Happy 2017 to everyone!  Hopefully, you all had a good holiday break and enjoyed a great slate of games.  As for this segment, it’s a new year but it’s somewhat of the same old.  We continue where we left off.  In the last installment, we took a look at the best teams to target for marksmen shooting guards.  Let’s hop on over to a very similar and often tagged with the same position eligibility–the SF or the wingmen.  Small forwards tend to be the defender against the opposing teams best back court player during key parts of a game.  Think Kawhi Leonard and Lebron James.  For most of us, the term wingman has a very different meaning but whether it’s used for social events or basketball, they tend to have the backs of their teammate(s).

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A lot of people were mad at 2016. Thought it was a year without morality. Without decency. Without justice… So I’m watching the Thunder/Hornets last night, and in the 3rd quarter, Dell Curry is like, “I just had some terrible news cross my desk – Justise Winslow is going to be out for the year.” Whoa, way to be a news breaker, Dell! He also broke the news that his wife was in the crowd and circled her on the teleprompter when the camera showed her, so there’s that… Awk-ward! Anyway, Winslow’s injured shoulder ended up being a labrum tear, after it was reported it was only a tweak and he didn’t anticipate it being a long-term issue. Doctor G, how come major tears only feel like tweaks sometimes?! He’s going to have corrective surgery today and will likely miss the rest of the season, ya know, unless the Heat make the playoffs! Hahahahaha, sorry Slim, had to do it… This is definitely a bummer, because we saw this with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and he ended up tearing it a second time after only a few games back, so I’m going to be very leery about ranking Winslow decently next year. Well, the injury, and the fact he’s going to end the year shooting 35.4% from the field. Yeesh. So with Miami lacking any Justise, it would appear James Johnson is going to get all the minutes he can handle, and is must own for me ROS. Really everywhere. I raved about him as the lead to the notes earlier in the week, Adam led with him for RazzWired, and he shouldn’t have any issue getting 30ish MPG the rest of the way. I was initially surprised to only see 25 minutes last night in a 5-point win, but yeah, he fouled out (game was on too late for grandpa JB!). 14/6/6/0/3 for JJ on an awesomely efficient night, shooting 4-8 FG, knocking down 2 treys, and hitting 4-4 FT. Only black eye was the 3 TO, which look like will be an issue for him as he takes on a big role on the offense. So be sure Johnson is owned in all your leagues, and hopefully by the 17-18 season, we’ll see a return of Justise in the world! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Who wants to go on a road trip?!? You know, the kind that lasts forever. The kind you start the new year with. The kind filled with adventure. The kind that freaking wears you out.

Well, for Week 11 of our NBA fantasy season that’s exactly what the Utah Jazz are receiving to kick off 2017. But this no ordinary road slate of five games. No…it’s 5 games in 7 days. In other words, that’s death. Will they be tired by the end of it? Most certainly, but while they’re on the ride I’ll be riding their hot hands and bringing death to my opponents in the fantasy realm as much as possible. So, let’s Go-bert on a road trip, because if you own Rudy Gobert you’re in for a wonderful week. Listen to the ridiculousness that he’s producing this year: 18 straight double digit rebound games, and only two games under that mark since November 9.

12.5 PPG
12.0 RPG
2.6 BPG

All on 70.1% shooting. See, it’s not just the boards and blocks, his efficiency has been gold for owners this year. And it’s showing in the box score as only seven times since that November 9 mark has he failed to score in double digits, either. He’s a poor man’s Hassan Whiteside offensively, with all the defensive stats on par. Enjoy these five games! Oh, and for the teams facing the Jazz this week: good luck to you, too. Utah’s now 21-13, leading the Northwest division and allowing the fewest PPG in the NBA. Sheesh.

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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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