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Wassup Razzballians!!

We’ve finally hit the stretch run in fantasy basketball!  This is the point where you need every player on your team to be productive.  Now, I promised the key to winning, in the title, so I suppose I should give some kind of helpful advice…

The key to all fantasy sports is to not be attached to your players.  You can build a juggernaut with this philosophy: Everyone is available for the right price.  When it comes to playoff time, it is important to cut injured and unproductive players.  I don’t care who they are or how high you drafted them.  At this point, it’s all about minutes and production.  Sure, you may get unlucky, and the player breaks out of his slump as soon as you drop him.  Thankfully, this isn’t that likely.

If you’re in a competitive league, cruising to a title is highly unlikely.  I’ve learned this through years of experience.  Even if your team appears to be stacked, it is very important to not take anything for granted.  If you can cut a player to guarantee yourself a win in the current round, then do it. It’s time to put the pedal to the metal and make the ballsy move.

With that in mind, this week’s edition of RazzWired will feature players who are poised for big minutes and solid roles down the stretch.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When you’re The Duchess K Middleton, you don’t go on scrubby vacations.  None of that beach hotel with bratty kids running around and sand in the halls, none of those rickety cruise ships where the power goes out and you have to poo in plastic bags…  I’m talking huge!  Like Disneyland completely rented out only for the family!  Sledding down glaciers in Antarctica!  Hanging out with baller celebs at The Razzball Basketball Office!

As is always the case, our commenters are absolute gold.  Joe mentioned the trend of Khris Middleton‘s poor play with Jason Kidd the coach, and I also ran with it looking at the numbers in a FantasyPros piece on second-half expectations.  Now, it’s not really that The Duchess is playing that poor, but ROS rankers had him 36th overall.  Seemed a little rich – not quite Kate Middleton rich – but like, Queen Latifah rich.  Using the ol’ copy-and-paste: “Since Jan. 26, Middleton has shot only 33% from the field with a 3.6:3.6 AST:TO ratio (I guess I could’ve simplified that to 1:1!) in 7 games. Given, it’s a pretty small sample, but in the 17 games immediately prior to when Kidd was out, Middleton shot 50% with a 5.0:2.5 AST:TO ratio (I mean 2:1!). And then the chunk at the beginning of the season until Kidd’s hip gave out, dimes were at 3.4 and he shot 39.9%.”  I agree it could be statistical noise, but Kidd has had several “are you effing KIDDing me?!” moments with his line-ups.  Luckily The Duchess ended the first half on a high note, going 27/6/9/5/0 with only 2 TO and shooting 9-17.  Kidd must’ve just been not paying attention!  Too busy rubbing his bald head like foreplay with Mr. Clean.  It’s a great finale to an otherwise rough February, and maybe It’s Much Ado About Nothing.  Which just seems British, I dunno…  And you wanna know who else is heading into this ASB strong?!  ME!  And well, the NBA by only having two games…  So a slightly shorter Daily Notes, since we’re all ready to actually pay our families some attention with the NBA off until next Thursday (that is, except for the All-Star events!).  Here’s what else went down last night in Fantasy Hoops action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The last Tuesday before the All-Star break featured five games spread all over the USA. From South Beach to NYC, Wisconsin to Texas, and finishing up in the Bay Area out west, we had a handful of contests that featured some big fantasy lines.

In lieu of a Thursday night double-header as a result of the abbreviated week, TNT snagged the two marquee games on Tuesday. First up was the Spurs and Heat featuring the Kawhi Leonard show. He served fantasy owners a generous helping of popcorn (23 points, nine boards, four dimes) with just the right amount of butter (three steals, a block, and a trey). Despite a few quiet games recently, you’re not moving Leonard for anyone outside the top-5.

Also jumping at 8pm were tilts between the Wizards and Knicks, and Celtics and Bucks. John Wall put on a show at the Garden, dropping 17 dimes to complement his team-high 28 points. He and backcourt mate, Bradley Beal combined for 54 points, five steals, eight triples, and only three turnovers. The Wizards needed every bit of it as they narrowly escaped New York with a three point win. Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, a wild and foul-filled last few seconds allowed the Bucks to steal one from the visiting Celts. Greg Monroe made his case for 6th Man of the Year as Jason Kidd decided it would be best for him to come off the bench on Tuesday. In 30 reserve minutes, Moose went off for 29/12/3/1/2. He was a team-best +11 and you have to wonder if him being so dominant as a reserve has Coach Kidd considering this as more than just a one game thing? So long as he’s getting the run, owners should continue to bank on the third round value he’s been returning on the season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

At no point this season did I ever think that Markieff Morris would be getting the lead in an article…unless, maybe, it was because he killed a guy or something (leading victim candidates included a coach, a referee, or a reporter who spoke ill of his twin brother). Well, he got the lead and nobody died…that I’m aware of.

In his first game playing for interim head coach Earl Watson, ‘Kieff showed out to the tune of 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a pair of blocks. If that wasn’t worthy of a raised eyebrow or two, Morris also drained a three and shot 13-20 from the field in his 41 minutes. Hot damn.

Whether he’s actually interested in helping the Suns win games or simply trying to improve the value of his stock in an effort to facilitate a move out of the desert, it doesn’t really matter for fantasy purposes. If he’s going to get the run…if he’s going to keep his attitude in check…if he’s going to play with effort and focus…he needs to be on fantasy rosters. Trying to predict what kind of situation he’ll be in this time next month is likely a fool’s errand, but there is big time upside (as we just witnessed) when everything is kosher with Markieff. I wouldn’t give up anything of value or break your free agency bank account because this could be very temporary, but if you have some dead weight to drop, you could do a lot worse than having Morris occupy your last roster spot until the trade deadline.

Let’s take a look at what else shook down on a five-game Tuesday evening in the NBA…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s the takeover, the break’s over. Apparently firing David Blatt may have been the right decision after all, inspiring the recent play of LeBron James and company.

With the Cavs winning their last five games, I have no reasonable doubt that the Big 3 will fail to continue this trend after the All-Star Break. Despite heavy minutes and an up-tempo pace, James has unfinished business on his quest to win his third ring, and this style of play is the blueprint from the successes of his Miami Heat teams.

Maybe this is all a convoluted way of saying the Ruler’s back, but King James and the Cavs look rejuvenated under new coach Tyronn Lue, attacking the opposing defense and getting to the foul line. Playing 43 minutes in an overtime contest, James finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block while shooting 9-22 from the field. Although shooting 4-8 from the foul line is more Drummond-like than MVP level, just remember everyone makes mistakes, everyone has those days.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Alright, so actual Fat Tuesday doesn’t shake down in New Orleans for another couple weeks, but with a robust eight games on the NBA docket, it was a fitting – and catchy – title, so I decided to stick with it. (“Robust Tuesday” just doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way, ya know?) We typically only get a handful of games on a given Tuesday, but the schedule makers decided to give League Pass subscribers a real workout this week. Games started at 7pm and didn’t wrap up until well after midnight on the East Coast. In the middle of it all was an overtime thriller at the Mecca.

The Knickerbockers of New York, absent Carmelo Anthony, were able to withstand a pair of fat (Tuesday) lines from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for much of the night. Despite a combined 74 points from the Thunder’s dynamic duo (KD poured in 44, Russ 30), the Madison Square Garden audience was treated to some bonus basketball, though the Knicks ultimately came up just short in the 53rd minute. New York shared the scoring burden as they had five different players contribute between 15 and 21 points: Kristaps Porzingis (15), Lance Thomas (16), Aaron Afflalo (17), Derrick Williams (19), Langston Galloway (21).

Durant supplemented his scoring barrage with 14 boards, five dimes, a steal, and four 3-pointers. A healthy Durantula is the second most valuable asset in fantasy basketball. It’s just that simple. I don’t care what format you’re playing or how many categories you’re counting, if I’m not getting Steph Curry in return, I’m not parting with KD right now.

Kevin’s running mate, Russell Westbrook, had himself quite the ballgame as well: 13-of-24 from the field, eight rebounds, 10 helpers and three steals complemented his 30-point outing quite nicely. Picky owners can find fault in his five turnovers or failure to connect from long range, but overall Westbrook is an absolute stat stuffer and you probably only need one hand to count the number of players more valuable than him moving forward.

Meanwhile, outside of the Big Apple…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The University of Kentucky basketball program was well represented in New Orleans on Tuesday night. Wildcats alums Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns produced quality multi-category lines for their fantasy owners in an oddly entertaining contest. Minnesota got up big in the first quarter, riding a hot start from their prized rookie big man; Towns finished the game 20/13/2/1/1 with a 3-pointer and a perfect 5-5 from the foul line. Unfortunately, his five turnovers and cold shooting after the opening frame (7-17 FGs) contributed to the Pelicans getting back into the game and eventually claiming the W. Regardless of the real world outcome, KAT’s fantasy owners have to be encouraged by Tuesday’s outing. He was posting per-game numbers that had him ranked only 80th through nine January contests entering this tilt with the Pellies, so the big double-double – with money counting stats to boot – was a sight for sore eyes.

Davis led the charge for the home team with an efficient 35 points on only 22 field goal attempts (plus 8-10 FTs), chipping in seven rebounds and a pair of blocks. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that Brow navigated some foul trouble and a tight whistle while never turning the ball over in 37 very impressive minutes. He also connected on one of his two attempts from behind the arc, marking only the second time in 2016 he’s hit from deep (11 attempts). If he’s to leapfrog Kevin Durant for the best fantasy player not named Steph Curry, he’s going to have to start expanding that part of his game. His shooting stroke looks good and once a few more drop he should find the confidence to start taking more (ala DeMarcus Cousins). With New Orleans largely out of the playoff picture, they may take a developmental approach and encourage Davis to experiment with more shot variety on the offensive end. If he can avoid the little bumps & bruises he seems to accumulate on a near weekly basis, he should be a top-3 asset the rest of the way.

Here’s what else shook down on a relatively quiet four-game Tuesday night in the NBA…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Not really sure why this story is hitting the newsstands now, but several outlets, including Fox Sports, are reporting that Giannis Antetokounmpo got tattle-taled on by Jabari Parker last April.

Apparently, Jabari – out the whole 2014-2015 season with a torn ACL – got kind of bored playing with his toys on the bench and decided to tell Daddy (Jason Kidd) that Giannis was being bad and not working hard enough.

So since Jabari went to Duke, where all the good little boys who never, ever do anything wrong go to school, Kidd knew that he was telling the truth, and decided to punish bad boy Giannis by benching him for a game.

In unison, Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Greg Monroe and a few other members of the youngest team in the league went “Aawwwwww! Giannis got in trouuuuuble!”

And Jabari can do this, despite having a very lackluster season, because he is known as a “diligent worker.” He needs to be “diligently working” on his jumper, while it seems the Alphabet has got it all together in his third year as a pro.

Since the start of the New Year, Antetokounmpo has vaulted onto the Boards-N-Blocks radar by becoming a threat to get double-digit boards every night. But over his last four he’s done way better than that, putting up dang near All-Pro numbers: 22.5 ppg, 12 rpg, 2.6 bpg and 3.5 apg while shooting 57 percent from the floor.

While Middleton has become a big-time scorer, MCW has shown major improvement as a starting PG and Monroe continues to be one of the league’s more consistent rebounders (more on that in a second), I think I like the Greek Freak best.

And I think that at the end of the day it’ll be Jabari – and quite possible J-Kidd – who will be in big trouble, not Antetokounmpo. I don’t think there’s enough shots to go around, and Jabari seems like the most moveable piece. That would leave more shots for Antetokounmpo, and if I were going for a fantasy title, he’s a guy I’d be targeting.

Let’s see what else is going on in Boards-N-Blocks …

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Mmmmmm soup… I mean noodle soup! I mean soup! COME ON!

After a long existence in the kitchen cabinet, Myles Turner finally got a chance to be mmmm, mmmm good going 25/7/2/1/2 on 11-13 shooting. He even had a third block called a goaltend with a verrrrry late whistle late in the game. Just like a fine batch of cream of broccoli, it just needed some time to age! I was a well-documented Turner-crazed ranker, but I think most would agree he’s been awesome when he’s on the court. Some nagging knee soreness limited his minutes early before breaking his thumb, but we finally got to see the potential I was so crazy for last night. Now, Ian Mmmmmmahinmmmmmmi was out with a sore heel which doesn’t sound too serious, so the minutes certainly aren’t assured. Turner’s 29 minutes were off the bench, with Vogel starting the inferior SC Apple Jordan Hill at the 5. Even with the depth the Pacers have at C, I gotta think this game has awarded Turner more consistent run. And if you aren’t sold yet, his per-36s are 17.1/8.9 with 2.2 BLK shooting 55% from the field (even though he’s a jump shooter). I was fortunate enough to add him in all 4 of my RCLs, so he’s likely out there in a lot of 12ers – I’d scoop him up as I think he’s the creamed corn of the crop of waiver bigs! Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, and The 7 Ahead for week 13:

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As many of you already know (or as my avatar may suggest), I’m a Canadian so I don’t really have a dog in the 2016 United States Presidential fight. I do, however, live close to the border and have enjoyed traveling throughout the United States (including the entire northeast, Florida, California, Colorado, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands) with my wife over the better part of the last ten years. So I have a keen interest in American politics as it indirectly impacts “my world.”

That leads me to my admission – I watched President Barack Obama’s eighth and final State of the Union address last night (and the subsequent analysis & reaction) instead of basketball. There was basketball to be watched up here, I just chose not to. But it gave me some perspective – it reminded me that a common sense approach to the big picture issues is never as simple as it should be, and that holds true in the NBA as well. Examples from some of the 16 teams in action on Tuesday alone:

  • The Timberwolves have a wealth of young talent to cultivate and yet they start Kevin Garnett & Tayshaun Prince?
  • The Suns have a cancerous presence in their locker room (Markieff Morris) and they can’t decide what to do about it – they give him multiple healthy DNPs in a row, and then they unleash him for 27 minutes, taking opportunity from someone like Jon Leuer (17 minutes) who could actually be a part of their future plans.
  • The Celtics and Knicks – both of whom are in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt – continue to run heavier-than-necessary rotations rather than identifying the best court combinations and maximizing their efficiency and output.
  • The Rockets have an extremely fragile, high-salaried starting center (Dwight Howard) who is prone to usage-related injuries and they run him for 38 minutes when they have a number of other very capable young frontcourt players to ease the burden.
  • The Bulls appear to embrace their future for a moment by giving a solid rotation spot to Bobby Portis, only to yank it out from under him (he played 4 minutes on Tuesday) once they’re back to full health.
  • The Pelicans offer center Omer Asik a massive contract in the offseason and even when he’s playing well (13 rebounds, a steal and a block, team-high +7 net rating), and they’re absent their best frontcourt player, he can’t get minutes (18).

Essentially what I’m saying is that there are a lot of things we, as fantasy owners, think should happen by any measure of common sense, but just don’t because of a number of factors beyond our control. We can go data mining until the cows come home and have an open & shut case to make why Player X deserves more minutes/opportunity, but it doesn’t matter. We can only do so much. There will always be someone on the other side who impacts that situation and we just have to make the best of it. Thankfully, the NBA has a long season and, unlike football, one or two bad weeks won’t spell doom for your campaign. I love that we get 82 games to try and figure out what the heck is going on. We’ll never be right 100% of the time, no matter that the stats or common sense says we maybe could be, but it sure doesn’t stop us from trying…

Please, blog, may I have some more?