First off, Merry Christmas! Hopefully you enjoyed the smorgasbord of NBA basketball on Sunday, the first Christmas basketball with the Lakers playing but not this guy. And they’re better of for it. But with Christmas now a full calendar year away, let’s ring forth towards the new year!

And along with the new year comes a new look to The 7 Ahead! You know, New Year New You. All that nonsense. Well, I’m the same, still ballin’ out of control like Deion, but this series gets a facelift for 2017. And, of course, a little #millennial touch. Welcome to the new 7 Ahead! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Ho! Ho! Ho! Hark the herald, Jerry Stackhouse sings! The NBA has never been in fuller effect across the years than at the culmination of this week every year: CHRISTMAS! It’s unofficial start to the season (or the official start in the lockout-shortened 2011 season), and the first day since June owned by the NBA on the sports calendar. It’s been football, football, football for the past six months, but even the King Kong NFL takes a back seat to basketball on Christmas (only 2 NFL games in Week 16 are actually on Sunday, December 25). Make way, because winter is no longer just coming…it’s here! And with it comes all the basketball glory we can handle for the next 6 months.

From now on we’ll see teams jockeying for playoff position. You know, those coveted spots that only the few get to have in calling themselves the next up to be humiliated by the Cavs or Warriors. But seriously, this is where we start to see what teams really are. And it’s similar in other sports. Sure, you can start 5-0 Falcons in 2015, but you’re finishing 8-8. Or in baseball, everyone knows that the record before Labor Day is all just feeling it out. And in the NBA the Hawks may begin 9-2, but are they really that great? My optimistic homerism is hopeful, but their record now shows the answer is no. How about the Raptors? They started sluggish; they must have taken a step back this year. Well, um…nope. They’re a favorite to reach the Eastern Conference Finals again. See, Christmas brings out the best in us all, and acts as a litmus test for starting the year.

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Peter here, back from a work trip in Jamaica. JB was right when I needed to escape the cold of the Wizards losing season. Maybe they will bring back JaVale McGee and Javaris Crittenton!?!? One can only hope.

Fortunately, the Wizards were off on Tuesday so that meant I got to watch actually good teams, including an overtime game in Phoenix. Here’s your Tuesday recap:

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I was happily watching my beloved basketball, and enjoying, yet all the while feeling old. I reminisce about the good old days. The bulls were winning 72 games, shorts had just gotten longer, the only tattoos were on Dennis “the Worm” Rodman, and Centres were lumbering lumpy giant dudes like Bill Cartwright and Rasho Nesterovic, with undefined arms and soft hands, like a baby’s bottom. It was a simpler time. You could be a geek, and still dominate the NBA, a la John Stockton, who was a millionaire, and never stopped getting his mom to cut his hair, apparently. The league, while being dominated by the likes of freaks like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, still had room for geeks to make their mark. Heck, the biggest geek of them all, the illustrious Larry Bird, the one lumpy to rule them all, still played in 1992. Is there space for Geeks in today’s league, or is there only to be athletic freaks from now on? Let’s take a look at a few from each column, and see if they fit the description, hmmm?

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Apr 5, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard Shelvin Mack (8) dribbles the ball during the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing of huge note happened tonight, so I figured the return of Shelvin Mack to relevance would make a decent headline.  Surprisingly, the Jazz made it a game against the Warriors with Gordon Hayward, George Hill, Rodney Hood, and Derrick Favors all out of the lineup.  Mack definitely did his part, and put up a solid 19 points in 36 minutes.  If he would lay off some of the treys (1-8 from deep), he could even be an efficient scorer.

At any rate, let’s see what happened last night!  Oh, the TNT double header was moved to 7 and 9:30 pm EST, so I’m thrilled about that.  No idea why that happened – maybe someone in the comments can enlighten me on that one…

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I know, girl. Me, too. Me, too.

Of all the teams to end up with 5 games this week, it’s the Warriors. A quintuplet of games lead the way for Golden State and their quartet of fantasy stars. If you own Stephen CurryKevin DurantKlay Thompson, or Draymond Green you’re loving life next week. If you’re going up against one or two of them…haha! Good luck! There should be plenty of enjoyable viewing experiences through the next seven days, but none more often than the Warriors.

Sweet mercy, it’s gonna be fun. And it’s not just them…23 teams have 4 games this week, by far the most of the season. Games galore! And here are the 7 Ahead for Week 7!

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Twas a star studded evening

And all through the league

Not a player was stirring…

Because it was time to play defense and nobody #%*%#%@ wanted to!

Yeah, I’m looking at you Cavs, Rockets, Warriors, and J.R. Smith.

Anyway…. Outside of that cheesiness, it was a fairly interesting Thursday evening, but many of the games were just irksome.  It’s ironic that the Utah/Miami game deserved to be on TNT over the Cavs and Clippers.  I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed an LA blowout win after that 70 point dud in Indy, but that’s pro sports for ya!  At any rate, let’s get into it!  At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll cover the whole Rockets – Warriors game, but I can already tell you that the winner scored over 120, and it was a race to see who could jack up more 3s.  It’s entertaining, but it isn’t basketball, in my humble opinion.

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Ahhhhh, DeMarcus Cousins. Build like a brick shithouse (did I get that phrase right?), puts up monster numbers, and the Kings franchise is terrible. We need a change of scenery! After years of speculation and “Lord give me strength” tweets, it looks like this year might finally be the year.

Boogie went nuts last night against the Wizards, going 36/20/4/2/1 (Goromotaro!), but the Kings still got another kick in the SAC in the OT loss. Cousins tried to put this team on his back! Scored the pivotal last two baskets to put it into extra time, but the Wizards are like the Borg. “Resistance is futile!”

Trekkie jokes! Despite the huge line and burning Marcin Gortat on drives, Boogie still did Boogie things, with 5 TO and 3-10 FT. I saw he almost got a technical foul by complaining to the rim! “Is that goal regulation size or WHAT?!” Even though he has 32+ points in the past 4, the D stats are down, and a looming trade would inevitably hurt his value. Actually, staying put would hurt too, as he’d be a major DNP candidate. One Boogie rumor is that he could be playing for last night’s enemy, and reuniting with Kentucky teammate John Wall. It would probably take Bradley Beal and some pieces, likely some picks thrown in there too, but the Wizards look like they need a shake-up, I think we can all agree there. Scotty Brooks can manage superstar personalities, and might be the best coach for Cousins. That said, the Wiz are 4-2 over the past 6, and might be ever-so-slightly turning it around.

With the trade rumor mill churning and the D stats down (giving Boogie a surprisingly-low 19th per-game valuation on BBmonster), I think now is the time to shop him around. You’re feeling great with your returns if you got him in the second round, so maybe a fantasy owner will want to take on Boogie’s temperamental stats more aggressively than an NBA GM. That is, if this hypothetical NBA GM isn’t a big fantasy player! Although if the GM plays in 8-cat, he’ll spend like crazzzzzzy to get Boogie! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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Choo Choo!

Watch out league, The Dieng Train is about to run ya over like you’re Magic defenders! Our season chugs along through Thanksgiving (although with our jeans barely fitting), heading into December with 3 guys flirting with Oscar Robinson for tripdub averages, Brow looking redonk, and a multitude of other breakouts and disappointments, but I don’t want the Dieng Train to slip under the radar! Like a German train station, Gorgui Dieng remains regular, consistent, and otherwise just mundane, bringing true multicat performance after performance from a big (minus treys). After a slow-ish start, the Dieng Train put together a nice weekend with a rainbow 11/7/2/3/4 against the Suns, then 15/6/2/1/2 in a tough-matchup-for-a-big against the Warriors. And even though I said “minus treys”, he actually hit a triple in each of them! Shot 11-22 overall, committed only 2 combined TO, and after hitting only 6 treys last year, maybe this is a part of his game we’ll start to see expand. Before you Dieng Train detractors type “BORING!” in the comments, I know his per-36 is a smidge down from last year. That said, he’s played 36+ minutes in 4 of the past 5 games, and it’s all due to that beautiful, cuddly, Tibby Tibs treatment. Run your starters to death! But well, when one of your starters is a effin’ train, you ride that rail! Here’s what else went down over Thanksgiving weekend in fantasy basketball:

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First off, Happy Thanksgiving Day to everyone!  Here’s a little Thanksgiving edition of The Numbers Game.  I promise to keep it short so as to not interfere with the eating and the shopping.

I’ll do a reverse this week and start off with the Victor Oladipo analysis and do the matchup by the numbers later on.

Last week, I covered the defensive aspect of Dipo’s season stats.  Let’s look at the offensive side so far this season–15 games in (as of writing, he will be playing his 16th game).

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