Wow, how good is Russell Westbrook? Two nights after dropping 40 points and 14 assists against the Grizzlies, Westbrook scored 43 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds on Wednesday. The Thunder controlled the game, but never really put the game out of reach for the injury-riddled Pelicans. Whenever the Thunder needed a basket, Westbrook had no problem getting to the hoop or finding the open man. My only knock on Westbrook’s game is the turnovers, but when you’re posting near triple doubles every night, you’re allowed to turn the ball over as much as he does.

Now his stats are inflated a little because Kevin Durant has been sitting with a hamstring injury, but Westbrook is still a top 10 talent even with Durant in the lineup. Should Durant leave the Thunder next season (to go to, say, the Wizards!!!), Westbrook would enter my top three, along with Steph Curry and Anthony Davis.

Now onto the other notables from Wednesday night:

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After witnessing the Philadelphia lose their eleventh straight contest this year, needless to say, it certainly takes balls to be a 76ers fan right now. I’m not referring to testicular fortitude or alpha masculinity, but rather literally, to the ping pong balls of hope known as the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery. With the possibility of multiple lottery picks in the 2016 Draft, it’s going to be okay Philadelphia fans. Put down your weapons, we’ll get through this together.

But it may take some time, since the franchise is focusing on future contention; the on-court product suffers as the 76ers appear to be the worst team in basketball once again.

At this point, I’m just surprised Philadelphia still has a team website, since they can’t string three “W’s” together…

I think I’m going to hide in a corner for the rest of my life after that joke.

Philly, I’m rooting for you, and I’m rooting for the process!

Jahil Okafor continued to impact the box score with a 19 points, 11 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. The Rookie of the Year frontrunner recorded his second straight double double against a soft Dallas front court. Luckily for fantasy owners, Okafor will see plenty of minutes to develop in the interim despite concerns about his immediate impact to the team’s chances of winning. Long term, his inabilities to defend the rim and stretch the floor may impact his fit in Philadelphia. I don’t think the coaching staff has any surprising moves in store for 2015 (such as playing more small ball around Noel or limiting Okafor’s minutes experimenting with more perimeter-based lineups), but moving forward, it is a trend to monitor as he continues to develop this year.

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Maybe he didn’t call glass on his clutch three with 1:05 left in the 4th, but when you’re Dirk Nowitzki, a future hall of famer, who cares? I know fantasy owners don’t care whether it was a swish or a banked in three. All we care about are the final stats. And, boy, did Dirk deliver.

Down one going into the second half, Dirk took over for the Mavericks, leading them to a 10-point win against the Clippers. Dirk finished the game with 31 points and 11 rebounds on 11-14 shooting, including 5-6 from downtown. It was vintage Dirk.

Midway through the 3rd quarter he caught a Zaza Pachulia pass off of an offensive rebound and without squaring up, knocked down an one foot fade away jumper without hesitation. He knocked down threes with DeAndre Jordan in his grill. It was truly a great game.

As a fan of the game, it’s amazing to watch games like this, but as a fantasy owner, you have to realize that these games aren’t as common for the 37 year-old as they used to be. It was Dirk’s first 30-point game since December 28, 2014. In his 18th year in the NBA, Dirk is still a top 50 player when he plays, but just be aware his minutes are monitored more closely and he sits on back to backs, hurting his total overall value.

Now onto the other nightly notables:

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When you go out on a limb on a guy and it starts slow, at least I can pull the “it’s a long season” card.  Or the “his back has been a little spasmy” card.  Hah, little Pod joke there…

I gotta say, I love you commenters here on Razzball.  A lot of Andrew Wiggins frustration has been thrown around, like “he single-handedly killed my FG%”, and “he’s why I started 1-8”, and “Wiggins must be dating yet another one of those Kardashians”.  But I was really honored to say almost all of the vitriol wasn’t at me.  Hell, I was expecting to be served on the coals for that one!  Or some sort of cliche that works…  Maybe it was out of the decency of your hearts since I obviously own him on several teams with this rank.  I got way more hate for saying Nate Robinson was a good opening night streamer/last draft pick in 12ers!  But like the worst drunken one night stand in history, I got rid of Nate about 4 or 5 minutes in.  While with Wiggins, I’m entrenched in a life-long relationship.  Hope my wife isn’t reading this!  After a really rocky start, Wiggins finally looked like the breakout talent I was hoping for on Saturday night against the Bulls, going 31/3/2/0/1 with only 1 TO and hit 4 treys.  Of course it wouldn’t be a pristine line, but then again what relationship is suddenly perfect?!  Except my marriage of course!  Wiggy still shot like poo (11-27) and had an odd 5-10 FT game.  He’s usually gonna be a high-volume 80% guy from the stripe, plus he hit 4-5 from deep, so there’s still hope the FG% climbs as his bum back gets healthier and he shoots his way out of it.  Of course you can point to Kevin Martin not playing (personal) for the burst in treys, but big picture we still think K-Mart gets moved.  Even with K-Mart, they’re using him as a 6th man and Wiggy is the only real perimeter option in the starting 5 anyway.  I also think with a little more health, he’ll play more aggressive on D.  The one swat he had was a legit one, not a lazy strip that’s scored a block, WHICH STILL FRUSTRATES ME!  The buy low window is closing rapidly, so if you’re still hoping to buy in on Wiggy, I’d wait until tonight and see if he has another rough shooting game before opening the floodgates.  If you own Wiggy, definitely hold, particularly with the Wolves playing 5 games this week. Here’s what else went down over the weekend in NBA action, plus The 7 Ahead for week 3:

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What’s up Razzballers? Peter Kap here for your daily recap. I’ll be handling the Wednesday night recaps this season. I’ll try to be as funny and interesting as JB, but he’s got big shoes to fill. Seriously, dude wears a size 17 or something. JB’s shoes look like Shaq’s cell phone at the 2005 All-Star Game.

It’s still in the early goings of the season, but what a difference an offseason makes. The Knicks are, um, I hate to say it, watchable. I’m not declaring them a playoff team yet, but they are at least playing better together. They’re are a few more Knicks deserving to be on your fantasy roster this year. Carmelo Anthony is finally healthy, Robin Lopez has played well, and Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant have had nice starts to their rookie seasons.

Now the Knicks are still going to Knick (For example: Melo dribbling out a shot clock violation at the end of the first half last night; Derrick Williams missing wide open dunks, etc.), but they already have road wins against the Bucks and Wizards, and were up on the Cavs at the half, before losing by 10. Hey it’s a step in the right direction.

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After making history this weekend with arguably the best Halloween costume from an NBA player of all time, LeBron James made his way into the NBA record books becoming the youngest player to score 25,000 career points. Despite the record-breaking basket coming against the hapless Philadelphia 76ers, the feat nonetheless is one of the most impressive in recent memory. With all the scrutiny surrounding the potential decline of the Artist Formerly Known as King James, tonight’s performance was an instant reminder of how effectively he can impact the game not only on the hardwood, but the fantasy box score as well.

Registering 22 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks on 9-19 shooting, James had his most well-rounded performance of the season. Moving forward, James should begin to impact other areas of the box score (assists, rebounds, steals, and FG percentage) as the Cavs offense clicks.

As the Cavs begin to realize the full potential of their All-Pro floor spacer in Kevin Love, James ability to facilitate and control the pace of the game will open up his true fantasy potential. Pencil him in for at least 20 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists on .500+ shooting. All hail the King.

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History has its fair share of dynamic duos, whose split left one basking in overwhelming success and the other flying off into oblivion.

Simon and Garfunkel. Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. Richard Gere and the gerbil.

When it comes to famous big man pairs, it’s just as tough to predict how things are going to shake out. Tim Duncan did pretty OK after David Robinson retired. Ralph Sampson after he was separated from Hakeem Olajuwon? Not so much. When the Rockets split up the original “Twin Towers” during the 1987-1988 season, “The Dream” went on to win a couple titles while Sampson – instead of becoming the best pro ever, as predicted – went on to a life on the end of the benches in Oakland and Sacramento. At the time, this was not a good thing.

This past offseason, Detroit decided one big dude was plenty, so they kept Andre Drummond and let Greg Monroe sign with the Bucks.

For now, we can gawk at the big brains (and big shiny dome) on Greg Bower and say the Pistons made a wise choice.

(editor’s note – Daily Notes will be out later this morning!)

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Flashy player.  Ridiculous opportunity.  Buzzy preseason.  A lot of times it ends up fizzling out, sometimes it works out OK, and one time it’s C.J. McCollum.

C.J. went absolutely bonkers in his 15-16 debut, hitting 14-22 from the field including 6-9 3PTM for 37/6/1/1/0 and no TO.  Video game numbers!  So he’s a shooter, and he does what NBA shooters do – keeps draining em when they hot!  But I think we need to take a step back and consider a few things:  Other than massive Pts and treys it was fairly empty.  This was against the Pelicans, who without Brow, might look worse than the Sixers; they look horrific.  And the third thing that no one seemed to mention while anointing McCollum the next big thing in combo guards this preseason – he’s got a pretty extensive injury history.  He’s at the pinnacle of a sell high for me.  Do I think he’ll be hot garbage all the sudden?  Of course not.  But do I think he scores 37 again this year?  I don’t.  Well, unless they faced the Pelicans every night…  I’d shop around in the 40-50 range of ADP and see if you can get lucky.  As with all fantasy takeaways off one game, it’s always good to keep from overreacting.  Compared to fantasy football, we’re at the same point as about 9 minutes into the first quarter of week 1.  Still a long way to go.  Here’s what else went down during the first full slate of fantasy basketball action:

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If you’re a fan of a bad team, you know to expect a spell of the ol’ Lottery Fever that begins every Spring with the race to the crappiest record, continues with the actual Lottery drawing in May and real-deal NBA draft in June, and finally dissipates after fantasy drafts in the fall and the start of actual basketball, when actual orange spheres go through actual steel rims.

Your real-life, garbage-juice-slathered team doesn’t play in Minnesota? Vindication can be yours by reaching for Karl-Anthony Towns as early as possible. Are you a Knicks fan who has already started using “Kristaps” as a euphemism for what happens after you just had some bad Taco Bell? Go get yourself some D’Angelo Russell – who cares if he’s gonna stink as a pro. And everyone who grabbed Stanley Johnson felt real good, regardless of what human team they follow.

But hold it right there when it comes to Willie Cauley-Stein, who should always have something before his name.  As in “Bad Bad” Willie Cauley-Stein, or “Wild” Willie Cauley-Stein, or “Old Man” Willie Cauley-Stein.

From a Boards-N-Blocks perspective, I like him for all the reasons everyone else likes him: He’s a 7-footer, he’s athletic, he runs the floor, George Karl said that’s he’s going to start, and he fulfills every fantasy in a would-be porno directed by Jay Bilas (Upside! Yes, baby! Wingpsan! Oh, yeah!).

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Yeah. It goes like this right here. It’s the return of the writings of Slim! That reminds of an Outkast song, and that song reminds me of 1998. If you don’t remember it was the year we learned there was yet another way to be disgusted by a cigar. That near, far, wherever you are you probably found yourself at some point rooting for the most unlikeliest of protagonists, Billy Zane. And of course it was the year the ‘Blue Screen of Death‘ truly became a meme, long before anyone knew what a meme was.

Gangstaaaaa… It’s the return… turn…

In the NBA draft that year there were 3 guys drafted that are still playing and should one day be in the Hall of Fame. I’ll give you a hint, the top 3 draft picks were Michael Olowokandi, Mike Bibby, and Raef LaFrentz, and if you were playing fantasy basketball back then you might have gone all-in on one of them. Give up? They are Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce. Pick number 5, 9, and 10 respectively. That’s not to say great players aren’t drafted 1st, but the only thing guaranteed when you are first overall is a whole boat load of money. Something about the use of the word ‘only’ there doesn’t quite feel right.

Return… Ganstuhuhuh… It’s the re…

It seems so easy to see when you’re talking time traveling, something mind unraveling. Get Down. It’s a whole lot harder to do here and now using some funky combination of math, logic, illogical fandom, a random number generator, and of course the occasional dart throw. For some reason though, after about an hour on 350 (or about 176c) it develops a creamy caramel colored crust. Once it cools, just cut it up and consume. So here’s you’re 1st taste. Slim’s, I can’t believe I’m writing this in 3rd person, RCL playoff schedule post.

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