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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It’s Uncle Drew’s world and we’re just living in it! Kyrie Irving remains on fire after his big outing on Christmas. 32 points and 12 assists on only 17 shots. That kind of efficiency will keep the Cavs ahead of the pack, when it comes to championship odds. The Cavaliers managed to edge the Celtics 124 – 118 on the first game of the TNT double header. Lebron James also had a big line with 23/8/11/1/3, while Kevin Love put up 30 and 15 boards as well. The big 3 clearly are meshing well, and Cleveland is certainly the team to beat.

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Well, I do keep my eyes open all the time, and if you’ve been reading my thoughts on Jeremy Lin the past few weeks, you’ve heard me repeatedly say that I’m worried about lingering/long-term injury with this bad hammy strain earlier in the season. The deathblow – for me – was when after coming back from the hammy, Lin suffered back issues, which I mentioned I had seen time and time again in baseball as a lingering effect from not having your upper leg base. And here we go again with another hammy strain last night, again to the left hammy, the same hamstring he pulled in early November (emo band alert!). On a VERY friendly 3-year deal in today’s market at only $38 million (thanks Razzball player pages!), I see no reason the Mess wouldn’t just shut him down another extended period of time with the injury to the same hammy, so hopefully you sold in these past couple weeks when you could. In his stead, look for Sean Kilpatrick to play some PG again, which actually hurts his value in my eyes. He wasn’t thriving the same way as his SG run, as he’s not a great facilitator and it jacked up his TO rate. For deeper leagues, it puts Isaiah Whitehead back on the radar, although he will hurt your FG% and TO in some games (9/2/3/1/1 last night, but with 4 TO in 16 minutes). Thankfully Whitehead was able to come back at exactly the right time after a few games off due to foot soreness. And that’s not even mentioning Randy Foye and his “epic” 3/1/2 line last night, with his only FG being this one:

Hah, your final shot goes to a guy who was 0-1 in 21 minutes up until that touch. Yeesh, this team is certainly really close to the creamy nougat center of Dante’s Inferno, on maybe the 2nd or 1st Ring of Fire… Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops 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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Oh man, no rest for the wicked! Speaking of wicked, oh man quick shout out to the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, that brewery rocked! But yeah, an absolutely amazing slate to catch me back up on the daily notes, with 4 overtimes last night. Including a super size me doubler in Miami! Most of the other games stayed close too, and 20 of the 22 teams in action last night topped 100 points. Fantasy orgasm! And leading the charge on such a big-and-tall NBA night was of course Isaiah Thomas! Career-high 44 points for IT2/3, putting up a 4/3rd’s of a full line of 44/3/6/1/1 on 10-16 FG (7-10 3PTM, 17-17 FT) including a big three in extra time in the OT win.

I’m just glad this groin thing got worked out! …That sounded wrong… If you have a smaller groin muscle, does it heal faster?! I’m not saying he doesn’t have a kick stand down there with a line like this, but just wondering! After semi-breaking out last year (well he was only 2/3 better than his career year in 13-14 for the Kings), IT2/3 has taken an even further step up – scoring 26.6 PPPG, upping the FT volume to 8.8/per at 90% (remember when he was like 70% the first few weeks, that changed quick!), and even though the steals are only at 0.9, he’s drastically cut his TO rate to only 2.2 despite all the added USG. After a slow start due to injuries, the Celtics look like a pretty tough team at full strength right now, and maybe IT2/3 can lead this squad into a deep run. I’ll be cheering for them! (cough, REL bias, cough…) Here’s what else happened on an action-packed Tuesday night of Holiday Season basketball:

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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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Man, hell of a weekend!  Injuries, DNPs, I got a credit card hacked, went to a wedding, saw the sorry Panthers beat Jay’s sorrier Chargers… Out of control out there!  Thankfully we’re nearing Christmas, time to see some family, gets some time off work, and hopefully get our fantasy teams healthy…  But noooooooooooooo!  The fantasy gods gave us a bah humbug last night, with Nerlens Noel finally debuting off knee surgery, only to go down with a kankle.  He was looking pretty good too, especially with a little dunk on his first basket!

The hair on the other hand…  I dunno…  Shot 3-5 FG, hit his 2 FT, for 8 points and a steal in his first 10 minutes of the season.  Sucks it ended prematurely with another injury, and especially on the Sixers, who are treating everyone with kid’s gloves and have too many centers anyway.  Also sucks we don’t have any idea what his role will be, as Joel Embiid sat this one out to further maintain his EMBIIIIIID minutes.  As long as it’s under 4 hours, we’re good!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in Fantasy Basketball action:

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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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