Thursday night’s Draft was as exciting as advertised.  Some of the top prospects we’ve seen come around in a while found homes amongst the NBA’s 30 teams — yet, there were very few surprises, outside of maybe Aaron Gordon getting picked No. 4 overall by the Orlando Magic.

Those of us expecting some big trades to go down were also disappointed.  There was really only one trade that didn’t involve a straight swap of picks or previously picked players, and that was D-League phenom Pierre Jackson getting shipped from NOLA to Philly for Russ Smith.

The big trade news around the league came a few days prior to the Draft when the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks announced a blockbuster deal that sent Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton from the Big Apple to D-Town in exchange for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and two second-round picks, which ended up being Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo.

Now, how does this affect fantasy basketball owners going forward?

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Happy draft lottery, Cleveland-ites!  Is having another 1st overall pick enough to lure LeBron back?!  I think chances of that are as good as Anthony Bennett turning out to be a good player…

And now to the fun stuff… Figuring out where to rank the volatile middle-tier guys.  As Paris Hilton once said, “Studs are studs!  Except for when they’re busts!”  Wow, awful.  Needed to get some shock value in here – that was my proverbial watermelon mallet.

After the top 20, things get pretty tricky this early in the offseason.  And until a good bit after the NBA Draft, 50 is as high as we’re gonna go.  The draft class is loaded, and several should proliferate into the top 100, with a few even top 50 guys in the right situation.  Then free agency, old guys retiring, all that hooblah.  But if you’re thinking ahead to some dynasties or formulating some early fantasy draft strategies, here’s my way too early Top 50 for the 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Season (spoiler alert: still no Jonas Valanciunas):

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So we’re through my top-50 and now getting into the mid-rounds.  We’re taking this through the whole top 100, but some of these are going to be gold and some fool’s gold.  As in, Larry Sanders‘ gold.  If I got to the end of a rainbow and Larry Sanders was there, I’d ask for a refund…

Through the Top 20 and Top 50, I think I’ve done the rankings pretty well.  They tell you towards the end of high school, “the smart ones get the As, but the most successful get Bs.”  I might have made that up since I never studied for virtually anything and got Bs…  But a 3.00 GPA thus far sounds about right!  Rankings are based on my final updated top 200, comparing them to the FantasyPros aggregate Draft Day Rankings along with Basketball Monster’s Total Value for 9-cat leagues on the season.  Slim then grades me.  I asked him, “will you give me As if I show you my double-Ds?”  He then flunked me…  Here’s a look back at the Top 75 for the 2013-14 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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The injury bug hath claimed another victim, with LaMarcus Aldridge suffering a tough fall in San Antonio on his lower back/coccyx.  What are you doing to us fantasy gods?!  While reports right now is it was only a lower back contusion, you never want to hear “needed a wheelchair to get around the arena.”  Unless you’re Professor X!  Yikes.  As Slim is putting out early this afternoon, the Blazers have a mammoth of a 5-week slate coming up in the second week of the playoffs.  So if you’re an Aldridge owner, I would just thank my blessings, or count my lucky stars, or something like that, if L.A. can indeed give you all five of those.  In the immediacy, Thomas Robinson looks like an interesting pickup for some flashy upside.  “Oh camon JB, Thomas Robinson again!?”  Yup!  And I said it last time and he had a 14/18/2/0/2 in there!  I serious doubt Aldridge will suit up again this week, giving T-Rob some serious run.  We’ll obviously get some more detailed updates throughout the day, so sacrifice a shot of rum to Jobu, or rub your bunions against the carpet, whatever you do to appease the fantasy gods to get a healthy Aldridge back for the postseason.  Here’s what else went down in fantasy action:

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L-Tryptophan. The chemical compound found in Turkey that makes you sleepy. I am chock full of it, and I imagine more than a few of you gentle readers are as well. So lets make this the last holiday installment of the Buy/Sell before we head back to the couch for a little nappy. There are a few players, however, that might make you excited enough to chug the sluggish, gravy laden blood through your arteries, and wake you up to your regular, effervescent self. Cause if these cats don’t do it for you, you are officially in a catatonic state, fantasy-wise:

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In what was some brutally bad basketball last night, John Henson led the woeful Milwaukee Bucks into Chicago against a Bulls team more battered up than a candy bar at a state fair… and the Bucks actually won!  It’s horrifying to think in today’s NBA that a guy like Henson might have been the most polished offensive player on the court for EITHER TEAM.  It was brutal.  This was the game I made the Yahoo highlights for, and man, it was more of a wreck than if you went out partying and decided that Lindsay Lohan would be your DD.  But for fantasy, whew-ee if you’re a Henson owner!  Huge rainbow line of 25/14/2/3/6.  It was so good from the big man that Larry Sanders punched a wall.  But the icing on the cake, was this preposterous rainbow shot to close out the rainbow night.  I love the Bulls announcers reacting to that.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  Good thing he didn’t take that shot in Cowboys Stadium, that mighta hit the scoreboard!  It feels really good seeing Henson going off, as he was a guy I ranked really high (#100 exactly) and have recommended him over a lot of fringe-wire adds through the young season.  His stats are helping fill all the Andre Drummond voids I have!  Win some, lose some… Henson is obviously a must-own in all leagues, and I think can maintain solid production playing at the 4 when The Colonel is back.  Here’s what else I saw last night in hoopsland:

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All hail Trey Burke!  May all the inhabitants of the great Salt Lake City and all their respective wives rejoice!  And… the Jazz are still atrocious.  Poor Tyrone Corbin.  He’s got to fiddle with Burke, Alec Burks, John Lucas III and now Diante Garrett at the point.  Jerry Sloan got John Stockton.  Then Deron Williams.  It just ain’t fair!  In yet another Jazz loss moving them down to 1-12, Burke got 12 minutes even, going 11/1/1 with a steal and hitting a trey shooting 5-8.  Trey with the trey!  If only Deuce McAllister was an NBA player.   Deuce with the deuce!  Or if McAllister was a dunker, “Deuce with the upper decker!”  I had the unfortunate pleasure of doing highlights for my second Jazz game now, but it was cool to see Burke’s debut and I thought he looked pretty good.  His first NBA points were off a long rebound then coast-to-coast for a controlled, attacking floater.  Obviously he’s getting eased in and he’ll get more minutes – hippity-skippity to a few months back and I was bigger on Burke than anyone – but I’m not ready to go nuts and drop quality guys for him.  Of course it’s a case-by-case scenario, but I really wanted Burke to get tons of preseason work; instead he broke his finger and missed some really crucial development time.  For example, I think I’m still holding Patrick Beverley over him.  PBev is the Razzball “why can’t I quit you?!” fantasy asset.  Lucas III is obviously not a long-term solution, and while he’s in the mix, he didn’t look good last night but was the only guy that could hit any long balls.  Alec Burks looked awful, sure his line 8/1/1/1/2 is fine, shot 3-6 – fine – but racked up 4 TOs in 16 minutes.  Just looked bad.  Which brings me to Diante G, who I thought looked really good.  Garrett actually led the Jazz in PG minutes with 20, and racked up a 4/1/6 line with three steals and only 2 TOs (one late one was pretty bad, but the game was over) and played down the stretch.  Garrett was the only point who could create opportunities.  So it’s a little crowded with Burks’ potential wilting away and Garrett looking decent as a D-League gamble and could get run through the season.  I think Lucas III gets cut at some point and Burks plays strictly backup 2 minutes, but that’s just me.  It’s a mess.  Shocker, considering it’s the Jazz!  Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Now, I never went to a boarding school… I was stuck in the public schooling circuit, and just could never rebound.  I was like Andrea Bargnani or Brook Lopez down there.  Domineering over some little men, but the boards just never came my way… Enter J.J. Hickson, who despite being a tad undersized has always been a solid boarder, and racked up 19 last night for an 18/19 night.  Near Goromotaro!  Just one putback slammah-jammah and he’s seeing 20/20.  A little laser eye surgery.  I liked Hickson a lot when JaVale McGee went down, and he’s proved he needs to be owned virtually everywhere like I said 8 days ago.  In the five games since, Hickson has at least 8 boards, double-figures in four of five, and a block every night.   Even if Shaqtin-a-McGee is able to get back within his original time frame, McGee just isn’t able to play the big starter’s minutes and Hickson is going to maintain this value either starting at the 5 or playing out his minutes as an early sub.  If you’re hurtin’ for boards, be sure the recent grad from the boarding school isn’t sitting on your wire.  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hoops:

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As an ancient proverb goes – “I’d like to introduce you to an old friend and a new friend.”  Ok, so I made that up.  But it sounds good!

For an old friend I’ve mentioned a few times and pumped up in my last rankings update before the season started up, my boy Omri Casspi had another solid outing last night that probably was under the radar.  In 24 minutes, he went 7/8/5 with no turnovers, 2-4 from the field and 3-4 from the line.  He just looks awesome every time I see him play.  Did you know he was the first Israeli to play in the NBA?  He’s pretty much Chandler Parsons but with Chandler Parsons in his way.  After a ho-hum first two games, his past two have been fantastic – and this last one without hitting a three which is a big part of his game.  Not necessarily a must own in 12-teamers, but definitely worth a look, and needs to be grabbed in 14+.

Then my new friend - Gal Mekel on the Mavericks.  You’re like, “who the eff is Gal Mekel?  I thought this was NBA not WNBA!”  Mekel was signed to a three-year deal by the Mavs this offseason, and became the second Israeli to join the NBA.  Cut to Amar’e Stoudemire going, “Hey, I should count!”  With Shane Larkin dealing with an ankle injury, and no Devin Harris for a while, Mekel is getting full-on backup PG run and playing well doing it.  He got his 2nd 6 assist game last night going 9/4/6 and hitting a 3.  Sure some run was in junk time, but with the oft-injured Jose Calderon the only one ahead of him (hasn’t played in over 68 games since 2007), Mekel could find his way into starts.  Of course, now I’ve ruined my play on him in the REL League.  Let’s just hope no one in that league is reading!  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hoops:

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Man, what a huge night it was across the NBA with nearly every team in action.  It obviously all starts with the shocker Philly put on the Heat, and Michael Carter-Williams‘ unreal debut.  I was following with my co-workers during the game and tweeted that if he got a triple-double in his first NBA game, the universe would implode.  Thankfully MCW was a steal short and we’re all still here.  His final line of 6-10 (4-6 3PTM 6-8 FT) 22 Pts 7 Rebs 12 Asts and 9 Stls might actually win some owners their matchups this week on its own.  Just preposterous.  Most steals in NBA history in a player’s debut.  Ok before we all go nutso, remember the Heat played without Dwayne Wade (rest), don’t have a PG, and had all their hands weighed down with new championship rings.  So that’s not really an excuse, but so what?!  The shooting efficiency was fantastic (the biggest knock on him coming into the year), plus he had only one turnover (his second main knock).  “Nice knockers!”  Thanks Young Frankenstein!  MCW indeed moves up a fair bit in value in my eyes, but this is likely his best line on the year.  MCW was wildly inconsistent in college and I don’t expect much consistency on a terrible 76ers team (I know they just beat the Heat, but c’mon).  Look for John Wall to lock him up on Friday and cool the hype.  Despite inconsistencies, it goes without saying that MCW should be owned in all leagues now (78% Yahoo, 59.4% ESPN), so if for some reason he’s available in your league, you gotta get him.  I’m not expecting MCW to be an elite player, but will continue to contribute even in down games.  Here’s what else I saw across Fantasy Basketball last night:

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