2016-17 is so close, we can taste it!  Well, it’s not that close…  The season is gonna have a very pungent taste!

Speaking of pungent taste, you can take a look at how our ranks went last year.  Yeesh!  Here’s to turning over a new leaf, a fresh start, and well, screw you Kevin Durant!  My top-4 from the Way too Early Ranks were locked in, set in stone, easy-peezy…  Then you had to go ruin it!  I officially mirror all of Reggie Miller’s thoughts on him moving to Golden State.  Took a Golden State all over my ranks, that’s for sure!

Enough links, let’s get down to business!  As we do every year, our ranks will be put together in one master post that will include Slim’s 9-cat and MPG projections.  Plus be sure to listen and subscribe to the Razzball Basketball Podcast, where we will argue over these ranks incessantly.  Patrick Patterson top 50!  Here’s the Top 10 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Woooo, bring on the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season, baby! I know what you’re thinking… “The 15-16 season isn’t even over yet, why are you putting out rankings today?!” Well, the early bird gets the Worm! Which I guess means I’m drafting Dennis Rodman next year… Sleeper alert!

As we do every off-season, we’ll be ranking 1-50 right as the previous season ends for some Way Too Early Rankings. Getting much past that opens Pandora’s Box to free agency, the NBA draft, the ever-important Summer League… Hey, I keed, but look what happened with Myles Turner! Gus Ayonin’! We’ll be getting through the top 50 by next week, and until then, let’s see some 73rd W history, Golden State! Here’s my Way Too Early Top 10 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Well, kids…we have officially entered the NBA silly season.

Coaches for teams locked into the post-season are only too happy to rest their starters, as evidenced Tuesday by LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka all receiving healthy DNPs.

Coaches for teams destined for the lottery are exercising extreme caution with future core players, as seen last night with the Nets’ Rondae Hollis-Jefferson & Thaddeus Young getting a precautionary rest day, and franchise center Brook Lopez sitting for the entire second half of a blowout loss.

Even teams not in action on Tuesday were making headlines by shutting down players or announcing their plans to rest star players periodically as the 2015-2016 season draws to a close. DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, Danilo Gallinari, Ryan Anderson, and Jrue Holiday have all been added to the “shutdown watch” list. (And in Jrue’s case, you can officially stick a fork in him. He’s done.)

Additionally, DeMarre Carroll suffered a setback in his recovery from knee surgery and won’t be of use to fantasy players until next year, Nikola Vucevic can’t get cleared to return from what was believed to be a mild groin strain, and the starting Philly frontcourt of Nerlens Noel & Jerami Grant is going to be treated with kids’ gloves due to knee injuries.

It’s bad, folks. It’s real, real bad.

Thankfully for fans of the NBA and fantasy owners grinding through the final days of their season, a select few professional basketball players did, in fact, decide to earn their pay checks last night. Let’s take a look at who shined brightest, who fell short of expectations, and who else made waves on a six-game Tuesday slate.

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I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! Winning a fantasy hoops season is like the little engine that could, with tough decisions along the way and navigating a billion injuries. But hell, if your railroad tracks get demolished, there’s not much you can do (cough, stupid REL injuries, cough…). Unless ya know, you’re Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom and have some nice Mario Kart music fueling your escape

Trust me, I’ve never run a marathon – mostly because I don’t want to have to pay for one of those dumb 26.2 bumper stickers – but I ended up cutting Myles Turner as a desperation stream in a cutthroat 5-4 playoff win last week in one of my RCLs. It feels like I sold out to sprint past 1st place during mile 24! Now I’ve lost control of my bowels, my muscles are spasming out of control, and I’m probably sputtering into not completing the race. Fortunately in the JB vs. Slim RCL I had the luxury of the bye and held strong. Strong and steady wins the race (as does 1st round byes…)! Turner went nuts for 24/16/1/0/3 on 11-17 FG last night, in a hell of a way to celebrate his 20th birthday. Dude can play pro ball like this, vote, drive, and CAN’T celebrate with a beer?! It was a strong way to break through that nebulous rookie wall, even though he’d been pretty solid lately anyway. And with a possible DNP from your main Pacer, another big game could be coming to close out your week in the semis. Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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Lob City was alive in well in Houston on Wednesday. Chris Paul was throwing DeAndre Jordan alley-oops left and right. By halftime, Paul already had 11 assists. He finished the blowout with 15 points and 16 assists, while Jordan added 23 points and 16 rebounds. Jordan even shot over 50% from the FT line (7-13 FT, but not by much!). J.J. Redick also knocked down 5-9 from the 3PT line to finish with 25 points. It was all Clippers from the beginning and the Rockets just couldn’t find an answer.

James Harden did his usual thing, trying to carry the disappointing Rockets, but it wasn’t enough. He finished with 33 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. Big men Dwight Howard (6 points, 7 rebounds) and Clint Capela (3 points, 3 rebounds) were rendered useless against Jordan. The only other bright spots for the Rockets were Trevor Ariza (16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 threes) and newly acquired forward, Michael Beasley, who scored 16 points and grabbed 8 rebounds off the bench. Coming over from China, Beasley makes a good waiver wire add for all teams.

The Rockets started the season with lofty expectations, but are currently tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the 7th playoff spot. If they finish 7th or 8th, they’ll end up playing the San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors in the first round of playoffs, something that nobody wants to do.

The Warriors, by the way, won their 50th straight game at home on Wednesday, dismantling the New York Knicks by 36. Stephen Curry hit 8 threes and scored 34 points (6 rebounds and 4 assists), before sitting out the 4th quarter of the blowout.

I don’t think anyone saw the Warriors playing on an historic level or the Rockets playing this poorly at the beginning of the season, but that’s why you play the game!

Now onto the other nightly notables:

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Well, there won’t be too many rainbows though!

Coming into the season, I thought it would be really hard for Devin Booker to do much this year. Then both Suns combo guards go down, and Booker took off, playing some really solid ball in his first full month as the starting 2, scoring 17 PPG on 45% from the field. But February was unkind, as the grind caught up to him and the FG% fell to 33.6% and the scoring down to 13.5. He has been able to maintain a great FT volume though even in cold stretches, so he doesn’t completely turn into a dirty pirate Booker. Last night against the Heat he found his stroke again, breaking out of his ice cold slump and hitting 11-21 from the field (3-7 3PTM), along with 9-9 freebies, for 34/3/4.  LeVar Burton ain’t got nothin’ on me!  I could see a lot of owners dumping him in this cold stretch, so it might be worth double-checking on his availability in shallowers.  Long-term, it kinda sounds like the Suns have soured on Brandon Knight a little, so I could see them moving his contract this offseason, especially with caps expanding and teams more able to adsorb the $.  If that happens, I could see the Suns starting Booker but making him overrated on draft day.  I like the kid’s game for how raw he came into the league, but the AST have been sporadic at best and he doesn’t get steals.  If not for a little FT volume he’d be a pretty clear-cut ThrAGNOF.  Don’t overpay!  And let’s get my boyfriend Knight a better job…  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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It’s unusual for teams to be clinching playoff spots this early in the season. The Warriors are on a historic pace to challenge the ’95-96 Bulls for the best single-season record in NBA history, at 72-10.

Because of this, the Spurs are flying under the radar, something that they seem to do every season. By beating the Pistons on Wednesday, the Spurs improved their home winning streak to 29 games and are now 51-9 on the season. That’s 17 straight 50+ win seasons. Absolutely incredible.

Marcus Morris (16 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists) the oldest Pistons’ starter was 8 years old when Tim Duncan (12 points and 8 rebounds) made his debut. And when Duncan is ready to call it a career, he has two young studs to continue the Spurs’ legacy: LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard.

Just like David Robinson and Duncan, Aldridge has played nicely along with Duncan. He grabbed a double-double against the Pistons with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists. Meanwhile, the reigning Finals’ MVP, Leonard, posted a 27/6/5 line with 2 steals.

While the Warriors have a shot at 72-10, both the Warriors and Spurs are still a ways away from matching the Bulls’ record of 44 straight wins at home.

Now onto the other nightly notables:

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Like Radiohead’s Kid A album, we need to start off this morning with a reminder that even ThrAGNOFs can get Everything In Its Right Place treatment. Often ridiculed, thrown garbage at, excommunicated like lepers, they pretty much mope around like they’re listening to Radiohead… Even ThrAGNOFs are people too!

Just look at our conversation during the Pod yesterday. Slim hates on Mirza being a ThrAGNOF, I say he’s the only real consistent PF, and Slim has to begrudgingly agree. We say “Threes ain’t got no face” not because they have no existential meaning and are The Plague on Camus’s fantasy team, but because a player that hit 3s/scores/low TO are often overrated by the metrics. Last night, Mirza went 30/11/1/0/0, hitting 12-23 FG with 5 treys against his former Nets. Now, he didn’t have the normal low TO (4), but he grabs more boards than your typical wing ThrAGNOF, and brings it at an out-of-position PF spot. In the 4 games since the deadline, ThrAGNOFovic is 20.5/7.3/1.5 with 3.5 treys a game. He’s owned in all of my RCLs, but he’s still only 39% owned across the Yahoo-verse and still available in several leagues. Of course if you don’t need scoring and 3s, you’re not missing on too much, and his production is easily replaceable if he gets cold. But while hot, you gotta ride your ThrAGNOFs! Here’s what else went down in fantasy hoops action last night:

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You’d think a team decimated by injuries would throw in the towel. Not the case with the Bulls. Already missing Jimmy Butler (left knee strain), Nikola Mirotic (appendicitis), and Joakim Noah (shoulder surgery), Derrick Rose was a last-minute scratch due to right hamstring tendinitis. The Bulls won anyways, their third straight victory.

Playing alongside a makeshift lineup, Pau Gasol played through the flu, just missing a triple-double with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists. While it wasn’t Michael Jordan’s flu game, it was a still a pretty strong line.

Even with the Bulls’ starters ailing, there is value to be had on the roster. Under-owned guys like Taj Gibson (17/7/7), E’Twaun Moore (17 points and 3 rebounds), and Doug McDermott (14/5/2), can and should be relied upon down the stretch for both the Bulls and your fantasy teams. McBuckets also had the dunk of the night.

They won’t win you a championship on their own, but don’t overlook lesser named (and owned) guys during your playoff push.

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When you’re The Duchess K Middleton, you don’t go on scrubby vacations.  None of that beach hotel with bratty kids running around and sand in the halls, none of those rickety cruise ships where the power goes out and you have to poo in plastic bags…  I’m talking huge!  Like Disneyland completely rented out only for the family!  Sledding down glaciers in Antarctica!  Hanging out with baller celebs at The Razzball Basketball Office!

As is always the case, our commenters are absolute gold.  Joe mentioned the trend of Khris Middleton‘s poor play with Jason Kidd the coach, and I also ran with it looking at the numbers in a FantasyPros piece on second-half expectations.  Now, it’s not really that The Duchess is playing that poor, but ROS rankers had him 36th overall.  Seemed a little rich – not quite Kate Middleton rich – but like, Queen Latifah rich.  Using the ol’ copy-and-paste: “Since Jan. 26, Middleton has shot only 33% from the field with a 3.6:3.6 AST:TO ratio (I guess I could’ve simplified that to 1:1!) in 7 games. Given, it’s a pretty small sample, but in the 17 games immediately prior to when Kidd was out, Middleton shot 50% with a 5.0:2.5 AST:TO ratio (I mean 2:1!). And then the chunk at the beginning of the season until Kidd’s hip gave out, dimes were at 3.4 and he shot 39.9%.”  I agree it could be statistical noise, but Kidd has had several “are you effing KIDDing me?!” moments with his line-ups.  Luckily The Duchess ended the first half on a high note, going 27/6/9/5/0 with only 2 TO and shooting 9-17.  Kidd must’ve just been not paying attention!  Too busy rubbing his bald head like foreplay with Mr. Clean.  It’s a great finale to an otherwise rough February, and maybe It’s Much Ado About Nothing.  Which just seems British, I dunno…  And you wanna know who else is heading into this ASB strong?!  ME!  And well, the NBA by only having two games…  So a slightly shorter Daily Notes, since we’re all ready to actually pay our families some attention with the NBA off until next Thursday (that is, except for the All-Star events!).  Here’s what else went down last night in Fantasy Hoops action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?