Matt Barnes capped off the Memphis Grizzlies comeback victory over the Pistons, by drilling a half court shot with 1.1 seconds left in the game. It’s probably the best mood that Barnes has been in all season. I don’t think Derek Fisher will have to worry about getting punched this week..

I was a bit surprised that Barnes took the shot considering there were still a few ticks on the clock when he chucked it up. Either way, it was a nice finish to a nice game from Barnes (8 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists in 30 minutes). The journeyman forward has always been a borderline fantasy player for his ability to do a little bit of everything.

Barnes had a nice string of games at the end of November, but now that Zach Randolph is back (21 points and 16 rebounds), Barnes has seen his minutes decrease. He should probably be dropped in 10 and 12 team leagues, but should continue to be monitored, should he see around 30 minutes a night.

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In an NBA landscape characterized by Steph Curry’s wizardry and Golden State’s record-breaking start, casual fans have missed one of the most interesting subplots from the first quarter of season: the East’s ascension to respectability. With a winning record against the Western Conference (60-58) and ten teams over .500, 2015 has marked a rebirth for the historically lesser conference, now sporting more top-to-bottom depth than in recent memory.

While it’s easy to say, “welcome to the party, we’ve been waiting for you for at least the past decade,” restoration of competitive balance in the East finally appears to be a tangible goal. With two of this season’s biggest surprises in the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets squaring off to open yesterday’s nine-game slate, last night’s contest may have actually been the first iteration of competitive basketball for this particular matchup since the mid-2000s.

With the Hornets emerging as the victors, it begs the question: are they actually good?? For a team with disillusioned hopes of postseason basketball heading into the season, their early successes may still spark skepticism after each passing victory. But with a +3.6 point differential and the fifth placed ranking in the standings this year, the Hornets actually appear to be a legitimately solid basketball team.

One of the main catalysts behind the turnaround, Nic Batum has played excellently on the wing as a secondary ball handler and defensive stopper. For fantasy owners who did not abandon the Batum bandwagon after a disappointing 2014-2015, the Frenchman has more than delivered this season, elevating his status to one of the primer fantasy wing options. Batum continued to produce last night with a near triple double of 13 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in addition to a steal and a block. Vive la France!

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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has already begun. After announcing that he would be retiring this past weekend, teams will start giving him the Derek Jeter treatment as fans and teams say goodbye to the legend.

There was a lot of fanfare when Bryant returned to Philadelphia on Tuesday night, where his basketball journey began. The hype was there and despite a strong start, the Lakers lost, giving the 76ers their first win of the season. Bryant shot 7-26 from the field, including 4-17 from downtown. Definitely not the homecoming that everyone was expecting.

On Wednesday, Bryant played his last game at the Verizon Center and boy did he leave those in attendance with a memorable performance. Fresh off his poor shooting Tuesday, Bryant shot 10-24 from the field and 4-11 from downtown. Not vintage Kobe, but a marked improvement. More importantly, 12 of his season-high 31 points came in the fourth quarter, as the Lakers defeated the Wizards.

Now this was definitely one of his best games of the season. Maybe with the Lakers’ season over and having already announced his retirement, Kobe will have one less thing on his mind and start to play better. I mean he can’t shoot any worse, right? I wouldn’t necessarily be buying low, but I’d hold onto him and pick him up in any leagues where impatient owners have dropped him. You never know, maybe he closes out his last season healthy and on a tear, a la Mariano Rivera (and that wasn’t an ACL joke).

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Shortly before the tip of the Grizzlies’ game in New Orleans on Tuesday night, Memphis beat writer Ronald Tillery reported that coach Dave Joerger “desperately wants to reduce Marc Gasol‘s minutes.” Coming into the game, MG had averaged in excess of 38 MPG over his last five contests – a number that is, by all accounts, quite high for a true big man in today’s National Basketball Association. Fantasy owners of Gasol were probably watching Tuesday’s game to see how Joerger would adjust his rotations to get the prized center some more rest. What did they witness? (I’m so glad you asked…)

Marc Gasol played 42 minutes of other-worldly basketball, posting 38/13/6/0/4. If that wasn’t enough, he shot an even 50% from the field on 22 attempts and was flawless from the FT line on 16 (!!!) tries. Yep, sixteen for sixteen.  He was the only Grizzlies starter with a positive rating (+8) on the night and his team won the game, which goes to show you just how instrumental Gasol was in this one.

(As an aside – perhaps Tillery heard coach Joerger wrong and he said he desperately wanted to reduce everyone but Gasol’s minutes? No other Memphis starter played more than 31. Go figure.)

This is your ultimate sell-high moment on the younger of the two Gasols. If you can score a top-25 asset in return, I think you pretty much have to do it. In trade negotiations you can point to the high minutes, the nice boards & blocks numbers, and the sweet out-of-position dimes. That is, unless you are a believer that Marc can withstand this kind of workload over the course of an 82-game season. I’m never one to predict injuries, but wear & tear is a very real thing, and when you’re dealing with a 7’1″, 265lb monster of a man on the wrong side of 30, miles add up quickly.

I’d be interested to know where Gasol’s owners stand after this one. Are they looking to sell? Or are they going to ride him all the way to the edge of the cliff? (Chime in below via the comments section if you have a buy/sell/hold take.)

Let’s take a look at what else shook down on Tuesday night with 12 teams in action…

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Hoops fans were treated to a pretty entertaining six-game slate on Tuesday night, and those who were able to stay awake into the wee hours of Wednesday morning (for us East coasters anyways), saw history made at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors set a new benchmark for best record to start an NBA season by winning their sixteenth straight game to open the 2015-2016 campaign.

For all intents and purposes, the game between the Warriors and the visiting Lakers was over before it started. GSW entered the contest as 17-point favorites and it took them all of 10 and a half minutes to cover that number. The Dubs were up 34 after three quarters and LA had the look of a team that might as well have just stayed home – they walked in defeated. (Aside: Byron Scott needs to go. Awful, awful ball coach.)

Unfortunately the blowout factor was in full effect as none of the Warriors starters were needed in the fourth quarter, evidenced by Stephen Curry and Draymond Green playing a game-high 30 minutes each. However, in honor of this Golden State team destroying the league so far this season, here are the lines for each of their starters tonight:

  • Chef Curry – 24/4/9/2/0, four triples, zero TOs
  • Klay Thompson – 11/3/2/0/1, two triples, one TO
  • Harrison Barnes – 8/2/1/0/0, two triples, one TO
  • Draymond Green – 18/7/5/1/2, two triples, 7-11 FGs
  • Andrew Bogut – 8/7/2/0/2, 4-7 FGs, zero TOs

Those are pretty pedestrian numbers (relative to each player’s typical contributions this year), but these are the types of lines that we’ll occasionally see with a team as dominant as the Warriors. For season-long owners you just have to move on to the next game and hope it’s a more competitive affair. And for DFS players, you know for the future to fade GSW players on nights when they’re huge favorites as the main guys won’t be needed for the full 48. At some point we’ll also have to keep an eye out for DNP-Rest days, though I can’t imagine that will happen until Golden State loses their first game. (For the record, the teams standing in the way of a 28-0 Warriors team hosting the Cleveland LeBrons on Christmas Day are: Phoenix twice, Sacramento, Utah twice, Charlotte, Toronto, Brooklyn, Indiana, and Milwaukee twice. Seriously – who of those teams is scaring you if you’re the Dubs?)

Let’s take a look at the non-Bay Area happenings on Tuesday night…

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Wow, how good is Russell Westbrook? Two nights after dropping 40 points and 14 assists against the Grizzlies, Westbrook scored 43 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds on Wednesday. The Thunder controlled the game, but never really put the game out of reach for the injury-riddled Pelicans. Whenever the Thunder needed a basket, Westbrook had no problem getting to the hoop or finding the open man. My only knock on Westbrook’s game is the turnovers, but when you’re posting near triple doubles every night, you’re allowed to turn the ball over as much as he does.

Now his stats are inflated a little because Kevin Durant has been sitting with a hamstring injury, but Westbrook is still a top 10 talent even with Durant in the lineup. Should Durant leave the Thunder next season (to go to, say, the Wizards!!!), Westbrook would enter my top three, along with Steph Curry and Anthony Davis.

Now onto the other notables from Wednesday night:

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This is usually where I talk about how we did with the picks last week, but not this edition.  I think it’s a good time to talk/rant about what’s going on in the industry, because 140 characters on Twitter isn’t long enough.  As many of you know the Daily Fantasy Sports Industry is under fire. We recently had  Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York say it’s illegal to play DFS in the state of New York.  I don’t think it’s right for a person to have that much power in any state.  To cut the head of the snake is just stupid in my opinion.  New York has the most DFS players than any other state, with an estimated 900k.  That’s a big hit for Draft Kings, Fan Duel (which is headquartered in New York) and any other site.  Also, think of the tax money that the state of New York is losing out on.  What states should be doing is protect the consumer by regulating DFS, not abolish it.  The industry got too big too fast.  Both of these companies are valued at a little over a billion dollars each.  That’s just crazy how fast it happened.  Then with Draft Kings and Fan Duel going on an all-out media blitz promoting millions of dollar in winnings, you’re going to attract a lot of unwanted attention.  Now of course the politicians have their hands out wanting their cut of the pie.  I’m not shocked at all because the political industry is probably the dirtiest and most corrupt industry we have. It’s been that way for the longest time and will continue to be that way.  Many have asked, is season-long fantasy going to be affected?  Probably not and here’s why:  If there were season long companies worth a billion dollars and promoting million dollar winners, I am sure these scumbag politicians would go after those companies.  But there isn’t.  One final thing I would like to say is that I encourage everyone who enjoys and plays fantasy sports to contact their state rep and let them know how you feel.  Also feel free to comment or ask any questions below.  

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After a pretty quiet first week, we’re all the sudden getting ravaged by injuries and late DNP scratches.  LET STEROIDS BE ALLOWED AGAIN DAMMIT!  No one wants to see Austin Rivers start an NBA game…  And then to top it off, the Clippers started a backcourt with daddy’s boy Austin alongside Pablo Prigioni…  Who is certainly old enough to be Rivers’ daddy too…

But before that travesty in Phoenix, the Wolves decided to scratch Ricky Rubio after calling him probable.  To be fair, it was probable they were going to get bludgeoned by the Warriors, then again they played Golden State pretty close…  Mitchell probably thought this was a loss anyway, but who knows if Rubio would’ve made a difference over the Zach LaVine start and the out-of-nowhere minutes for Andre Miller.  Then to just make assists even more a lost cause for fantasy owners, Chris Paul was suddenly questionable then ruled out with his groin strain.  Maybe his groin injury is some sort of cosmic karma for punching Julius Hodge in the nuts when at Wake Forest…  Isn’t cosmic karma an ice cream flavor…?  Whatever, anything to keep me from saying groin again!  There isn’t much of a fantasy spin on these frustrating-as-hell DNPs, other than Rubio indeed looked like a massive sell-high after that opener and CP-3 needs to re-nicknamed CP-DNP.  Both will be managed and it will hurt their overall value, so if you can sell for per-start stats, I would.  And just like the trend we’re seeing in all the other major sports, players will be managed through minor bumps and bruises, especially injury-prone and older players.  LET STEROIDS BE ALLOWED AGAIN DAMMIT!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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When you go out on a limb on a guy and it starts slow, at least I can pull the “it’s a long season” card.  Or the “his back has been a little spasmy” card.  Hah, little Pod joke there…

I gotta say, I love you commenters here on Razzball.  A lot of Andrew Wiggins frustration has been thrown around, like “he single-handedly killed my FG%”, and “he’s why I started 1-8”, and “Wiggins must be dating yet another one of those Kardashians”.  But I was really honored to say almost all of the vitriol wasn’t at me.  Hell, I was expecting to be served on the coals for that one!  Or some sort of cliche that works…  Maybe it was out of the decency of your hearts since I obviously own him on several teams with this rank.  I got way more hate for saying Nate Robinson was a good opening night streamer/last draft pick in 12ers!  But like the worst drunken one night stand in history, I got rid of Nate about 4 or 5 minutes in.  While with Wiggins, I’m entrenched in a life-long relationship.  Hope my wife isn’t reading this!  After a really rocky start, Wiggins finally looked like the breakout talent I was hoping for on Saturday night against the Bulls, going 31/3/2/0/1 with only 1 TO and hit 4 treys.  Of course it wouldn’t be a pristine line, but then again what relationship is suddenly perfect?!  Except my marriage of course!  Wiggy still shot like poo (11-27) and had an odd 5-10 FT game.  He’s usually gonna be a high-volume 80% guy from the stripe, plus he hit 4-5 from deep, so there’s still hope the FG% climbs as his bum back gets healthier and he shoots his way out of it.  Of course you can point to Kevin Martin not playing (personal) for the burst in treys, but big picture we still think K-Mart gets moved.  Even with K-Mart, they’re using him as a 6th man and Wiggy is the only real perimeter option in the starting 5 anyway.  I also think with a little more health, he’ll play more aggressive on D.  The one swat he had was a legit one, not a lazy strip that’s scored a block, WHICH STILL FRUSTRATES ME!  The buy low window is closing rapidly, so if you’re still hoping to buy in on Wiggy, I’d wait until tonight and see if he has another rough shooting game before opening the floodgates.  If you own Wiggy, definitely hold, particularly with the Wolves playing 5 games this week. Here’s what else went down over the weekend in NBA action, plus The 7 Ahead for week 3:

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What’s up Razzballers? Peter Kap here for your daily recap. I’ll be handling the Wednesday night recaps this season. I’ll try to be as funny and interesting as JB, but he’s got big shoes to fill. Seriously, dude wears a size 17 or something. JB’s shoes look like Shaq’s cell phone at the 2005 All-Star Game.

It’s still in the early goings of the season, but what a difference an offseason makes. The Knicks are, um, I hate to say it, watchable. I’m not declaring them a playoff team yet, but they are at least playing better together. They’re are a few more Knicks deserving to be on your fantasy roster this year. Carmelo Anthony is finally healthy, Robin Lopez has played well, and Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant have had nice starts to their rookie seasons.

Now the Knicks are still going to Knick (For example: Melo dribbling out a shot clock violation at the end of the first half last night; Derrick Williams missing wide open dunks, etc.), but they already have road wins against the Bucks and Wizards, and were up on the Cavs at the half, before losing by 10. Hey it’s a step in the right direction.

Please, blog, may I have some more?