I’ll admit it: I’m rusty. I took the off-season lightly, expected my natural talent to take me through the early season, and I’ve been huffing and puffing up and down the keyboard this week, trying to earn my contract. Can’t stay in the show too long with that attitude, you gotta earn it. “Stay hungry, young blood!”, my Nanna always used to say! That, and: “Don’t trust a fart when running a marathon”. I don’t really know why that was a go-to for her, but she stood by that pearl, so I will as well. We can see that there are some NBA ballers who had a few too many Mai-Tai’s on the beach when they too should have been in the gym, while others were hungry, working on their craft. And while it may be a touch too early to be blowing up your squad, we have been advised to not trust a fart when running a marathon, do with that what you will. So let’s take a look at some cats who might be worth a deuce:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Alright, so actual Fat Tuesday doesn’t shake down in New Orleans for another couple weeks, but with a robust eight games on the NBA docket, it was a fitting – and catchy – title, so I decided to stick with it. (“Robust Tuesday” just doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way, ya know?) We typically only get a handful of games on a given Tuesday, but the schedule makers decided to give League Pass subscribers a real workout this week. Games started at 7pm and didn’t wrap up until well after midnight on the East Coast. In the middle of it all was an overtime thriller at the Mecca.

The Knickerbockers of New York, absent Carmelo Anthony, were able to withstand a pair of fat (Tuesday) lines from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for much of the night. Despite a combined 74 points from the Thunder’s dynamic duo (KD poured in 44, Russ 30), the Madison Square Garden audience was treated to some bonus basketball, though the Knicks ultimately came up just short in the 53rd minute. New York shared the scoring burden as they had five different players contribute between 15 and 21 points: Kristaps Porzingis (15), Lance Thomas (16), Aaron Afflalo (17), Derrick Williams (19), Langston Galloway (21).

Durant supplemented his scoring barrage with 14 boards, five dimes, a steal, and four 3-pointers. A healthy Durantula is the second most valuable asset in fantasy basketball. It’s just that simple. I don’t care what format you’re playing or how many categories you’re counting, if I’m not getting Steph Curry in return, I’m not parting with KD right now.

Kevin’s running mate, Russell Westbrook, had himself quite the ballgame as well: 13-of-24 from the field, eight rebounds, 10 helpers and three steals complemented his 30-point outing quite nicely. Picky owners can find fault in his five turnovers or failure to connect from long range, but overall Westbrook is an absolute stat stuffer and you probably only need one hand to count the number of players more valuable than him moving forward.

Meanwhile, outside of the Big Apple…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m all for switching it up and trying something new to win. And while I think Hack-a-Shaq can work in the right situations, the Rockets took Hack-a-Whoever way too far. The Rockets fouled Andre Drummond repeatedly, giving him 36 free throws! At one point, K.J. McDaniels intentionally fouled Drummond 5 times in 9 seconds! (McDaniels finished the game with a very Jan Vesely-ish line of 1 minute, 5 fouls).

Drummond made only 13 of his 36 free throws, but it didn’t matter, as the Pistons still defeated the Rockets by 9. The 23 missed free throws was an NBA record for the most missed free throws in a game.

So you’re telling me the intentional fouling was effective in limiting the Pistons’ possessions, but somehow the Rockets still lost? How? The Rockets are definitely one of the biggest disappointments of the season and really need to turn it around if they’re going to make a splash in the playoffs.

While Drummond owners will be screwed in FT%, he still managed to post 17/11 with 1 steal and 1 block. Now onto the other highlights from Wednesday night’s games:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As many of you already know (or as my avatar may suggest), I’m a Canadian so I don’t really have a dog in the 2016 United States Presidential fight. I do, however, live close to the border and have enjoyed traveling throughout the United States (including the entire northeast, Florida, California, Colorado, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands) with my wife over the better part of the last ten years. So I have a keen interest in American politics as it indirectly impacts “my world.”

That leads me to my admission – I watched President Barack Obama’s eighth and final State of the Union address last night (and the subsequent analysis & reaction) instead of basketball. There was basketball to be watched up here, I just chose not to. But it gave me some perspective – it reminded me that a common sense approach to the big picture issues is never as simple as it should be, and that holds true in the NBA as well. Examples from some of the 16 teams in action on Tuesday alone:

  • The Timberwolves have a wealth of young talent to cultivate and yet they start Kevin Garnett & Tayshaun Prince?
  • The Suns have a cancerous presence in their locker room (Markieff Morris) and they can’t decide what to do about it – they give him multiple healthy DNPs in a row, and then they unleash him for 27 minutes, taking opportunity from someone like Jon Leuer (17 minutes) who could actually be a part of their future plans.
  • The Celtics and Knicks – both of whom are in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt – continue to run heavier-than-necessary rotations rather than identifying the best court combinations and maximizing their efficiency and output.
  • The Rockets have an extremely fragile, high-salaried starting center (Dwight Howard) who is prone to usage-related injuries and they run him for 38 minutes when they have a number of other very capable young frontcourt players to ease the burden.
  • The Bulls appear to embrace their future for a moment by giving a solid rotation spot to Bobby Portis, only to yank it out from under him (he played 4 minutes on Tuesday) once they’re back to full health.
  • The Pelicans offer center Omer Asik a massive contract in the offseason and even when he’s playing well (13 rebounds, a steal and a block, team-high +7 net rating), and they’re absent their best frontcourt player, he can’t get minutes (18).

Essentially what I’m saying is that there are a lot of things we, as fantasy owners, think should happen by any measure of common sense, but just don’t because of a number of factors beyond our control. We can go data mining until the cows come home and have an open & shut case to make why Player X deserves more minutes/opportunity, but it doesn’t matter. We can only do so much. There will always be someone on the other side who impacts that situation and we just have to make the best of it. Thankfully, the NBA has a long season and, unlike football, one or two bad weeks won’t spell doom for your campaign. I love that we get 82 games to try and figure out what the heck is going on. We’ll never be right 100% of the time, no matter that the stats or common sense says we maybe could be, but it sure doesn’t stop us from trying…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Conventional basketball wisdom suggests that smaller lineups play at a faster pace and typically score more points. That wasn’t exactly the case in Chicago on Tuesday night. The Milwaukee Bucks rolled out their massive starting lineup that features five players who all measure between 6’6″ and 6’11”. The Bulls countered with considerable size of their own, as only Derrick Rose came in under 6’7″ among the first unit. Coming into this one, Chicago ranked 10th in the league in pace while Milwaukee was 24th, and both teams sat in the bottom third in offensive efficiency. On paper this looked like a matchup destined to be played in half court sets with plenty of contested late-in-the-shot-clock possessions. The opposite came to pass as all ten starters scored in double figures and we saw 223 combined points poured in.

Following his record breaking 40-point second half against that basketball team that plays in a country other than the United States, Jimmy Butler remained en fuego, scoring 20 first half points to give him an even 60 for that four quarter stretch. The man they call “Buckets” finished with a game-high 32 on 11-21 from the field, 2-4 from beyond the arc, and a perfect 8-8 on his freebies. Jimmy is every bit a first rounder this year regardless of whether or not the usage-sucking, possession-wasting Rose lines up next to him or not. (He did on Tuesday.) There aren’t ten players I’d rather have on my roster, especially considering the Bulls’ outstanding playoff schedule.

On the other side, Khris Middleton did his best to keep the Bucks in it, posting a stellar 26/4/7/1/0 line. The Duchess of Wisconsin did his damage on 10-21 shooting, pouring in five threes and only turning the ball over twice in 38 minutes. Middleton has been a top-20 nine category player over the last month and with Jason Kidd not around to mess with lineup & rotation consistency, there’s no reason to think Khris can’t keep this hot streak going.

Let’s have a little look-see at the rest of the notable fantasy lines from Tuesday night, shall we?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Alright, truth be told I had that article title in my head before the early games even finished up. It looked like it was going to be a yawn-worthy evening of basketball… but then some cool stuff happened.

Kyle Lowry‘s 17/10/7 with a pair of threes was nice. As was DeMar DeRozan‘s 28/4/4 with two long balls of his own. Bismack Biyombo pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds in a winning effort and that gave me some warm & fuzzies. But dedicating a lead to “my team” when they barely hung on to beat a mostly disinterested Dallas squad didn’t feel quite right. And also, how many semi-legitimate opportunities am I going to have to write the word “Snoozeday”? (Answer: hopefully just this once.)

But Tuesday’s schedule, man. Come on now…

Grizzlies/76ers.

Pistons/Heat.

Mavericks/Raptors.

Lakers/Nuggets.

Outside of the local fan bases, who gives a smurf about any of those games? I was this close to watching Polar Express instead of the Raptors game since it looked like they were going to run away with it early (up 16 after the 1st Q). The game ended up being mildly entertaining as the Mavs’ second unit scratched & clawed their way to within one possession late in the 4th, but Kyle, DeMar & Bismack proved to be a bit too much.

I suppose if we broke things down a little more to the individual player level we could have gotten stoked for the Andre Drummond/Hassan Whiteside matchup in South Beach. Unfortunately, the two young centers failed to deliver the monstrous lines we’ve grown accustomed to seeing early this season. Drummond was just “ok” with 11/12/1/0/2, but shot only 4-12 from the field. Whiteside was markedly better with 16 & 16 plus four blocks and 7-13 FGs. Solid stuff, but it would’ve been pretty cool to see a pair of 20/20’s in the same game. (I wonder when was the last time that happened? Somebody else please check, I’m busy/lazy right now.)

Ultimately this proved to be the second (mostly) lackluster Tuesday in a row. However, if there is NBA basketball being played there are player performances to be discussed. So let’s get after it.

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Ah, the late-round fliers!  Which I think is “fliers”.  A lot of the time, I almost write it “flyers”.  Zach LaVine is a late round flyer!  Eesh, being a married man makes you start getting reallllll corny with the jokes.

So as I’ve mentioned a few times getting through the top 100 (Rank 1-10 | Rank 11-20 | Rank 21-50 | Rank 51-75 | Rank 76-100), there just isn’t many warm bodies out there to call “JB’s late sleepers”.  And, well, a lot of that is because I have guys that are ranked in the 100s on Yahoo and ESPN in my mid-rounds (cough, Jordan Clarkson – ESPN 99 Yahoo 144, what the hey?! aherm, cough cough – I’ve caught the plague!), while just as much is the lack of sexy rookies in good situations.  Jahlil Okafor is awful for fantasy.  D’Angelo Russell loves talking 401ks with Josh Smith by the turnovers at the breakfast buffet.  Stanley Johnson looks awesome, but Detroit has a bigger wing mix than Bdubs.  Asian zing – that one my jam!

With these final rounds of players, it’s also important to factor in league size.  These ranks are [hoping to tailor] for a 12-team league, so I’ll reach for a tad more upside the later we go than go for stability.  Tristan Thompson is going to be mad consistent for some points and boards for the very deep leagues, but lordy he’ll be unownable in a 12er.  You’re fired!  Can’t believe this Trump stuff is still going on…  Anyway, here’s the Top 150 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Ugh.

Three letters to sum it up right there (and I wrote the beginning of this open before seeing Rotoworld’s update!  Groupthink.)

In only a light slate of two games last night, we had a very solid and steady fantasy contributor in Wesley Matthews go down with a torn Achilles and will miss the rest of the season.  I haven’t been this mad at Achilleses (multiple Achilles?) since Brad Pitt in Troy!  Man was Orlando Bloom a pansy too…  Rough, rough injury and owners will have to scramble to find replacements for his 2.9 3PTM and 16.1 points a game with only 1.3 TO.  Tagline of Taken baby!  “Good luck.”  And well, probably the guy filling in for Matthews is as good as any replacement, as Arron Afflalo should immediately step in the role and be Afflalo of old.  I was shocked that late last night he was already owned in 66% of leagues, but that was probably spiking harder than a Charlie Sheen punchbowl with the devastating news last night.  While Matthews was great for what he did, threes are a-plenty on the wire, and veterans of ThrAGNOF should be able to get their stream gloves dirty!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Crazy game in OKC last night!  It was a crazy night across the board!  For a while I thought the Sixers were really going to pull that one out – had the lead most of regulation and then clawed back late – but Russell Westbrook playing like Michael Jordan these days got the Thunder the OT win.

Behind all of RW’s historical hooblah which we’ll go into later, is Isaiah Canaan‘s career game.  Career best 31 points on 10-16 FG (8-13 3PTM 3-3 FT) 31/7/6/1/0.  And of course he does that right after I said you’d rather own Ish Smith!  And Ish did ish in 15 minutes…  All that said, Canaan had 29 early in the 4th and the Sixers couldn’t figure out ways to consistently get their hot shooter the rock.  The continuity was awful with Philly only staying in the game by taking some horrible deep 3 pointers with no spacing or rebounders.  It felt like one of those college intramural games where the much better team was struggling because the other team’s scrubs kept hitting 3s for some reason.  Did I say intramural?  I meant more like every time Duke beats Chapel Hill!  Only because of the 3s…  Although Chapel Hill has trouble teaching their players the difference between “2” and “3” so there’s that…  I would still Aaron Brooks over Canaan and I’m not dropping a valuable guy just for this hot shooting game.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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Well, one outta three of the letters in MCW is in efficient…  That makes sense seeing as he usually shoots 33%!

In his debut for the Bucks, Michael Carter-Williams looked solid against his former Sixers for 7/0/8/2/0 in only 17 and a half minutes.  All with only one TO!  Shot 3-5 from the field, did split his two FT, but a mad efficient game in his new colors.  Off the toe sprain, I’m not surprised his minutes were kept in check as the Bucks unsurprisingly took it to the Sixers.  Full tank!  Yesterday on the Podcast, Slim said even a great game wouldn’t have him change his MCW valuation too much, and he’s the logical one.  But I’m antsy and loved what I saw!  I don’t think he’s suddenly the top-50 guy I thought he’d be, but I think he’ll keep the %s in check with that decent MIL supporting cast, and he won’t make you want to kill yourself.  And if that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is…. Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?