It was a mere two weeks ago that we were here, in this very space, talking about the living embodiment of a game of “Q*bert,” Nene Hilario.

We knew it was coming. Nene’s gone all screwy on us again, deciding that his foot hurt and that he would need to “step away.” Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do that at work whenever crap went bad? Eh, hey, sorry I messed up that TPS report boss, I think I’m just gonna “step away.”

The chief beneficiary to this mess is Trevor Booker.  Prior to Nene’s latest hiatus, which began three games ago, Booker wasn’t even listed on the Wizards depth chart.

Yet when Nene did his Nene thing coach Randy Wittman reached to the end of his bench and grabbed the beefy Booker. One of the geekiest-looking players in NBA history was rewarded: In the three games that Nene’s been out, Booker has averaged 16-11-1, including a monstrous 24-12-1 in a near-win against the Atlanta Hawks.

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Pretty much anyone involved in the big Rudy Gay trade has gotten nothing but positive return except Greivis Vasquez.  Poor Vasquez… And easily the biggest winner right now is Isaiah Thomas just going off with the backcourt to himself, going 29/6/2 on Friday night and 19/2/8 last night.  With both PGs there in Shaq-ramento to start the year, it was like the first Terminator, then IT2 got flipped into the main good guy and it’s movie magic in the sequel.  Coach Mike Malone even came out and said Thomas is gonna lead the NBA in minutes.  Iron man!  Well I guess it would be hyperalloy combat chassis covered by living human tissue man… I wish Vasquez had never gone to Sacramento, because as I mentioned last week, I aggressively ranked Thomas early in the summer.  I love this kid.  He’s going to be extremely tough to go out and trade for right now, and I certainly would not be selling.  He’s got both Gay and DeMarcus Cousins to dish to, plus he’s a fantastic scorer.  I have all sorts of IT2 regret now since he’s not on any of my teams… Womp womp… Here’s what else went down over the weekend:

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I trust everyone has been a good boy or girl this year, and has sent their wish list to Santa already, right? I have it on good authority that jolly old St. Nick is a huge NBA fan, so naturally I suggest you ask for fantasy help. And I have a strategy: bear in mind, if you ask for too much, you get burned for being greedy, and you will get coal bricks under your tree (like Drummond at the free throw line, amirite?? Awful, sorry.). So, that in mind, I’m simply asking for dimes. I need help with assists in my 2 leagues, I took Kyrie in both leagues, and he is not exactly packing that stat line, I have Jameer, and he’s been on and off the court… well, whining to you guys won’t do anything about it. But whining to Santa will. It has to, as there is no quality points on my waiver. And with that let me bend your eyeballs to a few guys that might make excellent stocking stuffers:

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In what was some brutally bad basketball last night, John Henson led the woeful Milwaukee Bucks into Chicago against a Bulls team more battered up than a candy bar at a state fair… and the Bucks actually won!  It’s horrifying to think in today’s NBA that a guy like Henson might have been the most polished offensive player on the court for EITHER TEAM.  It was brutal.  This was the game I made the Yahoo highlights for, and man, it was more of a wreck than if you went out partying and decided that Lindsay Lohan would be your DD.  But for fantasy, whew-ee if you’re a Henson owner!  Huge rainbow line of 25/14/2/3/6.  It was so good from the big man that Larry Sanders punched a wall.  But the icing on the cake, was this preposterous rainbow shot to close out the rainbow night.  I love the Bulls announcers reacting to that.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  Good thing he didn’t take that shot in Cowboys Stadium, that mighta hit the scoreboard!  It feels really good seeing Henson going off, as he was a guy I ranked really high (#100 exactly) and have recommended him over a lot of fringe-wire adds through the young season.  His stats are helping fill all the Andre Drummond voids I have!  Win some, lose some… Henson is obviously a must-own in all leagues, and I think can maintain solid production playing at the 4 when The Colonel is back.  Here’s what else I saw last night in hoopsland:

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In Shaq-ramento, when Christmas carolers sing at your doorstep, if it’s deck the halls you must insist a free a Rudy Gay jersey! You better believe Sleep Train Arena is gonna deck their halls with Gay apparel.  That is, if it has power.  Zing!  Last night, the Kings picked up Gay from the Raptors in a 7-player deal with a lot more fantasy impact than just the players involved.  The Kings also picked up Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy, for the fewest letters in three surnames you could ever receive in a three-player haul.   In return, Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes got exported to Canada.  I hope they have winter wear!  Instead of going over all of the impact in the open, it’ll be fettered out and we’ll focus on Gay at the top.  Nothing changes.  Brevity!  Lots of shots, the Kings don’t become any better or worse, but get a good all-around player.  The fantasy impact on Gay seems null.  The trade overall I think it a win-win, both in real hoops and in fantasy.  The Kings dumped guys that don’t really help their rotations for a star, and the Raptors break up their two high-volume shots guys with it not working.  Plus the Raptors are looking to rebuild around the Luminescent Lithuanian.  Then all sorts of fantasy optimism below, along with other action across the NBA over the weekend:

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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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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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[It’s March of 2011. A disenchanted DeMarcus Cousins is mindlessly taking part in a layup drill during a practice at ARCO Arena/ Power Balance Pavilion/ Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento]

Paul Westphall: Ah, yeah, what’s up DeMarcus. Um, I understand there’s been a few questions about your efforts on the glass? Yeah, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and fix that by participating in some rebounding drills, um-kay? Greaaat. Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and practice on Sunday, too…

[Cousins says nothing, fumes, and goes off to take part in the rebounding drills with Assistant Coach Keith Smart]

DeMarcus Cousins: Hey, guys.

Tyreke Evans: What’s up, G?

DeMarcus Cousins: Want to go to Mokeski’s? Get some coffee?

Marcus Thornton: Oh, it’s a little early.

DeMarcus Cousins: I gotta get outta here. I think I’m gonna lose it.

Keith Smart: Uh-oh. Sounds like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.

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After re-ranking the top 10top 20, and top 50, it’s easy to see there’s been big changes since last May.  Below are the Razzball Updated Rankings with the previous May rankings in parentheses before the adjusted rank:

(68) ↑ 51. Derrick Favors – Utah declining to bring back either Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap gives you a slight inclination on their thoughts on Favors, and they’re already talking contract extension with their emerging big as well.  I love his athleticism, and if I miss out on Serge Ibaka who I’m high on early, I’m gonna want to reach on Favors to win blocks. I think he’ll be a top-5 NBA swatter.

(51) 52. Kemba Walker – Kemba has been higher on virtually every rankings I’ve seen, and I’m just not top-50 high on him.  He had a really solid season last year, but the terrible FG% still worries me as I feel like he forces some offense.  The acquisition of Big Al is going to give the Bobcats/soon-to-be Hornets an actual scorer down, and I don’t think that translates into helping Kemba all that much.  I like Gerald Henderson a lot too to take a bigger scoring role.  The 2.0 steals a game last year was elite, but I see those going down along with the scoring, and a comparable 5.7:2.4 Ast:TO ratio.  All that spells a slightly down ranking for me.  Although to be fair, he’s played in every single Bobcats game in his career, so there’s that reliability that can’t be ignored.

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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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