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(Photo: The Ringer)

I remember last summer hearing Zach Lowe of ESPN talk about Dion Waiters like he was the missing ingredient in making a delectable dish, like the blueberries needed in blueberry cobbler. Ok, not the blueberry, but making the baking powder? ‘Waiters Island’ was the term, and he was fully on board.

I thought he was crazy. And I love what Zach Lowe does.

Fast forward to the 2016-2017 season and Waiters was essentially an afterthought as he joined his new team in South Beach. I won’t say that he took his talents there, like the rest of the world has at some point, but let’s not forget that this guy was the 4th overall pick in the NBA Draft; dude can hoop. His ‘hero ball’ mentality and lack of interest in playing defense, you know, half of the entire game, makes him hard to watch sometimes, and is a large reason why he’s now on his third team in six years. That’s a rare feat for a #4 pick that’s averaging 12.9/2.6/2.5 for his career. We’re not talking Chris Paul here, but we’re also not talking Marcus Fizer. Yet he seems to be settling in nicely for the Miami Rileys.

And now he gets four games this week…but let’s be clear, with the way he’s playing he deserves more than just a streamer nod. This dude should be owned at a much higher rate than 34%. GO GET HIM!

Here are the 7 Ahead for Week 6!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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There are plenty of options to highlight this week, but everyone beware. Take caution. Put on your orange vests. The muuuuuuuuuuus is loooooooose!

Typically reserved for a football chant, every time the Hawks Mike Muscala hits a three, or even puts on those incredible ‘3’s Goggles‘, the Bucknell grad garners a deep cheers from the fans. Now, listen, I know more than most that the Atlanta fans aren’t the greatest in the world, but when you lose Al Horford and replace some of his minutes with Mike effing Muscala you gotta pull out all the energy you can! And then he goes and actually produces in his 20+ mpg. Unheard of!

13.7/5.0/3.0 on 61.5% shooting with nearly 2 3’s per game is essentially a poor man’s Horford. And that’s exactly what ol’ Mike has done the past week (don’t worry about those boards…that’s the Dwight Howard effect). I, mean, goodness…I wanna be like Mike. Maybe that’s just because I’m white, but for real, there’s a lot of value here.

And he’s not the only one…Here are the 7 Ahead for Week 5!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

With how the Poppycockers put together their “Super Team”, I admittedly had some worries that the bunch of Tom Cruise-divas they threw out there might make The Poison Goose a mere co-pilot.  But not with moxie like this!

Dude doing that at 7’3!!!!!  SEVEN THREE!!!  Monster game from Kristaps Porzingis last night, going a career-high 35/7/3/1/1 with 3 treys on 13-22 shooting.  He played 40 minutes, and put the Poppies on his back.  While I was a little apprehensive of his USG, I still think my rank of 23 ended up being ahead of the curve (I would confirm this, but FantasyPros is being a little ish and not making it easy to find draft day expert consensus!).  Alas, I was unable to get the Goose in any leagues, and I’m suffering some major poultry withdrawal.  Thankfully Thanksgiving is right around the corner!  He’s taken 15+ shots the past 7 games, attempting 2 more treys a game than last year, and the TO rate has gone from 1.7 his rookie year to 1.3.  His ridiculous 7’3 size makes him too tough for stretch-4s to cover him, and his ridiculous speed and ball-handling makes him too tough for centers.  He’s becoming a true matchup nightmare with the added iso moves, and is – I’m going there – a no question first-rounder next year.  Slim having him on his REL team has me depressingly reaching for the Grey Goose!  Here’s what else went down in fantasy hoops action last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Coming off of Cleveland’s championship, LeBron James has led the Cavaliers to a 9-1 start. It looks like there hasn’t been a championship lay-off at all. James finished one rebound shy of a triple-double with 28 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds. He’s off to an incredible start. He may be rested down the stretch, if the Cavs continue their winning ways, but for now enjoy the ride.

It was a short slate of games on Tuesday so let’s get right to it:

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I’ll admit it: I’m rusty. I took the off-season lightly, expected my natural talent to take me through the early season, and I’ve been huffing and puffing up and down the keyboard this week, trying to earn my contract. Can’t stay in the show too long with that attitude, you gotta earn it. “Stay hungry, young blood!”, my Nanna always used to say! That, and: “Don’t trust a fart when running a marathon”. I don’t really know why that was a go-to for her, but she stood by that pearl, so I will as well. We can see that there are some NBA ballers who had a few too many Mai-Tai’s on the beach when they too should have been in the gym, while others were hungry, working on their craft. And while it may be a touch too early to be blowing up your squad, we have been advised to not trust a fart when running a marathon, do with that what you will. So let’s take a look at some cats who might be worth a deuce:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Ahhhhh, our epic Jusuf Nurkic vs. Nikola Jock Itch debates. 16-17 might become remembered as the year of the Nuggets big men Civil War. I wanna be on Iron Man’s side!

In a gutsy battle with the Craptors, the Nugs almost pulled out a great road win, putting together a huge 3rd quarter and getting a lead for most of the 4th. We the North still ended up notching the W, and so did Slim and the Nurk > Joke contingent! I still feel like I have to remind everyone that I ranked Nurk ahead of all experts, and was middle-of-the-pack-to-slightly-below-consensus on Jokic. But alas, I did think Slim was a little crazy saying he wanted Nurk over Joke outright, and after last night, it’s looking like it’s going to be a coin flip any given outing. The real head-scratcher is Nurkic lead the team with a preposterous 38 minutes. Lunacy! Ended up going 13/18/1/1/5 in a great line, but did struggle with the %s, shooting 5-14 FG and 3-7 FT. He’s just so big out there… Look at poor Pit-Pat trying to block him, what are you doing Pit-Pat?!

I think this matchup made sense, as Nurk is a good fit to D up The Luminescent Lithuanian, and with his size and D presence, can help out on the Lowry and DeRozan iso drives. Erstwhile, I thought Nikola Jokic looked pretty good, but only played 22 minutes, going 12/4/1/0/0. Shot 6-9, but 4 TO?! The Nugs only had 8 TO as a whole, so friggin’ Jock Itch had half their giveaways, plus had 4 fouls in that limited run. Just wasn’t his night.

So what to do with these guys? I think you gotta just deploy them as usual, and hope the coin flips your way any given game. As long as it doesn’t pull a Watchmen and land standing up. I think that was Watchmen, I know it was in the dumb movie Ed too, about Joey from Friends teaching a monkey to pitch. Hahahaha, how terrible. I just had to link the trailer, because I watched it for 30 seconds to be sure I was citing the right movie, and holy crap. This is the most fantastic 2 minutes of my life:

If that doesn’t make you laugh, nothing will! I’m all over the place this morning… To wrap that metaphor, I guess Kenneth Faried would be if the coin landed straight up, and at least he only saw 15 minutes. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Nurk gets 22 minutes next time out, Jock Itch 35, and Jock Itch has the big game. Going to be frustrating game to game. But for last night, Slim gets to gloat! Here’s what else happened last night in fantasy basketball action:

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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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So if you haven’t listened to this morning’s Podcast yet, you wanna know what’s fun when you run the world’s awesomest Fantasy Basketball blog?! Coming home to no internet! And your ISP having no way to fix it until the next day! It just makes you think about how we in the fantasy basketball world rely on the internet, when so much of the world is still without it… I’m over here stressing like a madman wanting to be sure Razzball Hoops can still deliver our silliness, when the world at large still has a long way to go. Even though it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, I want to tell my family at the Razzball Nation table that I’m just thankful to be here, and thankful for everyone reading! …and thankful I can get to work a few hours early to bang out today’s recap… Without the internet, I wouldn’t have a job with a software company, Razzball wouldn’t exist, I’d be working at some factory or some ish, fantasy basketball would likely not exist…. Imagine calculating fantasy hoops by hand! Ahhhhh! Awful! I’m very fortunate to merely exist at this point in time and space. And to wrap up this sappy open, I want to say I’m the bigger man and certainly wouldn’t ousT What Cable provider I use… Crooks.

Anyway, so with limited hoops watching last night due to an inconsistent 4G stream, I didn’t get to watch the Celtics game and two of my REL rocks, but had a little better service to watch most of the first half of the Spurs/Sac game. First off, have you seen the new Kings arena?! The Golden 1 Center doesn’t look real! It looks like where they’d play football in Starship Troopers, ya know, with that silver football? Wasn’t there talk that this team could move a few years ago? Geez! Well for as bad as the Kings manage their personnel, they certainly can hire some Star Trek architects, that’s for damn sure. But for as cool as the new arena looks, Kawhi Leonard looks better. Sleeker. Sexier… “You are ruining moving day for us!” 30/3/5/5/0 last night, giving him back-to-back 30 Pts/5 Stl games for the first time in NBA history. Ok, don’t fact check that, I’m sure it’s happened before… [edit – Rotoworld must be reading us, because about an hour after this posted, they put out this latest news blurb on Kawhi this morning…]

I feel like he’s one of the birds from Finding Nemo. “Mine! Mine mine! Mine!” But what an absolute superstar, and maybe he belonged right next to KAT a tier below the big-4 in my ranks. Maybe even within the big 4! 7-7 FT last night, giving him a 22-22 clip to begin the season. He only committed 1 TO last night too! If you watched any of this game, the Kings actually started pretty hot, and the other starting 4 Spurs looked horrific. It was all Kawhi to open the scoring, putting in San Antonio’s first 9 points. It was Kawhi 9 to Sacramento 16 halfway through the first… With the rest of the Spurs struggling a bit out of the gate, Kawhi put his team on his back, and absolutely looks like he’s in the MVP discussion. Makes you pretty happy for having a later-round pick in standard snake drafts! Here’s what else went down last night in Fantasy Hoops action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Fresh off surviving the 2014-15 Razzies with his nomination for worst coach, Brad Stevens only kinda-sorta did something right last night…  Yo Brad, how about you have Marcus Smart take some other shots than 3s (1-5 FG with 1-4 3PTM last night)?!

But despite the Celtics’ horrific mismanaging of Smart, Stevens did run Isaiah Thomas a whopping one-more-minute than Smart, and IT2/3 went nuts for 34/3/6 on 10-17 FG (4-8 3PTM 10-11 FT).  In a 10-point win, you don’t run IT2/3 over 30 minutes with a +35?!  Only got to 29:47 last night, but you’ll take it when he’s at at least 23 Pts, 2 treys and 4 3PTM the past three games.  Those are the floors!  Other than the %s (he is shooting a ton more though), IT2/3 has really improved since changing into green, and I think that slow start in Phoenix might make him a value next year.  IT2/3, the Hoppin’ Leprechaun!  That might have to be his full official Razzball nickname…  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

….And we’re back with our regularly scheduled programming!  If you missed it yesterday, our polls are open for the 2014-15 Razzies, our prestigious ceremony awarding the best of the best… of terribleness!  Larry Drew is like, “Finally!  Someone else has to put up with this ish!”

Speaking of putting up with ish, geez navigating all these DNPs is a near impossible chore for championship teams!  The finals of the H2H playoffs are often won and lost by waiver fodder, and if you’re in need of some ThrAGNOFfing, Anthony Tolliver is getting some run!  Sure most of his stats will make you exclaim with defiance, “please sir, I want s’more!”, but he’s at 3+ treys and 11+ Pts in 3 of the last 4.  Got a crazy dose of 40 minutes for 13/10/1/0/0 last night, hitting 4-9 FG (3-7 3PTM 2-2 FT).  And like your perfect little ThrAGNOF, he almost never turns it over, with only 2 TO in the past 6 games.  9-catters needing some treys should certainly take a look, and the Pistons have three games in four days – tonight, Friday and Saturday.  Threes ain’t got no face!  That phrase is so perfectly used here it has got me a little excited in my Dickens.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?