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?

I’m living at home with my parents temporarily, while work is being done on my condo. I didn’t want to be bothered living there while they’re painting and installing new carpeting and flooring. As a result, I’m getting kicked off the television so that my mom can watch her shows. I missed the Sunday Night Football game for “Downton Abbey” and then had to turn off the Wizards/Cavs and Knicks/Heat games for “Law & Order.” I guess it’s a fair trade, since I’m getting so many home cooked meals and leftovers for lunch.

Fortunately SVU ended early enough for me to catch the Thunder’s dismantling of the Grizzlies. Kevin Durant returned from a toe injury to post 26 points and 17 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook continued his near triple-double stat lines with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. You always worry with Durant’s foot being a problem last season, but it was nice to see KD back, after only missing one game.

It was all Thunder in this game, as the Grizzlies played down due to injuries. Mike Conley was out because of a sore left Achilles and Courtney Lee, who started for Conley, left early in the second half after injuring his hip. That left Mario Chalmers, who exploded for 23 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, and 4 threes. It’s unclear how long Conley and Lee could be out, but Chalmers would become the starter by default. It’s not like the Grizzlies will give Vince Carter lots of minutes!

Now onto the other Wednesday night games:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

On an unusually quiet Tuesday night in the NBA that saw only four games, the most remarkable item is just how unremarkable everything was. Truth be told, I watched a lot more of the Republican debate on CNN than I did professional basketball. (I’ll withhold political commentary for the most part as Razzball isn’t the appropriate forum, but holy heck is the RNC ever in a pickle.)

The usual suspects (James HardenLeBron JamesDeMarcus Cousins) were all solid for their owners, but it’s not like somebody dropped a 40-burger. Nobody poured in a ton of 3-pointers or threw a massive block party. There were no catastrophic injuries (thankfully) and no statement performances. Just a whole lot of “meh.” You can actually count on one hand the number of players who even saw 36 minutes.

Each of the two early games were decided by a dozen points and offered little in the way of drama or uncertainty about the outcome. The late games followed suit as the Greg Monroe-less Bucks got creamed by the Los Angeles Kobes, while Sacramento took care of Houston by 10 in a matchup of what might be the two most unhappy rosters in the league. Only four of the eight teams even managed to hit the century mark.

I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say is that nobody on Tuesday jumped up and said, “Hey Matty! I want the lead. I deserve the lead!” So take notice, NBA – the lead is not simply given, it must be earned. Be better than Donald Trump, basketball.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Shortly before the tip of the Grizzlies’ game in New Orleans on Tuesday night, Memphis beat writer Ronald Tillery reported that coach Dave Joerger “desperately wants to reduce Marc Gasol‘s minutes.” Coming into the game, MG had averaged in excess of 38 MPG over his last five contests – a number that is, by all accounts, quite high for a true big man in today’s National Basketball Association. Fantasy owners of Gasol were probably watching Tuesday’s game to see how Joerger would adjust his rotations to get the prized center some more rest. What did they witness? (I’m so glad you asked…)

Marc Gasol played 42 minutes of other-worldly basketball, posting 38/13/6/0/4. If that wasn’t enough, he shot an even 50% from the field on 22 attempts and was flawless from the FT line on 16 (!!!) tries. Yep, sixteen for sixteen.  He was the only Grizzlies starter with a positive rating (+8) on the night and his team won the game, which goes to show you just how instrumental Gasol was in this one.

(As an aside – perhaps Tillery heard coach Joerger wrong and he said he desperately wanted to reduce everyone but Gasol’s minutes? No other Memphis starter played more than 31. Go figure.)

This is your ultimate sell-high moment on the younger of the two Gasols. If you can score a top-25 asset in return, I think you pretty much have to do it. In trade negotiations you can point to the high minutes, the nice boards & blocks numbers, and the sweet out-of-position dimes. That is, unless you are a believer that Marc can withstand this kind of workload over the course of an 82-game season. I’m never one to predict injuries, but wear & tear is a very real thing, and when you’re dealing with a 7’1″, 265lb monster of a man on the wrong side of 30, miles add up quickly.

I’d be interested to know where Gasol’s owners stand after this one. Are they looking to sell? Or are they going to ride him all the way to the edge of the cliff? (Chime in below via the comments section if you have a buy/sell/hold take.)

Let’s take a look at what else shook down on Tuesday night with 12 teams in action…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome back from Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, with leftovers still to spare to get you through a full work-week back.  I even bought a few extra boxes of stuffing since that ran out fast on T-giv day!  Got two or three meals left to go…  God I love Thanksgiving!

And while I added several inches to my waistline, Draymond Green has been stuffing his stats even more!  Back-to-back tripdubs over the weekend for #OccupyDraymondGreen, going 14/10/10/1/2 then 13/11/12/1/4 on Friday and Saturday.  The multi-cat phenom hit two treys as well on Friday – averaging a career-best 1.6 3PTM a game on the season – while his FG% has continued to climb all four seasons as a pro, up to 48.2% this year.  It’s almost like the Warriors have good players or something!  The only knock is his TO are up, but even in standard 9-cat he’s bringing back top-15 value on BBMonster and top-10 on Yahoo.  I remain a little incredulous that a lot of people thought 2014-15 was a fluke (I guess?), and I had to defend a “high” rank a few times in the comments.  So after this Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful Dray is helping our Yahoo F&F team be decent this year and that rank is working out…  Because trust me, a lot has gone wrong.  Friggin’ Rubio…  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops, plus The 7 Ahead for week 6:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Like LeBron James, I find underwear constricting.  It just smashes shizz together that feels so much more free in some gym shorts or pajama pants.  Let me be free!

And I just can’t imagine what Tyler Johnson goes through…  Must be like putting on shrunken spandex when he’s getting suited up every night!  He certainly brought the full Johnson effort against the Kings, putting up 19/3/3/1/0 with 3 treys on 6-8 FG and 4-4 FT.  That line is longer than…  Ok, ok, we get the idea…  Every time he gets run, he just seems to deliver.  He got a DNP in the opener, played 1:28 in game 2 before seeing an expanded role, and had a couple sub-20 minute games in there.  But in the 7 he’s played 20+ minutes, he’s 11.6/3.7/2.3/0.9/0.7 with 1.1 treys and hitting over 60% from the field.  All with only 1.3 TO!  I would call him a metrics whore, but with assets like we talked about above there, it’s tough not to be!  Even though Hassan Whiteside is tripdubbing here and there with his redonkulous blockage, Johnson finished up down the stretch with the other 4 regular starters.  Gerald Green only played 16 minutes, and it looks like Johnson and Justise Winslow are firmly entrenched as your main two subs.  Johnson certainly isn’t a must-own in 12ers, but that’s three straight Thursday games he’s been a fantastic streamer.  It’s almost like I said that on Monday in The 7 Ahead!  I’m not one to toot my own horn too much, but then again, it’s not as big a horn as Johnson…  I’m just your regular ol’ trumpet while he’s a tuba!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

How do you decide who is most deserving of the lead between these two stellar performances?:

  • Player A – 25 points, 18 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 10-15 FGs
  • Player B – 22 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks, 10-14 FGs

I’m going to give the nod to the player who posted his gaudy stats in a winning effort and that would be Player A, also known as Detroit center, Andre Drummond. The Pistons asked a lot from their franchise big man, and he responded with 39 minutes of terrific play that helped lead his team to a win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. Drummond was a +17 in a five point win, and even made the Cavs pay when they intentionally fouled him in the fourth quarter. After starting 1-4 from the line, AD made four of his last five to help seal the deal. It was a great overall performance and at this point the only thing fantasy owners need to fear is this heavy workload catching up to him later in the season. But at only 22 years old, there’s no reason why Drummond can’t make 2015-2016 his career campaign.

Player B is Miami Heat center, Hassan Whiteside. In just his 77th career game, Whiteside treated fantasy owners to his second points/boards/blocks triple-double. Unfortunately it was in a losing effort to the visiting Timberwolves, and was accompanied by four turnovers and a 2-9 mark from the charity stripe. Despite the sub-par free throw shooting (which was a bugaboo coming into the season), Hassan is providing first round returns and very likely earning himself a max contract when he hits free agency in the summer of 2016. Similar to Andre Drummond, there are no legitimate threats to Whiteside’s value other than injury, so it’s a “sit back and enjoy the ride” opportunity for his owners.

Honorable mention goes to Brooklyn’s pivot, Brook Lopez, who wasn’t too shabby himself on Tuesday night, dropping a 24/10/1/1/3 line in a two point win over the visiting Hawks. BroLo only turned the ball over once in 35 minutes and made 11-21 from the floor against a reasonably stout Atlanta front line. He may not be posting the monster lines like Whiteside and Drummond, but he’s chugging along as a third round per-game value in 9-cat leagues which is likely providing his owners with a solid return on their draft day investment.

Let’s take a look at what else shook down on a highly entertaining seven-game Tuesday evening…

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…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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?

I’m just going to say it: I missed you. Er, not you, gentle reader, although I guess you’re cool, too. I meant NBA basketball. Sexy, sexy fantasy basketball. I tried to see others, like the FIBA tournaments, it was just because I have needs, but they meant nothing to me, I swear NBA! But you’re back home where you belong, and just as alluring as ever. And make no mistake, good reader, this is the honeymoon stage of fantasy basketball. Just about every fantasy GM can see the beauty of our squads, like Shrek seeing Fiona after the curse was lifted, and envision a glorious future together. We are at the fantasy equivalent of not farting in front of each other, all lingerie and high heels, and us all pretending granny panties don’t exist. Speaking of panties, if you happen to follow the REL Dynasty, My team is Hardenouttherr4apimp. I’m number three in the league, but number 1 in your hearts. And I’m aware that the panty segue made no sense whatsoever, but it is in itself a clear indication of what to expect from me.

This is a tough trading environment, to be clear. Most GM’s ain’t ready to blow it up just yet.  Just because we cool, supple reader, because we have some history, I’ll recommend a few potentials. A caveat: while these pearls clearly have value, it has been my experience that not too many GM’s want to play nice in week 1.  So don’t be a schmuck and come on too strong and overplay your hand, drowning yourself in Axe spray and desperation.  That never works, trust me. So with that mixed message, put on your best break up music, and take a gander at these honeymoon heart-throbs:

Please, blog, may I have some more?