Woooo, here we go Razzball Nation!

The 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season is nearly upon us, well, kindasorta, in the same way that I “kindasorta” liked Michael Carter-Williams last year!  OK, that might be 100% false, DON’T LOOK AT LAST YEAR’S FINAL PRE-RANKS!  Dammit, who linked that?!  MCW’s agent hacked Razzball…

So here’s to hoping I can avoid the pitfalls of last year, avoid the bone density issues, avoid good players moving to Cleveland, and avoid falling for adorable Latin Lovers!  You just can’t help from having your balls near his face!  Why couldn’t you have avoided getting a kankle, whyyyyy?!

As we did last season, we’ll have a master rankings post (which I… I mean, aherm, MCW’s agent will link when it’s live) which will be updated all through the preseason, along with Slim’s 9-cat and MPG projections.  Let’s get this shizz started!  Here’s the Top 10 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The NBA really is Jordan Belfort.  The Wolf of Fantasy Sports!  It’s tantric and never slows down, from the Finals ending less than two weeks before the draft, free agency hitting a week later and we’re already starting summer ball.  And the NBA will soon revel in the excess that is the 16-17 salary cap boost with a TV deal that put Seinfeld reruns to shame.  I need my ludes to get me through!

Even the Spurs couldn’t avoid the world of excess and massive free agency signings, bringing in LaMarcus Aldridge for a cool $80 million.  Loosening up the purse strings!  My first thought was, “dammit, Kawhi is never gonna be the guy!”  Then again, he got over $90 mil with his extension, so there’s that!  But Kawhi Leonard sometimes struggles with the mid-range and long-distance shooting, so L.A. should help Kawhi by opening up some lanes and keeping him in his game.  This is going to be a crazy offense, with Tim Duncan moving to center and likely being his solid old self.  Which leaves us with what to expect from Aldridge…  And, me no likey for fantasy.  After being really durable early in his career, he’s had a few bumps and bruises (I know, I know, playing through a torn thumb tendon gets mad props) and the Spurs – as we all know – love to limit the minutes.  I also don’t think he quite gets to 20 shots a game like we’ve seen the past few years.  I had him 20 in my way too early rankings, but the move drops him a few spots at the least.  L.A. in S.A. is not OK!  Here’s what else has gone on through the first few days of free agency and rookie ball:

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There’s some sort of postseason going on, Stephen Curry is flying through the air, Klay Thompson is luckily OK after a Vincent Van Gough scare, there’s only two teams left…  but all of that is less exciting to us than the new blood to enter the 2015-16 Fantasy player pool!  As we’ve done for the second straight year (is two years considered a tradition yet?!), Slim and I mocked the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft by alternating picks for their respective teams with a fantasy outlook for each rook.  2014 didn’t… um…  go quite to plan.  But hey!  We got a couple right and this year doesn’t quite offer the top-to-bottom talent as 2014.  With a little bit more of an even playing field, I have a feeling this Draft will feature even more trades and more surprising risers and fallers…  Hopefully we get a good portion of the lottery right!  The optimist in me is ready ta go!  Here’s our 2015 Mock NBA Draft:

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Fractions.  Math.  It’s hard…

Kinda like variables…  Is it IT2?!  Is it IT3?!  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

Apparently it’s “IT2″ when alluding to his non-related, same-named NBA legend Isiah Thomas.  For like a year I thought Isaiah Thomas was legit his son!  But then Thomas flashed the “IT3″ nickname because he…  shoots a lot of 3s?  Eesh.  Originality is lacking!  So I have officially donned him IT2/3 to solve all the confusion, and to reference his diminutive size.

After returning from elbow and back injuries, IT2/3 was atrocious last Wednesday for 4 Pts and 3 TO against the Heat.  I was passing on him in at least 2/3 of comments!  But IT2/3 had a monster weekend with 18/1/6 and 19/0/7 lines with a combined 17-19 at the stripe.  Getting a foul called on 2/3 of his drives!  Certainly a must-own down the stretch, it has also made Marcus Smart a dumpster fire.  Hopefully those of you still alive in Razzball Nation ignored my 2/3-of-the-time wrong advice and can ride IT2/3 through the H2H Finals!  Here’s what else happened over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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Playoffs? Unlike Jim Mora, there’s no question it’s playoff time. With the season almost over, tough decisions and moves need to be made. A guy that helped you during the regular season may not be helpful now. You’re trying to win a championship and there are only so many weeks left in the season to accomplish that. Hopefully your team is healthy, but if not, here’s an update on the latest injuries:

Dwight Howard returned for the Houston Rockets, after missing 26 games with swelling in his right knee. In 16 minutes as a starter, Howard recorded 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block. Howard only played 16 minutes because of a minutes’ restriction, rather than because of foul trouble (he had 4 fouls in the game).

This is definitely good news for the Rockets and fantasy owners’ playoff runs. Each game, Howard should see his minutes rise, but it probably won’t be another week or so until he’s back to playing full minutes. Even then, he may sit a game or two if he feels any discomfort or the Rockets decide to rest him for the playoffs. This is pure speculation on my part, but it wouldn’t surprise me, since Howard has been limited to 33 games this season. The Rockets want to be careful with him.

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Well, I can’t say I haven’t been steadfast (double negative police!) about my Dwight Howard hatred…  Look at that rock bottom red right there!

And with Dwight coming back from his knee injury and the precursing news of his return, I have said I wouldn’t add him in virtually any 10 or 12ers.  I don’t trust the minutes, and after giving Slim a 19 minutes over/under for Dwight’s return on the Pod, he only went for 16:27 putting up 4/7/2/0/1 with a TO.  At least he stayed off the FT line!  After we had started the Pod, McHale said he was only giving Dwight 16 minutes, just enough to be sure his TO and FT% wouldn’t hurt fantasy teams.  I may have been liberal with McHale’s quote for that last part…  In 8-cat or non-FT% leagues I guess he probably should be scooped up, but he’ll probably sit back-to-backs and the Rockets have a pair left on the schedule with Sun/Mon and Wed/Thurs games this upcoming week.  Get your sales ready, Big & Tall, we got a bigun needing more street clothes!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Woooo, Jimmy Buckets is back!  And Tom Thibodeau does what Tom Thibodeau does…  Runs his guys to death.

After missing exactly 3 weeks with his elbow injury, Jimmy Butler returned last night and played a ridiculous 39-and-a-half minutes for 19/9/1/0/0.  Almost 40 minutes?!  And he shot 6-20!?  Sure he’s taken a ton of shots the past week to be sure the elbow is healthy, but the aggression in that 7-10 FT really solidifies he should be 100% the rest of the way.  That is, until Tibs plays him 63 minutes in a 3-OT game!  Sheesh, I gotta wonder if I’ll ever be huge on Bulls again…  Derrick Rose and all-a-dat, Joakim Noah goes through injury spells…  And Tibs refuses to run his starters on any sort of minutes limits.  I’m more posing the thought than really setting any personal beliefs in my fantasy bedrock, but Rose for sure I could never draft.  You can call that Fred Flintstone because it’ll make my Fantasy Bedrock!  I don’t think I’m using that lyric right…  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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The tennis balls are off the legs, the HurryCane back in the closet, the pre-game meal eaten at 5:00 AM at the early bird special – we’ve got Kemba Walker back!

After a month and a half off, Walker came off the bench last night for the Hornets, and looked like Louis C.K.’s nethers.  Rusty.  2-9 from the field for 6/1/2/0/1 with a TO in 16 minutes.  While there’s no need to be harsh – we expected some rust after knee surgery – but Mo Williams played pretty well with 8 dimes and Gerald Henderson shocked the world with a career-high 11 assists.  Ok, “shocked the world” may be a slight overstatement, I could say “it was so shocking it blew all his hair off!”  It’s certainly interesting he had a previous career-high 9 dimes just last Sunday, so now there’s two facilitators to battle with.  Makes me worried about Kemba’s assists upside, and he’s kinda looking like an Isaiah Canaan clone.  Wait, I said I didn’t need to be harsh!  That said, Kemba is healthy and has a lot more upside, so obviously worth owning everywhere.  I just wouldn’t be shocked (unlike Hendo’s dimebag!) if he’s towards the end of the line if you’re killing Pts/3s and need to stream a stat at the end of week one of the playoffs…  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Who is the hottest team in the NBA right now?  The Pacers are surprisingly playing well and OKC is still winning through injuries, but those Utah Jazz are as tough to score on as the bookish chicks in college!

5-1 since the trade deadline, the Jazz have wins against Portland, San Antonio and now Memphis in that span (their loss was against the Lakers, but we’ll overlook that), and other than that fluke Lakers game, no one has scored over 82 points.  And we all know the key to the Jazz D is Rudy Gobert.  Moving into the starting line-up, Gobert has been playing unreal with a 15/24/1/0/0 line last night on 6-10 FG and 3-4 FT.  He was on a 6-game streak of 3+ blocks, so a random outlier of 0 last night isn’t a biggie especially since Marc Gasol loves his mid-range.

I’ve seen a few comments of owners looking to trade for FG% and a big man boost, and I would be all-in on trying to bring Rudy to those squads.  Even his FT% is improving at 11-15 from the stripe the past 3!  And the Jazz have that oh so saucy 4/4/4 playoff sched.  Yesterday on the Podcast, I asked Slim if he would take Gobert or Hassan Whiteside first in next year’s drafts.  It’s really really close and comes down to a points need (Whiteside) vs. steals need (Gobert).  It’s crazy that probably the biggest value change during the deadline was just the stubborn Jazz finally unleashing the beast that is Gobert.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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It’s always nice to see the deep league guys you love turn into Mr. Planters and go nuts!

After 22 minutes, many of which trying to play through it, Jimmy Butler finally waved the white flag and checked out with a shoulder injury.  He first hurt it last Sunday, and that black tape stuff (that I still don’t completely understand how it works) didn’t keep Buckets’ shoulder together.  Maybe the black tape is more a statement.  Like, “Yeah brah, I got a jacked up shoulder but I’m still gonna go ham!”  Either way, it opened up some huge run for Tony Snell, playing 41 minutes.  And they were 41 heat check minutes!  Made his first 6 from the field including 4 treys, ending up with a career-high 24 points in a 9-11 FG (4-6 3PTM 2-2 FT) 24/2/2/1/0 line with no TO.  Snell going full Mr. Planters!  Even with Mike Dunleavy returning after nearly a month-and-a-half off, you can’t suppress the sense of Snell!  I keed of course, this is an anomaly type of game, but Butler could easily get tomorrow night off against the Cavs to rest that shoulder through the ASB making Snell a very interesting end-of-the-short-week streamer (only the one game Thursday night).  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy NBA action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?