Man, what a huge night it was across the NBA with nearly every team in action.  It obviously all starts with the shocker Philly put on the Heat, and Michael Carter-Williams‘ unreal debut.  I was following with my co-workers during the game and tweeted that if he got a triple-double in his first NBA game, the universe would implode.  Thankfully MCW was a steal short and we’re all still here.  His final line of 6-10 (4-6 3PTM 6-8 FT) 22 Pts 7 Rebs 12 Asts and 9 Stls might actually win some owners their matchups this week on its own.  Just preposterous.  Most steals in NBA history in a player’s debut.  Ok before we all go nutso, remember the Heat played without Dwayne Wade (rest), don’t have a PG, and had all their hands weighed down with new championship rings.  So that’s not really an excuse, but so what?!  The shooting efficiency was fantastic (the biggest knock on him coming into the year), plus he had only one turnover (his second main knock).  “Nice knockers!”  Thanks Young Frankenstein!  MCW indeed moves up a fair bit in value in my eyes, but this is likely his best line on the year.  MCW was wildly inconsistent in college and I don’t expect much consistency on a terrible 76ers team (I know they just beat the Heat, but c’mon).  Look for John Wall to lock him up on Friday and cool the hype.  Despite inconsistencies, it goes without saying that MCW should be owned in all leagues now (78% Yahoo, 59.4% ESPN), so if for some reason he’s available in your league, you gotta get him.  I’m not expecting MCW to be an elite player, but will continue to contribute even in down games.  Here’s what else I saw across Fantasy Basketball last night:

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Razzball Nation!  You’ve been clamoring for some updated rankings, and here they come!  I’m going to release them slowly, teasing them out, just like how we did the offseason rankings 5 months ago.  These top guys haven’t changed too much, but the rankings will expand to the top 200, culminating in an easy-to-use and frequently updated cheat sheet you can use during all your drafts as they commence in the next few months.  Fantasy NBA is coming and we’re ready to win you titles (or titties – depending on your league’s prize pool).  Previous ranks from my Off-Season Rankings are in parentheses before this re-rank:

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The period of free agency continues to shape the fantasy basketball-scape with fresh meat on terrible teams and players signing with contenders to be relegated to bench duty.  With baseball in full swing and the NFL getting half of the ESPN air time no matter what time of year it is, a lot of NBA moves have been made under the radar.  Look for every division to get a team-by-team breakdown and some early fantasy thoughts on the new faces in new places:

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So these guys aren’t in the top ten.  They automatically hate me and I automatically hate them… Well not really of course, but I want to tease out the drama!

After the first 6 picks, ending with Chris Paul for me, it’s becomes a mess of upside players and seasoned vets all tossed around like Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister.  Then that tornado finished the job last year, ripping off Hunt’s clothes for The Sessions.

Without further ado, here are the guys I’d be ripping my clothes off for to round out my top 20:

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Ah the fantasy basketball offseason.  It’s a magical time where the weather gets nicer, people get out of the arenas (unless their team is still in the playoffs) and start playing outdoor sports.  Pshhh playing outside.  Overrated.

While the NBA Playoffs enter their second round, there are still the huge events of free agency and the NBA Draft to shake things up, but let’s take an early look, nay, a way too early look, into where I am going to start ranking players for the 2013-2014 season:

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The Razzball Community, like a single barrel scotch, is bold and strong. And like a single barrel scotch in the bloodstream of a Las Vegas stripper, we like to spread our butt cheeks and then drive while intoxicated. Wait, what? Anyway, the Razz-comm (<- term that won’t catch on) enjoy nothing more than to match wits and skills with each other in the fantasy arena (there may be things we enjoy more, but we’ll leave that to the philosophers). The season has come to a close, those of you who weren’t sure if J.R. Smith was for real can finally put that question to rest, and our RCL winners have emerged, basking in the glow of victory. “I remember when I was alive, I lived for the taste of success! So says I, the ghost of Dolph Schayes!” Damn you, Dolph, you aren’t dead yet! “Mayhaps, but your career is!” Moving on…

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If you’ve gotten started with fantasy baseball, you know it’s been yet another season of horrendous closing across the MLB.  I bet Kobe Bryant could close effectively in the MLB.

Just think about it.  He has such a will to win that it made Shaq hate him, he’s got consistent mechanics, never gets hurt and would be a tall presence on the mound.  OK, so I have no idea if he can throw a fastball, but right now I’d take him in my Brewers bullpen that looks more like a joke than Joaquin Phoenix’s career as a rapper.

Kobe just went bonkers against the Hornets in the fourth quarter, scoring 23 of his 30 in the last 12 minutes.  He just couldn’t miss, hitting a couple threes, jumpers in people’s faces, and was diming when there was openings.  With the Jazz losing, the Lakers might actually get the 8th seed.  Huzzah!  Kobe has been tremendous since the whole ankle injury soap opera, not missing a beat with a bone spur in his foot actually playing more minutes to keep it loose.  He’s not only closing games for the Lakers, he’s closing the season for fantasy owners.

Here’s what else happened yesterday:

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If you’ve been keeping up with me since I took over the basketball reigns here for Razzball Nation, you know I’ve had two guys I’ve been all about.  Tobias Harris and Jonas Valanciunas.  Yes the luminescent Lithuanian (LL).  Not Latvian!  Easy mistake…  OK, so I’m not one to talk, I’m paler than an Icelander living in Seattle.  But it sounded cool when I made it up.

At the ripe young age of 20, Valanciunas is owning the post, and is doing a Tyler Hansbrough impression of what Psycho-T did in college, just throwing up shizz and getting to the line.  LL (see, this is much better than typing his name correctly every time) has been scoring double-digits a night, but hit his career-high yesterday with 24 in 41 minutes.  The crazy thing is, he took only 7 shots!  Went 16-18 at the free throw line for a splendid line of 24-10-1-1-2.  I know pounding Nene and the rest of the Wiz bigs down low isn’t exactly a huge accomplishment, but I’m gonna be all over him for next year.  And if for some reason he’s available in your league, nab him for your championship run.

Here’s what else went down across the NBA last night:

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So I was at working my job logging highlights last night for the Brooklyn Nets at Dallas Mavericks (which was on the ESPN broadcast), and there were at least 20-30 updates/mentions/ohhhhh-ing and ahhhhh-ing about the Heat Cavs game where the Heat found themselves down more than 20 only to come back and win it.  Jeff Van Gundy is like that annoying friend you keep around in your group – he does something funny half the time then irks you the other half.  On the tip-off between Chris Kaman and Brook Lopez he said, and I’m paraphrasing, “that was the worst tip in NBA history, they shouldn’t be allowed to tip off ever again!”  Pretty good stuff.  Then, and admittedly I was checking the score too, all he and the other guy were talking about was the Heat game.  What about the other fans?  Even at halftime, the crew said they would give highlights for the Thunder game and Bill Simmons was like, “no I’m watching the Heat game.”  I get it ESPN it was the biggest game of the night, but sheesh.

After a rough first half, LeBron James absolutely went off, ending his night with both a rainbow line and a triple-double going 8-22 FG (3-7 3PTM) 25 Pts 12 Rebs 10 Asts 3 Stls and 2 Blks.  If that’s not gonna win you your first round of the playoffs, then you need better ancillary players!  Ok so I’m a hypocrite and my open is all about the Heat game and nothing else… Let’s just dive right into other action:

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Shaun Livingston had another nice game Friday night with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals in 38 minutes. If you’re waiting for Kyrie Irving to return and save your team, you’re just as sad and depressing as every other Cavs fan and you may be disappointed. Don’t wait till its too late, any player is better than an injured player in the playoffs because injured players don’t play! Fact! Meanwhile, Shaun Livingston is just 12% owned and averaging 12.5 points, 6 assists and 3.5 rebounds in two games starting since Irving went down. He also chipped in 4 steals and a block in that span. Livingston is not a huge scorer, but he could provide decent value in some other categories and will get plenty of burn in the Cleveland back court if you are looking for a player to help down the stretch.

Here’s what else happened in fantasy basketball Friday night:

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