isojoe

Listen, as a Hawks fan I have a special place in my sports heart for Joe Johnson. It’s special because of this strange dichotomy I call reluctant gratitude. The Hawks sucked. Hard. For years. And gave up far too much to get him, but once Joe Johnson arrived in Atlanta back in the ’05-’06 season the Hawks became a legit playoff team, with Johnson ascending to perennial All-Star level. Yet that damn contract (only to be rivaled by Allan Houston from 2001 as potentially the worst of all-time) handcuffed Atlanta into the nothingness that is the perpetual second-round, upper-middle tier of the NBA. It was awful.

However, Brooklyn came along and washed our bored tears away when they gulped down his albatross contract to usher in the new era of Atlanta basketball (still perpetual upper-middle tier, though). But when you think about it, that’s just what Joe does: usher in the next chapter for a franchise. Well, that and play incredible (dribble) ball-stopping (dribble) isolation (dribble) basketball (five more dribbles, contested shot with 3 second left). It started in Phoenix as Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash began their revolutionary 8-second offense, then shifted to Atlanta for the next seven years where he made six All-Star teams before becoming the epitome of the catastrophe that was the Brooklyn Nets post-prime project alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. And now? Smack dab in the middle of the Rockies, Joe’s the biggest free agent signing the Utah Jazz have locked in for the past 10-15 years. At 35 years old he’s shooting 49% in 31mpg during their first five contests. Could it be that a new era is beginning in Utah with all of their young talent (and without Gordon Hayward as of yet)? They just crushed both the Spurs and then the Mavs, and I’m getting quite jazzed about the makeup of this team. Could they reach the playoffs for the first time in 5 years? Well, probably. Joe’s there now. It’s time for a new era.

And for this week…four games for the Jazz. Here’s the 7 Ahead for Week 3!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

ante-zizic

So here we are again Razzball nation, another week down and another action packed weekend of NBA action just around the corner. The week has seen the good (James Harden putting up back-to-back 15 assist nights on Tuesday and Wednesday), the bad (injuries to Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Jeremy Lin, Will Barton and Ricky Rubio) and the ugly (Sam Dekker tripping over his own feet on a clear path to the basket to bounce the ball off his face).

Today I will be focusing on a somewhat specialist subject of mine: European basketball players plying their trade outside of the USA. Being European myself, and residing 50 miles south of London, my fascination for basketball in Euroleague and domestic leagues across Europe matches that of my love for the NBA and NCAA game (albeit, not doing my laptop much good with illegal streaming for domestic European league basketball from some questionable sites).

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Man, what a World Series!  The Cubs win Game 7 – in extra innings no less – to end their century plus drought and have their fans become insufferable, like the Red Sox.  Ugh.  But congrats to the Cubs, and now we can solely focus on basketball!!!  …until the football playoffs take over 45 minutes of every hour of Sportscenter…

Anywho, if it’s not my Brewers in the World Series, I could care less, and I was paying more attention to hoops last night anyway.  Very depressing night, but I wanted to start positive!  After singing his praises on the Pod Tuesday morning, T.J. Warren had a little bit of a down game on Halloween night, but bounced right back to lead the Suns to their first W in OT.  11-22 FG, love dat FG%, 5-5 FT, ditto, 27/7/0/2/1 with no TO.  Dem fighting numbers!  That gives him a 22.4/6.2/0.8/1.8/0.4 line on the season, shooting 50.6% from the field on 17.8 shots, 86.4% from the stripe in 4.4 FTA, and averaging only 1.0 TO.  This is turning into a fantasy MVP!  Of course, of course, of course it’s early, but Devin Booker was back after sitting one game, both Eric Bledsoe (hit the game winner) and Brandon Knight got their run, and I don’t really see any reason this can’t sustain.  The Pts probably come down a tad, but he doesn’t shoot 3s so the FG% should be huge, and he doesn’t really facilitate much which will keep his TO mad low.  On the Pod I compared him to DeRozan – with maybe even better FG% – and look at these floaters in traffic that are DeRozan-esque:

I’m very actively trying to correct the great injustice – with all my TJ love, I don’t own him on any teams.  Hopefully owners think this is a flash in the pan or a sell-high moment.  I don’t.  So be like Warren, take a trip to Dr. James Andrews, and get yourself a nice year-long TJ!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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As we prepare for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season, I’ll be taking a look at each NBA team with their major adds and drops to see if we can pan for any surprise rotational gold.  This open is especially witty for the Nuggets…  We’ll be counting down from worst NBA regular season to the best, mainly because I’m still figuring out how to rank the Warriors…

Orlando Magic (35-47)

magic

Key Acquisitions:

F Serge Ibaka

C Bismack Biyombo

F Jeff Green

G D.J. Augstin

F/C Arinze Onuaku

G C.J. Wilcox

Key Losses:

G Victor Oladipo

F Ersan Ilyasova

G Brandon Jennings

F Andrew Nicholson

C Dewayne Dedmon

C Jason Smith

G Shabazz Napier

SKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILES!

Wooooo, get this Skiles fool out of here!  We get to turn the page on this franchise, and finally get some fantasy excitement going – – only to have them then hoard big men like they’re the Sixers.  There’s only ONE PF and ONE C spot, Orlando!

A lot of the Magic’s turnover happened around the trade deadline last year, and some “key losses” were only in Florida for a hot, swampy minute.  It’s hard to say if they really got any better or worse – losing Oladipo hurts anyone – but I’m excited to see what new frontman Frank Vogel can get out of the band.  Here’s how their roster is shaping up:

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Man, crazypants Thursday night!  I know what you’re all thinking…  “A live reaction to the madness would be better!”  Well, hopefully you downloaded and listened to our Draft Day Live Podcast!  If not, listen to it while reading this if you have a fluky-good, multi-tasking mind.  It’s tough for me to read while listening to a Podcast, it’s like that feeling when someone just starts shouting random numbers at you when you’re trying to count.  1-2-3-4-5 “17!” 6-7-8 “22!” 8… 8…  ugh, I lost my spot!  Assholes…

The first 9 picks went fairly unsurprisingly, although we did miss on virtually everything in our Mock Draft.  Pretty sure I beat Slim 2-1 overall (edit – ugghhhh Slim’s right he got Zizic, we tied, ahhhhh!)!  Then when the Bucks made their 10th pick…  All hell broke loose!  Dudes I joked around about as 2nd round sleepers getting picked in the lottery, Suns making baller trades, someone’s twitter getting hacked…  Oh wait, that was the NFL draft.  I guess it wasn’t quite THAT crazy!  Here’s my analysis for each rookie’s fantasy impact, along with my grade for each team’s pick in a real-life context and my guess at where each rookie will rank in my 2016-17 redraft rankings to come out this summer:

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What a return from the break!

It was an exceptional weekend of NBA action after the wayyyyyyy too long layoff for the break, highlighted by a huge upset by the Blazers.  Is anyone else getting annoyed by that Damian Lillard commercial on the NBA App?!  The one where he semi-raps, then says “thanks for the motivation” when asked about his haters?  Well, it’s kinda fitting now, with that performance after that All-Star snubbery!  Dame went Insame on the Warriors for a career-high 51 points, going 51/0/7/6/0, shooting 18-28 from the field.  But the crazier numbers were 9 treys, and not a single TO.  6 steals and no turnovers?!  That’s winning hoops right there!  He followed it up with a huge night last night as well, going 24/4/4 through 3 quarters before grandpa JB hit his bedtime.  Portland bested Golden State with a crushing 137-105 W in that Friday epic win, solidifying the Blazers as a playoff contender.  No one thought they would even be close, and as Slim and I talked on the Pod, Stotts deserves a ton of cred and maybe some Coach of the Year consideration.  If you told me in October the Blazers would make the playoffs, I woulda said you’re Insame!  Here’s what else went down over an exciting return to hoops over the weekend, plus The 7 Ahead for week 17:

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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:

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In a season beginning with high hopes for Nerlens Noel, things have been a bit of a disappointment for the third-year player, surrounded by a dearth of playmaking and shooting while struggling to play alongside Jahil Okafor. Frankly, Noel’s season could only be made worse by injury, or the brash decision to shave off his iconic high-top fade (please, whatever you do, keep the hair.)

But for one night last night, coming off 3 single-digit scoring outings in his last 4 games, Noel looked like the best player on the 76ers once again, finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds to accompany 1 assist, 2 steals, and 3 blocks.

Playing a season-high 47 minutes, Noel’s extended look can hopefully provide stability to an otherwise shaky season. His effectiveness and usage have both been limited, but performance like yesterday’s show his immense potential and ability to impact games.

While Philly’s long-term success depends on Noel’s continued development, our immediate fantasy success depends on his ability to turn yesterday’s flashes into consistent showings.

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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?

Sorry folks, there will be no lengthy lead-in for this edition of the Daily Notes. (And likely very little attempt at clever humor.) I’m a bit under the weather and doing my best to spill any digital ink on the page at all. I hope everyone is cool with me just jumping right in to The Good, The Bad & The Noteworthy for Tuesday’s five-game slate so I can catch a few extra ZZZs.

Please, blog, may I have some more?