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!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So after working overnights, it’s a big change working standard hours and doing Razzball in the wee-hours of the morning.  Instead of following sports all night, you wake up to them!  Which in some cases is nice; others, infuriating.  At least I don’t have to go to sleep mad!

On the annoying end, in fantasy football I’m going into a must-win game against an Aaron Rodgers owner.  Plus I recommended a friend play Kyle Rudolph over Richard Rodgers.  How annoying was that 70 yard hail mary?!?!?!  Ahhhhh!  Luckily I don’t care as much about fantasy football, since it’s 100% luck.  We don’t play that ish here at basketball, we at fantasy hoops play a game of skill!  And very few are as skilled as Kawhi Leonard, who went 27/8/3/2/1 to continue his dominant season.  On top of his normal multi-cat, he was mad hot hitting 9-13 from the field including a nuts 7-9 3PTM.  Instead of texting my buddy Kap all night about how giddy it made me, I wake up to just the one text of “Kawhi banged 7 threes!  How much of a boner did you get?”  The answer is, I constantly wake up during the night half mast!  Kawhi’s been a wet dream all season…  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So as numerous comments have suggested over the years, I sometimes act as your fantasy therapist.  “WHY ARE ALL MY GUYS HURT?!”  But this morning, I’m using Razzball Hoops to therap-ize.  You guys are going to help therap-ize me…  Usually weekends are either “good”, “bad”, or “relaxing”.  That’s 99% of weekends.  Good = fun things happened, yay!  Relaxing = you didn’t do much, and you’re recharged for another work week.  Bad = things cut into the relaxing…  But for me, it ran the gamut!  I’ve mentioned a few times that the wife and I moved (yay!), we love the house (yay!), but ran into a bajillion little things and aren’t nearly as unpacked as we want (boo!) and missing a box that still hasn’t been found ($%&%!).  Then we have to rush Saturday night to get to Charlotte to be ready to tailgate for the Panthers game.  Tailgating was sick, but then I started to feel a little iffy during the game…  At least we were true fans and didn’t leave early to beat traffic in the 2nd half of that bludgeoning!  And I was able to snap the best picture I’ve ever seen of the Charlotte skyline:

IMG_4616

There’s your pinnacle!  Then I feel atrocious in a few hours of stop and go traffic, finally start feeling better, then get a tire blowout on the interstate and barely made it back last night…  What a range of emotions!  Anyway, long story short, I’m whiny, not feeling great, and the worst of all – didn’t watch as much hoops as I wanted to this weekend.  #RealLifeProblems!  So I apologize to the weekend commenters, getting to you guys now, and for a slightly shorter Monday Daily Notes that’s out later than usual.  But we’ve got a shortened Thanksgiving week to preview anyway!  Oh yeah, I guess I’ll stick with the usual daily notes format and tie this into fantasy – this article title could work for Nikola Jokic too!  Went nuts on the Spurs last Wednesday for a breakout, but then played 18 starting minutes worth of feeling sick, getting a flat tire, and losing an important box when moving Friday against the Suns.  Mike Malone even called out his guys!  “Lunch will not be served today due to lack of hustle!”  But then Jock Itch looked like a different player against the Warriors, going 11/11/2/2/1 in 27 minutes, while also helping us as a realtor and finding our house, helping the Panthers get to 10-0, and saving several stranded puppies in a well.  He’s a 20 year old on a young team, he’s going to go through a lot of ups and downs, but I say he’s worth a look even in 12ers.  If you don’t have anyone good to drop, I wouldn’t do anything rash though.  He’s at 19% owned in Yahoo and snatched up in all my RCLs, but might be worth a look on your leagues’ wires.  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, plus The 7 Ahead for Week 5:

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Please tell me that some of you lived through, or at least recognize 90’s Hip Hop. I was a teen in the early 90’s, rocking the Adidas, Raptors cap way down low, and nodded to the illest hip hop, thinking I was fly. Well, I now know without any doubt that I was far from OG, but the hip hop was divine, the golden age of the art, some might say. And as hip hop and New York basketball culture are closely intertwined, I bumping beats while I was watching some outstanding point guard play in our beloved NBA last weekend. I heard a dope joint by House of Pain, called On Point, which seemed to be serendipitous, even cosmic. This had to be a sign that I was to do an all point guard edition of the BUY/SELL, obviously. I was chosen, gentle reader, it’s out of my hands, I am merely a vessel. Woe to thee who ignores such a powerful connection, I don’t need that caliber of bad JuJu on my plate. So I give to you, an all PG edition:

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After witnessing the Philadelphia lose their eleventh straight contest this year, needless to say, it certainly takes balls to be a 76ers fan right now. I’m not referring to testicular fortitude or alpha masculinity, but rather literally, to the ping pong balls of hope known as the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery. With the possibility of multiple lottery picks in the 2016 Draft, it’s going to be okay Philadelphia fans. Put down your weapons, we’ll get through this together.

But it may take some time, since the franchise is focusing on future contention; the on-court product suffers as the 76ers appear to be the worst team in basketball once again.

At this point, I’m just surprised Philadelphia still has a team website, since they can’t string three “W’s” together…

I think I’m going to hide in a corner for the rest of my life after that joke.

Philly, I’m rooting for you, and I’m rooting for the process!

Jahil Okafor continued to impact the box score with a 19 points, 11 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. The Rookie of the Year frontrunner recorded his second straight double double against a soft Dallas front court. Luckily for fantasy owners, Okafor will see plenty of minutes to develop in the interim despite concerns about his immediate impact to the team’s chances of winning. Long term, his inabilities to defend the rim and stretch the floor may impact his fit in Philadelphia. I don’t think the coaching staff has any surprising moves in store for 2015 (such as playing more small ball around Noel or limiting Okafor’s minutes experimenting with more perimeter-based lineups), but moving forward, it is a trend to monitor as he continues to develop this year.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Well, that was a bit of a bloodbath.

On what should have been a relatively quiet evening in the NBA, there sure wound up being a lot of noise. And not a lot of it was good noise. For a lot of fantasy owners, Tuesday probably sounded a bit like this.

Mid-game injuries, late-breaking inactives, and low minutes due to a few blowouts seemed to be the consistent narrative of the night.

We’ll get to all that depressing stuff, but let’s start out on a high note – Mo Williams had himself a game. On nearly perfect shooting (8-9 FGs, 9-10 FTs, 4-4 from 3-point range), Mo helped the Cavaliers slip past the Utah Jazz 118-114 in the best game of the night. In addition to the stellar percentages, Williams chipped in six boards, six dimes, and stole the ball twice just for funzies. Five turnovers took a bit of shine off an otherwise brilliant outing, but this still goes down as one of the top fantasy lines of the evening. Mo Williams will continue to be a must-start player until Kyrie Irving comes back, and common sense would suggest that if Mo keeps balling at a high level and the Cavs keep winning, there’s no reason to rush Kyrie back anytime soon. So it’s a bit of a snowball effect in that the immediate returns are great, but they’re also likely to help extend Mo’s opportunity for a 30+ MPG role on a title contending team. People waiting on Irving to return won’t enjoy hearing that, but it’s championship-or-bust in Cleveland, so Kyrie isn’t coming back with health a single percentage point below 100.

Not to be outdone, LeBron James had himself a phenomenal fourth quarter, scoring 17 points (6-8 FGs), 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal as the Cavs scored 38 points in the final frame against one heck of a good defensive team. LBJ finished the game with 31/7/8/2/0 and dropped in a three pointer. He matched Mo Will’s five giveaways and missed four of his 12 freebies, but for all intents and purposes this was a win for LeBron owners as he made it out of the game healthy after soldiering through an owwy on his thigh.

Let’s get on to the rest of the notables…

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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?

Flashy player.  Ridiculous opportunity.  Buzzy preseason.  A lot of times it ends up fizzling out, sometimes it works out OK, and one time it’s C.J. McCollum.

C.J. went absolutely bonkers in his 15-16 debut, hitting 14-22 from the field including 6-9 3PTM for 37/6/1/1/0 and no TO.  Video game numbers!  So he’s a shooter, and he does what NBA shooters do – keeps draining em when they hot!  But I think we need to take a step back and consider a few things:  Other than massive Pts and treys it was fairly empty.  This was against the Pelicans, who without Brow, might look worse than the Sixers; they look horrific.  And the third thing that no one seemed to mention while anointing McCollum the next big thing in combo guards this preseason – he’s got a pretty extensive injury history.  He’s at the pinnacle of a sell high for me.  Do I think he’ll be hot garbage all the sudden?  Of course not.  But do I think he scores 37 again this year?  I don’t.  Well, unless they faced the Pelicans every night…  I’d shop around in the 40-50 range of ADP and see if you can get lucky.  As with all fantasy takeaways off one game, it’s always good to keep from overreacting.  Compared to fantasy football, we’re at the same point as about 9 minutes into the first quarter of week 1.  Still a long way to go.  Here’s what else went down during the first full slate of fantasy basketball action:

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Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.

(Yep, I just dropped a Chinese proverb, so y’all know this article is about to go next level…)

I’ve always found it fun to read – and write – some of the more unconventional or against-the-grain prognostications for the upcoming fantasy basketball season, and it can be a gas to revisit them at various points throughout the year to see if they’re gaining any traction or skidding wildly off the road. It probably goes without saying, but the bolder (see: nuttier) the prediction, the less likely it is to bear fruit. So the intent here is to provide an unpopular – but not unrealistic – take on a player that may actually help you during your fantasy draft. You’re likely to disagree with most (they’d be the consensus if you didn’t) but if I can hit on one akin to last year’s “take a late-round swing at Rudy Gobert and hold him until starter minutes come available,” it can be a season defining gamble. So pick your favorite(s) and let’s go diving for pearls together! (Man, that is without a doubt the least cool analogy I’ve ever come up with. But it’s a call-back to the opening line which I thought was kinda clever, so I’m gonna own it.)

Prepare the hot takes cannon as we fire off 30 bold fantasy basketball predictions (one for each NBA team) for the 2015/2016 season:

Please, blog, may I have some more?