Wooo, preseason is here!  We finally get to see players on the court, thennnn, pretty much immediately we have season-ending injuries…  Just let athletes take steroids again, eesh!  Tired of this nonsense!

In literally the second game of the preseason, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist slipped on just a routine perimeter dribble and dislocated his shoulder.  It looked like he might’ve slipped on some sweat, those are some slacking Magic ball boys!  Then after an MRI yesterday, it revealed a torn labrum (true story, it had a red underline underneath “labrum” which had me being sure I spelled it right, and the suggested fix was labium) and he’ll likely need season-ending surgery.  Yikes.  Tough shakes for the Hornets who just invested $52 mil over 4 years in the guy (THAT’S MORE THAN MONTA ELLIS!), and have nothing great to fill-in SF minutes.  Well, I guess technically SG, minutes as Nicolas Batum should slot back to SF as the Hornets hodgepodge their SG.  Jeremy Lin had a nice 17/2/7 debut in that first game on Saturday, but followed it up with 10/3/1 and 4 TO on Sunday.  Jeremy Lamb scored 16 in the debut and got the start Sunday, only to shoot 2-11 in 25 yawnstipating minutes.  P.J. Hairston also got a start Sunday as Batum got that game off, and shot 1-7 missing all 5 treys.  Then there’s also Marvin Williams, who has reportedly lost weight and was rumored to get SF minutes back in July, but he figures to be more of a Batum backup or a small stretch-4 like last year.  I really don’t like any of these guys, and none of them vault into the draftable range for me in 12ers.  I guess in deepers I’d grab Lin first, but meh.  The only actionable impact for me is MKG’s 15-16 death.  “This guy here is dead!”  “Well cross him off then!”  Here’s what else has happened through the first few nights of preseason as we prepare for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball season:

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Yeah. It goes like this right here. It’s the return of the writings of Slim! That reminds of an Outkast song, and that song reminds me of 1998. If you don’t remember it was the year we learned there was yet another way to be disgusted by a cigar. That near, far, wherever you are you probably found yourself at some point rooting for the most unlikeliest of protagonists, Billy Zane. And of course it was the year the ‘Blue Screen of Death‘ truly became a meme, long before anyone knew what a meme was.

Gangstaaaaa… It’s the return… turn…

In the NBA draft that year there were 3 guys drafted that are still playing and should one day be in the Hall of Fame. I’ll give you a hint, the top 3 draft picks were Michael Olowokandi, Mike Bibby, and Raef LaFrentz, and if you were playing fantasy basketball back then you might have gone all-in on one of them. Give up? They are Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce. Pick number 5, 9, and 10 respectively. That’s not to say great players aren’t drafted 1st, but the only thing guaranteed when you are first overall is a whole boat load of money. Something about the use of the word ‘only’ there doesn’t quite feel right.

Return… Ganstuhuhuh… It’s the re…

It seems so easy to see when you’re talking time traveling, something mind unraveling. Get Down. It’s a whole lot harder to do here and now using some funky combination of math, logic, illogical fandom, a random number generator, and of course the occasional dart throw. For some reason though, after about an hour on 350 (or about 176c) it develops a creamy caramel colored crust. Once it cools, just cut it up and consume. So here’s you’re 1st taste. Slim’s, I can’t believe I’m writing this in 3rd person, RCL playoff schedule post.

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You aren’t going to find too many elite fantasy basketball assets sitting on an NBA bench. You’re going to find them on a 50’ wide by 94’ long stretch of hardwood, running their shoes tread-bare.

Fantasy production or “numbers” – essentially the only thing you’re mining for as you prepare for your drafts – is what results from the beautiful union between talent and opportunity.

Talent with limited opportunity (think: Jonas Valanciunas) leaves you with little choice but to sit back and wonder what could have been. Conversely, all the opportunity in the world afforded to players short on talent (I’m looking at you, Courtney Lee) has you questioning why you’re tending to vines that bear no fruit.

Unfortunately, in the world of the National Basketball Association, opportunity is usually held to a finite number each night – and that number is 240. Two hundred and forty minutes is all a given team can distribute amongst its roster during a regulation game. (For our purposes here today we’ll refrain from delving into the impact of overtime/multi-overtime games adding to the pool of minutes, though it does obviously impact the calculus.)

With NBA coaches now regularly employing rotations of nine and 10 men, there are very few players (regardless of talent, youth and good health) who are asked to play more than 75% of a game. In point of fact, during the 2014/2015 NBA season a grand total of six players averaged over 36 minutes of court time. Go just one year farther back and that number jumps to 16. The 12-13 campaign? 22 such players eclipsed the 36 MPG mark and seven ran for over 38 minutes a night. And to really put things into perspective – less than a decade ago we saw nine players average 40 minutes, with the kicker being that none of them missed more than 10 games.

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Ugh, things are drying up faster than Tom Selleck’s avocado farm, that’s for sure!

Maybe it’s the shallower draft class…  Maybe it’s a really long list of aging vets…  Or maybe it’s just that all the guys I like could only fill up my top 65 of so…  But eesh, I really don’t want any of the guys ranked 65 and beyond, and rounding out the top 100 was like trying to sit through True Detective season 2.  Hah, still haven’t seen it, I’m just applying some groupthink there…  Here’s to hoping ESPN and Yahoo botch their pre-ranks and skew some nasty ADPs!  And just throwing it out there to astute re-draft commishes – ESPN and Yahoo’s initial ranks always look pretty poopy before a massive re-adjust closer to the season.  Maybe you can con your league to draft earlier and dominate the ill-informed, non-Razzball reading scrubbos… Here’s the Top 100 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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The 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball season is officially in the books!  But we won’t be slowing down too much, with a lot of great off-season content planned and my Way Too Early Ranks for 2015-16 coming in a few weeks…

In 14-15 we had ups (#OccupyDraymondGreen baby!), we’ve had downs (cough, MCW, cough), but what matters most is we had fun I finished better than Slim in the REL league!

And one of the highest of highs from last night was James Harden‘s triple double, going 16/11/10/1/1 in only 27 minutes against the Jazz.  Only took 8 shots!  That’s what Mel Gibson tried to tell the police anyway…  3-8 FG, 2-5 3PTM, and more of that oh-so-sweet FT volume hitting 8-8 freebies.  Assists, rebounds and steals all went up this season, along with the obvious scoring and he was at a career best 8.8-10.2 FT a game entering last night.  The TO are brutal, but he also chipped in a career best 0.7 blocks in an absolutely elite year.  So I can say with pretty good confidence he’ll be my #1 player for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball season.  Was durable (81 games this season, 73+ the past 3 years), consistent, and I just love mustache rides.  Take me to the promised land in 15-16, Mr. Beard!  Here’s what else went down on the final night of 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball:

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Well, there’s a reason standard H2H leagues end 10 days early!  Sheesh it’s just a mine field out there…  Did you ever play that game Minesweeper in the 90s?!  Man that game got annoying…

Anyway, it was a crazy weekend across the NBA highlighted by Jrue Holiday returning from his leg issues over the weekend.  Even in this final month of rest, The Lord needed a Holiday!  It really surprised to see him return this season, but I guess with the Pels in it, he’s persevering.  Jrue was rusty in Friday night’s return (1-7 FG), but caught fire Sunday night for 7-9 FG, 17 Pts and 3 treys.  Since he had to sit last night and had to be abandoned months ago by the unfortunate souls who drafted him, he still might be out there in your league.  In a pivotal final game tomorrow hosting the Spurs, Jrue should get a good bit of run as an offensive sixth man.  He’s a risky play since we don’t know how many minutes he’ll get, but if you need some Pts and Ast as a final stream, he could deliver.  Jrue works for you!  Here’s what else has gone on since the weekend in fantasy hoops action:

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For one week this season, it feels like there are more stars returning from injury than ones getting hurt. However, that won’t console those who saw their players were added to the injury list. So we’ll start with the bad news first.

All-Star Jimmy Butler suffered an elbow sprain in Sunday’s game and will miss the next 3-6 weeks. Fortunately the injury will not require surgery, but that still puts him out for most, if not all of March.

Joining Derrick Rose and Butler on the sideline, Taj Gibson is out with another ankle injury. Out since suffering the injury in Friday’s game, he’s no longer wearing a walking boot. Gibson has a history of ankle injuries so the Bulls’ may want to be extra cautious with him, but Gibson should be considered day-to-day going forward.

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Well, it finally happened. The New York Knicks shut down Carmelo Anthony for the season. The news isn’t surprising, especially after he went 6-20 in the All-Star Game on Sunday night. The East players tried their best to get Anthony the ball, but it was clear something was amiss with his jump shot.

On Thursday, Anthony had successful surgery to repair his patella tendon in his left knee. The initial recovery time is around 4-to-6 months, but more will be known about his timeline in the days after the surgery. He’s safe to drop in all redraft leagues.

As mentioned in previous injury posts, Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Langston Galloway become the primary beneficiaries on offense. Someone will have to take the shots that Anthony was accustomed to taking. When starting this season, Hardaway has averaged 14.6 ppg and 2.1 3PTM, while Galloway has averaged 11.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and 3.0 apg. Readily available on the waiver wire (22% for Hardaway and 24% for Galloway in Yahoo leagues), these guys can become useful pickups for the playoff run.

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Basketball is back baby!  The NBA season returns from the All-Star Break tonight after four-and-a-half months off…  Maybe hyperbolic, but certainly feels that way!

And right as games start, we’ve got the NBA Trade Deadline passing this afternoon at 3:00 PM EST.  That was fast!  We’ve got a big day of trade analysis, with a live post that will go up around 1:00 PM-ish EST and get frequently updated to track all of the last-minute trades as they go down, then a slightly later podcast record time with our special edition Trade Deadline Razzball Basketball Podcast up sometime around 4:00-4:30 PM EST.  It’s all hoops all afternoon!

With these big changes about to ripple through the fantasy hoops landscape, the biggest news from over the break is probably the most anti-climatic – Carmelo Anthony has been officially shutdown.  “3P0 – Shut down all the garbage smashers on the detention level!”  “No! Shut them ALL down, hurry!”  Pretty apt to The Poppycockers shituation, amiright?!  We’ve known Melo was about to be Melba Toast sometime around the break, and now the swift gavel of realism has hit (huh? weird metaphor day!  I’m rusty OK?!).  Langston Galloway, who has probably been picked up in most leagues (and subsequently dropped in some after struggling) should likely be scooped up.  He’s not going to do anything too special, but his career-high in shots (19) was in a Melo-less game and should give you some low-TO guard stats.  Tim Hardaway Jr. also gets a bit of a boost, but he does absolutely nothing beyond score and trey.  Would be a nice, high-minute ThrAGNOF!  But those ain’t got no face…  So I’m not married to Timmy J at all even if he starts hot with Melo now gone.  Here’s what else has gone down since we left for the break:

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The All-Star weekend begins on Friday, giving most of the league some time off before the final stretch of the season. After the break, there are only four weeks left in the regular season for standard leagues. That’s not a lot of time to wait for guys to return from injuries. Owners will have to make hard decisions on whether to keep their injured stars or let them loose. More should be known after the All-Star break about the severity of many of these recent injuries, so hold on until then.

Blake Griffin underwent surgery on Monday to remove a staph infection in his right elbow. Prior to surgery, Griffin was expected to miss anywhere from 2-to-6 weeks. Griffin will be reevaluated in three weeks, which should help clarify when owners can expect to have Griffin back. Since Griffin is a top talent and there isn’t much clarity on his timeline, owners should hold onto Griffin for the time being.

With Griffin out, DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Hawes become the biggest benefactors. Jordan has put up back-to-back 20/20 games and looks like he’ll grab every rebound that Griffin used to get.

While Jordan is universally owned, Hawes becomes a top waiver wire pickup. In the three games that Griffin has missed, Hawes has averaged 11.0 ppg and 1.7 rpg. The numbers have been underwhelming so far, but Hawes has shown that he can fill up the box score when given starters’ minutes in the past. Last year as a starter, he averaged 13.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.2 bpg, and 1.6 3PTM. He probably won’t approach those numbers, but I expect Hawes to be useful for owners for as long as Griffin is out.

Please, blog, may I have some more?