Who says NBA is an indoor sport?!  Roll out the tarp!

During a rainy night in Brooklyn, all the sudden the ballboys were throwing towels on this spot on the court as somewhere in the rafters was a pretty steady leak.  I looked away from the game for a minute then looked back, and I thought at first they were cleaning up a massive bleeding injury!  At least that wasn’t the case… Ended up being about half an hour rain delay, complete with maintenance rolling out a trash can to collect the water.  It’s like Kap said when we were chattin’ last night – just like his high school gym!  The Nets arena leaking with the tears of Nets fans…

While Brooklynites had to watch a short-handed Heat team beat them at home, there’s at least some fantasy goodness to be had from some flashy younguns.  Professor Plumlee!  Young professors I bet would make a killing with college chicks… Anyway, Mason Plumlee for 21/9/1/1/1 last night, shooting 8-12 FG and leading the Nets in scoring.  Sure the Heat front line is a bunch of dudes you’ve never heard of and an over-the-chicken coup Birdman, but good to see him hitting on his potential as the starter, finally.  There’s still some blemishes – 4 TO and a surprisingly good-for-Plumlee but bad-for-real-life 5-8 FT (stop it with the hyphen phrases!), but if you can handle the FT drain or already have a FT-punting (dammit!) team, he’s a perfect fit.  I think he’s as close to a must-own in all leagues while Brook Lopez is out, but many teams don’t have a streamer spot and/or can’t handle the bad FT%.  Brolo is getting reevaluated Saturday, meaning he’s out at least three more.  So while the Nets are leaking talent, don’t let Plumlee leak through your waiver wire.  Here’s how the rest of the NBA big news shook out:

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Tracking Rudy Gobert‘s path to the NBA has been movie worthy.  After an accident at his former job at the local steel mill, Rudy had Jon Favreau (he really could be French!) keep his grades up in exchange for Rudy helping Jonny out with the ladies.  Gobert almost gave up on his dream for basketball, but Charles S. Dutton gave a heartfelt speech on BEING REAL!  Utah fans tried carrying Gobert off the court chanting “Rudy!  Rudy!” after that win against the Spurs last Tuesday, but it was a big hazard to the overhead lights.

Derrick Favors‘ ankle turned into a kankle over the weekend, but luckily X-rays were negative and he’s day-to-day.  No reason for the lowly Jazz to throw him out there gimpy.  Monsieur Elbow time!  Filling in for Favors on Friday night, Rudy had one of the best games of his young career for 9/11/4/1/5 shooting 2-2 FG and 5-6 FT.  Followed it up with a start last night next to Enes Kanter for 7/9/0/2/3 in 31 minutes.  Playing with the big boys!  A wingspan that would make a pterodactyl jealous, Gobert should murder blocks for you if you’re able to stream him through the couple starts he’s likely to get this week.  No timetable for Favors, but big men + kankles = John Goodman.  I mean, not good for a speedy return.

Boy did the Fantasy God of Injuries not get enough human sacrifices over the weekend!  This might turn out to be the most depressing NBA recap I’ve ever written.   Stay positive JB!  Stay positive JB!  Thanks inner monologue…  Any other advice to help me get through today’s news?  Well, remember when in Interstellar it looked like there was no hope due to another Dust Bowl, then he just finds the newly incarnated NASA – – Wait, how does any of that make sense, they didn’t know he was alive yet he was their best hope!?  And then there’s that giant plot hole with the planet with the – – it just makes no – – uhughuhguhguhguhgug – – – - F, now my inner monologue is injured…  Here’s how the weekend of death went down in NBA action:

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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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“Did you coach the Celtics to a win last night, B-Rad?!”  “No…  But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!”

Since returning from his bad ankle sprain, Marcus Smart has had quite the timeline.  Returned last Wednesday and played five minutes, and Stevens said he didn’t look ready.  And when you’re not ready, you get demoted to the D-League.  And when you shoot 1-12 FG in that D-League game, you still get a promotion.  I want to work for that company!  Any time you get reprimanded, you just have to explain why you’re currently better than 1-12!  Then DNP Friday, and 8 minutes of nada Sunday.  So of course, everyone expected that he’d play 35 minutes and go 23/4/5/1/0 shooting 7-14 FG (4-8 3PTM, 5-5 FT) without a single TO last night.  And everyone expected Rajon Rondo, off a triple-double, to be benched in favor of Smart down the stretch and for both the overtimes.  Well, the Celtics did almost upset the Wiz at home!  Key word… almost.  And sure, Boston had a big 4th quarter with the subs to make it a game, but an L is an L!  Rondo owners collectively throw things at their computers – no one is safe from a Stevens line-up bamboozle.  Before you run out and grab Smart, consider that timeline this past week.  And don’t forget before last night he was shooting sub-30% FG and 21.4% from deep with only 1.1 dimes a game.  Given some of those were in low-minute spells, but it was still only 8 dimes in 114 minutes to 6 TO.  So don’t pull a Stevens and feel like the smartest one in the room by dropping, well virtually anyone in a 12 or 14 teamer for him, unless you plan to stash.  Rondo could still be moved, but I never bet on a trade.  It’s like betting on a successful hostage trade in an action movie.  They never work out!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Totally off the wagon!  My sobriety is over.  On my bender this weekend, I ate a roasted chicken off the bone for dinner, lost my voice yelling trying to talk to Germans, tried to order steak at a carnival stand, and woke up the next day hating life.   Well, that was actually my time at Oktoberfest, but more or less the same thing!

We all know how much I love Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  He’s probably my most talked about fantasy player since last season that hasn’t fully broken into 100%-owned fantasy relevance.  And of course, after a slow start and swearing him off – with me finally admitting to my KCP obsession – he turns it back around culminating in another fantastic line against OKC for 19/3/5/1/0 shooting 6-12 FG (1-5 3PTM 6-7 FT).  Did have 3 TO, but one was a very questionable charge on a nasty layup in transition.  I think Kevin Durant took it – MVP call!  In the finale last year, KCP went 30/6/0/2/1 on 11-19 shooting with 5 treys against OKC.  Slim – how many times have I brought up that game now?!  I worked Yahoo highlights on that one when my company did them last year, so harkening to the memories of that 30-burger is like reliving your ultimate drug trip.  “The trees were melting into the sky!”  So of course seeing him rip apart OKC once again has my teeth grinding more than a cokehead stranded in Antarctica.

KCP’s got steals in 9 of 10 games now, his TO rate is fantastic (3 was a season high yesterday – averaging 1.0 TO a game before last night), but I’m recently liking how much more he’s getting involved inside the perimeter.  Through the first 15 games, 47.4% of KCP’s shots were 3s, but through the last six, 35 of his 80 shots were treys taking it down to 43.8%.  And in that time his USG% (estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor) – something I don’t look at too, too often – jumped from 18% those first 15 games, to 20.3% not including yesterday.  I watched a lot of last night’s game, and he was more involved in the O than any other Pistons game I’ve seen all year – and due to my addiction, it’s been a lot.  While it was yet another loss, they still gave OKC a run for their money – given the Thunder studs are still shaking off some rust.  So I’m back to being a KCP addict!  Let’s hope this doesn’t start impacting my work and ruining my relationships…  I won’t go rehab again!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend 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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I imagine even some Knicks fans were chanting that!

In what ended up being a nailbitier for the Cavs in MSG, Kyrie Irving was unstoppable shooting 12-18 FG (3-6 3PTM 10-11 FT).  Heat check!  Just don’t say that about LeBron when he’s hot… Uncle Drew making NY Blue!  Gave him 37 big ones for a 37/3/2/2/0 with LeBron James assuming the point-forward role racking up a diming with 12 assists.  Freaky Friday!  Well I guess it’s Freaky Thursday, but I like the idea of Kyrie Irving as an angsty teenager in kinda a goth phase…  But while he just “doesn’t connect” with Jamie Lee Curtis, he’s been one of fantasy’s biggest surprises this year.  As mentioned on the Pod yestderday by our guest Justin Phan, for Kyrie to be averaging MORE points a game from last year with the Cavs big three now amassed, it’s amazeballs.  Coming into last night’s game, Kyrie was 5th in per game value and 6th in total value according to the BB Monster metrics, and probably passes Damian Lillard for 5th in total value after this bigun.  While the assists have understandably fallen from 6.1 last year to under 5 thus far in 14-15, I don’t really think there’s anything unsustainable.  Maybe shooting over 48% and over 42% from deep fall a wee bit, but with Lebron and Kevin Love out there, I do see him having career-highs in both.  And the big kicker – TO were at 1.7 last night and will remain well under 2.0 a game even with 3 against the Knicks.  Plus that great FT volume… and baby you got a stew goin’!  I feel like I’ve revelled at every single one of Kyrie’s stats… So go get him if you can!  Drafted in the late 2nd/early 3rd in most drafts, if you can only spend 2nd round value to bring in Uncle Drew, it’ll make you party it up on Championship Sunday of your H2H final like Drunk Uncle!  Here’s what else went down in the three games last night:

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… especially since the Sixers are probably going to stay with that one in the win column for a good while!

One… The number of restarts to the Sixers game…  What, was Tim Donaghy reffing and have odds on the Wolves scoring first?!  Seriously, the Sixers couldn’t win a game without controversy?!  Then again there was that Bucks game, sheesh (more below).

One… The number of TOs Michael Carter-Williams will never have in a game… Only one game under three TO this year, but hey, everything else is pretty sexy out there!  Near tripdub last night in the Sixers W for 20/9/9 and three steals.  Finally putting the W in MCW!  Shot 9-20 from the field, but when he’s at the FT line it still gives him delirium triggers like a recovering alcoholic!  It’s actually “delirium tremens”, but man I love that old Coheed song!  2-7 from the stripe last night with the whopping 6 giveaways, and it’s what you bargain for as an MCW owner.  It’s almost like he sold his soul to the efficiency gods just to put up sexy triple-double stats.  Maybe when Tony Wroten comes back, he can just be MCW’s TO-surrogate.  “Tony, just turn it over a few times, and it’ll get em out of my system.”  I feel like trading away/for MCW has been the most frequently asked comment… I was huge on him heading into the year, and even though his FT/TO drain hurt him in the metrics, I think if you can build around that – even in 9-cat – he’s probably worth more than most owners think.  While those 9-cat metrics that rate everything equally are how they should work, remember it’s a team game and strengths/weaknesses play off each other.  All you really want is one!  One more win than the other team in the fantasy championship.  Of course in Roto, you can’t handle those ones!  So I would be selling in those formats.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy action:

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Did everyone survive their holiday, hmm? I know not everyone who reads the Razzball basketball articles are from the US, but seeing as the NBA is based in the continental United States (save the Raptors, from my hometown of Toronto, Canada!), we will default to the US holiday schedule. Sorry Buddists, you get screwed. Again. But until Krishna can dunk a basketball, we’re going with Thanksgiving and Christmas, as it affects the game schedule, as well as our hearts. The reason I like Thanksgiving from a fantasy perspective, is that it indicates the first quarter of the fantasy season is done – we’ve just rounded the first post. Which is relevant, why? You should know where your squad’s deficiencies are by now, and, theoretically, the guys to target to address said needs. It’s a process, fella, so don’t freak out if you’re not on top, nor feel too smug if you sit upon the throne thus far. I have been waiting in the weeds with Kevin Durant, for example, so I hope to be rising in the ranks in my Razzball league (League Awesome, for those who are uninformed). Perhaps some of these following cats can help you in your climb:

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Some big games last night!  Easily the most fun Tuesday we’ve had on the young season.  Twas a… Ruby Tuesday?  There’s really no good Tuesday references… Have you ever thought about how much Tuesday sucks?  There’s nothing interesting at all about Tuesday!  Tuesday is just a lost day… Except let’s hope you were able to watch some hoops action, as this Tuesday was a big one!

And none bigger than LaMarcus Aldridge torching Denver, putting up 39 Pts on 16-30 shooting.  What’s hilarious about his 39/11/1/0/2 line is that one assist was a high-low pass to the awful Robin Lopez for the game-winning layup with one second left.  Surprised Lopez didn’t botch it!  When you have Sonic the Hedgehog as your haircut, it’s got to be distracting… L.A. with all that production with no TO and 7-9 FT is showing us why he’s boring, but reliable as a second-round fantasy producer.  It’s easy to miss the solid volume FT% and if he gets that 3-pointer dropping like the 0.5 he’s bringing this year – a new development for L.A. – it’s icing on the cake.  Mostly this whole open was just to highlight I’m up 3-0 on Slim in our 30-point challenge!  Even after his slimy Kevin Durant pick.  Slimy, I say!  I think Aldridge has moved into that top 13 or 14 overall, with double-digit boards in six straight bringing those rebounds closer to the 11.1 we saw last year.  If he can avoid any injuries, he’ll be a premiere day of the week, like Friday or something.  No one wants to be a dud like Tuesday, which more than suitably personifies Robin Lopez.  Henceforth, I will now call Tuesdays “Robin Lopez Day”.  Here’s some other happenings that went on across the NBA on Robin Lopez Day:

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