The Fournier-Year-Old Virgin

After a very tough start to his season going 2-14 in his first two games, Evan Fournier finally found his stroke last night going 5-10 (2-3 3PTM) for a 12/3/2 line in a season high 25 minutes.  If you’re like me, you’re a Fournier virgin in all leagues.  Sure he’s way off the map (I don’t know where France is!), but I have a feeling he could surprise later on in the season.  In the last 8 games of 2012-13, Fournier went 11.5 Pts (0.9 3PTM) 2.3 Rebs 2.8 Asts 1.4 Stls while shooting 50% from the field and 92.9% from the stripe in only 23 minutes a game.  Now that was on a playoff team, resting some stars – sure, but this Nuggets team is a mess right now.  I know they just beat the Hawks, but a lineup starting Randy Foye and Jordan Hamilton (of course Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari are on the shelf), Fournier could get late season run as I highly doubt the Nuggets make the playoffs.  He’s a great off-the-radar multi-cat guy to keep your eye on especially in deeper leagues as we start getting into the meat of the season.  Here’s what else I saw last night in the NBA:

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As an ancient proverb goes – “I’d like to introduce you to an old friend and a new friend.”  Ok, so I made that up.  But it sounds good!

For an old friend I’ve mentioned a few times and pumped up in my last rankings update before the season started up, my boy Omri Casspi had another solid outing last night that probably was under the radar.  In 24 minutes, he went 7/8/5 with no turnovers, 2-4 from the field and 3-4 from the line.  He just looks awesome every time I see him play.  Did you know he was the first Israeli to play in the NBA?  He’s pretty much Chandler Parsons but with Chandler Parsons in his way.  After a ho-hum first two games, his past two have been fantastic – and this last one without hitting a three which is a big part of his game.  Not necessarily a must own in 12-teamers, but definitely worth a look, and needs to be grabbed in 14+.

Then my new friend - Gal Mekel on the Mavericks.  You’re like, “who the eff is Gal Mekel?  I thought this was NBA not WNBA!”  Mekel was signed to a three-year deal by the Mavs this offseason, and became the second Israeli to join the NBA.  Cut to Amar’e Stoudemire going, “Hey, I should count!”  With Shane Larkin dealing with an ankle injury, and no Devin Harris for a while, Mekel is getting full-on backup PG run and playing well doing it.  He got his 2nd 6 assist game last night going 9/4/6 and hitting a 3.  Sure some run was in junk time, but with the oft-injured Jose Calderon the only one ahead of him (hasn’t played in over 68 games since 2007), Mekel could find his way into starts.  Of course, now I’ve ruined my play on him in the REL League.  Let’s just hope no one in that league is reading!  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hoops:

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I always love when an off night (only 4 games yesterday) yields one of the best NBA games we’ve seen all year.  So many story lines, so many stars.  And more importantly – so much fantasy goodness!

I guess I shouldn’t have curtsied around it, but there’s no way Chris Paul doesn’t lead the NBA in assists this year.  I said in the first recap of the season he would average a bajillion assists and rack up double-digit dimes almost every game.  Score two for JB!  Averaging 12 a game equates to a bajillion, right?  John Stockton is deadpan staring me down right now. Creepy, Stockton!  Creepy… J.J. Redick will be a really underrated acquisition if the Clips indeed make a title run with how he helps space the floor with his movement and shooting, and while we all know Chris Paul is awesome, I’m already putting him as the #3 fantasy player right now, leapfrogging James Harden.

I lucked out getting last night’s only late game, making Yahoo highlights for the 137-118 Clippers win.  Pretty much everything played out like a video game.  Everyone was hitting 3s, the scoring was astronomical, the pace was like a Peyton Manning offense, and finished off with some late alleys for the icing on the cake.  Fantasy God #1 really got that L2 + Square alley working out by the end of the game; Fantasy God #2 just couldn’t quite time Harden’s 3-point shot release.  Wait, do they even need controllers?  We are the controllers!  Whoa, too much philosophizing.  Let’s just get this back on the rails and go over some of the news and notes from last night:

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Coming into this year, the fantasy freaks of the world had two guys on their radar as far as Phoenix Suns centers. Would it be one-time fantasy darling and all-the-time Polish Hammer Marcin Gortat, or lottery pick Alex Len, who could either end up as a modern-day Jon Koncak or a white Dwight Howard.

How about neither? Gortat was traded to the Washington Cheese Wiz in a very odd trade where the Suns ended up with a protected first-round pick and a frozen-in-Carbonite Emeka Okafor – which really isn’t that different than Emeka Okafor – while the ex-Bullets got Gortat and three guys they waived.

Len, meanwhile, is injured, and won’t be ready even when he’s ready, if that makes any sense.

And all of this is perfectly fine in the retirement capital of the world.

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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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A lot of things stood out in the 2013-2014 NBA Playoffs, and we’re not even talking about you, Mike Breen’s Weird Face.

They’ll be remembered as the coming out party for Mark Jackson’s upstart Golden State Warriors, who upended the Denver Nuggets in the first round. The Lakers got flattened and Dwight Howard got flushed out of the City of Angels. The Grizz took a step up, and OKC took a big step back. We saw Paul George go from boy to man, ABC, BBD, with the swish of a jumper and three big FTs. We saw Frank Vogel brain fart by removing Roy Hibbert and allowing LeBron James to win a game with a layup. And we saw a Finals Game 6 that packed a monumental Spurs collapse; a limp, pathetic white flag en masse by Heat fans; and an incredible Miami comeback capped by a Ray Allen three so deep in the corner that he coulda grabbed a Cinnabon from the concessions before coming back down to earth – BREATHE – all in one fourth quarter. Oh, and James’ dwindling horde of critics were served up another heaping helping of shutup-shuttin’-up.

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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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Razzball Nation!  You’ve been clamoring for some updated rankings, and here they come!  I’m going to release them slowly, teasing them out, just like how we did the offseason rankings 5 months ago.  These top guys haven’t changed too much, but the rankings will expand to the top 200, culminating in an easy-to-use and frequently updated cheat sheet you can use during all your drafts as they commence in the next few months.  Fantasy NBA is coming and we’re ready to win you titles (or titties – depending on your league’s prize pool).  Previous ranks from my Off-Season Rankings are in parentheses before this re-rank:

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The period of free agency continues to shape the fantasy basketball-scape with fresh meat on terrible teams and players signing with contenders to be relegated to bench duty.  With baseball in full swing and the NFL getting half of the ESPN air time no matter what time of year it is, a lot of NBA moves have been made under the radar.  Look for every division to get a team-by-team breakdown and some early fantasy thoughts on the new faces in new places:

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