Mid-January approaches. I am about to be snowed in up in Toronto, so I am acutely aware that we are in the thick of winter. If you follow an NBA team’s social media, you likely have been getting the email prompts to vote in your potential All Stars. If you didn’t know, I am a long-suffering Raptors fan, and I’m finally getting rewarded for all those dark days with a team that is finally relevant. I got the prompt to vote in Kyle Lowry and  DeMar DeRozan, both deserving of the honour, and I should expect they will make the Eastern All Star team, either through fan voting, or by coach appointment. But all that glitters ain’t gold, and there are several players that are on the voting ballot that aren’t skilled enough for that lofty appointment, both in real life, as well as from a fantasy perspective. So lets take a gander at which All Star hopefuls are made of gold, and who’s just made out of tin:

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So. Many. Minutes. 240 of them. That’s 4 hours of basketball. Now, the exact amount of hours doesn’t matter, and no player plays every minute of every game (what is this…video games?!?), but this week we get 240 minutes of Chicago Bulls basketball. What about their midwest rival, Indiana Pacers? A measly 48 minutes. Haha, seriously, the NBA scheduling committee breezed by these seven ahead apparently, because both the Pacers and the Nuggets play just once, whereas the Bulls take the court five times. 5x the minutes means 5x the volume means 5x the production. Well, potentially. But even the best players are on alert for a good benching when faced against that many minutes on the other side.

If you own any Bulls this week it won’t quite equal the amount of time mentioned by The Office team in saying bon voyage to Michael Scott, but it will certainly feel like it. It’s a minutes game in Week 12! Here’s The 7 Ahead!

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A lot of people were mad at 2016. Thought it was a year without morality. Without decency. Without justice… So I’m watching the Thunder/Hornets last night, and in the 3rd quarter, Dell Curry is like, “I just had some terrible news cross my desk – Justise Winslow is going to be out for the year.” Whoa, way to be a news breaker, Dell! He also broke the news that his wife was in the crowd and circled her on the teleprompter when the camera showed her, so there’s that… Awk-ward! Anyway, Winslow’s injured shoulder ended up being a labrum tear, after it was reported it was only a tweak and he didn’t anticipate it being a long-term issue. Doctor G, how come major tears only feel like tweaks sometimes?! He’s going to have corrective surgery today and will likely miss the rest of the season, ya know, unless the Heat make the playoffs! Hahahahaha, sorry Slim, had to do it… This is definitely a bummer, because we saw this with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and he ended up tearing it a second time after only a few games back, so I’m going to be very leery about ranking Winslow decently next year. Well, the injury, and the fact he’s going to end the year shooting 35.4% from the field. Yeesh. So with Miami lacking any Justise, it would appear James Johnson is going to get all the minutes he can handle, and is must own for me ROS. Really everywhere. I raved about him as the lead to the notes earlier in the week, Adam led with him for RazzWired, and he shouldn’t have any issue getting 30ish MPG the rest of the way. I was initially surprised to only see 25 minutes last night in a 5-point win, but yeah, he fouled out (game was on too late for grandpa JB!). 14/6/6/0/3 for JJ on an awesomely efficient night, shooting 4-8 FG, knocking down 2 treys, and hitting 4-4 FT. Only black eye was the 3 TO, which look like will be an issue for him as he takes on a big role on the offense. So be sure Johnson is owned in all your leagues, and hopefully by the 17-18 season, we’ll see a return of Justise in the world! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Who wants to go on a road trip?!? You know, the kind that lasts forever. The kind you start the new year with. The kind filled with adventure. The kind that freaking wears you out.

Well, for Week 11 of our NBA fantasy season that’s exactly what the Utah Jazz are receiving to kick off 2017. But this no ordinary road slate of five games. No…it’s 5 games in 7 days. In other words, that’s death. Will they be tired by the end of it? Most certainly, but while they’re on the ride I’ll be riding their hot hands and bringing death to my opponents in the fantasy realm as much as possible. So, let’s Go-bert on a road trip, because if you own Rudy Gobert you’re in for a wonderful week. Listen to the ridiculousness that he’s producing this year: 18 straight double digit rebound games, and only two games under that mark since November 9.

12.5 PPG
12.0 RPG
2.6 BPG

All on 70.1% shooting. See, it’s not just the boards and blocks, his efficiency has been gold for owners this year. And it’s showing in the box score as only seven times since that November 9 mark has he failed to score in double digits, either. He’s a poor man’s Hassan Whiteside offensively, with all the defensive stats on par. Enjoy these five games! Oh, and for the teams facing the Jazz this week: good luck to you, too. Utah’s now 21-13, leading the Northwest division and allowing the fewest PPG in the NBA. Sheesh.

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Happy 2017, Razzball Nation!

After immense pressure from the DA’s office to flip on Tommy DeVito and Paulie Cicero, [redacted] needed protection to secure his testimony in putting those good fellas away. It didn’t start on the best foot either, as the WitSec guys asked [redacted] if he had any distinguishing marks and he lied about his tattoos… But the man formerly known as [redacted] changed his name to the very inconspicuous James Johnson, and moved his family to Miami. After being a humbling under-the-radar role player, Johnson was supposed to continue as merely a minutes-filler, amongst an uninteresting mix of PF to get through the tough void of losing Chris Bosh. He’s supposed to just shy away from dunk attempts and stand around on offense…

Well, way to ruin that, Johnson! We can’t protect you no more! An absolute monster weekend from Johnson, going 22/3/6/2/2 against the Celtics on Friday night with 4 treys, then followed it up with 20/7/3/1/1 against the Pistons. After a rough stretch of FT last week, he made 6-7 in these games too. With the added onus on O (no Goran Dragic or Justise Winslow OR Hassan Whiteside last night), he is turning it over a little too much (8 total in these two games), but with all the injuries and a void in playmaking on the Heat right now, Johnson is as erect as ever. He’s playing SF, PF, and even some C right now, so while we shouldn’t expect the 34 minutes like he got against the Pistons, he should be pretty solidified in his 25ish MPG role even when everyone is healthy. He’s gotta be a must-own in all leagues while this hot, as he has brazenly blown his cover. Hopefully no one recognizes him as [redacted]! Here’s what else went down over New Year’s weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Christmas Day is a great day for basketball fans. With the exception of the shortened 1998 lockout season, games have been played on Christmas Day every year since 1947 and often feature the best of the best. And this year was no exception.

We saw a rematch of the NBA Finals, a battle for Los Angeles, and a matchup of exciting young players between Minnesota and OKC.

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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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