Continuing on with updated rankings after the top 10 and top 20, below rounds out my to 50.  Previous rankings are in parentheses next to these updated ranks, with up and down designations only for guys hopping up or down significant spots.  Have fun grilling these!

(22) 21. Nicolas Batum – A lot of commenters have wondered why he’s not in the top-20, and as I said in my previous 20-50 rankings, the declining FG% (45.1% to 42.3%) and 3PT% (39.1% to 37.2%) from 2011-12 to 12-13 gives me pause.  Despite playing over 8 more minutes a game in 11-12 to 12-13, his scoring average only went up 0.4 Pts a game and he only averaged 12 a game after the All-Star Break with his wrist injury.  He’s said the wrist is completely healed, and despite not needing surgery I would be worried with Batum as my second-rounder as the wrist could plague him again.  He’ll still be a multi-cat workhorse, but I see no way he chucks up 6.1 3’s a night with new acquisitions Mo Williams and C.J. McCollum also manning the perimeter.  Yeah their PT may not overlap too consistently, but I just don’t see the three point output mimicking last year.

(23) 22. LaMarcus Aldridge – Another big fantasy asset I’m slightly down on, the Blazers could very easily have another rough first half and look to trade their franchise big.  The rumors have been swirling for quite some time, and there’s virtually no destination where I think he would be a better fantasy player than in Portland.

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The period of free agency continues to shape the fantasy basketball-scape with fresh meat on terrible teams and players signing with contenders to be relegated to bench duty.  With baseball in full swing and the NFL getting half of the ESPN air time no matter what time of year it is, a lot of NBA moves have been made under the radar.  Look for every division to get a team-by-team breakdown and some early fantasy thoughts on the new faces in new places:

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This team led the league in blocked shots per game in three of the last four seasons, and was second in the one that it didn’t.

This team also finished in the Top 6 in rebounding in the last four years.

Who is this team? Without cheating and looking at a stats site you’d have to guess the Lakers, with Dwight Howard, or a defensively minded team like the Spurs, with Tim Duncan leading the block-n-board bash, or Da Bulls, with high-end Crafty Breuer Joakim Noah, his pony tail and the other dudes swatting shots and grabbing clankers.

Nope, nope and nope. It’s the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that – despite having blocks leader Serge Ibaka (3.0 bpg) in the hizzouse – just doesn’t pop into your mind as a team that would pile up a mound of boards and blocks. We see Kevin Durant blowing guys away on the break and rising up for those improbable three-ball makes, and we see Russell Westbrook somehow getting to the cup and somehow getting it to go.

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Some music fans believe the 1982 Fleetwood Mac album “Mirage” got its name because Lindsey, Stevie, Christine, John and Mick hated each other, were trying to pass off a dated band as relevant, recorded it while whacked out on assorted liquids and/or substances, or all of the above.

While any of this could be true, the opinion here is that “Mirage” is a criminally underrated album by an often derided band. Can they be as corny as Nick Young’s early 2012-2013 ’do? You bet ya. But here, without trying, they actually pull off a “mirage” that’s a good one and not one that, say, Spike in “Tom & Jerry” might have had where he mistook Tom for a giant hambone.

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As we continue to navigate through the NBA Playoffs, it’s been a fun challenge to rank for the 2013-2014 season.  There’s still free agency.  There’s still a draft.  Hey, at least we know there will be a season unlike 2011!

If you missed it, my top 10 then top 20 came out last week.  Hey, it’s early, you might say “way too early” (see what I did there, it’s in the title!) so these rankings are subject to change.  And I want no accusations of flip-flopping!  It’s not my fault if all the sudden Dwight Howard goes to the Bobcats and becomes a first-rounder!  OK, so that is as likely as Rony Seikaly… returning.  You gotta stop on the word that rhymes Jean-Ralphio!  Man I’m liking that show.  Also, random side note, Googling Rony Seikaly to spell his name correctly broke Google.  I searched it and it would freeze, despite everything else working.  Weird.

As I battle my ADHD to get into the rankings, let’s just dive into it:

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I bet you haven’t heard and I’m breaking the news… The Heat lost last night!  27 games in a row, down the drain.  One of the most impressive streaks we’ve seen in American sports is over.  However, instead of linking highlights to the game, I think this sketch from one of the best sketch comedy shows Mr. Show encapsulates what happened last night.  David Cross is the Bulls and Bob Odenkirk is the Heat.

Fantasy-wise, the Heat big three had their usual games and Luol Deng was the Bulls top performer with 28 Pts and 4 3PTM.  It was one of the most-hyped, most-talked about regular season NBA games in recent memory, so apologies this isn’t a fantasy-heavy open.  That’s what the rest is for!

Here’s what else went down across a heavy slate of NBA action (yes, there were other games!):

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I’ve never been that bothered by snakes.  Now I never went out of my way to play with them or anything (except my own – bada bing!), but never ran the other way either except when I was in New Mexico when I was like 7.  When I was working on my parents mountain house when I was in high school, there was a snake under the scrap heap I was clearing and I killed that little bitch with a shovel.  If that doesn’t boost your testosterone, then I guess you need to contact Tony Bosch at Biogenesis.  The resident snake of the NBA (in name only – easy Laker fans), Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba himself, went down hard after twisting his ankle last night, and blames Dahntay Jones for intentionally crowding him.  I thought snakes didn’t have ankles?  Well, this injury after sliding into 8th place in the West just puts the icing on the cake of the Lakers ridiculous season.  Right now the prognosis is “out indefinitely.”  About all you can do is make your sacrifices to the fantasy gods and cross your fingers.  One thing Kobe has going for him is that he is resilient to injury and can heal quickly.  He’s kinda like the Derek Jeter of the NBA.  And Jeter never had any ankle issues….  I could see Bryant back sooner rather than later, but stay tuned.

Here’s what else went down in fantasy basketball:

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With six minutes left in the fourth last night, David Lee gave Roy Hibbert a little sucker shove that spawned a fracas that would have made Ron Artest (excuse me Metta World Peace) proud.  Tangent – how can athletes just change their names like that?  Getting pretty ridiculous.  They should just change their names a few times a year and get a percentage of jersey sales.  Imagine Chris Andersen changing his name to “Birdman” at the beginning of the season, then changing it again halfway through the season to, “You best stay away Chris Hansen“.  But I digress.  After Lee and Hibbert got separated, Stephen Curry tried to body up on ol’ RoyRoy and it didn’t go so well.  Even down 11, Curry had torn up the Pacers for 33 at that point, keeping what would have otherwise been a blowout a watchable game.  What ended up being one of the best MMA moments of the NBA season didn’t factor into the game much, as the Pacers still ran away with it after Hibbert’s ejection.  Luckily Curry was able to finish the game with an incredible line of 38 Pts 7 3PM 2 Rebs 4 Asts 3 Stls 1 Blk 4 Broken Cheek Bones and 0 Ankle Injuries.  Just kidding about the cheek bones.  I made every Curry owner gasp there for a second.  Let’s take a look at the other performances last night in the NBA:

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