It’s been a bad couple weeks for big men. A lot of top producing forwards and centers seem to have been bitten by the injury bug around Thanksgiving.

Initially, DeMarcus Cousins was only considered day-to-day with viral meningitis. After missing his 8th straight game, coach Mike Malone was unsure when he would get his big man back. He’s been ruled out for the rest of the weekend, with his playing status in jeopardy for next week.

While Cousins has been out, Reggie Evans has grabbed almost every available rebound. Well not really, but he has had games of 13, 14, and 20 rebounds, while starting for Cousins. Jason Thompson has offered a more balanced increase in production (11 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 2.4 apg in last 5 games), but the biggest beneficiary has been Rudy Gay.

With Cousins declared out for at least the weekend, now is the best time to sell high on Gay. He has a usage rate (total number of possessions per 48 minutes) of 30.2 when Cousins is out, but a 25.3 usage rate when Cousins is playing alongside him. As a result, Gay has increased his scoring, rebounds, and assists with Cousins off the floor. Try to trade him this weekend for a top 20/30 player, before Cousins gets back and steals touches away from him.

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Well, so much for the prime time matchup last night!  Yesterday afternoon LeBron James‘ knee flared up, and after a mid-afternoon report that the Cavs weren’t worried but would be cautious, they ended up holding him out.  I think LeBron was mostly worried about another Serge Ibaka wrister.

How you can finish that play after breaking your nose…?!  Legit.  Anyway, for the Cavs it didn’t mean much to the Big Two, but somehow Tristan Thompson is playing his way into relevance again.  Yes, Slim and I’s oft-discussed, Pts/Reb only Tristan Thompson – except these days he’s hitting some other cats!  14/13/1/0/2 last night, shooting 4-8 FG and 6-8 FT in 30 minutes.  He’s finally making shots at an acceptable rate this year, with his FG% at 53.6% before last night and got the blocks back up to nearly 1 a game after being at 0.4 last year in almost 6 more minutes per.  The big catalyst here is getting back that big run with the second unit.  After only topping 30 minutes one time through the first 14 games, is over 30 four of the past seven culminating in dubdubs three of the past four.  I’m frankly surprised he’s owned in 38% of Yahoo leagues already, but for the streamers/DraftKings players out there, LeBron might sit one more and assure another big workload for TT.  I don’t think he plays this much long-term, but you can get some big man stats on the cheap.  It’s no conundrum!  Here’s what else went down in the two games last night:

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I’ve got the ring in the cake.  The scoreboard operator has got it cued up for the 2nd quarter under-8 timeout.  The plane with some really carcinogenic toxins is ready to pollute the atmosphere in a “Will U Marry Me?” loopy smokestream.

An unsung contributor this year, DeMarre Carroll racked up another under-the-radar line last night for 14 Pts, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 3PTM, and a partridge in a pear tree!  No TO, and other than blocks really hits all the Silver Bells and whistles.  Hitting a career best 1.6 treys a game, it’s a Christmas miracle his FG% is at 46%.  The dimes don’t do much either, but there’s no reason not to to Sleigh Ride him while he’s hitting most of the cats this hard.  Even a Silent Night or two won’t scare me away, and at only 61% ownership in Yahoo, I feel like there’s still a lot of leagues where he could bring Joy to the World.  So sing a holiday carol for DeMarre, and even though nothing is too sexy, I felt like I needed Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (full disclosure, I had to look up a list of Christmas songs for this bit, I’m such a Grinch).  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball:

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This was a very big week for the Thunder. They got both of their superstars back in a matter of days.

Russell Westbrook returned on Friday night, putting up 32 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists in only 24 minutes of clock. Now owners may be concerned with the lack of minutes, but know that Westbrook wasn’t on a minutes’ restriction. Instead, Westbrook, along with the rest of the starters, were pulled early since the Thunder were up 32 late in the game. They were playing the New York Knicks after all.

A few days later, Kevin Durant returned to score 27 points on Tuesday night. He showed little rust on the court, shooting 9-18 from twos, 3-8 from downtown, and 6-7 from the line. Durant didn’t do much else outside of the scoring, but those numbers will happen in due time. The important thing is that Westbrook and Durant are both back and healthy.

Westbrook and Durant immediately regain their statuses as two of the top ten fantasy producers. At the same time, their return also hurts the guys filling in for them. Reggie Jackson’s statistics will take a hit, as he won’t be needed as much as an offensive producer. In the two games since Westbrook returned, Jackson had his two lowest usage rates of the season and saw his field goal attempts decrease to 11 FGA per game (down from 17.9 without Durant and Westbrook). Now there is still value to be had with Jackson, since he’ll be getting around 30 minutes a night, but don’t expect the same numbers he was providing early in the season.

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Young players Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo returned to their respective teams last week, after missing the first few weeks due to injury. This week, the Washington Wizards welcomed back shooting guard Bradley Beal. He came off the bench to a standing ovation (or rather, the 25 fans in attendance stood up and cheered), but impressed in his first game of the season. In 26 minutes, Beal scored 20 points, with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 3PTM. It was only one game, but expect Beal to put up similar lines all season. He averaged 17.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 3.3 apg last season and I expect those numbers to rise slightly this year.

Now that Beal is back, owners should move on from Garrett Temple and Otto Porter. Garrett Temple started off hot, but has since cooled off and will go back to being a reserve and defensive replacement. In Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks, Temple threw a 3-pointer off the side of the basket and then air balled another three on the same possession! Porter is more offensively gifted than Temple and will have a good game off the bench here and there, but look elsewhere for more consistent production.

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#OccupyDraymondGreen baby!

Occupying so hard!  He’s like the Russia to the Nets Crimea!  The person whizzing in the bathroom on the plane while you wait in the aisle!

Owning the Nets front line (I can’t really say “owning Kevin Garnett as KG prematurely a-bench-iated for only 13 minutes since well, DrayDray overmatched him!), Draymond Green was magnificent for 17/8/7/1/2 shooting 7-14 (3-8 3PTM).  Near rainbow and three treys?!  But you gotta love the 33 minutes of burn with only a singular TO.  #OccupyEfficiency!  After a little bit of a rocky start, Green was money in bigger minutes from Nov. 5-9 but had 13 TO.  Wasn’t flashy against the Spurs on Tuesday, but had 5 dimes to only 1 TO and then had the monster last night.  There have some comments wondering how many minutes DrayDray is gonna play play when David Lee finally gets his new hamstring, but Steve Kerr has pretty much made Green the heart-surrounded face of his trapper keeper.  Quotes like ” I don’t know what my philosophy is… We’re 4-0 with DG,” and “We’re 4-0 and Draymond’s starting, he’s playing well, so I’ll keep starting him,” and “Yeah, I’d leave my wife for that!”  Maybe I made up the last one, but you get the gist!  Sure the minutes might go down from the 33 he’s at, but I don’t think by much.  #BuyIfYouStillCan!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops:

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No Nicolas Batum, no problem!

The Blazers went nuts in the first half last night, putting up 84 on the hapless Nuggets through 24 minutes.  Indiana won last night at Miami scoring 81!  All your usual suspects had some good games, but who was the Keyser Soze?  The greatest trick bench players have ever pulled was convincing the fantasy basketball world they don’t matter!  But Chris Kaman is off yet another brilliant game, putting up 16/7/2/1/2 on 6-8 shooting (4-5 FT), and needs to be owned in virtually all leagues.  Was a little in junk time?  Sure.  Is he better than Robin Lopez?  Who isn’t?!  Will he start any time soon?  Well, no, but dude has grabbed at least 5 boards in every game and averaging over a block and a half a night.  The minutes are going to be there all year, as several NBA teams needing a starting big man have got to be mad they didn’t float Kaman a little offerewski.  And he’s a must add for RoLo fantasy owners, as while he had a good game last night scoring 19, zero blocks, only 5 boards, and most importantly only 21 minutes.  Blowout induced, yes, but topped 30 minutes only twice this year after averaging 32 a game last year.  He’s down 4 MPG from 2013-14 as Terry Stotts is utilizing the Blazers’ vastly improved bench, but thus far RoLo’s numbers are nearly identical from last year, and I don’t see that continuing with such lower PT.  So sell RoLo high!  And when other owners try to figure out why, tell em because you got high.  Here’s what else went down in fantasy action last night:

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It’s finally here!  “The lockout is over!”  You’re like, “wtf, a lockout?!”  I’m quoting a Dave Cowens commercial!  And after the 98-99 Lockout at that!  Anything vintage Hornets is nostalgic gold right now.  Ridiculous amounts of bonus points to readers who are Hornets fans and remember that commercial and/or can find the video.  Because I couldn’t!

The return of the Hornets is one of the many things I’m looking forward to this year.  Getting past my horrific Jonas Valanciunas love, finally changing the page to a new season, is another.  But one of the biggest is a healthy (for now) Kobe Bryant and the return of the “Guess Kobe Bryant’s Stat Line”!  Even if you’re a long-time reader, you might not know this one!  It’s like the NBA scheduled the Lakers on a light opening night just for this momentous Razzball event, not because the Lakers are a widely popular team or anything…

I don’t remember exactly what spawned this prestigious contest, but as with everything that is oddly conversational in Razzball, traditions can start any time!  Like how we all guessed what Kobe would do, the like, 5 games he played last year.  So in order to carry this tradition, and to accurately-ish credit the winner, guess the Kobe line will be limited to the PTS/REB/AST projection to determine the victor.  Feel free to guess more stats than that, but when we did it last year with steals and blocks and turnovers, it was hard to say which commenter was closer than another.  The winner gets a shout out in the recap the next day, along with the jealous ire of all other Razzballers… I think Kobe has a big one in the opener vs. Houston… I’m going 31/5/6.  Shoot your guesses below, and happy return to Fantasy Basketball!  We’re pumped for our biggest season to date here at Razzball, and thanks to everyone for checking us out through the offseason!

Here’s some other news and notes since the last wrap-up, and what I’ll be focusing on for opening night (and we’re daily every weekday with the wrap-ups here on out!):

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With the full 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Rankings now complete, let’s take a look at the final 50.  Sean Connery.  Kevin Costner.  Tons of Great Depression-esque costumes.  I’d imagine if you’re in a deep league and looking at the field below with your last pick or two, you’re feeling something like this:

It’s pretty hopeless, as in 12-teamers these are all likely guys you’re merely starring on your watch list post draft.  There’s some questionable talent, some questionable roles, maybe even someone that’ll give you The Grapes of Wrath, but some untapped upside!  Here’s my top 200 for the 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Season (based on 9-cat H2H):

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Hmmmm, ok, who did you pick in you office “who scores 40 points tonight” pool?  I bet the Vegas odds were… a million to one on Nick Young.  “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”  Too bad Nick Young sucks in fantasy.  You actually have to go back 15 games to find him putting up a 5 in any counting stat other than treys.  The ThrAGNOF fairy strikes again!  Dude went a preposterous 15-26 (6-13 3PTM 4-5 FT) 40/4/1/2/0 and only had one turnover last night.  The Blazers should be ashamed.  I’m pretty sure this game never actually happened, and it was some sort of elaborate April Fool’s joke.  Swaggy P shockingly led the Lakers in minutes off the bench, and with his shoot first, ask questions later attitude, Mike D’Anotni’s rape stache kept curling upwards in facial hair glee.  By the end of the game (and yes, another Lakers loss), D’Anotni’s mustache looked like Rollie Fingers.  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball action:

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