Ya know, I used to love the winter.  I like the cold weather, I like snow (hey, when you’re in the south and only see it a few times a year, it’s kinda nice!), my birthday is in December, Christmas is fun, etc. etc.  But now working a 9-to-5, I hate it!  It’s friggin’ dark all the time!  And no different on this Winter Solstice, where I don’t think I’ll ever see the sun this morning and I struggled even through copious amounts of coffee to wrap up this Holiday Edition of Daily Notes – sorry it’s up a little late!  Shout out to anyone reading in Alaska, I have no idea how they do it!  At least this Holiday season, we did get an early stocking stuffer:

Christmas stocking isolated on white background

Making his season debut, Kyrie Irving went 12/4/1/2/0 in 17 minutes against the Sixers, hitting 5-12 from the field and both of his 3PTA.  It just makes so much sense to debut against the Sixers – they’re a staging team.  We saw Brandon Jennings get a rehab game in the D-League, but when the D-League comes to you, you can just debut Kyrie right away!  Not to be too much of a Grinch, but Uncle Drew’s minutes are obviously going to be strictly monitored, and I really worry about how much run he gets in the fantasy playoffs.  With all the fervor and fanfare surrounding his return, I actually kinda see this as a sell-high moment.  I’d obviously need more than draft day value back – missing the first 8 weeks is built into the discount – but if I were getting top-25 value in a deal, I’d take it in a heartbeat.  Not that I think Kyrie’s per-minute and eventually per-game numbers won’t be worth that, I just see it as a smart way of minimizing risk.  If you’re able to move him, then double up the rum in your egg nog, cover that ish with a ton of nutmeg, and sing a Christmas DeMarre Carroll to the fortune of your fantasy team heading into 2016.  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops, plus the 7 Ahead for week 9:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Early in the day on Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced that All-Star Todd Frazier was traded from the Cincinnati Reds to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-player trade. Wait, I thought this was a basketball blog! Well, one of those guys involved in the trade was Trayce Thompson. Not quite a Splash Brother, but the biological brother of the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson and former NBA player, Mychel Thompson, who now plays in Italy.

As brothers, it’s pretty common to be competitive with each other. We may not be on as big of a stage as the Thompson brothers, but my older brother and I make almost everything a competition between each other, whether it’s games of one-on-one, 10-mile races, or Settlers of Catan.

While Trayce was gaining popularity as a new member of the Dodgers in California, Klay went off for 27 points in the 3rd on his way to a game high 43 points (15-22 FG, 8-13 3PT). It must be a happy time for the Thompson family!

Coming off their first loss of the season, the Warriors blew out the Suns by 25, leading by 40 after the 3rd quarter.

With the game in hand, Thompson, Draymond Green, and Stephen Curry weren’t even needed in the 4th quarter. That was enough minutes for Green to go for a triple double (16/11/10/5) and Curry to drop 25 points and 7 assists. So much for feeling sad about their first loss.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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!

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On a weekend where elite guys did elite things – we got served more 40-burgers than a McDonalds – I’m going to open this Monday morning a little further down the bunnyhole.  It may be “rabbit” hole, but it sounded dirtier my way…

When Al Jefferson went down with his calf strain (he’s still out at least another 1-2 weeks), I clowned the Hornets for their “three-headed” monster for C minutes.  I joked it was a nice way of saying none were any good.  Kinda like saying the “three-headed monster” of good M. Night Shyamalan movies.  Especially Frank the Stank, as Michael Jordan’s never-ending conquest of building an NCAA dream team continues to keep the Charlotte franchise in the awful-to-mediocre range.  At least Spencer Hawes looks OK out there, putting up decent lines in 20+ minutes the past two Hornets games.  But watching the Hornets against the Bulls on Saturday – I was mad impressed by Cody Zeller.  Took the lion’s share of PT playing 32 minutes, and went 17/8/2/1/1 on 6-10 FG (5-7 FT) with no TO.  And it wasn’t a cupcake matchup either against Pau Gasol.  Although Gasol wouldn’t get that joke, let’s say “it wasn’t a flan matchup.”  Just at the eye level, he was cutting to the basket with great speed, finished strong at the rim with a few dunks, and took jumpers confidently.  I think the Hornets wanted someone to step up with Big Al down, and they’ve found their guy.  Now this would only be a medium-term pickup in 12ers, plus the schedule is going to be a crazy test.  Hornets get DET, MIA then @MEM the next three, so Zeller is going to have to D up Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside, then Marc Gasol.  Eesh.  At least the Gasol one is more his player-type…  And it’s not like Hawes or Frank Kaminsky is going to play any better against those beasts…  So if you’re looking for a little help up front without the big blocks upside, Zeller is worth a look.  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, including The 7 Ahead for week 7:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Well, you might lose your patience after I plagiarized last week’s title and didn’t even have a rhyme-y pun in it!  I’m like the Robert De Niro of short filmmaking

But it is interesting that we’ve had back-to-back weekends of patience paying off.  It’s like having to hold it in and thinking of baseball to make it last!  Although when I think of baseball I think of Grey, so it’s not making anything last!  The injuries have been ridiculously frustrating the past two years, but this last one was just a bad cut that Terrence Jones accidentally squeezed lemon juice in when he was making shrimp scampi.  At least it wasn’t a leg or body part injury, so I remained firm in my Tjones love.  A lot of commenters were asking about selling Tjones away for virtually nothing, and there was even some drop Tjones sentiment.  After a pretty lowly return last Wednesday, Jones showed everyone how good he is when his run is normalized, putting up 23 Pts on Friday and Saturday, with 23/7/0/0/4 and 23/6/1/1/3 lines hitting well over 50% from the field with a combined 4 treys.  I can’t think of baseball fast enough when seeing those numbers!  As I quickly change my pants, it’s probably too late to swing some buy low offers and hopefully you own Tjones in several leagues to ride the wave.  If anyone wants to pay top-30 or 40 value (doubtful), Jones does have the inherent risk of more injuries, so I might sell him off at that price.  But I’m not looking at this weekend as a fluky, sell-high couple of games.  Pateince is a Tjones!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, and The 7 Ahead for week 4:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Time for the undraftables!

It’s an absolute barren wasteland trying to sift through the 151-200 ranks, akin to that 60-year-old retiree scanning a remote beach with his metal detector.  Bleep!  Bleep!  Eureka I found a dime!  But none of these guys are good enough to get dimebags!

We’re finally wrapping up the top 200 (Rank 1-10 | Rank 11-20 | Rank 21-50 | Rank 51-75 | Rank 76-100 | Rank 101-150), with most of these guys untouchable in 12ers.  However, there is some upside to be had with your last-pick fliers and hopefully help out with the deeper leagues.  The deep ballers.  “I’m balls deep in sleepers!”  If only that were the case – a lot of these guys are likely duds or rooks that won’t see enough PT.  “I’m balls deep in DNPs!”  So remember upside is a big factor when you get this late, as no one wants to be balls deep in O.J. Mayo‘s 20 minutes off the bench…

If you disagree with these ranks, be sure to put your fantasy acumen to the test in the Razzball Commenter Leagues!  We need more commissioners and leagues, so sign up a league today, it takes literally a minute – I stop-watched myself – and face off against the best fantasy basketball community around!  Prizes and me shaming myself on YouTube abound!

Back to it, here’s the Top 200 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Ugh, things are drying up faster than Tom Selleck’s avocado farm, that’s for sure!

Maybe it’s the shallower draft class…  Maybe it’s a really long list of aging vets…  Or maybe it’s just that all the guys I like could only fill up my top 65 of so…  But eesh, I really don’t want any of the guys ranked 65 and beyond, and rounding out the top 100 was like trying to sit through True Detective season 2.  Hah, still haven’t seen it, I’m just applying some groupthink there…  Here’s to hoping ESPN and Yahoo botch their pre-ranks and skew some nasty ADPs!  And just throwing it out there to astute re-draft commishes – ESPN and Yahoo’s initial ranks always look pretty poopy before a massive re-adjust closer to the season.  Maybe you can con your league to draft earlier and dominate the ill-informed, non-Razzball reading scrubbos… Here’s the Top 100 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Playoffs? Unlike Jim Mora, there’s no question it’s playoff time. With the season almost over, tough decisions and moves need to be made. A guy that helped you during the regular season may not be helpful now. You’re trying to win a championship and there are only so many weeks left in the season to accomplish that. Hopefully your team is healthy, but if not, here’s an update on the latest injuries:

Dwight Howard returned for the Houston Rockets, after missing 26 games with swelling in his right knee. In 16 minutes as a starter, Howard recorded 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block. Howard only played 16 minutes because of a minutes’ restriction, rather than because of foul trouble (he had 4 fouls in the game).

This is definitely good news for the Rockets and fantasy owners’ playoff runs. Each game, Howard should see his minutes rise, but it probably won’t be another week or so until he’s back to playing full minutes. Even then, he may sit a game or two if he feels any discomfort or the Rockets decide to rest him for the playoffs. This is pure speculation on my part, but it wouldn’t surprise me, since Howard has been limited to 33 games this season. The Rockets want to be careful with him.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

For one week this season, it feels like there are more stars returning from injury than ones getting hurt. However, that won’t console those who saw their players were added to the injury list. So we’ll start with the bad news first.

All-Star Jimmy Butler suffered an elbow sprain in Sunday’s game and will miss the next 3-6 weeks. Fortunately the injury will not require surgery, but that still puts him out for most, if not all of March.

Joining Derrick Rose and Butler on the sideline, Taj Gibson is out with another ankle injury. Out since suffering the injury in Friday’s game, he’s no longer wearing a walking boot. Gibson has a history of ankle injuries so the Bulls’ may want to be extra cautious with him, but Gibson should be considered day-to-day going forward.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

With an ADP of 68.6 in drafts all the way back in 2014, Jimmy Butler has been an absolute revelation and made all his fantasy owners rich with value.  “Butler, I need some extra steals!  A couple more blocks!  Some artisan cheese!”  And the trusty ol’ Butler would always deliver.

Unfortunately, all that caviar and pancetta piled on that silver serving plate really wore down the Butler’s elbow, and Jimmy Buckets is going to miss 3-4 weeks.  Hey, on the bright side this is the NBA and not a year-long pitcher injury!  So the billion dollar question – to drop or not to drop JB?  Well don’t drop me!  I’d try to hold where I could.  I’d much rather have JB at the end of my bench than stashes of Kemba Walker or Paul George.  Even in 10ers, I think I’d probably hold on as most Jimmy Buckets teams are doing pretty well.

In his stead, the vastly improved Tony Snell should get the tiger’s share of minutes.  He’s greeeeeeeeeat!  I don’t think he’s a must-own in even 12ers though, since he’s a semi-ThrAGNOF with steals upside.  Not that I don’t like him!  But I would say a little better FG%/FT% version of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  The real interesting addition to me is Nikola Mirotic, who should get a lot of run while Taj Gibson is out at least another week.  And with Butler gone, maybe he gets a handful of SF minutes here and there, even though it hasn’t gone that well when experimenting with that before…  But experiments take a lot of tries before they go right!  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?