Yea yea I know… Of all the “Knight” puns, that’s the best ya got?!  Man did Brandon Knight have a huge game last night, notching a career-high 36 points for a 36/9/3/0/1 line shooting 13-25 and 6-12 from deep.  As you all know, I was a huge Knight fan heading into the year, stuck with him, and think this is what he averages here on out.  Wiggity what?!  Haha, just kidding to see if you were paying attention.  I’ve always liked his ability to board, he’s probably the best pure scorer on that team, and can shoot treys and drive.  But I’m a little tired of the “but he doesn’t assist!” from the hate Mafia.  Who gives a flip man?!  Of course because he’s a PG, he gets dogged for bad Ast:TO, and listen I get it – 8 TOs last night bums hard – but if Ryan Anderson had that line last night, people would be sacrificing live chickens just to meet him.  Pedro Cerrano doesn’t like when his PG doesn’t dish!  “If Brandon Knight doesn’t average 8 dimes a game, I say forget you Jobu!  I do it myself!”  Knight will never be an elite fantasy PG, sure, but a very useful one, definitely.  He just has to navigate Larry Drew’s mood swings.  Get the coach some Midol!  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hoops:

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In what was some brutally bad basketball last night, John Henson led the woeful Milwaukee Bucks into Chicago against a Bulls team more battered up than a candy bar at a state fair… and the Bucks actually won!  It’s horrifying to think in today’s NBA that a guy like Henson might have been the most polished offensive player on the court for EITHER TEAM.  It was brutal.  This was the game I made the Yahoo highlights for, and man, it was more of a wreck than if you went out partying and decided that Lindsay Lohan would be your DD.  But for fantasy, whew-ee if you’re a Henson owner!  Huge rainbow line of 25/14/2/3/6.  It was so good from the big man that Larry Sanders punched a wall.  But the icing on the cake, was this preposterous rainbow shot to close out the rainbow night.  I love the Bulls announcers reacting to that.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  Good thing he didn’t take that shot in Cowboys Stadium, that mighta hit the scoreboard!  It feels really good seeing Henson going off, as he was a guy I ranked really high (#100 exactly) and have recommended him over a lot of fringe-wire adds through the young season.  His stats are helping fill all the Andre Drummond voids I have!  Win some, lose some… Henson is obviously a must-own in all leagues, and I think can maintain solid production playing at the 4 when The Colonel is back.  Here’s what else I saw last night in hoopsland:

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Well, this is the peril you get playing in other countries…  After a generator next to the stadium in Mexico City failed, last night’s Spurs at [hah] Timberwolves got postponed after the stadium filled with smoke.  It looked like Mexico City’s skyline of smog in there!  Man, so many people are going to get fired over this.  “Who let their 5 year olds with squirt guns play next to the exposed wires?!”  All the sudden the NBA is looking like the MLB…  I haven’t seen a PPD since September!  Brutal break for Spurs and Wolves owners in H2H formats as the reschedule is sure to be a while down the road.  Usually I like H2H for hoops because you don’t get rocked when your team has bad weather (vs. H2H Fantasy Baseball which I loathe), but now you have to think about generator fires when playing in other countries!  Well, I guess except Canada… They better have their shizz in order!  Breaking News!  The Raptors stadium has a Rob Ford crack den hidden within the locker room that caught fire, and they’re relocating to become the Reno Lt. Dangles.  Go Reno!  Here’s what else happened last night across fantasy hoops:

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I’ve got a little story to tell you today.  I think I’ll call it a parable.  Here it goes…  A few days ago I was at the gas station and I was approached by a guy who claimed he couldn’t afford gas to get home.  If you have ever seen a meth addict in their 20’s it isn’t a pretty sight.  He was packing something into his cigarette and I didn’t stop to question what it was.  Was I a little disgusted, sure.  Would I be enabling him if I helped him with a couple of bucks for gas? Probably.  In the end I walked inside and payed $5 for him to have some gas.  He was incredibly grateful and I felt pretty good that I could help.  In the end sure I lost a couple of bucks but I was able to offer assistance and for me that was more important at that time.  This is how I see most fantasy teams.  Most managers see how many points a player is scoring and feel like they can’t be without it.  Meanwhile they regularly lose the assist category.  If we could all be a little less of a meth addict, I mean a points addict, and gain a few assists we usually find that we will win more categories, more frequently.

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As an ancient proverb goes – “I’d like to introduce you to an old friend and a new friend.”  Ok, so I made that up.  But it sounds good!

For an old friend I’ve mentioned a few times and pumped up in my last rankings update before the season started up, my boy Omri Casspi had another solid outing last night that probably was under the radar.  In 24 minutes, he went 7/8/5 with no turnovers, 2-4 from the field and 3-4 from the line.  He just looks awesome every time I see him play.  Did you know he was the first Israeli to play in the NBA?  He’s pretty much Chandler Parsons but with Chandler Parsons in his way.  After a ho-hum first two games, his past two have been fantastic – and this last one without hitting a three which is a big part of his game.  Not necessarily a must own in 12-teamers, but definitely worth a look, and needs to be grabbed in 14+.

Then my new friend – Gal Mekel on the Mavericks.  You’re like, “who the eff is Gal Mekel?  I thought this was NBA not WNBA!”  Mekel was signed to a three-year deal by the Mavs this offseason, and became the second Israeli to join the NBA.  Cut to Amar’e Stoudemire going, “Hey, I should count!”  With Shane Larkin dealing with an ankle injury, and no Devin Harris for a while, Mekel is getting full-on backup PG run and playing well doing it.  He got his 2nd 6 assist game last night going 9/4/6 and hitting a 3.  Sure some run was in junk time, but with the oft-injured Jose Calderon the only one ahead of him (hasn’t played in over 68 games since 2007), Mekel could find his way into starts.  Of course, now I’ve ruined my play on him in the REL League.  Let’s just hope no one in that league is reading!  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hoops:

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So Russell Westbrook played yesterday… Ummm… What?

After hurting his knee in last year’s playoffs, then requiring a second surgery on October 1st, Westbrook was one of the biggest fantasy news stories early in preseason with an uncertain timetable.  Well that table has expired much earlier than anyone expected, and Westbrook was out there without a minutes restriction last night.  It’s like the first surgery was done in Hostel, then the next one at the X-Mansion.  Seriously, reports ranged from from early to mid-December as a target return date, but a little Adamantium in your bones goes a long way!  The good news is he’s back, but the bad (and frankly, not shocking) news is he was mighty rusty.  In nearly 33 minutes, Westbrook shot only 5-16 (0-2 3PTM 11-14 FT) for 21 points, with 4 Reb and 7 Ast and 4 TOs.  Besides shooting like Michael Chiklis, you’ll take that line any day.  Very encouraging to see Westbrook get to the line that frequently, and the minutes were indeed non-limited.  He looked pretty Westbrook-ish in highlights as well.  Even if Westbrook isn’t quite the player he was the past few seasons, all owners are looking at a steal for where they got him post-second surgery.  Here’s what else I saw over the weekend in fantasy hoops action:

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Whewwww-eeee!  What a fun draft.  A good four-and-a-half hours after the draft start time I had picked my 17th player, and I think I really like my team.  But with a lot of picks, I did feel a bit like Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo trying to defend them; “it’s a real good deal this one, real good!”  Thanks again for filling out the league loyal Razzball Nation, and again thanks to our friends at RotoGold.com and the TDBSportsNetwork (which you can catch me on their “The Double Bonus” Show throughout the season and from last Wednesday) for helping class up the joint.

So if you missed the post launching the league, the Razzball Elite Dynasty League had our inaugural draft last night, an all-out brawl of an Auction draft with some really interesting bidding wars.  Looking at you Ben from RotoGold and you pumping up Giannis Antetokounmpo for $15 late!  The league is 20 teams, 12 starters (two of every position and two UTIL) and five bench spots.  Using my abacus over here, that’s 340 players owned.  Neeedless to say, things got really interesting once we were in the bottom end of starters.  There is no inflation, we voted on a true Dynasty application, with lifetime contracts.  Free agent pickups all must be done with your $100 yearly FAAB, and those players can be kept on a $1 lifetime contract.  So FAAB bidding will be a critical element through the season.

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Continuing on with updated rankings after the top 10 and top 20, below rounds out my to 50.  Previous rankings are in parentheses next to these updated ranks, with up and down designations only for guys hopping up or down significant spots.  Have fun grilling these!

(22) 21. Nicolas Batum – A lot of commenters have wondered why he’s not in the top-20, and as I said in my previous 20-50 rankings, the declining FG% (45.1% to 42.3%) and 3PT% (39.1% to 37.2%) from 2011-12 to 12-13 gives me pause.  Despite playing over 8 more minutes a game in 11-12 to 12-13, his scoring average only went up 0.4 Pts a game and he only averaged 12 a game after the All-Star Break with his wrist injury.  He’s said the wrist is completely healed, and despite not needing surgery I would be worried with Batum as my second-rounder as the wrist could plague him again.  He’ll still be a multi-cat workhorse, but I see no way he chucks up 6.1 3’s a night with new acquisitions Mo Williams and C.J. McCollum also manning the perimeter.  Yeah their PT may not overlap too consistently, but I just don’t see the three point output mimicking last year.

(23) 22. LaMarcus Aldridge – Another big fantasy asset I’m slightly down on, the Blazers could very easily have another rough first half and look to trade their franchise big.  The rumors have been swirling for quite some time, and there’s virtually no destination where I think he would be a better fantasy player than in Portland.

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Welcome to my second round.  The second round is on me!  That way I can buy all cheaper/low-shelf swill and not look like a cheapskate [underutilized word].  Seriously, try that next time you’re out.  Well, to be honest it only really works on the 8th or 9th round.  “What is in this snake juice?!” “It’s basically rat poison!”  “Baba Booey!”

So these guys are all still elite talents, just have those lingering question marks that would have me passing on them.  I know you’re all gonna yell at Paul George being a second rounder for me, I have comment ESP!  Here’s how I see the remainder of the top 20 with off-season adjustments (previous ranks from my Off-Season Rankings are in parentheses before this re-rank):

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The period of free agency continues to shape the fantasy basketball-scape with fresh meat on terrible teams and players signing with contenders to be relegated to bench duty.  With baseball in full swing and the NFL getting half of the ESPN air time no matter what time of year it is, a lot of NBA moves have been made under the radar.  Look for every division to get a team-by-team breakdown and some early fantasy thoughts on the new faces in new places:

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