No, no, no, we never root for injuries. It’s terrible fantasy karma. But as one of the main cliches as fantasy lays out – injuries are the great equalizer. They end campaigns and create opportunities. Fortunately the torn ACL to Jarrett Jack isn’t going to end anyone’s campaign! But the opportunity for Shane Larkin is monumental.

Last Saturday night, we saw the dreaded non-contact knee buckle from Jack against the Celtics, and we got the somber news yesterday afternoon that he has a torn ACL and meniscus. “Wahhhhhh, I bet I never start a game again!” Meh, the Wahhhh gag just seems too mean right now… And if you listen to the Pod, you know I’m a Jack supporter and of course everyone in Razzball Nation wishes him a speedy recovery. But with the starting job open, Larkin-the-Herald-Angels-Sing immediately steps in as the no-question starter. While he’s looked mad impressive to me the few Nets games I’ve watched and he’s certainly a must-add, I’m not banking on top-50 value or anything. His skill set should make him more valuable than Jack as the starter with more 3s and STL, but I imagine he’ll have fewer AST with the same bad TO. Add Larkin everywhere, and if he starts absolutely gangbusters then sell high. I also could see Donald Sloan having a bigger role than most envision – after that nice run he had in Indy to start last year, I was really impressed with him as a player. Here’s what else went down over our first weekend of 2016, and The 7 Ahead for Week 11:

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Much has been written about Jimmy Butler and Bulls lately. Butler publicly criticized head coach Fred Hoiberg saying that the team needed to be coached harder. Reports then came out that there is growing tension in the locker room between Butler and his teammates. With Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose taking back seat roles this season, there are questions around Butler’s leadership. Just because he is paid well, doesn’t mean he’s the leader.

Leader or not, Butler willed the Bulls to victory over the Pacers in overtime. He scored 7 points in the final minute to force OT, before knocking down the game winner on an alley-oop tip in with 1.2 seconds remaining. The Pacers tried an alley-oop of their own on the ensuing inbounds, but Butler defended Paul George on the lob to preserve the Bulls’ win.

For the game, Butler finished with 28 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. This was a much needed game for Butler, as Rose was a game time scratch with right hamstring tendinitis. As long as Butler is producing, owners shouldn’t worry about the drama surrounding the team. These things usually get blown out of proportion when teams are playing below expectations.

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Earlier in the year when the NBA released its schedule for the 2015/2016 season, one of the very first things I did was flip forward to December 25th. I was really stoked to see five games, neatly stacked one after the other, for our holiday viewing pleasure. The excitement continued to grow right up until the games went live and we quickly learned that putting the ball through the hoop is, apparently, quite a bit more difficult on Christmas.

Anthony Davis in South Beach for a noon eastern tip-off against the Heat. What a great way to kick off the afternoon after tossing back a few coffee & Baileys, scarfing down some cinnamon buns, and opening some presents, right? Yeah…  no. They needed overtime and the Pelicans still couldn’t hit the 90-point mark. Brow was nice (29/15/4/4/3), as was Chris Bosh, but the game was not pretty. At all.

So I says to myself, I says: “Self, one stinker does not a bad day make. We just got the ugly one outta the way early. This will not be a harbinger of things to come. No, sir, it will not.” Next up we got the weirdly entertaining (and enigmatic) Bulls visiting the dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook & Kevin Durant in front of an always raucous Oklahoma City crowd. Well, Chicago doubled up OKC in the third quarter (32-16) to quiet the crowd and pulled away as nobody other than the Thunder’s two stars bothered to show up. The league’s second most efficient team on offense couldn’t crack the century mark and fell 105-96.

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Alright, truth be told I had that article title in my head before the early games even finished up. It looked like it was going to be a yawn-worthy evening of basketball… but then some cool stuff happened.

Kyle Lowry‘s 17/10/7 with a pair of threes was nice. As was DeMar DeRozan‘s 28/4/4 with two long balls of his own. Bismack Biyombo pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds in a winning effort and that gave me some warm & fuzzies. But dedicating a lead to “my team” when they barely hung on to beat a mostly disinterested Dallas squad didn’t feel quite right. And also, how many semi-legitimate opportunities am I going to have to write the word “Snoozeday”? (Answer: hopefully just this once.)

But Tuesday’s schedule, man. Come on now…

Grizzlies/76ers.

Pistons/Heat.

Mavericks/Raptors.

Lakers/Nuggets.

Outside of the local fan bases, who gives a smurf about any of those games? I was this close to watching Polar Express instead of the Raptors game since it looked like they were going to run away with it early (up 16 after the 1st Q). The game ended up being mildly entertaining as the Mavs’ second unit scratched & clawed their way to within one possession late in the 4th, but Kyle, DeMar & Bismack proved to be a bit too much.

I suppose if we broke things down a little more to the individual player level we could have gotten stoked for the Andre Drummond/Hassan Whiteside matchup in South Beach. Unfortunately, the two young centers failed to deliver the monstrous lines we’ve grown accustomed to seeing early this season. Drummond was just “ok” with 11/12/1/0/2, but shot only 4-12 from the field. Whiteside was markedly better with 16 & 16 plus four blocks and 7-13 FGs. Solid stuff, but it would’ve been pretty cool to see a pair of 20/20’s in the same game. (I wonder when was the last time that happened? Somebody else please check, I’m busy/lazy right now.)

Ultimately this proved to be the second (mostly) lackluster Tuesday in a row. However, if there is NBA basketball being played there are player performances to be discussed. So let’s get after it.

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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!

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On a weekend where elite guys did elite things – we got served more 40-burgers than a McDonalds – I’m going to open this Monday morning a little further down the bunnyhole.  It may be “rabbit” hole, but it sounded dirtier my way…

When Al Jefferson went down with his calf strain (he’s still out at least another 1-2 weeks), I clowned the Hornets for their “three-headed” monster for C minutes.  I joked it was a nice way of saying none were any good.  Kinda like saying the “three-headed monster” of good M. Night Shyamalan movies.  Especially Frank the Stank, as Michael Jordan’s never-ending conquest of building an NCAA dream team continues to keep the Charlotte franchise in the awful-to-mediocre range.  At least Spencer Hawes looks OK out there, putting up decent lines in 20+ minutes the past two Hornets games.  But watching the Hornets against the Bulls on Saturday – I was mad impressed by Cody Zeller.  Took the lion’s share of PT playing 32 minutes, and went 17/8/2/1/1 on 6-10 FG (5-7 FT) with no TO.  And it wasn’t a cupcake matchup either against Pau Gasol.  Although Gasol wouldn’t get that joke, let’s say “it wasn’t a flan matchup.”  Just at the eye level, he was cutting to the basket with great speed, finished strong at the rim with a few dunks, and took jumpers confidently.  I think the Hornets wanted someone to step up with Big Al down, and they’ve found their guy.  Now this would only be a medium-term pickup in 12ers, plus the schedule is going to be a crazy test.  Hornets get DET, MIA then @MEM the next three, so Zeller is going to have to D up Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside, then Marc Gasol.  Eesh.  At least the Gasol one is more his player-type…  And it’s not like Hawes or Frank Kaminsky is going to play any better against those beasts…  So if you’re looking for a little help up front without the big blocks upside, Zeller is worth a look.  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, including The 7 Ahead for week 7:

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Welcome back from Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, with leftovers still to spare to get you through a full work-week back.  I even bought a few extra boxes of stuffing since that ran out fast on T-giv day!  Got two or three meals left to go…  God I love Thanksgiving!

And while I added several inches to my waistline, Draymond Green has been stuffing his stats even more!  Back-to-back tripdubs over the weekend for #OccupyDraymondGreen, going 14/10/10/1/2 then 13/11/12/1/4 on Friday and Saturday.  The multi-cat phenom hit two treys as well on Friday – averaging a career-best 1.6 3PTM a game on the season – while his FG% has continued to climb all four seasons as a pro, up to 48.2% this year.  It’s almost like the Warriors have good players or something!  The only knock is his TO are up, but even in standard 9-cat he’s bringing back top-15 value on BBMonster and top-10 on Yahoo.  I remain a little incredulous that a lot of people thought 2014-15 was a fluke (I guess?), and I had to defend a “high” rank a few times in the comments.  So after this Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful Dray is helping our Yahoo F&F team be decent this year and that rank is working out…  Because trust me, a lot has gone wrong.  Friggin’ Rubio…  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops, plus The 7 Ahead for week 6:

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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:

IMG_4616

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:

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Jump Ball A Matty Series PNG

Previous “Jump Ball” articles:

9/19 – Russell Westbrook v Damian Lillard

9/26 – Kawhi Leonard v Jimmy Butler

10/2 – Blake Griffin v Serge Ibaka

10/7 – Andrew Wiggins v Gordon Hayward

TALE OF THE TAPE

EMMANUEL MUDIAY D’ANGELO RUSSELL
Denver Nuggets Team Los Angeles Lakers
PG Position (Y! Eligibility) PG
2014 Results
N/A 9-Cat Rank (Total Value) N/A
N/A 9-Cat Rank (Per Game) N/A
12 (China) Games Played 35 (NCAA)
31.5 Minutes Per Game 33.9
N/A Usage Rate (Rank) N/A
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Time for the undraftables!

It’s an absolute barren wasteland trying to sift through the 151-200 ranks, akin to that 60-year-old retiree scanning a remote beach with his metal detector.  Bleep!  Bleep!  Eureka I found a dime!  But none of these guys are good enough to get dimebags!

We’re finally wrapping up the top 200 (Rank 1-10 | Rank 11-20 | Rank 21-50 | Rank 51-75 | Rank 76-100 | Rank 101-150), with most of these guys untouchable in 12ers.  However, there is some upside to be had with your last-pick fliers and hopefully help out with the deeper leagues.  The deep ballers.  “I’m balls deep in sleepers!”  If only that were the case – a lot of these guys are likely duds or rooks that won’t see enough PT.  “I’m balls deep in DNPs!”  So remember upside is a big factor when you get this late, as no one wants to be balls deep in O.J. Mayo‘s 20 minutes off the bench…

If you disagree with these ranks, be sure to put your fantasy acumen to the test in the Razzball Commenter Leagues!  We need more commissioners and leagues, so sign up a league today, it takes literally a minute – I stop-watched myself – and face off against the best fantasy basketball community around!  Prizes and me shaming myself on YouTube abound!

Back to it, here’s the Top 200 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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