First off, Merry Christmas! Hopefully you enjoyed the smorgasbord of NBA basketball on Sunday, the first Christmas basketball with the Lakers playing but not this guy. And they’re better of for it. But with Christmas now a full calendar year away, let’s ring forth towards the new year!

And along with the new year comes a new look to The 7 Ahead! You know, New Year New You. All that nonsense. Well, I’m the same, still ballin’ out of control like Deion, but this series gets a facelift for 2017. And, of course, a little #millennial touch. Welcome to the new 7 Ahead! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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JB was on a long-weekend celebrating his birthday so I’m handling Monday’s daily notes this week. Wish him a happy birthday when you get a chance!

The walking triple-double machine that is Russell Westbrook fell a little short of his usual triple-double on Monday night, but no one will be complaining about 46 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. He scored 18 points in the 2nd quarter to give the Thunder a halftime lead, before the Hawks stormed back and won the game.

Westbrook may want to talk to Andre Roberson (14 points, 5 rebounds), who shot just 1-7 after passes from Westbrook. Whether he continues to average a triple-double or not, it’s clear that Westbrook is a fantasy monster and has been well worth the first round price.

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I was happily watching my beloved basketball, and enjoying, yet all the while feeling old. I reminisce about the good old days. The bulls were winning 72 games, shorts had just gotten longer, the only tattoos were on Dennis “the Worm” Rodman, and Centres were lumbering lumpy giant dudes like Bill Cartwright and Rasho Nesterovic, with undefined arms and soft hands, like a baby’s bottom. It was a simpler time. You could be a geek, and still dominate the NBA, a la John Stockton, who was a millionaire, and never stopped getting his mom to cut his hair, apparently. The league, while being dominated by the likes of freaks like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, still had room for geeks to make their mark. Heck, the biggest geek of them all, the illustrious Larry Bird, the one lumpy to rule them all, still played in 1992. Is there space for Geeks in today’s league, or is there only to be athletic freaks from now on? Let’s take a look at a few from each column, and see if they fit the description, hmmm?

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As we’ve talked about in some of our intimate, 1-on-1 comments, Razzball Basketball is here to be your fantasy basketball therapist.  We coddle you through the bad breaks, get you through some SKIIIIIIIILES! frustration, help you be able to cut ties with injured players…  We’re a giant, comfy couch, and we want you to be comfortable and tell us why the fantasy gods hate you!

Well, in the same vein, you know I like to whine sometimes.  REL posts are great for that for my REL team, I sometimes get Kristaps Porzingis in 4 of 5 matchups in a hot week, etc. etc.  And I even pull in some real life whining, like today!  So, not for the first time, or the second time, but for the THIRD MF TIME in the past month, the Razzball Basketball studio’s internet got ripped from the house because a dumbass in an 18-wheeler-size Estes truck decided it was smart to drive it down our tiny side street.  That AND our good friends at Time Warner Cable assured us that the second time this happened, that it would be high enough to avoid large trucks.  The level of incompetency is unparalleled…  Well, I take that back, it’s about as competent as Mike Malone running his Denver rotations.  We talked about this in the comments that maybe he needs to become MALLLLLLLLLONNNNNNEEE!  …or something to that effect.  Just like ripping out a millennial’s life blood by taking out my internet, Malone has a team ritual every night, where he snatches up a fantasy basketball player and ties him up in the Denver locker room, and right before every game chants “KALI MA!  KALI MA!” and rips the poor guy’s beating heart out.  Depending on how many beats it has left is how long he plays Jusuf Nurkic.  Dude was playing fine last night!  11/3/1 in 17 minutes, with an efficient 4-6 FG and 3-4 FT – did have the 2 TO – but doesn’t play the final 22 minutes.  Even the poor Kenneth Faried owners got wrapped up in this mess, as Manimal played the opening 4 minutes, then didn’t play the rest of the first half, and got only 11 minutes total.  So you’re thinking big Nikola Jokic game right?!  21 minutes…  Joke was solid though, going 14/11/3/0/1 on 5-7 FG and 4-4 FT.  This is such a Temple of Doom, that even though it’s pretty common knowledge you should’ve been getting out ASAP, now it’s time to get out ASAP-er!  Drop Nurk, trade Joke off this game, I’m probably even dropping Faried.  Maybe in 12ers or limited-move RCLs you can give it one more game, but this was a good matchup against the Mess (even though Brook Lopez is playing on the perimeter now, maybe that screwed some stuff up), and if Malone has Faried in his doghouse, watch him start Darrell Arthur or some junk next Denver game.  Frustrating night!  Since I’m rushing through the notes at a Starbucks, this is going to be a lighter Daily Notes, so apologies for the brevity!  But I’ll be around for comments as always, so if something big happened I missed/you want to talk about, shoot your thoughts below!  Here’s what else happened last night in Fantasy Basketball:

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For a while there, it looked like the makeshift Memphis Zombies might sneak by a crazy victory in Toronto over the Raps. But just like in World War Z, the Zeds tried to follow the humans north, but eventually froze up.

In his first start in the non-Mike Conley-era, Andrew Harrison was surprisingly capable with the added onus of driving the offense, going 21/2/4/3/0 on 7-12 FG (4-5 3PTM 3-4 FT) with only 2 TO in 35 minutes. Looked good in transition, hit contested, fadeaway treys… I didn’t expect this to get off to such a good start, and against the Raps no less!

It’s obviously only one game, and he’s not gonna shoot 80% from deep while filling in for Conley, but this was mad encouraging and you’re certainly grabbing him in most leagues off this showing. He has already proven he can handle big NBA minutes – albeit in a more complimentary role – so I think this can work as a PG 3 or 4 on your fantasy roster. On the flip side, Wade Baldwin played 24 minutes and went only 2/3/2/0/0 with 3 TO and 4 fouls, shooting 1-6 FG, bringing his sexy-efficient FG% back down to 31.5%. There might not be a Wade Baldwin V, with accuracy like that! Gus Ayonin’! Here’s what else went down last night in Fantasy Basketball action:

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Choo Choo!

Watch out league, The Dieng Train is about to run ya over like you’re Magic defenders! Our season chugs along through Thanksgiving (although with our jeans barely fitting), heading into December with 3 guys flirting with Oscar Robinson for tripdub averages, Brow looking redonk, and a multitude of other breakouts and disappointments, but I don’t want the Dieng Train to slip under the radar! Like a German train station, Gorgui Dieng remains regular, consistent, and otherwise just mundane, bringing true multicat performance after performance from a big (minus treys). After a slow-ish start, the Dieng Train put together a nice weekend with a rainbow 11/7/2/3/4 against the Suns, then 15/6/2/1/2 in a tough-matchup-for-a-big against the Warriors. And even though I said “minus treys”, he actually hit a triple in each of them! Shot 11-22 overall, committed only 2 combined TO, and after hitting only 6 treys last year, maybe this is a part of his game we’ll start to see expand. Before you Dieng Train detractors type “BORING!” in the comments, I know his per-36 is a smidge down from last year. That said, he’s played 36+ minutes in 4 of the past 5 games, and it’s all due to that beautiful, cuddly, Tibby Tibs treatment. Run your starters to death! But well, when one of your starters is a effin’ train, you ride that rail! Here’s what else went down over Thanksgiving weekend in fantasy basketball:

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In a matchup where they might’ve gone ahead and whipped em out to see who was bigger, this round went to Joel Embiid! The Sixers snapped the longest stretch of NBA games without back-to-back wins (108), by besting Hassan Whiteside and the Heat 101-94.

Look at Embiid flex those guns. So much man meat in the paint right there! Ok, I’m done with that, but it was awesome to see such prototypical, turn-back-the-clock big men face off against each other, with each being the current face of their respective franchise. Embiid had one of his best lines of the year, going 22/5/0/1/3 on 7-13 shooting, mainly highlighted by only one TO. He’s only had one game with 2 TO, and all the others 3+. On the flip side, Whiteside was a monster, going 32/13/0/0/2 on 13-19 shooting and hit 6 of his 8 FT. For the love of big man stats! Whiteside was 0-3 from the stripe in his previous game, so hopefully something has righted the ship there. Someone in the comments asked where Embiid might go in drafts next year, and I said 30-40 range. But at this rate, that might be too conservative! Let’s see him get through a full season first, and be sure none of that giant EMBIIIIIID gets hurt. I lied, I got one more in! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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Could there be anyone else in the NBA that everyone can get behind and root for than Jrue Holiday?!  At this rate, he needs to run for prez in 2020!  And just to make him even more likable, he’s now wearing rec spec goggles.  Soooooooo dope!  It’s like he’s playing ball underwater!  When he hit this stepback, I’m pretty sure I heard him say “you miss me?!” on the game broadcast, but I have a feeling it was my mind playing tricks on me…

Jrue didn’t take any time to shake off the rust, going 21/2/7/1/1 on 8-14 shooting against the Blazers Friday night (including that sexy crossover), then 22/2/9/1/0 on 9-17 shooting against the Hornets on Saturday.  14:4 AST:TO to start it off, shot over 50% both games…  Just so awesome!  I know what I’m thankful for!  And just to make things EVEN MORE awesome, he rewarded Tim Frazier owners who remained patient, by showing they can co-exist.  Bi-partisan!  12/3/8 and 17/5/8 for Frazier in those two games, plus the Pelicans won both of them.  And they weren’t against cupcakes either, winning at home against the Blazers then the Hornets.  Pass the beignets, we got a party goin on!  As a Frazier owner in a couple RCLs, I’m going to hang strong until his numbers tell me otherwise.  Unfortunately, I’m not a Jrue owner anywhere though…  Depressing!  But I don’t even care, Jrue is a boss, and if he beats me in some fantasy matchups, I will tip my cap and be rooting for him anyway.  You’re my boy, Jrue!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops:

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Here’s the matchup grid updated prior to the 1030 ET time games last night.

matchupswk3v2

I don’t want to go in depth on this today as I’d like to spend some time talking about a specific player below.  The next in-depth discussion will be in a couple of weeks when we have a nice full month of data.  Just wanted to point out that GSW remains near the top of teams to target, albeit they seem to have tightened it up a bit on the rebounding category compared to last week.

Some names to target for the rest of the week:

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As I try to do in my opens, I pull in some real-life news or experience to try and humanize the open. No one wants robot reporting! Just ask Mark Cuban. And that whole situation seems like such a cop out, “I’m going to ban reporters, and the reason why is that I want more human reporting!” Something else is going on there…

Anywho, for this open, I actually have relevant life experience! As previously mentioned regarding Derrick Favors, I too have suffered from IT Band Syndrome. It’s an inflammation of a thin band of nerves that connect from your hip bone on the outside of your leg, past your knee, and connected to your lower leg. Sometimes it can manifest itself in a mad sore hip, but usually it impacts the outside of your knee. When it flares up, it feels like a bone-on-bone “catching” on the outer part of your knee, like you have some horrific scar tissue from a torn meniscus (something I’ve also had). The real annoyance of the injury is you can feel awesome for a few days, then it flares up out of nowhere. You’re just walking normal, and all the sudden that “catch” makes your knee feel like you re-tore something. It’s pretty friggin’ frustrating.

So when I heard Favors was starting last night despite a flare up of knee soreness again on Saturday, I wasn’t the most surprised. I bet it felt great in warm-ups! Then at some point, I’m guessing he felt that same nerve irritation, and he ended up leaving early. I know his frustration. As a nerve thing, this isn’t really a consistent pain-tolerance thing, or a sprain to play through. It feels fine, then a sudden flare up makes your knee feel unstable. I didn’t watch any of this game, but he apparently didn’t look right, and went only 6/2/0/2/0 in 21 minutes. As I mentioned on the Pod, I nabbed some shares of Trey Lyles on Sunday given Favors’ knee issues and knowing this could be a long-term thing, getting rewarded with an 18/5/2/2/0 line with a trey. A trey from Trey! With leaving games early a persistent issue now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Favors gets treatment for a few weeks, and I would take the flier on Lyles where I could. It took me about two months of rehab and a session of dry needling to stimulate the nerves to finally shake my IT issues. Don’t watch if you don’t like needles! Here’s what else happened in fantasy hoops action last night:

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