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Listen, as a Hawks fan I have a special place in my sports heart for Joe Johnson. It’s special because of this strange dichotomy I call reluctant gratitude. The Hawks sucked. Hard. For years. And gave up far too much to get him, but once Joe Johnson arrived in Atlanta back in the ’05-’06 season the Hawks became a legit playoff team, with Johnson ascending to perennial All-Star level. Yet that damn contract (only to be rivaled by Allan Houston from 2001 as potentially the worst of all-time) handcuffed Atlanta into the nothingness that is the perpetual second-round, upper-middle tier of the NBA. It was awful.

However, Brooklyn came along and washed our bored tears away when they gulped down his albatross contract to usher in the new era of Atlanta basketball (still perpetual upper-middle tier, though). But when you think about it, that’s just what Joe does: usher in the next chapter for a franchise. Well, that and play incredible (dribble) ball-stopping (dribble) isolation (dribble) basketball (five more dribbles, contested shot with 3 second left). It started in Phoenix as Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash began their revolutionary 8-second offense, then shifted to Atlanta for the next seven years where he made six All-Star teams before becoming the epitome of the catastrophe that was the Brooklyn Nets post-prime project alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. And now? Smack dab in the middle of the Rockies, Joe’s the biggest free agent signing the Utah Jazz have locked in for the past 10-15 years. At 35 years old he’s shooting 49% in 31mpg during their first five contests. Could it be that a new era is beginning in Utah with all of their young talent (and without Gordon Hayward as of yet)? They just crushed both the Spurs and then the Mavs, and I’m getting quite jazzed about the makeup of this team. Could they reach the playoffs for the first time in 5 years? Well, probably. Joe’s there now. It’s time for a new era.

And for this week…four games for the Jazz. Here’s the 7 Ahead for Week 3!

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So here we are again Razzball nation, another week down and another action packed weekend of NBA action just around the corner. The week has seen the good (James Harden putting up back-to-back 15 assist nights on Tuesday and Wednesday), the bad (injuries to Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Jeremy Lin, Will Barton and Ricky Rubio) and the ugly (Sam Dekker tripping over his own feet on a clear path to the basket to bounce the ball off his face).

Today I will be focusing on a somewhat specialist subject of mine: European basketball players plying their trade outside of the USA. Being European myself, and residing 50 miles south of London, my fascination for basketball in Euroleague and domestic leagues across Europe matches that of my love for the NBA and NCAA game (albeit, not doing my laptop much good with illegal streaming for domestic European league basketball from some questionable sites).

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I imagine this a good representation of the frustration Westbrook feels inside… I am currently writing this article during halftime of the Thunder/Warriors game, and frankly I don’t think I have the heart to watch the second half.  OKC came out of the gate in a strong fashion, but a Jerami Grant posterization of KD led to a Slim Reaper onslaught that buried the Thunder.  More on that below…

It’s now time for my debut on the daily notes! I’m going to format it a bit differently, so feel free to give feedback on whether it’s better, worse, or if you don’t care at all.

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What’s up Razzballers?!? I’m back and will be handling the daily recaps from Tuesday night this season. We had a total of 9 games so let’s get to it!

Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James – Whenever the Rockets are in town, you know that fantasy stat lines are going to be great for both teams, with the increased pace of play. The Cavaliers were the beneficiaries of the Rockets’ matchup and all the main guys delivered. Kevin Love posted 24 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block; Irving scored 32 points with 4 threes; and James nearly messed around and got another triple double, finishing with 19/13/8. They played almost as well as their costumes from James’ yearly Halloween party. Don’t forget the shoutouts to the Warriors!

J.R. Smith – Smith knocked down 5-11 from downtown to finish with 15/3/2. Iman Shumpert (8 points, 2 steals, and 2 threes) seems to after suffering a concussion from opening night, but the steals just aren’t enough to help fantasy owners, except for the deepest of leagues.

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In what became a weekly manifesto for fantasy basketball, our cap’n, my cap’n, JB Gilpin, decided to hand over the reins to his precious afterthoughts from last season. No, literally. This series was the actual afterthoughts to his daily thoughts that happened every weekend. Well, JB…after thought no more, because this is all I got!

When JB asked me to take over the 7 Ahead, I was most likely still drunk on the booze of an incredible 2015-2016 NBA Regular Season and Playoffs, not thinking about what it actually meant. The more my withdrawals kicked in and I couldn’t wait for the start of the new season to finally effing get here, though, the more I realized how great this article is. If you’ve read me on the football or baseball sides of all things Razz, you may have read my definition of wisdom before. If so, you’re welcome…here it is again: Wisdom is looking to the past to know what’s going to happen in the future before it happens. It’s telling the future. It’s planning on what could happen. It’s everything that is the essence of the 7 Ahead.

Each weekend we’ll be looking forward towards the fantasy basketball horizon of the next seven days. For those of you in weekly leagues, this series may be especially helpful, as I’ll highlight the teams with the most beneficial schedule for your matchups, and which particular players from hose teams may be available for your streaming pleasures. Also, we’ll discuss the game slate for each day over the next seven days, and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be asking some questions and want your responses. This is a dialogue, kids. No monologues here. Those stayed in the past with JB’s novellas that he called this series. And by the way, what in the balls is a ‘bottom dollar’? Does Dame Dolla own a lot of those? Anywho…here’s the first installment of the 2016-2017 7 Ahead.

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Razzball nation, It’s time!!

After going cold turkey for what feels like ages, hoops is back, and what a great feeling it is. The arrival of the basketball season also marked the start of a new era in the Bozic household with the arrival of a new baby girl; and despite being a tall and heavy baby, we decided to hold off on naming the baby Bismack Bozic for gender’s sake.

So three days into the new season (and overreaction territory) and we have already seen some significant action. The Lakers started with a bang in the Luke Walton era by beating the Rockets in their opener. Myles Turner took off in an overtime win against the Mavericks to the tune of 30 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals. Roy Hibbert still might have something in the tank with the Byron Scott disaster behind him (although exited last night with a sore knee), and oh, surprise surprise Kawhi Leonard is very good.

But you’re not here reading this for me to tell you that a first round talent is very good, so let us venture into those ‘way too early to overreact’ rookie performances from the first few days of the season:

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Holy schnike, what an opening set of games! And what a night for Believeland! The Cavs get to raise their banners and get their ring pops to open the 2016-17 NBA Season, then top it off by playing a disjointed group of SUPER streetballers that a high school team might be able to beat. Really, Knicks?! 17 assists to 18 turnovers?! Just an absolute collapse by New York after a nice 2nd quarter run. I guess they’re going to end up going 115-1… Then a mere 50 feet away, the Windians pick up game 1 in the World Series, shutting out the Cubs 6-0. The dude who wrote Major League couldn’t have even foreseen this!

After seeing what LeBron James did last night, it made me want to link MAC’s comment on our staff picks article. Of course I’m overreacting to one game, but man did Bronny Bron look hungry from some MVPness (be sure to say that word out loud). 19/11/14/0/1 for his first career Opening Night tripdub, as the Cavs stand-n-shooters all hit their threes boosting the dimes. Monster dunks early and often, but still had his deficiencies in FT (1-2), treys (0-3) and TO (4). If Cleveland can keep rolling like this, and the MVP talk remains clamorous, we all know we need to be shopping him in a month or two. As we mentioned a few times in the offseason, his schedule in the H2H Playoffs (or at the end of the Roto season) is fraught with DNP landmines. I got The King in one of my RCLs, and if he’s still around by the All-Star Break, I have a feeling I’m going to have trouble dealing him away. But others in your league are likely a little less competent with foresight and don’t read Razzball, even though it’s a Shakespearean Tragedy! So hopefully in those leagues, you’ll be able to capitalize. Who knows, in Razzball leagues, maybe the hate and talk of trading him will create a buying opportunity! And maybe even the Knicks will turn it all around and fight the Cavs for the best record in the East… Hah, now we’re getting into some super crazy talk! Here’s what else went down across the first 3 NBA Openers last night:

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The season is here, the season is here! Get out your favorite throwback NBA jersey and your fantasy stat-calculating abacuses (abaci?!), because fantasy basketball starts tonight! If you could pick any throwback jersey, just for aesthetic sake, which jersey would you go with? For me, gimme those old school Nugs jerseys!

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Doesn’t beat that right there! It’s so 80s it makes me want to watch Stranger Things for the 3rd time!

On the docket tonight, we have the Knicks going to Cleveland with the Cavs getting their rings, Utah going to Portland to battle it out in the Northwest, and then the best game of the night – the Spurs going to Golden State and beating the Warriors on the road to send Dubs fans into a panic! I’m planning on staying up all night to watch that game, so if I’m a little cranky tomorrow morning, it’s probably because the Spurs lost and I’m dehydrated after drinking 3 pots of coffee…

We’re stoked for another huge season at Razzball, and looking forward to our biggest season yet! If you missed our scheduling preview post for Razzball Basketball’s 2016-17 content, you can check it out here, and be sure to welcome in our new staff with as many comments as you can muster. Not unlike the Knicks, we have a Super Team assembled for 2016-17! Let’s get this ish going!

Here’s a few notes for the games tonight, along with a few final thoughts from the preseason (a lot of injury notes we just discussed on the Pod this morning, so be sure to give a listen!):

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Sorry for the delay in content here from yours truly, as I’m still without power due to downed power lines from Hurricane Matthew.  After all our silliness on the Pod, turns out I got it worse than Slim!  But at least we had no damage and no broken bones unlike Gordon Hayward.  Man this one sucks!  Apparently Rodney Hood decided to talk about it in Game of Thrones vicarious detail, revealing the bone popped through the skin.  Injuries in preseason make me want to gouge my eyes out like The Mountain vs. Viper!  He’s expected to miss 4-6 weeks, which will only claim about 2-3 weeks of the regular season.  I’m likely to move him down a few spots in my Top 200 Ranks, but nothing substantial.  I think Hayward’s fans already overrate him a little bit, but if you trust the Gordon’s fisherman, then you have a discount situation on your hands!  Just don’t go reaching too hard too fast, or else you might see part of your pinky bone sticking out…  In the meantime, vault Joe Johnson up your deep league boards.  I already thought he’d be pretty usable in his bench role leading the 2nd unit, and now he gets a few weeks with starting minutes.  Here’s some other news and notes around the NBA during this preseason:

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My first RCL draft is in the books!  I may drop another league closer to the start of the season – we’ll see on that.  [editor’s note – if you’re interested in joining an RCL league, you can take a spot in several leagues with openings here!]   At any rate, I’m fairly happy with how this draft went.  I had the 11th pick, so that was ugly, but I caught a break in the first round, and I don’t think I blew it too badly after that.  You can be the judge though!

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