Happy 2017, Razzball Nation!

After immense pressure from the DA’s office to flip on Tommy DeVito and Paulie Cicero, [redacted] needed protection to secure his testimony in putting those good fellas away. It didn’t start on the best foot either, as the WitSec guys asked [redacted] if he had any distinguishing marks and he lied about his tattoos… But the man formerly known as [redacted] changed his name to the very inconspicuous James Johnson, and moved his family to Miami. After being a humbling under-the-radar role player, Johnson was supposed to continue as merely a minutes-filler, amongst an uninteresting mix of PF to get through the tough void of losing Chris Bosh. He’s supposed to just shy away from dunk attempts and stand around on offense…

Well, way to ruin that, Johnson! We can’t protect you no more! An absolute monster weekend from Johnson, going 22/3/6/2/2 against the Celtics on Friday night with 4 treys, then followed it up with 20/7/3/1/1 against the Pistons. After a rough stretch of FT last week, he made 6-7 in these games too. With the added onus on O (no Goran Dragic or Justise Winslow OR Hassan Whiteside last night), he is turning it over a little too much (8 total in these two games), but with all the injuries and a void in playmaking on the Heat right now, Johnson is as erect as ever. He’s playing SF, PF, and even some C right now, so while we shouldn’t expect the 34 minutes like he got against the Pistons, he should be pretty solidified in his 25ish MPG role even when everyone is healthy. He’s gotta be a must-own in all leagues while this hot, as he has brazenly blown his cover. Hopefully no one recognizes him as [redacted]! Here’s what else went down over New Year’s weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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Oh man, no rest for the wicked! Speaking of wicked, oh man quick shout out to the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, that brewery rocked! But yeah, an absolutely amazing slate to catch me back up on the daily notes, with 4 overtimes last night. Including a super size me doubler in Miami! Most of the other games stayed close too, and 20 of the 22 teams in action last night topped 100 points. Fantasy orgasm! And leading the charge on such a big-and-tall NBA night was of course Isaiah Thomas! Career-high 44 points for IT2/3, putting up a 4/3rd’s of a full line of 44/3/6/1/1 on 10-16 FG (7-10 3PTM, 17-17 FT) including a big three in extra time in the OT win.

I’m just glad this groin thing got worked out! …That sounded wrong… If you have a smaller groin muscle, does it heal faster?! I’m not saying he doesn’t have a kick stand down there with a line like this, but just wondering! After semi-breaking out last year (well he was only 2/3 better than his career year in 13-14 for the Kings), IT2/3 has taken an even further step up – scoring 26.6 PPPG, upping the FT volume to 8.8/per at 90% (remember when he was like 70% the first few weeks, that changed quick!), and even though the steals are only at 0.9, he’s drastically cut his TO rate to only 2.2 despite all the added USG. After a slow start due to injuries, the Celtics look like a pretty tough team at full strength right now, and maybe IT2/3 can lead this squad into a deep run. I’ll be cheering for them! (cough, REL bias, cough…) Here’s what else happened on an action-packed Tuesday night of Holiday Season basketball:

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Sean Kilpatrick went H.A.M. on Tuesday, scoring 38 points (14-34 FG, 4-12 3PT) and grabbing 14 rebounds in the Nets double-overtime, come from behind victory over the Clippers. He turned it on late, scoring 31 of his 38 points in the 4th quarter and overtime. Kilpatrick probably won’t be this good ever again, but he still remains a wise pickup (53% availability).

Trevor Booker and Brook Lopez – The Nets’ big men also enjoyed the extra minutes in double OT as well. Booker had a nice overall line of 15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals, while Lopez posted 27 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 threes, and 2 steals. Lopez’ 3-point shooting has really improved this season.

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isojoe

Listen, as a Hawks fan I have a special place in my sports heart for Joe Johnson. It’s special because of this strange dichotomy I call reluctant gratitude. The Hawks sucked. Hard. For years. And gave up far too much to get him, but once Joe Johnson arrived in Atlanta back in the ’05-’06 season the Hawks became a legit playoff team, with Johnson ascending to perennial All-Star level. Yet that damn contract (only to be rivaled by Allan Houston from 2001 as potentially the worst of all-time) handcuffed Atlanta into the nothingness that is the perpetual second-round, upper-middle tier of the NBA. It was awful.

However, Brooklyn came along and washed our bored tears away when they gulped down his albatross contract to usher in the new era of Atlanta basketball (still perpetual upper-middle tier, though). But when you think about it, that’s just what Joe does: usher in the next chapter for a franchise. Well, that and play incredible (dribble) ball-stopping (dribble) isolation (dribble) basketball (five more dribbles, contested shot with 3 second left). It started in Phoenix as Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash began their revolutionary 8-second offense, then shifted to Atlanta for the next seven years where he made six All-Star teams before becoming the epitome of the catastrophe that was the Brooklyn Nets post-prime project alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. And now? Smack dab in the middle of the Rockies, Joe’s the biggest free agent signing the Utah Jazz have locked in for the past 10-15 years. At 35 years old he’s shooting 49% in 31mpg during their first five contests. Could it be that a new era is beginning in Utah with all of their young talent (and without Gordon Hayward as of yet)? They just crushed both the Spurs and then the Mavs, and I’m getting quite jazzed about the makeup of this team. Could they reach the playoffs for the first time in 5 years? Well, probably. Joe’s there now. It’s time for a new era.

And for this week…four games for the Jazz. Here’s the 7 Ahead for Week 3!

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terry-rozier-101315

October is here and you know what that means?  Hoops is just around the corner. With preseason games beginning, the excitement for meaningful basketball is now officially reaching boiling point.

After being out in the wilderness for 6 weeks with no internet access, I return with a slightly different flavor from my previous pieces, but rest assured that if you are tuning in to see “Dynasty rookie rankings 41-60”, then they are just around the corner.

As you can imagine, the excitement of having all TV and internet services installed after such a long delay (man, what did we do in the dark world before the internet?!) were soon quashed by opening my browser and the first piece of news I see in basketball news is Ben Simmons suffering a broken foot in practice. Yet more hurt for those Philly fans, with yet another top draft pick spending significant time with the medical staff. It may well be that there is some kind of curse in Philadelphia, but let’s hope the uber-talented phenom will be back on his feet soon (excuse the poor pun).

If, like me, you have a penchant for the deep league, then this may well be the article for you. Of the big fantasy sports, basketball is obvious sport where you don’t want to miss early in drafts ,with a big drop-off in production differential from the top tier to the middle tier.  But that doesn’t mean leagues can’t be won with crafty, late round selections. Without further ado, here are some late round fliers that might be tempting, depending on the depth of your league:

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We did it! YES WE CAN!! Make rankings great again! Oh man, I’m ready for election season to be over… But I’m even more ready to have my top 200 out into the world!

So I don’t really have a sound philosophy for these final ranks… We do all of our rankings for 12-team, 9-cat H2H, since that’s how we play our Razzball Commenter Leagues. Shameless promo time! We need more RCL Players out there in Razzball Nation! Just follow that link and either start up or join an open league today! Anywho, in a 12-team RCL league (13 roster spots), you’re only drafting 156 players, so most of these ranks are guys you’re not drafting. Do I rank guys all as sleepers for your final pick? I’m not sure that really helps anyone. So the final ranks here are a blend of sleeper potential, and possible last-roster-spot-usability for a specific build. Is Arron Afflalo REALLY going to be your last pick? Meh, probably not, but maybe he has a hot month and it could be the first month! You never know… If you’re still catching up, check out all our ranks in the Top-10, Top-25, Top-50, Top-75, Top-100 & Top 150 which you can also find linked above in the 2016-17 Ranks menu. Here’s our final big rankings post, the Top 200 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Wow, we certainly got polar opposite trade deadlines the past two years!

With shocking move after shocking move around 3:00 PM last year, 2016 was a nice afternoon siesta, putting the “dead” in Trade Deadline.  This is why it’s impossible to predict trades!  I might use this year’s deadline as a response to “who is most likely to be traded” quandaries.  Is there a shrug emoticon?!  Because in 2016, every NBA GM was too busy playing Candy Crush to make phone calls to other teams!

Really the biggest trade had very little fantasy impact too…  Markieff Morris comes to the Wizards, and just like Archie Goodwin‘s neck, he puts a stranglehold on the PF position.  Watch me whip!  Watch me Nene!  …watch me never play again 🙁  Even though Nene started last night over Jared Dudley (and had a decent game too), I think that’s more about having him be a placeholder to get ready for the new Wiz rotation once Kieff gets there.  I just think Wizards fans should be happy Gilbert Arenas isn’t still there, that locker room might get fiestier than in Memphis!  We’ll get to that later…  Kieff should’ve been owned in all leagues already, and you can happily drop Dudley in almost all leagues.  That was my first text to Slim!  Pssshhh, Slim arguing to hold Dudley…  On the flip side, Phoenix got trash and roster dumpage, with Kris Humphries mayyyyybe playing some backups kims.  I mean mins.  The big takeaway is Alex Len should be nabbed in all 12ers, and when the news broke, he was owned in only 30% of leagues (and still is at 30% apparently)…  He should get a nice boost in consistency, minutes wise.  Here’s what else went down over this snoozer of a deadline, plus the Daily Notes from last night:

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Alright, so actual Fat Tuesday doesn’t shake down in New Orleans for another couple weeks, but with a robust eight games on the NBA docket, it was a fitting – and catchy – title, so I decided to stick with it. (“Robust Tuesday” just doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way, ya know?) We typically only get a handful of games on a given Tuesday, but the schedule makers decided to give League Pass subscribers a real workout this week. Games started at 7pm and didn’t wrap up until well after midnight on the East Coast. In the middle of it all was an overtime thriller at the Mecca.

The Knickerbockers of New York, absent Carmelo Anthony, were able to withstand a pair of fat (Tuesday) lines from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for much of the night. Despite a combined 74 points from the Thunder’s dynamic duo (KD poured in 44, Russ 30), the Madison Square Garden audience was treated to some bonus basketball, though the Knicks ultimately came up just short in the 53rd minute. New York shared the scoring burden as they had five different players contribute between 15 and 21 points: Kristaps Porzingis (15), Lance Thomas (16), Aaron Afflalo (17), Derrick Williams (19), Langston Galloway (21).

Durant supplemented his scoring barrage with 14 boards, five dimes, a steal, and four 3-pointers. A healthy Durantula is the second most valuable asset in fantasy basketball. It’s just that simple. I don’t care what format you’re playing or how many categories you’re counting, if I’m not getting Steph Curry in return, I’m not parting with KD right now.

Kevin’s running mate, Russell Westbrook, had himself quite the ballgame as well: 13-of-24 from the field, eight rebounds, 10 helpers and three steals complemented his 30-point outing quite nicely. Picky owners can find fault in his five turnovers or failure to connect from long range, but overall Westbrook is an absolute stat stuffer and you probably only need one hand to count the number of players more valuable than him moving forward.

Meanwhile, outside of the Big Apple…

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I’m living at home with my parents temporarily, while work is being done on my condo. I didn’t want to be bothered living there while they’re painting and installing new carpeting and flooring. As a result, I’m getting kicked off the television so that my mom can watch her shows. I missed the Sunday Night Football game for “Downton Abbey” and then had to turn off the Wizards/Cavs and Knicks/Heat games for “Law & Order.” I guess it’s a fair trade, since I’m getting so many home cooked meals and leftovers for lunch.

Fortunately SVU ended early enough for me to catch the Thunder’s dismantling of the Grizzlies. Kevin Durant returned from a toe injury to post 26 points and 17 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook continued his near triple-double stat lines with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. You always worry with Durant’s foot being a problem last season, but it was nice to see KD back, after only missing one game.

It was all Thunder in this game, as the Grizzlies played down due to injuries. Mike Conley was out because of a sore left Achilles and Courtney Lee, who started for Conley, left early in the second half after injuring his hip. That left Mario Chalmers, who exploded for 23 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, and 4 threes. It’s unclear how long Conley and Lee could be out, but Chalmers would become the starter by default. It’s not like the Grizzlies will give Vince Carter lots of minutes!

Now onto the other Wednesday night games:

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With the season-ending injury to Bledsoe, all guards in Phoenix get a boost.  I’d look at them in the order of Booker and then Warren, based on how the minutes have played out so far.  It’s also worth mentioning that PJ Tucker has been getting big minutes of late, and although his usage rate is low, the amount of playing time may dictate a pickup.  Unfortunately, none of these options come close to replacing the production of Bledsoe, if you lost him.  The good news is, he’ll probably come at a discount again next year, although that’s little consolation…

I would also expect other players in Phoenix, like Leuer and Knight, to pick up some of the scoring slack for the rest of the year.  It looks like Markieff isn’t going to see any playing time until he’s moved, so he makes for an exceptionally risky stash.

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