What’s up Razzballers!? After a week of final exams, it’s an understatement to say I’m excited to be back this week. Between impossible questions, countless hours in the library, and spending way too much time calculating my GPA instead of studying, fantasy basketball was my beacon of hope, the light at the end of the preverbal tunnel, and ultimate study break. (Also I’m an engineering major. We hate our lives, so we need hobbies to make our daily existence palatable).

While it certainly helps that both my fantasy football teams have been eliminated from their respective playoff matchups (I HATE DAVID JOHNSON WITH A PASSION), spending a night watching hoops never sounded so great.

With a nine-game slate of basketball last night, let’s discuss the standout performance:

DeMarcus Cousins – Against a depleted Washington frontcourt, Cousins filled up the box score posting 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, and 3 steals while going 1-3 from deep. While his shooting percentage leaves a little more to be desired, Cousins has been playing well while adjusting his game to playing as the starting center. Even with Cousins opening up about his concerns in adjusting to his new role, the big man has managed to continue to provide top tier value while expanding his range to the 3-point line.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In an NBA landscape characterized by Steph Curry’s wizardry and Golden State’s record-breaking start, casual fans have missed one of the most interesting subplots from the first quarter of season: the East’s ascension to respectability. With a winning record against the Western Conference (60-58) and ten teams over .500, 2015 has marked a rebirth for the historically lesser conference, now sporting more top-to-bottom depth than in recent memory.

While it’s easy to say, “welcome to the party, we’ve been waiting for you for at least the past decade,” restoration of competitive balance in the East finally appears to be a tangible goal. With two of this season’s biggest surprises in the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets squaring off to open yesterday’s nine-game slate, last night’s contest may have actually been the first iteration of competitive basketball for this particular matchup since the mid-2000s.

With the Hornets emerging as the victors, it begs the question: are they actually good?? For a team with disillusioned hopes of postseason basketball heading into the season, their early successes may still spark skepticism after each passing victory. But with a +3.6 point differential and the fifth placed ranking in the standings this year, the Hornets actually appear to be a legitimately solid basketball team.

One of the main catalysts behind the turnaround, Nic Batum has played excellently on the wing as a secondary ball handler and defensive stopper. For fantasy owners who did not abandon the Batum bandwagon after a disappointing 2014-2015, the Frenchman has more than delivered this season, elevating his status to one of the primer fantasy wing options. Batum continued to produce last night with a near triple double of 13 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in addition to a steal and a block. Vive la France!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

After a tough loss in Detroit, it’s safe to say things have yet to take flight for this year’s Houston Rockets. While many came into the season thinking Houston’s out-of-this-world lineup had the potential to challenge the incumbent Golden State Warriors for the title as best team in the West, those dreams came crashing back to earth weeks ago (and Kevin McHale is still searching through the wreckage for the cause of the incident). Last night’s struggles are just another indication of this season’s overall trend: the Houston Rockets are looking more like Team Rocket when they step on the court.

Even a near triple double from James Harden (29 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) wasn’t enough for Houston to surmount a surprising Pistons squad. With Harden passing 40 minutes for the fourth straight game, it’s looking like the Rockets are going to be riding their thoroughbred until the saddle cracks. In fairness, a monster game from Harden is probably the best chance Houston has to win every night, but for fantasy owners, the team’s struggle bodes well for the Beard’s outlook. Harden is going to score in abundance while racking up rebounds, assists, 3s, and steals as Houston fights to stay in the playoff hunt early. I think these past five games are particularly telling for the current state of the team as well as Harden’s prospects for the next few weeks as they try to right the ship (or the rocket).

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So as numerous comments have suggested over the years, I sometimes act as your fantasy therapist.  “WHY ARE ALL MY GUYS HURT?!”  But this morning, I’m using Razzball Hoops to therap-ize.  You guys are going to help therap-ize me…  Usually weekends are either “good”, “bad”, or “relaxing”.  That’s 99% of weekends.  Good = fun things happened, yay!  Relaxing = you didn’t do much, and you’re recharged for another work week.  Bad = things cut into the relaxing…  But for me, it ran the gamut!  I’ve mentioned a few times that the wife and I moved (yay!), we love the house (yay!), but ran into a bajillion little things and aren’t nearly as unpacked as we want (boo!) and missing a box that still hasn’t been found ($%&%!).  Then we have to rush Saturday night to get to Charlotte to be ready to tailgate for the Panthers game.  Tailgating was sick, but then I started to feel a little iffy during the game…  At least we were true fans and didn’t leave early to beat traffic in the 2nd half of that bludgeoning!  And I was able to snap the best picture I’ve ever seen of the Charlotte skyline:

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There’s your pinnacle!  Then I feel atrocious in a few hours of stop and go traffic, finally start feeling better, then get a tire blowout on the interstate and barely made it back last night…  What a range of emotions!  Anyway, long story short, I’m whiny, not feeling great, and the worst of all – didn’t watch as much hoops as I wanted to this weekend.  #RealLifeProblems!  So I apologize to the weekend commenters, getting to you guys now, and for a slightly shorter Monday Daily Notes that’s out later than usual.  But we’ve got a shortened Thanksgiving week to preview anyway!  Oh yeah, I guess I’ll stick with the usual daily notes format and tie this into fantasy – this article title could work for Nikola Jokic too!  Went nuts on the Spurs last Wednesday for a breakout, but then played 18 starting minutes worth of feeling sick, getting a flat tire, and losing an important box when moving Friday against the Suns.  Mike Malone even called out his guys!  “Lunch will not be served today due to lack of hustle!”  But then Jock Itch looked like a different player against the Warriors, going 11/11/2/2/1 in 27 minutes, while also helping us as a realtor and finding our house, helping the Panthers get to 10-0, and saving several stranded puppies in a well.  He’s a 20 year old on a young team, he’s going to go through a lot of ups and downs, but I say he’s worth a look even in 12ers.  If you don’t have anyone good to drop, I wouldn’t do anything rash though.  He’s at 19% owned in Yahoo and snatched up in all my RCLs, but might be worth a look on your leagues’ wires.  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, plus The 7 Ahead for Week 5:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Another week of NBA is in the books.  One thing we know so far this year is that Golden State Warriors are playing better then last year and it looks like they are heading for a finals rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Last week I kinda went on a little rant and the feedback I got was really positive.  So keep the comments coming and questions coming.  On Thursday we had some news come down from Maura Healey the Attorney General of Massachusetts.  Unlike New York last week, Massachusetts wants to regulate the DFS industry and that is what the states should be doing.  In there she says you need be 21 years old to play.  When I heard this, I was like “you gotta be kidding me.”  So you can defend your country, vote for the leader of this great nation, get married, raise a child, purchase state run lotto tickets, gamble at the horse tracks, and go down to your local convenience store to buy cigarettes but can’t play a $5 double up.  Am I the only who thinks this is wrong?  Then she wants to limit you to a $1,000 deposit a month unless you can prove you can prove you can sustain more of a loss. Oh really?  Are they limiting the amount of money you can spend on their lottery each week?  No they aren’t.  There are some good things in there like not letting site employees/contractors play on the site, limit multi-entries, and getting rid of scripting. This should’ve been done a long time ago by the sites.  Also, it says entries cannot be changed after the start of the contest.  This seems to be end of the late swap feature on Draft Kings, which if you didn’t know is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.  She goes on to say that she considers DFS gambling, but legal under Massachusetts state law.  I don’t agree with that if you go by the true definition of gambling.  You can read the whole story over at legalsportsreport.com.  Ok, enough news let’s get on with the 6 evening games:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

After witnessing the Philadelphia lose their eleventh straight contest this year, needless to say, it certainly takes balls to be a 76ers fan right now. I’m not referring to testicular fortitude or alpha masculinity, but rather literally, to the ping pong balls of hope known as the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery. With the possibility of multiple lottery picks in the 2016 Draft, it’s going to be okay Philadelphia fans. Put down your weapons, we’ll get through this together.

But it may take some time, since the franchise is focusing on future contention; the on-court product suffers as the 76ers appear to be the worst team in basketball once again.

At this point, I’m just surprised Philadelphia still has a team website, since they can’t string three “W’s” together…

I think I’m going to hide in a corner for the rest of my life after that joke.

Philly, I’m rooting for you, and I’m rooting for the process!

Jahil Okafor continued to impact the box score with a 19 points, 11 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. The Rookie of the Year frontrunner recorded his second straight double double against a soft Dallas front court. Luckily for fantasy owners, Okafor will see plenty of minutes to develop in the interim despite concerns about his immediate impact to the team’s chances of winning. Long term, his inabilities to defend the rim and stretch the floor may impact his fit in Philadelphia. I don’t think the coaching staff has any surprising moves in store for 2015 (such as playing more small ball around Noel or limiting Okafor’s minutes experimenting with more perimeter-based lineups), but moving forward, it is a trend to monitor as he continues to develop this year.

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Maybe he didn’t call glass on his clutch three with 1:05 left in the 4th, but when you’re Dirk Nowitzki, a future hall of famer, who cares? I know fantasy owners don’t care whether it was a swish or a banked in three. All we care about are the final stats. And, boy, did Dirk deliver.

Down one going into the second half, Dirk took over for the Mavericks, leading them to a 10-point win against the Clippers. Dirk finished the game with 31 points and 11 rebounds on 11-14 shooting, including 5-6 from downtown. It was vintage Dirk.

Midway through the 3rd quarter he caught a Zaza Pachulia pass off of an offensive rebound and without squaring up, knocked down an one foot fade away jumper without hesitation. He knocked down threes with DeAndre Jordan in his grill. It was truly a great game.

As a fan of the game, it’s amazing to watch games like this, but as a fantasy owner, you have to realize that these games aren’t as common for the 37 year-old as they used to be. It was Dirk’s first 30-point game since December 28, 2014. In his 18th year in the NBA, Dirk is still a top 50 player when he plays, but just be aware his minutes are monitored more closely and he sits on back to backs, hurting his total overall value.

Now onto the other nightly notables:

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After making history this weekend with arguably the best Halloween costume from an NBA player of all time, LeBron James made his way into the NBA record books becoming the youngest player to score 25,000 career points. Despite the record-breaking basket coming against the hapless Philadelphia 76ers, the feat nonetheless is one of the most impressive in recent memory. With all the scrutiny surrounding the potential decline of the Artist Formerly Known as King James, tonight’s performance was an instant reminder of how effectively he can impact the game not only on the hardwood, but the fantasy box score as well.

Registering 22 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks on 9-19 shooting, James had his most well-rounded performance of the season. Moving forward, James should begin to impact other areas of the box score (assists, rebounds, steals, and FG percentage) as the Cavs offense clicks.

As the Cavs begin to realize the full potential of their All-Pro floor spacer in Kevin Love, James ability to facilitate and control the pace of the game will open up his true fantasy potential. Pencil him in for at least 20 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists on .500+ shooting. All hail the King.

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So I Googled “crisis of leadership” because, well, it’s been a pretty annoying ride for NBA franchises in Charlotte since the 90s.  According to never-wrong Wikipedia, the term was coined about something with Trotsky and Communism, I ain’t goin’ there!  It’s been well-documented and scrutinized through the years, but Charlotte certainly seems to make odd decisions behind Michael Jordan.  And before that, they moved to New Orleans, brought in an expansion team called “The Bobcats” (????@#?#$%@#%), and drafted Sean May.

While Charlotte’s follies could be it’s own dedicated article, I’m just going to talk about the planning behind PF/C minutes for 15-16.

TANGENT!  Speaking of planning, we’re debuting a new part of Monday daily notes this season.  The 7 Ahead!  After wrapping up the standard daily notes from the weekend, at the bottom will be a weekly planner for the upcoming 7 nights of NBA action.  Let me know if you like it!  And as always, add any suggestions you commenters have for The 7 Ahead moving forward.  If you don’t like it, ya know, not wanting to read such a long effin’ blog post when you’ve got a case of the Mudiays, just let me know!

FOCUS!  So the Hornets draft Frank Kaminsky 9th in the draft, passing on in-state product Justise Winslow (who looks great in early run for the Heat) and the undeniably awesome Myles Turner.  Part of the argument seemed to be NBA-readiness.  But instead of sticking with the decision, or continuing to play Cody Zeller, another high-draft pick, they instead come out and start Starvin Marvin Williams.  I mean, if you’re just going to take a no-upside PF/C for bench depth, why not go pure upside of my boy Kelly Oubre?!?!  Such a wasted pick and poor planning for the rotation, as now Marvin is running away with the role with a fantastic start to 15-16.  Opening the season with back-to-back dubdubs, Marvin went 15/5/1 with 3 blocks and 5 treys last night.  They need some speed on D and a perimeter player to compliment Al “slow feet” Jefferson, and it’s put Marvin clearly in the ThrAGNOF category.  The blocks were a little fluky, but I don’t think the minutes are.  He’s surged to 34% owned which seems a smidge high, but on low-schedule nights, he’ll be a frequent streaming target of mine.  And if I sounded unnecessarily bitter, it’s because I had him as a $1 REL keeper and let him walk.  Friggin’ Hornets.  What a waste of draft picks only to play the low-paid vet…  Here’s what else happened over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Flashy player.  Ridiculous opportunity.  Buzzy preseason.  A lot of times it ends up fizzling out, sometimes it works out OK, and one time it’s C.J. McCollum.

C.J. went absolutely bonkers in his 15-16 debut, hitting 14-22 from the field including 6-9 3PTM for 37/6/1/1/0 and no TO.  Video game numbers!  So he’s a shooter, and he does what NBA shooters do – keeps draining em when they hot!  But I think we need to take a step back and consider a few things:  Other than massive Pts and treys it was fairly empty.  This was against the Pelicans, who without Brow, might look worse than the Sixers; they look horrific.  And the third thing that no one seemed to mention while anointing McCollum the next big thing in combo guards this preseason – he’s got a pretty extensive injury history.  He’s at the pinnacle of a sell high for me.  Do I think he’ll be hot garbage all the sudden?  Of course not.  But do I think he scores 37 again this year?  I don’t.  Well, unless they faced the Pelicans every night…  I’d shop around in the 40-50 range of ADP and see if you can get lucky.  As with all fantasy takeaways off one game, it’s always good to keep from overreacting.  Compared to fantasy football, we’re at the same point as about 9 minutes into the first quarter of week 1.  Still a long way to go.  Here’s what else went down during the first full slate of fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?