It’s been a bad couple weeks for big men. A lot of top producing forwards and centers seem to have been bitten by the injury bug around Thanksgiving.

Initially, DeMarcus Cousins was only considered day-to-day with viral meningitis. After missing his 8th straight game, coach Mike Malone was unsure when he would get his big man back. He’s been ruled out for the rest of the weekend, with his playing status in jeopardy for next week.

While Cousins has been out, Reggie Evans has grabbed almost every available rebound. Well not really, but he has had games of 13, 14, and 20 rebounds, while starting for Cousins. Jason Thompson has offered a more balanced increase in production (11 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 2.4 apg in last 5 games), but the biggest beneficiary has been Rudy Gay.

With Cousins declared out for at least the weekend, now is the best time to sell high on Gay. He has a usage rate (total number of possessions per 48 minutes) of 30.2 when Cousins is out, but a 25.3 usage rate when Cousins is playing alongside him. As a result, Gay has increased his scoring, rebounds, and assists with Cousins off the floor. Try to trade him this weekend for a top 20/30 player, before Cousins gets back and steals touches away from him.

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Well, so much for the prime time matchup last night!  Yesterday afternoon LeBron James‘ knee flared up, and after a mid-afternoon report that the Cavs weren’t worried but would be cautious, they ended up holding him out.  I think LeBron was mostly worried about another Serge Ibaka wrister.

How you can finish that play after breaking your nose…?!  Legit.  Anyway, for the Cavs it didn’t mean much to the Big Two, but somehow Tristan Thompson is playing his way into relevance again.  Yes, Slim and I’s oft-discussed, Pts/Reb only Tristan Thompson – except these days he’s hitting some other cats!  14/13/1/0/2 last night, shooting 4-8 FG and 6-8 FT in 30 minutes.  He’s finally making shots at an acceptable rate this year, with his FG% at 53.6% before last night and got the blocks back up to nearly 1 a game after being at 0.4 last year in almost 6 more minutes per.  The big catalyst here is getting back that big run with the second unit.  After only topping 30 minutes one time through the first 14 games, is over 30 four of the past seven culminating in dubdubs three of the past four.  I’m frankly surprised he’s owned in 38% of Yahoo leagues already, but for the streamers/DraftKings players out there, LeBron might sit one more and assure another big workload for TT.  I don’t think he plays this much long-term, but you can get some big man stats on the cheap.  It’s no conundrum!  Here’s what else went down in the two games last night:

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I’ve got the ring in the cake.  The scoreboard operator has got it cued up for the 2nd quarter under-8 timeout.  The plane with some really carcinogenic toxins is ready to pollute the atmosphere in a “Will U Marry Me?” loopy smokestream.

An unsung contributor this year, DeMarre Carroll racked up another under-the-radar line last night for 14 Pts, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 3PTM, and a partridge in a pear tree!  No TO, and other than blocks really hits all the Silver Bells and whistles.  Hitting a career best 1.6 treys a game, it’s a Christmas miracle his FG% is at 46%.  The dimes don’t do much either, but there’s no reason not to to Sleigh Ride him while he’s hitting most of the cats this hard.  Even a Silent Night or two won’t scare me away, and at only 61% ownership in Yahoo, I feel like there’s still a lot of leagues where he could bring Joy to the World.  So sing a holiday carol for DeMarre, and even though nothing is too sexy, I felt like I needed Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (full disclosure, I had to look up a list of Christmas songs for this bit, I’m such a Grinch).  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball:

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“Did you coach the Celtics to a win last night, B-Rad?!”  “No…  But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!”

Since returning from his bad ankle sprain, Marcus Smart has had quite the timeline.  Returned last Wednesday and played five minutes, and Stevens said he didn’t look ready.  And when you’re not ready, you get demoted to the D-League.  And when you shoot 1-12 FG in that D-League game, you still get a promotion.  I want to work for that company!  Any time you get reprimanded, you just have to explain why you’re currently better than 1-12!  Then DNP Friday, and 8 minutes of nada Sunday.  So of course, everyone expected that he’d play 35 minutes and go 23/4/5/1/0 shooting 7-14 FG (4-8 3PTM, 5-5 FT) without a single TO last night.  And everyone expected Rajon Rondo, off a triple-double, to be benched in favor of Smart down the stretch and for both the overtimes.  Well, the Celtics did almost upset the Wiz at home!  Key word… almost.  And sure, Boston had a big 4th quarter with the subs to make it a game, but an L is an L!  Rondo owners collectively throw things at their computers – no one is safe from a Stevens line-up bamboozle.  Before you run out and grab Smart, consider that timeline this past week.  And don’t forget before last night he was shooting sub-30% FG and 21.4% from deep with only 1.1 dimes a game.  Given some of those were in low-minute spells, but it was still only 8 dimes in 114 minutes to 6 TO.  So don’t pull a Stevens and feel like the smartest one in the room by dropping, well virtually anyone in a 12 or 14 teamer for him, unless you plan to stash.  Rondo could still be moved, but I never bet on a trade.  It’s like betting on a successful hostage trade in an action movie.  They never work out!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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I was off last week because of the holiday.  Hope you all had a safe and profitable Thanksgiving in DFS.  As you know I try to pass along some news if there is any and advice.  The best advice I can give to any new or veteran player in DFS is bankroll management.  Can’t stress enough how important it is.  50/50’s are the best way to build your bankroll.  It doesn’t matter if you finish 1st in these contests.  All you have to do is beat half the field to double your money.  Yeah GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) money is nice but it’s hard to cash in these contests consistently.  What I do for example is if I was going to play $100 for the night, $85 of that is going to be in 50/50’s.  Now if I am just starting out I’m probably playing all my money in 50/50’s to build that bankroll up.  Hope this advice is helpful.  Now let’s get on with some picks for a smallish 6 game slate on Saturday night.

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This was a very big week for the Thunder. They got both of their superstars back in a matter of days.

Russell Westbrook returned on Friday night, putting up 32 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists in only 24 minutes of clock. Now owners may be concerned with the lack of minutes, but know that Westbrook wasn’t on a minutes’ restriction. Instead, Westbrook, along with the rest of the starters, were pulled early since the Thunder were up 32 late in the game. They were playing the New York Knicks after all.

A few days later, Kevin Durant returned to score 27 points on Tuesday night. He showed little rust on the court, shooting 9-18 from twos, 3-8 from downtown, and 6-7 from the line. Durant didn’t do much else outside of the scoring, but those numbers will happen in due time. The important thing is that Westbrook and Durant are both back and healthy.

Westbrook and Durant immediately regain their statuses as two of the top ten fantasy producers. At the same time, their return also hurts the guys filling in for them. Reggie Jackson’s statistics will take a hit, as he won’t be needed as much as an offensive producer. In the two games since Westbrook returned, Jackson had his two lowest usage rates of the season and saw his field goal attempts decrease to 11 FGA per game (down from 17.9 without Durant and Westbrook). Now there is still value to be had with Jackson, since he’ll be getting around 30 minutes a night, but don’t expect the same numbers he was providing early in the season.

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Kinda sounds like a porn name, doesn’t it?

After a day of giving thanks, fantasy owners got a huge boost while scarfing microwaved plates of Thanksgiving leftovers with Russell Westbrook healing up and putting on a historic comeback off the broken hand.  Is this guy’s bones made of Adamantium or what?!  Señor Westback seems to beat his timetable every injury the past few years, which I don’t know if it’s really a good or bad thing… Can heal fast, but is gettin’ hurt a lot!  Reckless Russell.  The made-for-TV Skinimax sequel to Wreck-It Ralph starring Russell Westback.  I’d watch that!  Although they’re apparently making a Wreck-It Ralph 2, which I hope embraces some Grand Theft Auto elements.  Would make sense to star Russell Westback!  Rated R, sorry kids…  It’s like confusing them with Death to Smoochy having a purple dinosaur.  Anyway, Westbrook absolutely torched the Knicks last Friday night in his return for 32/7/8 hitting 12-17 shots and notching three treys.  Twas the first 32 Pts 8 Ast game in 24 minutes or less in the shot-clock era.  It was like stealing the car, then running over the driver trying to sprint away for good measure.  Even though it’s “just” his hand, got a huge layoff from that game until facing the Pelicans tomorrow.  Plenty of time to catch up on his turkey leftovers, and refuel to give fantasy owners that first-round production for the bulk of the season ahead.  So drop the confetti, and welcome Westback!  But let’s hope it’s a little less Reckless, and we’ll take 25/5/5 every 24 minutes without any issues… Here’s what else went on around the league since we’ve been off from Thanksgiving:

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Ugh…

So any readers out there grow up in that emo scene or get into any of that stuff at the turn of the century?  I was all about the band Thursday’s CD Full Collapse, and man, listening back to it now is ridiculous!  Even in high school I could make fun of the music that was going on then, talking about how emo bands had a crier.  But Paris in Flames legit sounds like there’s some dude in the corner cry-yelling!  Hey, it beats the Slipnkot dude who’s one job is to bang the trashcan lid…

Where to start with the cryfest?  I think we gotta go with Russell Westbrook, and well, hold a seance for all Thunder fans right now.  Sustained a fracture in his hand last night, and will likely miss about a month.  We’ll know more by later today, but I think OKC should change their uniforms to the Bubble Boy outfits.  Look where that movie took Jake Gyllenhaall!  Kinda hard not to think about picking up Sebastian Telfair, but he’s still behind the Donald Sloan-types.  Shooting up with some medium-term value is Reggie Jackson if his ankle heals up.  I’d look to see if he was dropped in your league, as now he’s a dynamite hold until healthy, as long as it’s not another month for him as well… We still don’t really have a clear picture, so I think Telfair can make a couple starts.

Then the other biggie… My Panthers… I was actually at the game, and man, the amount of angst and frustration in the stands really could’ve been an emo wah-party.  Pop quiz, who had more TOs – Cam or the main Cav?!  Well, it was the main Cav, but we’ll start there and then get into everything else that went down last night in fantasy hoops:

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Preseason is here!  Preseason is here!  I’m as giddy as N64 kid on Christmas Day.

But before we got into any action, Nick Young had a rough end of to his week last week, jacking up his thumb on his shooting hand requiring surgery.  He’ll be out 8 weeks, which puts him back in Purp-n-Gold mid-to-late November, optimistically.  You can drop him off your fantasy teams now!  He’s got a plenty big cast to hitchhike his way somewhere else.  I would say to “Scrubtown” but if you say that three times fast it starts to sound kinda like Scranton and I don’t want to offend Scrantonites or fans of The Office.

I wasn’t big on Swaggy P anyway, but no reason to touch him except in the very deepest of leagues.  Pretty empty scoring.  Wesley Johnson gets a minor bump up, and that’s the extent of the impact.  Now back to preseason!  Of course every performance must be taken with a grain of salt, and this early it’s a friggin’ pillar of salt, but it’s never too early to see how players are doing – especially this year’s ridiculous class of rooks.  Here’s what’s gone on across the league:

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Can I has Triple Doublez? Man watching Kevin Love is fun.  I think he should enter the NFL draft.  Deep outlets like these, plus he’s almost 7 feet and would never get a pass deflected at the line!  I can just picture Kevin Costner and Denis Leary debating over it with the Browns first round pick.  “I’m not taking some bearded seven foot douchebag when I’ve got Johnny Football and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Green!”  Eh, was going for a Leary-ism there, it’s hard to type it…  Huge night for Love, going 24/16/10/1/1 with two treys and continually adding millions to his next contract.  All after a report a few days ago that he was “exhausted” after a couple of non-Love-ish games.  Unloved games?  Something like that.  He’ll be one of the biggest stories to follow in the offseason, but he’s pretty much a shoe-in top-5 pick.  In Basketball Monster, he’s #3 in overall value and #4 per game.  He’s stayed durable and has been beastly.  Godly.  I kinda wanna get a Love bobblehead and put it in my locker and serve him rum.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops:

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