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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Happy weekend Razzball nation, and on the eve of the new year I thought I would bring you something a little different and closer to home for a change. So what is your New Year’s resolution in fantasy? Maybe you have promised yourself to be a little more patient and not to panic by week 3; maybe you have decided not to overvalue shiny young toys; or maybe like me you have decided not to write off 30-somethings in the NBA for your fantasy team. Whatever your New Year’s resolution be sure to check out all the good work from my cohorts here at Razzball nation to help guide you to the same level of success we all enjoyed in 2016.

So what of this week’s article, and why do we have characters from the hit Disney movie ‘Monsters Inc’ as the lead image?………….Well hopefully that is a clue that you can put your oxygen tanks away as we return to the fantasy surface for just a short while, and for the last time in 2016. If your team is in need of some help, or maybe you are looking to remain dominant, then keep reading as this will hopefully allow you to move closer to an attempt to tip the scales (in a good way, and not from the Christmas booze and turkey) as I guide you through a couple of targets of mine for the second half of the NBA season:

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Every week, we’ll be pitting our two die-hard Larry Bird fans in a duel to the death on a fantasy debate.  Hopefully this will become as infamous as Burr vs. Hamilton.  Look what it did for Broadway!  This week, we’re debating the buy or sell merits of slow-starting Victor Oladipo, and [going into last night] red hot Devin Booker.  Buy!  Sell!  Make millions on Frozen Orange Juice Futures that I still don’t understand!  Here’s what our dueling Birds feel on the issue this week:

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Feb 8, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) smiles on the court in the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Oklahoma City won 122- 106. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

I apologize for the click-bait title right away. However, the sentiment is correct, since Westbrook will go too high to be drafted by the savvy fantasy owner.

“Why is this??” You ask incredulously. Good question! I’ll tell you!

I absolutely love Westbrook in real life. He plays with a passion that rivals the likes of Bryant, Iverson, the original Isaiah Thomas, and many other greats. However, he will kill your fantasy team. I’m sure you can already guess why, but hear me out.

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As we prepare for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season, I’ll be taking a look at each NBA team with their major adds and drops to see if we can pan for any surprise rotational gold. This open is especially witty for the Nuggets. We’ll be counting down from worst NBA regular season to the best, mainly because I’m still figuring out how to rank the Warriors…

Los Angeles Lakers (17-65)

Lakers

Key Acquisitions:

F Luol Deng

F Brandon Ingram (Rookie)

C Timofey Mozgov

C Ivica Zubac (Rookie)

G Jose Calderon

Key Losses:

G Kobe Bryant

C Roy Hibbert

D’Angelo Russell’s Cell Phone Privileges

Wow, you’d think a roster this bad would bring in something better than that! Deng is a pretty good haul, but I’m not giving a unique opinion saying that Mozgov’s deal was preposteroni. The Lakers go into 2016-17 still rebuilding, and obviously the key to rebuild is to sign mid-range free agents to big deals… Ahhhh, the lunacy of this Mozgov deal! [pretend in a Trump voice] “The first thing I’d do is repeal Healthcare.Mozgov! …you’re fired.”

Despite a lackluster output from the Lakers fantasy options last year, there’s some interesting pieces that could be late round steals. Here’s how the purp and gold are suiting up:

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Man, crazypants Thursday night!  I know what you’re all thinking…  “A live reaction to the madness would be better!”  Well, hopefully you downloaded and listened to our Draft Day Live Podcast!  If not, listen to it while reading this if you have a fluky-good, multi-tasking mind.  It’s tough for me to read while listening to a Podcast, it’s like that feeling when someone just starts shouting random numbers at you when you’re trying to count.  1-2-3-4-5 “17!” 6-7-8 “22!” 8… 8…  ugh, I lost my spot!  Assholes…

The first 9 picks went fairly unsurprisingly, although we did miss on virtually everything in our Mock Draft.  Pretty sure I beat Slim 2-1 overall (edit – ugghhhh Slim’s right he got Zizic, we tied, ahhhhh!)!  Then when the Bucks made their 10th pick…  All hell broke loose!  Dudes I joked around about as 2nd round sleepers getting picked in the lottery, Suns making baller trades, someone’s twitter getting hacked…  Oh wait, that was the NFL draft.  I guess it wasn’t quite THAT crazy!  Here’s my analysis for each rookie’s fantasy impact, along with my grade for each team’s pick in a real-life context and my guess at where each rookie will rank in my 2016-17 redraft rankings to come out this summer:

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The draft is coming, the draft is coming!  Since I have no NBA allegiances, I personally get more excited by the NBA draft than by postseason basketball.  I know – that’s blasphemy!

You’ve heard it murmured.  You’ve heard it yelled.  You’ve heard it pounding down on your brain like voices drowning out your inner thoughts.  “This year’s draft class SUCKS!”  Well, that’s only, kinda-sorta true.  I think it sucks in the sense that there’s little “easily-projectable” talent.  Lots of rawness getting thrown around here, like a food fight at a sushi bar.  “Can I get another Rice Wine!”  And with rawness comes upside, and upside comes dynasty moves.  Mmmmm, can’t wait for the upcoming season 4 of the REL League!  I think since our deep dynasty is my favorite fantasy hoops league, it makes sense that this year’s draft is pretty exciting to me.  A lot of speculation that would make The Prospector proud.  In that regard, it’s not such a Stinky Pete after all!  So be the eternal optimist, dream of some of the 1-and-done upside, and read with us as Slim and I go back-and-forth drafting for NBA teams in our 2016 Mock NBA Draft:

Also – come and join the Razzball League on Fantasy Movie League!  You can join our league through this link here, and the Password is “rball”.  I’ve usually been pushing for readers to join us on the Podcast, but wanted to get an invite to all as the Summer Season is starting today!  Their cutoff for week 1 is at EST so there’s not much time, but you can still play every week starting in week 2 and get pumped up and practice for the Fall Season, which we’ll promote hard and have some Razzball prizes and talk it on the Pod.  So be sure and make your picks and try to dethrone yours truly as the winner from Spring!  Plus I ended on a perfect cinema – one of only 22 people – and I’m gonna brag about there everywhere I can! 

PerfectCinema!

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Getting through a fantasy basketball season can sometimes feel like everyone in the building is against you. Like you’re John McClane. Once you get into April, you finally have a bajillion options helping you, but your feet are bleeding and your shirt is burnt off! Perils of April basketball. If you’re in a H2H league and your championship stretches until game 82, it’s time to change your league settings! Maybe it’s just sour grapes since it’s looking like we’re gonna come up short in the Yahoo Friends & Family championship. Slim could blame me too, because he wanted to welcome Norman Powell to the Razzball party. Welcome to the party, Powell!

As with a lot of these April guys, Powell is putting up some surprising stats. But he’s been getting better and better when given the opportunity, with an absolutely crazy Friday night with the Raps regulars DNPed going 27/6/4/1/0, but on only 11 shots and 5 – FIVE! – field goals made. He hit 3 treys, and apparently bought all the refs dinner before the game, going 14-19 from the FT line. 19 free throws, after 0 trips to the stripe the two games before it. WTF, mate?! Then promptly left the party last night, playing only 21 minutes for 2/1/1/1/0 in a scrubby game as the starting SF, and you guessed it, yet again 0 FTA. What in the wide world of sports?!

I’ve seen a few comments asking about Powell’s keepability for 16-17, and I just don’t know. He’s 6’4 and definitely a SG (even though he was listed as a SF last night), so you’d imagine they’d have to push DeMar DeRozan to the 3. That wouldn’t be outlandish or anything, but remember we saw a couple huge flashes from Terrence Ross before he turned into a Holiday Armadillo. And I’m lazy and didn’t want to rewrite those last couple sentences – I totally forgot about DeMarre Carroll! He’s signed through 2018-19, so it’s really hard seeing much happen for Powell out of the gate next year. And even for the final two Raps games tomorrow and Wednesday, it’s hard to give him a starting nod unless we know the Raps are resting peeps. With Toronto still alive to sneak into the #1 spot, I don’t see that happening if the Cavs beat Atlanta tonight and lock the first seed. Here’s what else went down in fantasy hoops action over the weekend:

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The Warriors needed overtime, but still continued their historic run to 73 wins. They have been a lot of fun to watch this season and are must watch basketball (if you’ve been hiding under a rock this season). It will probably be years, if ever, that any team comes this close to this historic of a streak. So enjoy it while you still can! Let’s just hope that the Warriors aren’t gassed when they inevitably play the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.

Stephen Curry led the way with 31 points, including 6 straight points in OT. He knocked down 5-10 from downtown and added 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Draymond Green (13/8/6), Harrison Barnes (15/11), and Klay Thompson (18/4 and 3 threes) all saw around 40 minutes, as the Warriors continue their race for 73. Don’t worry about any of these getting benched down the stretch.

The Jazz kept it close and forced overtime, but the Warriors are just too good and improved to 6-0 in OT. Rudy Gobert grabbed 18 boards and scored 11 points, while Rodney Hood went for 20/6 with 3 threes. Gordon Hayward had a poor shooting night (7-20 FG, 4-8 FT), but still scored his usual 20 points with 4 rebounds and 3 steals. You have to hand it to the Jazz; they have definitely exceeded all expectations this season and should be playing postseason basketball.

Now onto the other nightly notables:

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The precursor to the much-hyped Clippers and Warriors game was the game between the Bulls and Knicks. On paper, this wasn’t the best choice by ESPN, considering the Knicks are out of the playoffs and the Bulls are competing for the 8th spot.

However, it featured two of the best, youngest international stars. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis dunked and shot his way to 29 points and 10 rebounds. He may have hit the so-called “rookie wall,” but he still contributes enough in a variety of categories to matter in fantasy for the playoffs.

Nikola Mirotic almost single handedly brought the Bulls back in the 4th quarter. He knocked down 9-13 from downtown, on his way to 35 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. Can you name the last Bull to knock down 8 threes in a game? Ben Gordon did it in 2008-09. While Gordon had a serviceable career, I hope both Mirotic and Porzingis have better careers than Gordon. Based on Wednesday, their futures look very bright.

Now only the other nightly notables:

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