year, he doesn’t do enough of anything else besides score and board (if not for that 5 block game, he’d be under 1 in Asts, Stls & Blks on the year), but I think he’s a ride the wave kinda add right now.  Here’s what else I saw on the light Thursday slate of games and a few updates for tonight:

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All hail Trey Burke!  May all the inhabitants of the great Salt Lake City and all their respective wives rejoice!  And… the Jazz are still atrocious.  Poor Tyrone Corbin.  He’s got to fiddle with Burke, Alec Burks, John Lucas III and now Diante Garrett at the point.  Jerry Sloan got John Stockton.  Then Deron Williams.  It just ain’t fair!  In yet another Jazz loss moving them down to 1-12, Burke got 12 minutes even, going 11/1/1 with a steal and hitting a trey shooting 5-8.  Trey with the trey!  If only Deuce McAllister was an NBA player.   Deuce with the deuce!  Or if McAllister was a dunker, “Deuce with the upper decker!”  I had the unfortunate pleasure of doing highlights for my second Jazz game now, but it was cool to see Burke’s debut and I thought he looked pretty good.  His first NBA points were off a long rebound then coast-to-coast for a controlled, attacking floater.  Obviously he’s getting eased in and he’ll get more minutes – hippity-skippity to a few months back and I was bigger on Burke than anyone – but I’m not ready to go nuts and drop quality guys for him.  Of course it’s a case-by-case scenario, but I really wanted Burke to get tons of preseason work; instead he broke his finger and missed some really crucial development time.  For example, I think I’m still holding Patrick Beverley over him.  PBev is the Razzball “why can’t I quit you?!” fantasy asset.  Lucas III is obviously not a long-term solution, and while he’s in the mix, he didn’t look good last night but was the only guy that could hit any long balls.  Alec Burks looked awful, sure his line 8/1/1/1/2 is fine, shot 3-6 – fine – but racked up 4 TOs in 16 minutes.  Just looked bad.  Which brings me to Diante G, who I thought looked really good.  Garrett actually led the Jazz in PG minutes with 20, and racked up a 4/1/6 line with three steals and only 2 TOs (one late one was pretty bad, but the game was over) and played down the stretch.  Garrett was the only point who could create opportunities.  So it’s a little crowded with Burks’ potential wilting away and Garrett looking decent as a D-League gamble and could get run through the season.  I think Lucas III gets cut at some point and Burks plays strictly backup 2 minutes, but that’s just me.  It’s a mess.  Shocker, considering it’s the Jazz!  Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Now, I never went to a boarding school… I was stuck in the public schooling circuit, and just could never rebound.  I was like Andrea Bargnani or Brook Lopez down there.  Domineering over some little men, but the boards just never came my way… Enter J.J. Hickson, who despite being a tad undersized has always been a solid boarder, and racked up 19 last night for an 18/19 night.  Near Goromotaro!  Just one putback slammah-jammah and he’s seeing 20/20.  A little laser eye surgery.  I liked Hickson a lot when JaVale McGee went down, and he’s proved he needs to be owned virtually everywhere like I said 8 days ago.  In the five games since, Hickson has at least 8 boards, double-figures in four of five, and a block every night.   Even if Shaqtin-a-McGee is able to get back within his original time frame, McGee just isn’t able to play the big starter’s minutes and Hickson is going to maintain this value either starting at the 5 or playing out his minutes as an early sub.  If you’re hurtin’ for boards, be sure the recent grad from the boarding school isn’t sitting on your wire.  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hoops:

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Even though he looks exactly like the youngest kid from Malcolm in the Middle, Steve Blake is playing like an NBA PG in the top.  Last night’s 16 Asts gives him 10+ in four straight, and starting to remind us of Chris Paul who has started the year with the ten straight 10+ dime games.  You can’t go anywhere in LA without someone trying to give you a dimebag!  I think that’s going to be a new term I’m going to add into the Razzball lexicon, 10+ assists equals a dimebag.  As in, “the Lakers got so high last night with Steve Blake handing out a dimebag!”  Pretty soon it won’t even be a crime anywhere.  Rasheed Wallace is like, “man I played at the wrong time!” Blake is an obvious must-own in all leagues, and I think will be all year.  He’s been D-Antoni-ed. Here’s what else I saw across fantasy hoops over the weekend:

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Man, what a huge night it was across the NBA with nearly every team in action.  It obviously all starts with the shocker Philly put on the Heat, and Michael Carter-Williams‘ unreal debut.  I was following with my co-workers during the game and tweeted that if he got a triple-double in his first NBA game, the universe would implode.  Thankfully MCW was a steal short and we’re all still here.  His final line of 6-10 (4-6 3PTM 6-8 FT) 22 Pts 7 Rebs 12 Asts and 9 Stls might actually win some owners their matchups this week on its own.  Just preposterous.  Most steals in NBA history in a player’s debut.  Ok before we all go nutso, remember the Heat played without Dwayne Wade (rest), don’t have a PG, and had all their hands weighed down with new championship rings.  So that’s not really an excuse, but so what?!  The shooting efficiency was fantastic (the biggest knock on him coming into the year), plus he had only one turnover (his second main knock).  “Nice knockers!”  Thanks Young Frankenstein!  MCW indeed moves up a fair bit in value in my eyes, but this is likely his best line on the year.  MCW was wildly inconsistent in college and I don’t expect much consistency on a terrible 76ers team (I know they just beat the Heat, but c’mon).  Look for John Wall to lock him up on Friday and cool the hype.  Despite inconsistencies, it goes without saying that MCW should be owned in all leagues now (78% Yahoo, 59.4% ESPN), so if for some reason he’s available in your league, you gotta get him.  I’m not expecting MCW to be an elite player, but will continue to contribute even in down games.  Here’s what else I saw across Fantasy Basketball last night:

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Listen, I know a lot of drafts have gone down, but I think we’re still right in the sweet spot of the drafting season.  And while we’re in that sweet spot, why not start up an RCL Hoops league where we need more commishes!  I am putting an embargo on comments unless you start up a league!  Haha – kidding.  But what’s less funny is the curse of my love for Trey Burke, as he’s going to have surgery on his index finger.  “Don’t you point at me!”  “I can’t help it, it’s the cast!”  The original report of him missing 8-12 weeks had him a 100% no bueno in my book, but then he tweeted out (I guess using other fingers) that it should only be 4-6 weeks.  Apparently he’ll be in a splint three weeks and will be reevaluated.  As in – “my fingy still hurty!”  I’m moving Burke way down and taking it as a sign to completely cool off my love for him.  As in Arnold in the last bad Batman movie cool.  “Tonight’s forecast – a freeze is coming in!”  John Lucas III becomes the starting PG it appears in most games and probably needs to be owned in deeper leagues, but I wouldn’t drop someone that good for him. Lucas III didn’t crack the updated rankings because I don’t see season-long impact from him.  Alec Burks could start some games at the point as well, and remains ranked as I think he plays both guard positions and minutes all year.  That is despite a horrible 1-13 shooting performance last night…  The Jazz are also re-evaluating trading for the Bulls’ Marquis Teague in a possible trade.  Then there’s a rumor that free agent Jamaal Tinsley might also get signed.  Sounding more and more like the Jazz PG is going to be a black hole this season.  So I’m avoiding them all, but still holding Burke in 12+ team leagues (like my 1st RCL League) and hoping.  Here’s what else has been going down through the preseason, and a final rankings update:

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Maybe because I didn’t follow the NBA preseason as closely last year as I was working exclusively on Football, but I feel like there’s been a lot more preseason injuries in only the first week of action than in year’s past.  Then again, Rodney Stuckey wasn’t even on the court, and slammed his thumb in his car door and needs surgery.  It’s gonna make for a hell of a hitchhiking thumb in that cast!  What it is with Detroit athletes and getting hurt in their cars?  Not even a month ago Nate Burleson broke his arm reaching over to keep some boxes from falling and slamming into the median.  All Detroit athletes need to avoid using motor vehicles.  Maybe that’s proof right there Obama shouldn’t have bailed out GM.  Give them all mopeds.  Oh wait, yeah that won’t work, will is Monta Ellis?  Maybe segways?  I’ve got it!  Just tell Andre Drummond he has to carry every Detroit athlete to where they need to go until his FT% goes above 50.  He’ll be like a Detroit athlete tauntaun.  See, tell me why I’m not an NBA coach.  I already had moved Kentavious Caldwell-Pope way up before the Stuckey injury with how the Pistons coaching staff was praising him, and look for KCP to move to right around 100 overall in my next rankings update.  Here’s what else went down since we last looked in at preseason action:

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Continuing on with updated rankings after the top 10 and top 20, below rounds out my to 50.  Previous rankings are in parentheses next to these updated ranks, with up and down designations only for guys hopping up or down significant spots.  Have fun grilling these!

(22) 21. Nicolas Batum – A lot of commenters have wondered why he’s not in the top-20, and as I said in my previous 20-50 rankings, the declining FG% (45.1% to 42.3%) and 3PT% (39.1% to 37.2%) from 2011-12 to 12-13 gives me pause.  Despite playing over 8 more minutes a game in 11-12 to 12-13, his scoring average only went up 0.4 Pts a game and he only averaged 12 a game after the All-Star Break with his wrist injury.  He’s said the wrist is completely healed, and despite not needing surgery I would be worried with Batum as my second-rounder as the wrist could plague him again.  He’ll still be a multi-cat workhorse, but I see no way he chucks up 6.1 3’s a night with new acquisitions Mo Williams and C.J. McCollum also manning the perimeter.  Yeah their PT may not overlap too consistently, but I just don’t see the three point output mimicking last year.

(23) 22. LaMarcus Aldridge – Another big fantasy asset I’m slightly down on, the Blazers could very easily have another rough first half and look to trade their franchise big.  The rumors have been swirling for quite some time, and there’s virtually no destination where I think he would be a better fantasy player than in Portland.

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Welcome to my second round.  The second round is on me!  That way I can buy all cheaper/low-shelf swill and not look like a cheapskate [underutilized word].  Seriously, try that next time you’re out.  Well, to be honest it only really works on the 8th or 9th round.  “What is in this snake juice?!” “It’s basically rat poison!”  “Baba Booey!”

So these guys are all still elite talents, just have those lingering question marks that would have me passing on them.  I know you’re all gonna yell at Paul George being a second rounder for me, I have comment ESP!  Here’s how I see the remainder of the top 20 with off-season adjustments (previous ranks from my Off-Season Rankings are in parentheses before this re-rank):

Please, blog, may I have some more?