Ladies and Gentleman, the results are in!  In a runaway victory, Will “The Thrill”  Barton took the Most Valuable Pickup title in a landslide!  Keep in mind that this is only a vote for the first half of the year.  I have a feeling, it won’t be Barton when it’s all said and done.  Myles Turner is coming on strong, and Kent Bazemore keeps putting up rock solid numbers.  For now though, congrats to our first half MVP!

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Here’s how the final vote played out:

Razzwired all stars

Personally, I think Bazemore deserved it, but there’s definitely a lot more flash to Barton’s game, so the vote is understandable.

Let’s dive in to the wire for this week!

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In a season beginning with high hopes for Nerlens Noel, things have been a bit of a disappointment for the third-year player, surrounded by a dearth of playmaking and shooting while struggling to play alongside Jahil Okafor. Frankly, Noel’s season could only be made worse by injury, or the brash decision to shave off his iconic high-top fade (please, whatever you do, keep the hair.)

But for one night last night, coming off 3 single-digit scoring outings in his last 4 games, Noel looked like the best player on the 76ers once again, finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds to accompany 1 assist, 2 steals, and 3 blocks.

Playing a season-high 47 minutes, Noel’s extended look can hopefully provide stability to an otherwise shaky season. His effectiveness and usage have both been limited, but performance like yesterday’s show his immense potential and ability to impact games.

While Philly’s long-term success depends on Noel’s continued development, our immediate fantasy success depends on his ability to turn yesterday’s flashes into consistent showings.

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I’M ON MY IIISSSSSHHHHHH, CALL IT!!!

I WATCH THESE HATERS TAKE THEY SHOTS LIKE THEY WERE ALCOHOLICS.

Now if Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ish Smith hasn’t selected a song for his lineup introduction, I highly recommend someone reach out to him to let him know I would like to speak to him. While there may be other reasons Childish Gambino has yet to endorse Smith, it has been a rough 2016 for the newly acquired guard until last night’s performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Smith finished with 21 points, 11 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals while leading Philadelphia to their fourth victory of the year. While the efficiency stats will not always be there, Smith rewarded fantasy owners last night with a 9-15 shooting performance from the field. As the new lead man in an up-tempo offense, expect lots of production in multiple statistical categories from Smith on a nightly basis. The 76ers are starved for capable ballhandlers, granting Smith the opportunity to rack up points and assists as he pounds the rock.

Although he’s most likely gone from the waiver wire in most leagues, I think it still might be possible to snag him in a quick trade.

Smith has been a beacon of hope for a horrendous 76ers team this year, but in assessing his fantasy value, he still leaves a little to be desired, avoiding 3-point shots and suffering from some abysmal shooting nights. Overall, I would love to have Smith on my team, and would encourage owners with a need at point guard to explore a trade before nights like this become too common.

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Here’s tonight’s slate:

Detroit Pistons (18-15) at indiana Pacers (18-14)

Spread: Ind  -4 ½ O/U 201 ½

Oklahoma City Thunder (23-10) at Charlotte Hornets (17-15)

Spread: OKC -6 ½ O/U 208

Orlando Magic (19-14) at Cleveland Cavaliers (21-9)

Spread: Cle -9 O/U 194 ½

Milwaukee Bucks (13-21) at Minnesota Timberwolves (12-21)

Spread: Min -1  O/U 201 ½

New Orleans Pelicans (10-22) at Dallas Mavericks (19-14)

Spread: Dal -3 O/U 207 ½

Houston Rockets (16-18) at San Antonio Spurs (28-6)

Spread: SAS -11 200 ½

Memphis Grizzlies (18-16)  at Utah Jazz (14-17)

Spread: Mem -1 186

Denver Nuggets (12-21) at Golden St. Warriors (30-2)

Spread: GS -14 213 1/2

Philadelphia 76ers (3-31) at L.A. Clippers (21-13)

Spread: LAC -12 ½ 210

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Nerlens Noel,” Colangelo did sing
Was too rail-thin, poor Sixers
Let’s deal as they play
Let’s deal, as they play earning their keep
On a cold winter’s night their hole was so deep
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Tough is the sting of another “L”

Can’t tell you how tough it is to be a Sixers fan this time of year. Getting team gear for this 1-28 squad as a gift would be like getting a lump of coal in your stocking.

Indeed, it is such a cruel joke that Sam Hinkie’s original sin, committed way back in 2013, was stabbing hardcore fans and Pelicans GM Dell Demps in the back by trading a Holiday for a Noel, as in a secretly injured Jrue Holiday for a publicly injured Nerlens Noel. Sure, Hinkie made out like a bandit in the deal, also landing a pick that eventually turned into Dario Saric, but it was also the first deal where he showed he was a two-faced turd who could not be trusted by not disclosing Holiday’s injury. How are you going to start trading your assets and luring free agents when no one wants to play ball with you?

But enough about Stinkie, I mean Tankie, I mean Hinkie. This is about Noel, and about the possibility that he might be dealt during this season’s NBA’s trade window.

Why Noel will get dealt: He’s the only real human trade chip the team has other than Okafor (they have 442 first-round picks piled up. I double-checked the number, J.B., don’t bother editing). And when you’re 1-28, and Jerry Colangelo has just been hired to babysit Hinkie, there’s probably going to be some kind of deal going down. But a better reason is that Noel and Jahlil Okafor are just not fitting together on the floor. His best game of the year – 15 points, 12 rebounds and a block on 50 percent shooting from the floor in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Cavs – was supposed to be the norm for the second-year player. Noel’s rebounding (7.9 rpg, compared to 8.1 last year) and blocked-shot totals (1 bpg, slipping from 1.8) are down. That could have something to do with having no real point guard to get him the ball and zero shooters to space the floor for him and Jah.  That could have something to do with the fact that he plays with mostly D-Leaguers in a “scheme” (we’ll call it that loosely) that calls for constant fast breaks and firing of three-pointers by anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they can shoot or not. Finally, Joel Embiid will be coming back next year, and as such at least one of these three will most likely be gone.

Why Noel won’t get dealt: The Sixers still think they can pair him with Okafor, a la Tim Duncan and David Robinson, and the Sixers might be pessimistic about Embiid’s chances of making it back.

Why this matters to your fantasy team: Noel will have much more value if he’s dealt – depending on his landing spot – than if he stays put in Philadelphia. Boston would be a nice fit – it’s near his hometown, and Brad Stevens would love to have Noel anchoring his defense.

Now, little boys and girls, let’s see what other Boards-N-Blocks goodies Santa put in your fantasy stockings.

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Pressed into additional service with Nicolas Batum out sick, Jeremy Lin started for the Hornets last night and played like Linsanity was back in full effect.  At 47 minutes of action, even a few cans of Dapper Dan wouldn’t keep the mohawk afloat!  As the game pressed on, the spikes kept drooping like wet noodles.  “Hey Jeremy, the trainer has a handful of Elmer’s Glue for you on the bench for a touch up!”  I still can’t understand how he can play through a really sweaty game, and have it not feel like he just dunked his head in a pool full of Vaseline.

Whatever product he uses is just gonna ooze down his whole face!  While looking like a melting wax statue, Lin went nuts for 35/5/3/0/2 on 13-22 FG (2-5 3PTM 7-9 FT).  He was constantly attacking the rim and all over the defensive glass, really giving this starting opportunity 100%.  Unfortunately there’s nothing too actionable with the strong performance, as Batum should be back soon after his rough Chipotle visit and Lin will be back to a swing man off the bench.  If your streamed Lin then hat’s off to you (mainly because Lin can’t wear a hat), and it does let us know that if Batum should suffer a prolonged injury, you can feel pretty good calling Lin a must-add.  You’d bust out your Ben Stiller hair gel, spike up your hair, and enjoy the ride!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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Matt Barnes capped off the Memphis Grizzlies comeback victory over the Pistons, by drilling a half court shot with 1.1 seconds left in the game. It’s probably the best mood that Barnes has been in all season. I don’t think Derek Fisher will have to worry about getting punched this week..

I was a bit surprised that Barnes took the shot considering there were still a few ticks on the clock when he chucked it up. Either way, it was a nice finish to a nice game from Barnes (8 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists in 30 minutes). The journeyman forward has always been a borderline fantasy player for his ability to do a little bit of everything.

Barnes had a nice string of games at the end of November, but now that Zach Randolph is back (21 points and 16 rebounds), Barnes has seen his minutes decrease. He should probably be dropped in 10 and 12 team leagues, but should continue to be monitored, should he see around 30 minutes a night.

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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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Man, is it really Thanksgiving Day again? Seems like yesterday that I was thanking that the Wizards were a playoff team….

Paul Pierce is gone and now we got Kris Humphries and Jared Dudley thinking they can play the stretch four. And how has that worked out for us? A 17-point loss to the Pacers on Tuesday and another 14-point loss to the Hornets on Wednesday. The Wizards are looking closer to the Redskins everyday. At least one doesn’t have a racist name.

So rather than complain about my home team, let’s say thanks to all teams and players that have actually helped us on Wednesday – I can try to enjoy Marvin Williams (14 pts, 11 rebs, 2 3s), Nicolas Batum (16 pts, 11 asts, 7 rebs), and Jeremy Lamb (18 pts., 7 rebs., 3 asts.) putting up fantasy worthy numbers against my Wiz kids.

On the Wizards side, Marcin Gortat had a monster double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Gary Neal had 18 points off the bench. Neal is straight buckets off the bench, but consistency will be a problem. I’d suggest investing in Bradley Beal, while he’s getting back into the swing of things after missing a few.

Moving onto the rest of the games:

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How do you decide who is most deserving of the lead between these two stellar performances?:

  • Player A – 25 points, 18 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 10-15 FGs
  • Player B – 22 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks, 10-14 FGs

I’m going to give the nod to the player who posted his gaudy stats in a winning effort and that would be Player A, also known as Detroit center, Andre Drummond. The Pistons asked a lot from their franchise big man, and he responded with 39 minutes of terrific play that helped lead his team to a win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. Drummond was a +17 in a five point win, and even made the Cavs pay when they intentionally fouled him in the fourth quarter. After starting 1-4 from the line, AD made four of his last five to help seal the deal. It was a great overall performance and at this point the only thing fantasy owners need to fear is this heavy workload catching up to him later in the season. But at only 22 years old, there’s no reason why Drummond can’t make 2015-2016 his career campaign.

Player B is Miami Heat center, Hassan Whiteside. In just his 77th career game, Whiteside treated fantasy owners to his second points/boards/blocks triple-double. Unfortunately it was in a losing effort to the visiting Timberwolves, and was accompanied by four turnovers and a 2-9 mark from the charity stripe. Despite the sub-par free throw shooting (which was a bugaboo coming into the season), Hassan is providing first round returns and very likely earning himself a max contract when he hits free agency in the summer of 2016. Similar to Andre Drummond, there are no legitimate threats to Whiteside’s value other than injury, so it’s a “sit back and enjoy the ride” opportunity for his owners.

Honorable mention goes to Brooklyn’s pivot, Brook Lopez, who wasn’t too shabby himself on Tuesday night, dropping a 24/10/1/1/3 line in a two point win over the visiting Hawks. BroLo only turned the ball over once in 35 minutes and made 11-21 from the floor against a reasonably stout Atlanta front line. He may not be posting the monster lines like Whiteside and Drummond, but he’s chugging along as a third round per-game value in 9-cat leagues which is likely providing his owners with a solid return on their draft day investment.

Let’s take a look at what else shook down on a highly entertaining seven-game Tuesday evening…

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