The drought is over, the drought is over! Cleveland has finally won a sports championship after 50 some odd years, including the world of fiction where the Indians couldn’t even win in Major League. Remember when CLE fans were burning their LeBron jerseys? Ah, how things have changed… And a good excuse for me to show my graphic representation of when LeBron was re-signed and his introduction press conference!

LeBron Gets New Cavs Jersey

Wow, things change in 2+ years, including my eye at graphic design! At least I hope! I remember that was pretty hard to put together too…

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It’s finals week! Ugh, that makes it sound like I’m back in college…

“Oh no, I haven’t studied!” “…oh thank god!”

But you wanna know who DID study for all of his exams?! Harvard’s own Jeremy Lin. “Ohhohohohoho look at me, I’m from the Ivy League!” Linsanity is book-smart, plays in the NBA, and can get away with an Elmer’s Glue mohawk that makes that moron from Blink-182 jealous. On top of all that, he’s fantasy relevant as a H2H finals pickup! In RCL leagues with the “daily-tomorrow” setting, he’s going to be an early stream for me in the finale with a Tuesday matchup against the Sixers. Sure he’s cooled off a little bit his last two games, but 9/4/4/5/0 is still pretty saucy – his damage against the Bucks – which he put up last time out. In the finals, it’s all about streaming and anything that isn’t nailed down can go. It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean when they use their silverware in their cannons. Would it work in real life? Probably not. But in fantasy, dream away! This metaphor has gone wayyyyy downhill, if only I had an Ivy League edjamucation I might be more creative… Good luck in the Finals if you’re still in the playoffs, Razzball Nation! Here’s what went down this weekend in fantasy hoops action, plus the 7 Ahead for Week 22:

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So here we are in the semi-finals of the H2H playoffs! It feels like I was just writing sleeper posts for the season yesterday… Just for the record, I would like to pat myself on the back for calling Greg Monroe a bust.  That was probably my most contentious bust call during the preseason, and it didn’t look like it would pan out at the start.  The call would look even better if the Bucks had come to their senses earlier… Monroe just doesn’t fit that team.  I should apologize to Rondo for the bust call, but a selfish player with those percentages, will always be a bust to me.

*Here’s where I need the opinions:  What content would you like to see this basketball off-season?  I’ll do some sleepers and busts again later on, but are there any other ideas?  Possibly an alternative set of early rankings, individual player previews for the next season, or maybe something else!  Leave your thoughts in the comments!*

Ok! Back to the here and now!

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A matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers is Candyland for talented opposition and on Tuesday night it was Thaddeus Young‘s turn to feast. The injury-depleted Sixers couldn’t keep Thad off the glass as he collected a season-high 16 rebounds (four offensive). In addition to the board-fest, Young scored 14 points on 5-9 from the field and a perfect 4-4 mark from the foul line. He handed out a team-high four assists (with no turnovers), swiped the ball twice and rejected three Philly shots for an eight-category gem. The only disappointment for Thad’s owners on this night is that he fouled out, holding him to 33 minutes, or the line could have been even sweeter.

Thad has been a fourth round value on the season so big lines have popped up here and there, but monster outings like Tuesday’s illustrate just how favorable a matchup with Philadelphia can be. All told, the Nets hung 131 points on ’em (in regulation) and with the 76ers having now given up more than 110 points in twelve of their last fifteen games, it’s worth a look ahead to see who else might have an opportunity to post a season-best line at the expense of Philadelphia pride in the near future…

  • Thursday, March 17th vs Wizards – Look for Otto Porter to go big, especially if Bradley Beal can’t go.
  • Friday, March 18th vs Thunder – If you’ve ever wondered if Russell Westbrook can post a triple-double in less than 20 minutes, this might be the night we find out.
  • Sunday, March 20th vs Boston – Avery Bradley is due for a scoring outburst as he hasn’t had a 20+ point performance since February 22nd. Maybe he busts loose against the “defense” of Isaiah Canaan and Nik Stauskas.

Beyond that the ‘6ers head out on a four-game road trip with the last of those contests taking place at Oracle Arena against the Golden State Warriors…yikes.

Let’s take a game-by-game look at the studs, duds and noteworthy performers from a six-game Tuesday night.

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When you’re The Duchess K Middleton, you don’t go on scrubby vacations.  None of that beach hotel with bratty kids running around and sand in the halls, none of those rickety cruise ships where the power goes out and you have to poo in plastic bags…  I’m talking huge!  Like Disneyland completely rented out only for the family!  Sledding down glaciers in Antarctica!  Hanging out with baller celebs at The Razzball Basketball Office!

As is always the case, our commenters are absolute gold.  Joe mentioned the trend of Khris Middleton‘s poor play with Jason Kidd the coach, and I also ran with it looking at the numbers in a FantasyPros piece on second-half expectations.  Now, it’s not really that The Duchess is playing that poor, but ROS rankers had him 36th overall.  Seemed a little rich – not quite Kate Middleton rich – but like, Queen Latifah rich.  Using the ol’ copy-and-paste: “Since Jan. 26, Middleton has shot only 33% from the field with a 3.6:3.6 AST:TO ratio (I guess I could’ve simplified that to 1:1!) in 7 games. Given, it’s a pretty small sample, but in the 17 games immediately prior to when Kidd was out, Middleton shot 50% with a 5.0:2.5 AST:TO ratio (I mean 2:1!). And then the chunk at the beginning of the season until Kidd’s hip gave out, dimes were at 3.4 and he shot 39.9%.”  I agree it could be statistical noise, but Kidd has had several “are you effing KIDDing me?!” moments with his line-ups.  Luckily The Duchess ended the first half on a high note, going 27/6/9/5/0 with only 2 TO and shooting 9-17.  Kidd must’ve just been not paying attention!  Too busy rubbing his bald head like foreplay with Mr. Clean.  It’s a great finale to an otherwise rough February, and maybe It’s Much Ado About Nothing.  Which just seems British, I dunno…  And you wanna know who else is heading into this ASB strong?!  ME!  And well, the NBA by only having two games…  So a slightly shorter Daily Notes, since we’re all ready to actually pay our families some attention with the NBA off until next Thursday (that is, except for the All-Star events!).  Here’s what else went down last night in Fantasy Hoops action:

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The last Tuesday before the All-Star break featured five games spread all over the USA. From South Beach to NYC, Wisconsin to Texas, and finishing up in the Bay Area out west, we had a handful of contests that featured some big fantasy lines.

In lieu of a Thursday night double-header as a result of the abbreviated week, TNT snagged the two marquee games on Tuesday. First up was the Spurs and Heat featuring the Kawhi Leonard show. He served fantasy owners a generous helping of popcorn (23 points, nine boards, four dimes) with just the right amount of butter (three steals, a block, and a trey). Despite a few quiet games recently, you’re not moving Leonard for anyone outside the top-5.

Also jumping at 8pm were tilts between the Wizards and Knicks, and Celtics and Bucks. John Wall put on a show at the Garden, dropping 17 dimes to complement his team-high 28 points. He and backcourt mate, Bradley Beal combined for 54 points, five steals, eight triples, and only three turnovers. The Wizards needed every bit of it as they narrowly escaped New York with a three point win. Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, a wild and foul-filled last few seconds allowed the Bucks to steal one from the visiting Celts. Greg Monroe made his case for 6th Man of the Year as Jason Kidd decided it would be best for him to come off the bench on Tuesday. In 30 reserve minutes, Moose went off for 29/12/3/1/2. He was a team-best +11 and you have to wonder if him being so dominant as a reserve has Coach Kidd considering this as more than just a one game thing? So long as he’s getting the run, owners should continue to bank on the third round value he’s been returning on the season.

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It’s the takeover, the break’s over. Apparently firing David Blatt may have been the right decision after all, inspiring the recent play of LeBron James and company.

With the Cavs winning their last five games, I have no reasonable doubt that the Big 3 will fail to continue this trend after the All-Star Break. Despite heavy minutes and an up-tempo pace, James has unfinished business on his quest to win his third ring, and this style of play is the blueprint from the successes of his Miami Heat teams.

Maybe this is all a convoluted way of saying the Ruler’s back, but King James and the Cavs look rejuvenated under new coach Tyronn Lue, attacking the opposing defense and getting to the foul line. Playing 43 minutes in an overtime contest, James finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block while shooting 9-22 from the field. Although shooting 4-8 from the foul line is more Drummond-like than MVP level, just remember everyone makes mistakes, everyone has those days.

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Not really sure why this story is hitting the newsstands now, but several outlets, including Fox Sports, are reporting that Giannis Antetokounmpo got tattle-taled on by Jabari Parker last April.

Apparently, Jabari – out the whole 2014-2015 season with a torn ACL – got kind of bored playing with his toys on the bench and decided to tell Daddy (Jason Kidd) that Giannis was being bad and not working hard enough.

So since Jabari went to Duke, where all the good little boys who never, ever do anything wrong go to school, Kidd knew that he was telling the truth, and decided to punish bad boy Giannis by benching him for a game.

In unison, Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Greg Monroe and a few other members of the youngest team in the league went “Aawwwwww! Giannis got in trouuuuuble!”

And Jabari can do this, despite having a very lackluster season, because he is known as a “diligent worker.” He needs to be “diligently working” on his jumper, while it seems the Alphabet has got it all together in his third year as a pro.

Since the start of the New Year, Antetokounmpo has vaulted onto the Boards-N-Blocks radar by becoming a threat to get double-digit boards every night. But over his last four he’s done way better than that, putting up dang near All-Pro numbers: 22.5 ppg, 12 rpg, 2.6 bpg and 3.5 apg while shooting 57 percent from the floor.

While Middleton has become a big-time scorer, MCW has shown major improvement as a starting PG and Monroe continues to be one of the league’s more consistent rebounders (more on that in a second), I think I like the Greek Freak best.

And I think that at the end of the day it’ll be Jabari – and quite possible J-Kidd – who will be in big trouble, not Antetokounmpo. I don’t think there’s enough shots to go around, and Jabari seems like the most moveable piece. That would leave more shots for Antetokounmpo, and if I were going for a fantasy title, he’s a guy I’d be targeting.

Let’s see what else is going on in Boards-N-Blocks …

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A record-breaking $1.5 billion jackpot was up for grabs in the latest powerball drawing on Wednesday. While I didn’t buy a ticket, winning that kind of money is very tempting, despite the terrible odds. The odds are so bad that Bartolo Colon is more likely to hit an inside-the-park homerun than you are at winning the big jackpot. (Interesting fact: Colon also shares a nickname with JB: Big Sexy.) Even with the odds, hopefully your number was called!

The odds of Russell Westbrook scoring 0 points is definitely better than winning the jackpot, but it’s still rare. He was ejected after 15 minutes of playing time with nary a point. Fortunately, he still contributed 7 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals before departing.

Another rarity: Mavericks big man Salah Mejri came off the bench to post 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 block in 25 minutes. Zaza Pachulia and Dirk Nowitzki were rested, but still. Mejri had played a combined 20 minutes all season coming into the game!

Stephen Curry scored 38 points. Not that surprising. Well, how about the Nuggets beating the Warriors? Now that’s unexpected. The Warriors were playing without Draymond Green (scheduled rest day), but the Nuggets were just 14-24 coming into the game! In addition to his 38 points, Curry also added 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 5 threes, and 3 steals.

Those were some of the stranger games of the night. Here are the rest of Wednesday night’s daily notes:

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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…

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