First off, Merry Christmas! Hopefully you enjoyed the smorgasbord of NBA basketball on Sunday, the first Christmas basketball with the Lakers playing but not this guy. And they’re better of for it. But with Christmas now a full calendar year away, let’s ring forth towards the new year!

And along with the new year comes a new look to The 7 Ahead! You know, New Year New You. All that nonsense. Well, I’m the same, still ballin’ out of control like Deion, but this series gets a facelift for 2017. And, of course, a little #millennial touch. Welcome to the new 7 Ahead! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Oh man, no rest for the wicked! Speaking of wicked, oh man quick shout out to the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, that brewery rocked! But yeah, an absolutely amazing slate to catch me back up on the daily notes, with 4 overtimes last night. Including a super size me doubler in Miami! Most of the other games stayed close too, and 20 of the 22 teams in action last night topped 100 points. Fantasy orgasm! And leading the charge on such a big-and-tall NBA night was of course Isaiah Thomas! Career-high 44 points for IT2/3, putting up a 4/3rd’s of a full line of 44/3/6/1/1 on 10-16 FG (7-10 3PTM, 17-17 FT) including a big three in extra time in the OT win.

I’m just glad this groin thing got worked out! …That sounded wrong… If you have a smaller groin muscle, does it heal faster?! I’m not saying he doesn’t have a kick stand down there with a line like this, but just wondering! After semi-breaking out last year (well he was only 2/3 better than his career year in 13-14 for the Kings), IT2/3 has taken an even further step up – scoring 26.6 PPPG, upping the FT volume to 8.8/per at 90% (remember when he was like 70% the first few weeks, that changed quick!), and even though the steals are only at 0.9, he’s drastically cut his TO rate to only 2.2 despite all the added USG. After a slow start due to injuries, the Celtics look like a pretty tough team at full strength right now, and maybe IT2/3 can lead this squad into a deep run. I’ll be cheering for them! (cough, REL bias, cough…) Here’s what else happened on an action-packed Tuesday night of Holiday Season basketball:

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JB was on a long-weekend celebrating his birthday so I’m handling Monday’s daily notes this week. Wish him a happy birthday when you get a chance!

The walking triple-double machine that is Russell Westbrook fell a little short of his usual triple-double on Monday night, but no one will be complaining about 46 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. He scored 18 points in the 2nd quarter to give the Thunder a halftime lead, before the Hawks stormed back and won the game.

Westbrook may want to talk to Andre Roberson (14 points, 5 rebounds), who shot just 1-7 after passes from Westbrook. Whether he continues to average a triple-double or not, it’s clear that Westbrook is a fantasy monster and has been well worth the first round price.

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Welcome back Lady and Gents!  It’s time for another Thursday night recap!  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to this particular set of notes, so bear with me.  It’ll be much more in depth next week!

Jeff Teague – Actually had a solid game!  21 points and 10 assists with a block and 6 boards.  Who knows if he can keep doing this, but it definitely is an improvement.

Myles Turner – 11-14 from the field!  26/8/1/0/1 – No complaints, even though the line is a bit empty.  More than one block would be nice, but I’m nitpicking at this point.

Jrue Holiday –  16 points, 14 assists!  He’s backkkkkkk, and this REL owner couldn’t be happier.

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For a while there, it looked like the makeshift Memphis Zombies might sneak by a crazy victory in Toronto over the Raps. But just like in World War Z, the Zeds tried to follow the humans north, but eventually froze up.

In his first start in the non-Mike Conley-era, Andrew Harrison was surprisingly capable with the added onus of driving the offense, going 21/2/4/3/0 on 7-12 FG (4-5 3PTM 3-4 FT) with only 2 TO in 35 minutes. Looked good in transition, hit contested, fadeaway treys… I didn’t expect this to get off to such a good start, and against the Raps no less!

It’s obviously only one game, and he’s not gonna shoot 80% from deep while filling in for Conley, but this was mad encouraging and you’re certainly grabbing him in most leagues off this showing. He has already proven he can handle big NBA minutes – albeit in a more complimentary role – so I think this can work as a PG 3 or 4 on your fantasy roster. On the flip side, Wade Baldwin played 24 minutes and went only 2/3/2/0/0 with 3 TO and 4 fouls, shooting 1-6 FG, bringing his sexy-efficient FG% back down to 31.5%. There might not be a Wade Baldwin V, with accuracy like that! Gus Ayonin’! Here’s what else went down last night in Fantasy Basketball action:

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It’s been over 24 hours now.  The sun rose.  The sun set.  People played basketball.

Regardless of how you felt through Tuesday night, I think pretty much everyone can agree it was morally exhausting.  My wife actually wanted to watch the SNL Election Special last night that we DVRed, and all the laughing I did through the year plus of skits just got no response from me this time.  Well, the Jay Pharoah as Ben Carson was still pretty boss… But it was a poor DVR choice!

With all the divisiveness and vitriol flying around, I just don’t know if democracy is working any more.  Bring back a monarchy!  Hell, The Walking Dead is doing it…  (I think I’m going to make Nene‘s nickname King Ezekiel, but I’ll work on graphics for that later)  No more Healthcare.Mozgov, it’s time to [re]embrace Lord Covington!  His followers were jumping off the bandwagon like they were in Paris in 1789, but now we need a strong leader to get behind!  23/6/1/1/1 with no TO for Robert Covington against the Pacers for by far his best line on the season, hitting 8-16 FG with 5 treys.  Just needs to get in more uptempo games!  Honestly, I know I lost some RobCo faith, but I’m back on the bandwagon.  I’m a flip flopper!  Sue me!  So be sure he wasn’t cut in your 10 or 12 team leagues, and scoop him up if so.  Looks like his shot is back.  It is worth mentioning that USG-whore Joel Embiid got a DNP though, so that might have helped things open up, but then again Embiid tweeted this yesterday.

Embiid 2020!  If it becomes a contest of which candidate – Embiid or the incumbent – is bigger in the downstairs, we all know who would win that one!

Apr 15, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during warm ups before a game against the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s what else went down in Fantasy Hoops last night:

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The fantasy basketball world is like, “bring out your dead!” “Free up those IL spots!” “Hope you have some scrubs to drop with everyone getting healthy again!”

With a shot of rum and locker room pyrotechnics, Jobu has unleashed his voodoo magic and Jesus Christ can now hit a curveball! Or I guess in this metaphor, hit a jump shot. Well, except if you’re Stephen Curry and you’re behind the 3 point line… Break up the Lakers!

It was a Sunday resurrection around the association, highlighted (well, for me) by Chandler Parsons getting back on the court yesterday afternoon. Way to take the spotlight off my Panthers, NBA scheduling! But good thing I focused on the Panthers, as Parsons was horrific, pulling a Jamal Murray and shooting 0-8 from the field. “Is that goal regulation size, or what?!” At least chipped in 3 boards and got a block, but didn’t finish the game with the starters in a close one, playing ~5 minute sets and only 22 minutes. After that rough anticipation of waiting, seeing such a dud out of the gate makes CP25 an ultimate buy low. I actually left him in my IL in a few RCLs, predicting a rough one outta the gate. Frustrated owners might think the knee is to blame, but he’s been practicing in full since before the season, so I think it’s just a little gametime rust. Just ask Jon Snow, when you get resurrected from the dead, you’re not 100% right out of the gate! Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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050714-nba-thunder-russell-westbrook-dg-pi-vadapt-664-high-47

I imagine this a good representation of the frustration Westbrook feels inside… I am currently writing this article during halftime of the Thunder/Warriors game, and frankly I don’t think I have the heart to watch the second half.  OKC came out of the gate in a strong fashion, but a Jerami Grant posterization of KD led to a Slim Reaper onslaught that buried the Thunder.  More on that below…

It’s now time for my debut on the daily notes! I’m going to format it a bit differently, so feel free to give feedback on whether it’s better, worse, or if you don’t care at all.

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What an incredible NBA Opener for big men! Maybe the Sixers aren’t as crazy after all…? But the bigs across the league went absolute ham; they were big hams! It’s why in Supermarket Sweep the people would always go for the hams first. Why did they never go to the wine section?! Just nab the best ish there and start a party!

Myles and JV go for 30, Embiid has an epic debut, but it was Anthony Davis who takes home the best line of the openers thus far, going an absurd 50/16/5/7/4! I mean, it could literally be the best line of the season… Double rainbow, 7 steals?!, shot 17-34, and hit 16-17 FT. After taking a little flack keeping him #1 last year, Brow started the 15-16 season going 18/6/2/0/3 shooting 4-20 (420!) and 10-15 FT. Dude, apparently the Pelicans medical staff – in all of their immense glory and wisdom – should’ve taken a hammer to his ankle before last season! Hard to believe a mere 1.5 weeks ago his status for the opener was in question off a kankle, but we’re seeing the ups and downs of what it’ll be like to be a Brow owner. Especially the dread of seeing him play 41 minutes in a loss… I nabbed him in one league, and might try some preposterous sell highs. But the allure of lines like that are tough to ignore. We just all know we’re one horrific Pels medical staff decision away from this happening to him walking out of the training room. Here’s what else happened on our first major slate of NBA games of the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry reacts after a turnover in the second half against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Barclays Center in New York City on April 27, 2014. The Raptors defeated the Nets 87-79 and tied the series at 2-2. UPI/John Angelillo

Draft season is now truly upon us with all sites having listed their official rankings for the fanatics, but how accurate those rankings are will well and truly depend on the structure of your league. One of the many attractions to the fantasy sport of basketball is the many different strategies that can play out, and of course the variety of settings and types of leagues that can be afforded to those that take the time to be commissioner of one of our favorite past times.

One of the big minefields that I spend scrupulous hours changing my ranks is trying to balance the variety of categories. The biggest minefield for me is turnovers.

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