No, no, no, we never root for injuries. It’s terrible fantasy karma. But as one of the main cliches as fantasy lays out – injuries are the great equalizer. They end campaigns and create opportunities. Fortunately the torn ACL to Jarrett Jack isn’t going to end anyone’s campaign! But the opportunity for Shane Larkin is monumental.

Last Saturday night, we saw the dreaded non-contact knee buckle from Jack against the Celtics, and we got the somber news yesterday afternoon that he has a torn ACL and meniscus. “Wahhhhhh, I bet I never start a game again!” Meh, the Wahhhh gag just seems too mean right now… And if you listen to the Pod, you know I’m a Jack supporter and of course everyone in Razzball Nation wishes him a speedy recovery. But with the starting job open, Larkin-the-Herald-Angels-Sing immediately steps in as the no-question starter. While he’s looked mad impressive to me the few Nets games I’ve watched and he’s certainly a must-add, I’m not banking on top-50 value or anything. His skill set should make him more valuable than Jack as the starter with more 3s and STL, but I imagine he’ll have fewer AST with the same bad TO. Add Larkin everywhere, and if he starts absolutely gangbusters then sell high. I also could see Donald Sloan having a bigger role than most envision – after that nice run he had in Indy to start last year, I was really impressed with him as a player. Here’s what else went down over our first weekend of 2016, and The 7 Ahead for Week 11:

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Much has been written about Jimmy Butler and Bulls lately. Butler publicly criticized head coach Fred Hoiberg saying that the team needed to be coached harder. Reports then came out that there is growing tension in the locker room between Butler and his teammates. With Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose taking back seat roles this season, there are questions around Butler’s leadership. Just because he is paid well, doesn’t mean he’s the leader.

Leader or not, Butler willed the Bulls to victory over the Pacers in overtime. He scored 7 points in the final minute to force OT, before knocking down the game winner on an alley-oop tip in with 1.2 seconds remaining. The Pacers tried an alley-oop of their own on the ensuing inbounds, but Butler defended Paul George on the lob to preserve the Bulls’ win.

For the game, Butler finished with 28 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. This was a much needed game for Butler, as Rose was a game time scratch with right hamstring tendinitis. As long as Butler is producing, owners shouldn’t worry about the drama surrounding the team. These things usually get blown out of proportion when teams are playing below expectations.

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Earlier in the year when the NBA released its schedule for the 2015/2016 season, one of the very first things I did was flip forward to December 25th. I was really stoked to see five games, neatly stacked one after the other, for our holiday viewing pleasure. The excitement continued to grow right up until the games went live and we quickly learned that putting the ball through the hoop is, apparently, quite a bit more difficult on Christmas.

Anthony Davis in South Beach for a noon eastern tip-off against the Heat. What a great way to kick off the afternoon after tossing back a few coffee & Baileys, scarfing down some cinnamon buns, and opening some presents, right? Yeah…  no. They needed overtime and the Pelicans still couldn’t hit the 90-point mark. Brow was nice (29/15/4/4/3), as was Chris Bosh, but the game was not pretty. At all.

So I says to myself, I says: “Self, one stinker does not a bad day make. We just got the ugly one outta the way early. This will not be a harbinger of things to come. No, sir, it will not.” Next up we got the weirdly entertaining (and enigmatic) Bulls visiting the dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook & Kevin Durant in front of an always raucous Oklahoma City crowd. Well, Chicago doubled up OKC in the third quarter (32-16) to quiet the crowd and pulled away as nobody other than the Thunder’s two stars bothered to show up. The league’s second most efficient team on offense couldn’t crack the century mark and fell 105-96.

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Congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki. He passed Shaquille O’Neal for number 6 on the all-time NBA scoring list.

While Kobe Bryant gains the headlines in his last season, Dirk and Tim Duncan have quietly shown how to adapt their game for the team’s sake, taking less money and adding more wins to their already impressive résumés.

At 37, Dirk isn’t the same fantasy monster that he used to be, but is still valuable. He’s scored 20+ points in three straight games and so far has posted better overall numbers than last season. His game is much different than Kobe’s, with much less wear and tear on his body, allowing him to remain relatively healthy later in his career. Personally, I don’t see any reason why Dirk has to tie the sneakers up anytime soon.

In addition to passing Shaqtus, Dirk hit the game winner in the Mavericks’ overtime win over the Nets. He finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Not bad for a 37-year-old.

Overtime basketball is free basketball and it usually means great stat lines for everyone involved:

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Alright, truth be told I had that article title in my head before the early games even finished up. It looked like it was going to be a yawn-worthy evening of basketball… but then some cool stuff happened.

Kyle Lowry‘s 17/10/7 with a pair of threes was nice. As was DeMar DeRozan‘s 28/4/4 with two long balls of his own. Bismack Biyombo pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds in a winning effort and that gave me some warm & fuzzies. But dedicating a lead to “my team” when they barely hung on to beat a mostly disinterested Dallas squad didn’t feel quite right. And also, how many semi-legitimate opportunities am I going to have to write the word “Snoozeday”? (Answer: hopefully just this once.)

But Tuesday’s schedule, man. Come on now…

Grizzlies/76ers.

Pistons/Heat.

Mavericks/Raptors.

Lakers/Nuggets.

Outside of the local fan bases, who gives a smurf about any of those games? I was this close to watching Polar Express instead of the Raptors game since it looked like they were going to run away with it early (up 16 after the 1st Q). The game ended up being mildly entertaining as the Mavs’ second unit scratched & clawed their way to within one possession late in the 4th, but Kyle, DeMar & Bismack proved to be a bit too much.

I suppose if we broke things down a little more to the individual player level we could have gotten stoked for the Andre Drummond/Hassan Whiteside matchup in South Beach. Unfortunately, the two young centers failed to deliver the monstrous lines we’ve grown accustomed to seeing early this season. Drummond was just “ok” with 11/12/1/0/2, but shot only 4-12 from the field. Whiteside was markedly better with 16 & 16 plus four blocks and 7-13 FGs. Solid stuff, but it would’ve been pretty cool to see a pair of 20/20’s in the same game. (I wonder when was the last time that happened? Somebody else please check, I’m busy/lazy right now.)

Ultimately this proved to be the second (mostly) lackluster Tuesday in a row. However, if there is NBA basketball being played there are player performances to be discussed. So let’s get after it.

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Wazzup Razznation??  It’s good to be back!  I obviously missed the last week because I was on vacation, visiting some friends in Cincinnati.  While I was up there, I got a chance to go to a Kentucky game at Rupp arena, then shoot around, and play some pick-up in the practice gym after the game (one of my friends is a manager for the team).  Definitely was a cool experience, although I’m not a huge Kentucky fan.  The athleticism and talent of the UK squad is unquestionable, but they won’t make it very far in March without a lot more hustle and outside shooting.

Just for the record, this was the UK vs Arizona St. game on 12/12/2015:

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At any rate, let’s dive into some NBA action!

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Woooooooooooo!  I don’t need to say much more than that, other than what about this weather here on the East Coast over the weekend?!  I got friggin’ sunburnt!  At a football game in mid-December!

While we continue to watch history for the Panthers franchise, we witnessed history come to an end Saturday night, with the Warriors losing at Milwaukee to move to 24-1.  Those fans wearing the 24-1 shirts were ballsy!

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Most of them don’t look like they have undershirts, they would be pretty stupid-looking if they lost!  Now I’m no fan of the Warriors (look at their paltry .960 win % vs. my Panthers 1.000! – and I don’t mean that to sound like I’m not a fan, I don’t really have a big home-team fandom), so during this whole streak and its impact on real-life NBA, I’ve been more obsessed with the fantasy stuff.  Ya know, Stephen Curry‘s 3s and Draymond Green being a PF deity.  In that 2OT triller against the Celtics, DrayDray went 24/11/8/5/5 in just an epic 2.5 rainbow performance.  Approached a triple-rainbow!  According to Rotoworld (a site that’s awesome for being able to pull research in the history books vs. my lack of even properly communicating which team won a game sometimes…), first 5×5 since Nicolas Batum in 2012 and only the third player to go 20/10 + 5×5 in the past 40 years after Hakeem the Dream and Derrick the Knee.  I’m a little jaded with DC since I used to be a big Hornets fan the first time around, and he was terrible and fat.  Then hurt his knee (yet again!) on that dumb Pros vs. Joes show (hilarious though!  hurting it against average joes!), but sadly I could only find the promo.  Anyway, #OccupyDraymondGreen has pulled yet another article-lead with his multi-cat game, and didn’t even come down too hard in the Saturday loss for 24/11/5/1/1, given a fluky 6 TO.  At 13.9/8./7.0 and still improving every season, maybe he can go full Oscar Robinson and give us a season of the O face.  Speaking of Os, 13-0!!!!!!!!!!!  Man, what a weekend…  Here’s what else went down in fantasy hoops action, plus The 7 Ahead for week 8:

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Jump Ball A Matty Series PNG

Previous “Jump Ball” articles:

9/19 – Russell Westbrook v Damian Lillard

9/26 – Kawhi Leonard v Jimmy Butler

10/2 – Blake Griffin v Serge Ibaka

10/7 – Andrew Wiggins v Gordon Hayward

TALE OF THE TAPE

EMMANUEL MUDIAY D’ANGELO RUSSELL
Denver Nuggets Team Los Angeles Lakers
PG Position (Y! Eligibility) PG
2014 Results
N/A 9-Cat Rank (Total Value) N/A
N/A 9-Cat Rank (Per Game) N/A
12 (China) Games Played 35 (NCAA)
31.5 Minutes Per Game 33.9
N/A Usage Rate (Rank) N/A
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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:

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“Dude, you can’t make a title caps to make the pun work, or else it’s a stupid lazy joke!”  Well, ya know I’m pretty effin’ rusty out here catching back up with Summer Ball and this final batch of free agency moves!  I’m as old and as rusty as Deron Williams, who completed his buyout with the Nets, turned it into piles of gold he buried in his backyard, and will be eating Mulligan’s steak with Mark Cuban.  The rich stay rich, just with the richer!  Wait, did that make any sense?  While D-Will has just as much risk as an active Claymore mine sitting on your desk (and giving it a fourth grade girl), I think I might actually buy in a bit.  He’s in a steady decline, but when looking at his numbers last year, it’s easy to forget he came off the bench for a bit – and his bench numbers were horrific.  As a starter he was 14.3/3.6/7.1 with a steal per and only 2.4 TO.  And interestingly enough – nearly 33 minutes a game while staying [mostly] healthy!  Must be the new bacon and eggs diet.  He shot pretty horrible – sub 40% as a starter – but it was 39.6% vs. 32.3% as a sub.  Couldn’t figure out how to get it done off the pine!  Sounds like a merit badge the Pawnee Rangers would give out.  Moving to Dallas, he’s surrounded by SO MUCH better talent that he should have no problem falling into comparable numbers as his starting days in Brooklyn, maybe even with a few more dimes, a few less TO, and playing as the starter all year (if he stays glued together).  This is likely D-Will’s final chance to be on a winner, and after a very sub-par 14-15 I think he could be a draft day value.  Either that or he’ll be a hot spinning cone of meat!  Here’s what else has gone on in the past week of fantasy basketball:

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