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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There comes a time in every man’s life when he must admit defeat.  Like when your girlfriend demands to know why you can’t just remember to put the toilet seat down.  You can try to explain to her that the house is haunted and you would never be so inconsiderate.  From experience I must say its not as convincing as it sounds in your head.  The only correct response is to hang your head in shame and say, “I’m sorry”.  Older bench players like Mo Williams and Nate Robinson are my toilet seats.  I can’t seem to put them down and I will undoubtedly hang my head in shame when I do finally drop them.  Why not skip that uncomfortable feeling all together?  Why not take an unknown player who may blossom into a fantasy star?  Here are a couple of bigs that I believe will outperform players like Omer Asik (63% owned), Samuel Dalembert (52% owned), and Luis Scola (42% owned).

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Man, what a huge night it was across the NBA with nearly every team in action.  It obviously all starts with the shocker Philly put on the Heat, and Michael Carter-Williams‘ unreal debut.  I was following with my co-workers during the game and tweeted that if he got a triple-double in his first NBA game, the universe would implode.  Thankfully MCW was a steal short and we’re all still here.  His final line of 6-10 (4-6 3PTM 6-8 FT) 22 Pts 7 Rebs 12 Asts and 9 Stls might actually win some owners their matchups this week on its own.  Just preposterous.  Most steals in NBA history in a player’s debut.  Ok before we all go nutso, remember the Heat played without Dwayne Wade (rest), don’t have a PG, and had all their hands weighed down with new championship rings.  So that’s not really an excuse, but so what?!  The shooting efficiency was fantastic (the biggest knock on him coming into the year), plus he had only one turnover (his second main knock).  “Nice knockers!”  Thanks Young Frankenstein!  MCW indeed moves up a fair bit in value in my eyes, but this is likely his best line on the year.  MCW was wildly inconsistent in college and I don’t expect much consistency on a terrible 76ers team (I know they just beat the Heat, but c’mon).  Look for John Wall to lock him up on Friday and cool the hype.  Despite inconsistencies, it goes without saying that MCW should be owned in all leagues now (78% Yahoo, 59.4% ESPN), so if for some reason he’s available in your league, you gotta get him.  I’m not expecting MCW to be an elite player, but will continue to contribute even in down games.  Here’s what else I saw across Fantasy Basketball last night:

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Despite the two nationally telecast Opening Night games (with the Heat/Bulls starting at 8:00 PM EST), the season really started at 7:00 with the Magic against the Pacers.  Non-fantasy players probably didn’t know this game ever happened.  All the sudden in the second quarter, Andrew Nicholson just went off, going 8-9 in the first half with 18 points.  Next thing you know, ESPN Fantasy Basketball is down.  Why RCL is on Yahoo!  But despite the Magic losing the lead and the offense going stagnant early in the third, Nicholson only played another few minutes in the second half and got stuck at 18 points in 19 minutes, only taking one additional shot and going 8-10 on the night.  Womp womp.  I never thought too much of Nicholson and don’t think he’s a guy to go rush to the wire for (unlike ESPN fantasy players!), and don’t forget Tobias Harris sat out with the ailing ankle.  19 minutes sounds about right for Nicholson, and he’s obviously not going to be a 48 PPG scorer per 48.  But I hope the kid enjoyed the moment in the sun during that first half shooting spree.  You temporarily broke Fantasy!  He was like the Fantasy Basketball Kevin Ogletree.  Here’s what else went down last night in the NBA:

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The preseason is upon us!  And just like how you don’t put too much stock in Spring Training or the NFL Preseason – there isn’t anything to go too crazy about with what happens in the box scores.  However, some guys do get hurt, hurt guys can show they’re back, and there’s additional news to spruce up everyone’s rankings (my updated top 200 is below and broken down by position in the menu).  But before you scroll down! We really need some RCL commissioners to start up new leagues to show me just how bad my rankings are.  The winner gets their name shaved in my head for god’s sake!  Please don’t make it anything too profane… I don’t want to tell the barber he has to put @$%#% somewhere in my scalp!  Rather than belaboring current events and more RCL pandering, let’s just hop right in:

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After re-ranking the top 10top 20, and top 50, it’s easy to see there’s been big changes since last May.  Below are the Razzball Updated Rankings with the previous May rankings in parentheses before the adjusted rank:

(68) ↑ 51. Derrick Favors – Utah declining to bring back either Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap gives you a slight inclination on their thoughts on Favors, and they’re already talking contract extension with their emerging big as well.  I love his athleticism, and if I miss out on Serge Ibaka who I’m high on early, I’m gonna want to reach on Favors to win blocks. I think he’ll be a top-5 NBA swatter.

(51) 52. Kemba Walker – Kemba has been higher on virtually every rankings I’ve seen, and I’m just not top-50 high on him.  He had a really solid season last year, but the terrible FG% still worries me as I feel like he forces some offense.  The acquisition of Big Al is going to give the Bobcats/soon-to-be Hornets an actual scorer down, and I don’t think that translates into helping Kemba all that much.  I like Gerald Henderson a lot too to take a bigger scoring role.  The 2.0 steals a game last year was elite, but I see those going down along with the scoring, and a comparable 5.7:2.4 Ast:TO ratio.  All that spells a slightly down ranking for me.  Although to be fair, he’s played in every single Bobcats game in his career, so there’s that reliability that can’t be ignored.

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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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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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Heading into the upcoming Fantasy Basketball Season, Razzball will be interviewing local NBA beat writers for some actual in-depth basketball knowledge to shed some additional light on our fantasy basketball knowledge. Keep your eye out for an interview for every NBA team through the summer. This installment comes courtesy of Dave Rueter from leading Philadelphia 76ers blog Liberty Ballers.

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Razzball Nation!  Sorry it has been a slight break from me, but it’s been a wild summer.  If I weren’t out of town drinking daiquiris on the beach trying to grow my mustache out and know absolutely nothing about any sport besides baseball, then my summer would’ve felt incomplete…

But I’m back now, back into everything Razzball, and ready to talk some NBA rookies.  I know I’m a little behind the draft, but hey, we’ve got a little time before we see these guys in real NBA action.  Not that Kelly Olynyk playing in solid color warmups in a gym that looks like one Nikola Pekovic used to play in the Siberian Leagues isn’t entertaining, but c’mon.  Let’s get these summer guys playing somewhere nice!

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