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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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):

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So it’s still not even actually off-season, the Spurs lead the Heat 3-2, the draft is still 10 days out, and NBA franchises have yet to enter free agency but seem trigger-happy to let coaches go.  Seriously, it’s like “oh hey George Karl and Lionel Collins – you got us a franchise high wins… Do you want the congratulatory used sofa or wood paneled TV?”  It’s been a very tumultuous offseason front office wise.

Enter Jeff Teague, a player in a long line of big-ticket free agents, who figures to resign with the Hawks (but you just never know).  Free agency negotiations start July 1st with signings starting the 10th, so there’s still some time.  It looks most likely he’ll stay in ATL, where I think he’ll be a fantastic bargain on draft day.  He really improved all facets of his game, and I think is ready to make the leap into becoming the face of the franchise with Josh Smith probably leaving town.  Let’s look at his numbers from last year:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As we continue to navigate through the NBA Playoffs, it’s been a fun challenge to rank for the 2013-2014 season.  There’s still free agency.  There’s still a draft.  Hey, at least we know there will be a season unlike 2011!

If you missed it, my top 10 then top 20 came out last week.  Hey, it’s early, you might say “way too early” (see what I did there, it’s in the title!) so these rankings are subject to change.  And I want no accusations of flip-flopping!  It’s not my fault if all the sudden Dwight Howard goes to the Bobcats and becomes a first-rounder!  OK, so that is as likely as Rony Seikaly… returning.  You gotta stop on the word that rhymes Jean-Ralphio!  Man I’m liking that show.  Also, random side note, Googling Rony Seikaly to spell his name correctly broke Google.  I searched it and it would freeze, despite everything else working.  Weird.

As I battle my ADHD to get into the rankings, let’s just dive into it:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I bet you haven’t heard and I’m breaking the news… The Heat lost last night!  27 games in a row, down the drain.  One of the most impressive streaks we’ve seen in American sports is over.  However, instead of linking highlights to the game, I think this sketch from one of the best sketch comedy shows Mr. Show encapsulates what happened last night.  David Cross is the Bulls and Bob Odenkirk is the Heat.

Fantasy-wise, the Heat big three had their usual games and Luol Deng was the Bulls top performer with 28 Pts and 4 3PTM.  It was one of the most-hyped, most-talked about regular season NBA games in recent memory, so apologies this isn’t a fantasy-heavy open.  That’s what the rest is for!

Here’s what else went down across a heavy slate of NBA action (yes, there were other games!):

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As a very fair skinned, freckly and tall guy (makes me closer to the sun) I have had my problems beating the heat.  One time in college (I went to UNCW so on the beach) I got burnt so bad on my legs it made me get shaky and more loopy than Joseph Gordon-Levitt. My friends thought I pulled an Ewan McGregor and snuck in some heroin. Suffice to say, I got some serious additional freckling on my calves.  With their long slender shape and pretty much invisible blonde hairs, I could pass them off as Lindsay Lohan’s legs.  Enough celebrity mentions already!

Unfortunately for the Celtics, St. Patty’s didn’t carry on into Monday night as the Heat led by LeBron James’ 37-7-12 (including this abuse of Jason Terry) were able to keep the streak alive at 23.  Although the city of Boston probably would have gotten blackout drunk again either way.  With no Kevin Garnett, the C’s gave another start to Jeff Green who exploded his green-ness on the Heat like Nickelodeon gak.  He was the Green Monstah last night, going for a career-high 43 with 5 3PTM, 7 Rebs, 2 Asts, 2 Stls, and 4 Blks.  Easily one of the best fantasy lines of the year for who is becoming a huge pickup for owners who nabbed him.  Speaking of getting nabbed, check out this guy nabbing a few boogers on national TV. Proves you can do anything if you have the charm. Just look at that wink with the debonair of Mark Harmon/Dennis Quaid.  I thought no more celebrity references!

Let’s take a look at what else went down last night across the NBA:

Please, blog, may I have some more?