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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When the Obamacare website launched, it was a lot like the Nuggets.  Load errors, mental mistakes, and only 6 people actually showed up because George Karl got fired.  But after JaVale McGee went down (I bet the Nuggets wish their healthcare bills were free!), the 1-3 Nuggets are now 11-6.  Coinky-dink?  I think not!  J.J. Hickson has been great at the 5 fillin’ in for Shaqtin-a-McGee, but it was Timofey Mozgov who has stolen the show the past two games, with 15+/15+ back-to-back including 17/20 against the hapless Nets last night.  But a trend is a-surfacing as Hickson has been under 18 minutes in those games while Mozgov was over 30.  Hickson is still starting, but Mozgov is just being a straight Godzilla out there against opposing B-teams.  I’m not ready to completely hand over the torch – I think Mozzy Bear getting in there was just matchup-based and Hickson gets back to the 30 minute range and Mozgov to the low-to-mid 20s.  But if you need boarding and scoring help, Mozgov is available in a lot of leagues and can still be valuable with that sort of run.  Pete even put him on the radar!  Now he’s in full view.  Even 12-teamers needing the big man help need to take the flyer while they can.  Here’s what else went down last night in the hoops-o-sphere:

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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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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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Razzball Nation!  Sorry it has been a slight break from me, but it’s been a wild summer.  If I weren’t out of town drinking daiquiris on the beach trying to grow my mustache out and know absolutely nothing about any sport besides baseball, then my summer would’ve felt incomplete…

But I’m back now, back into everything Razzball, and ready to talk some NBA rookies.  I know I’m a little behind the draft, but hey, we’ve got a little time before we see these guys in real NBA action.  Not that Kelly Olynyk playing in solid color warmups in a gym that looks like one Nikola Pekovic used to play in the Siberian Leagues isn’t entertaining, but c’mon.  Let’s get these summer guys playing somewhere nice!

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As we continue to navigate through the NBA Playoffs, it’s been a fun challenge to rank for the 2013-2014 season.  There’s still free agency.  There’s still a draft.  Hey, at least we know there will be a season unlike 2011!

If you missed it, my top 10 then top 20 came out last week.  Hey, it’s early, you might say “way too early” (see what I did there, it’s in the title!) so these rankings are subject to change.  And I want no accusations of flip-flopping!  It’s not my fault if all the sudden Dwight Howard goes to the Bobcats and becomes a first-rounder!  OK, so that is as likely as Rony Seikaly… returning.  You gotta stop on the word that rhymes Jean-Ralphio!  Man I’m liking that show.  Also, random side note, Googling Rony Seikaly to spell his name correctly broke Google.  I searched it and it would freeze, despite everything else working.  Weird.

As I battle my ADHD to get into the rankings, let’s just dive into it:

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The playoffs are coming, do you have a point guard emergency? Mo Williams consistency driving you insane? Kyrie Irving just not cutting it since his return? Steve Nash can’t stay on the floor? Tony Parker goes down! Well according to Lt. Dangle there might be a new sheriff in Orlando, all he needs is a killer ‘stache. Beno Udrih was Udraining shots from all over the floor Friday night and scored 27 points (10-17 FG) with 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and hit 3 shots from beyond the arc. Beno may have that mustache in him after all. Jameer Nelson missed his fourth straight game and Beno got the nod again. In four games starting with Nelson out, Udrih is averaging 19.5 points, 7.3 assists, 4 rebounds, 1.75 steals and 2.5 threes a game. BENOthatswhatImtalkingabout Udrih! He  played 36 minutes Friday night and should continue to find plenty of time on the floor even when (if) Jameer Nelson (ever) returns. If I have a playoff point guard emergency I’m picking up Udrih,  Beno-911 should provide enough points and assists to make him an asset in your fantasy playoffs.

Here’s what else happened in basketball Friday night:

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I bet you haven’t heard and I’m breaking the news… The Heat lost last night!  27 games in a row, down the drain.  One of the most impressive streaks we’ve seen in American sports is over.  However, instead of linking highlights to the game, I think this sketch from one of the best sketch comedy shows Mr. Show encapsulates what happened last night.  David Cross is the Bulls and Bob Odenkirk is the Heat.

Fantasy-wise, the Heat big three had their usual games and Luol Deng was the Bulls top performer with 28 Pts and 4 3PTM.  It was one of the most-hyped, most-talked about regular season NBA games in recent memory, so apologies this isn’t a fantasy-heavy open.  That’s what the rest is for!

Here’s what else went down across a heavy slate of NBA action (yes, there were other games!):

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It’s crunch time people. We are in the playoffs and it’s balls to the wall from here on out. No long intro this week fortunately or unfortunately for you, as my body is still trying to repulse the HPV that Tahitian drag queen gave me in Bora Bora. I can hardly keep my eyes open for you, the readers, I would never leave hanging. Let’s hop right into this past weekend’s hit or miss performances.

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