Man, what a World Series!  The Cubs win Game 7 – in extra innings no less – to end their century plus drought and have their fans become insufferable, like the Red Sox.  Ugh.  But congrats to the Cubs, and now we can solely focus on basketball!!!  …until the football playoffs take over 45 minutes of every hour of Sportscenter…

Anywho, if it’s not my Brewers in the World Series, I could care less, and I was paying more attention to hoops last night anyway.  Very depressing night, but I wanted to start positive!  After singing his praises on the Pod Tuesday morning, T.J. Warren had a little bit of a down game on Halloween night, but bounced right back to lead the Suns to their first W in OT.  11-22 FG, love dat FG%, 5-5 FT, ditto, 27/7/0/2/1 with no TO.  Dem fighting numbers!  That gives him a 22.4/6.2/0.8/1.8/0.4 line on the season, shooting 50.6% from the field on 17.8 shots, 86.4% from the stripe in 4.4 FTA, and averaging only 1.0 TO.  This is turning into a fantasy MVP!  Of course, of course, of course it’s early, but Devin Booker was back after sitting one game, both Eric Bledsoe (hit the game winner) and Brandon Knight got their run, and I don’t really see any reason this can’t sustain.  The Pts probably come down a tad, but he doesn’t shoot 3s so the FG% should be huge, and he doesn’t really facilitate much which will keep his TO mad low.  On the Pod I compared him to DeRozan – with maybe even better FG% – and look at these floaters in traffic that are DeRozan-esque:

I’m very actively trying to correct the great injustice – with all my TJ love, I don’t own him on any teams.  Hopefully owners think this is a flash in the pan or a sell-high moment.  I don’t.  So be like Warren, take a trip to Dr. James Andrews, and get yourself a nice year-long TJ!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Save your horse, and ride a… Justin Hamilton?! As we coined on the Podcast, the coach of the Nets has officially changed his name. It’s even on his newly issued Birth Certificate! It’s no longer Kenny Atkinson. While Brooks wears his giant cowboy hat, Kenny literally wears his ass on his head. He is forever more: Kenny Asshat. I’d love to make that my Halloween costume!

After that shockingly low-run debut, Brook Lopez persevered in game two with a 25/5/1/1/0 line in only 26 minutes on Friday night. Maybe the most shocking aspect of that game was the Nets actually won an NBA game! Then on Saturday afternoon, we get word Brolo is going to get a healthy DNP-rest. Mother F Asshat! Because of course after 2+ healthy seasons including playing 33+ MPG last year, Brook is an injury risk. This is a ticking time bomb in Brooklyn… Asshat wants to chuck as many 3s as possible; through Saturday night’s game, Brooklyn’s 37.3 3PA were second in the NBA, only to the Mavericks who had an OT game then played Houston. 42% of their shots are treys, which leads the league thus far (small sample of course). Even in that “good” game from Brolo Friday night, he shot 0-4 from deep, giving him 6 3PTA this season. His career high 3PTA?! 14 last year for 0.2 a game. 3.0 thus far in 16-17. A big part of his value has been game-to-game reliability and FG%, and now we’re not going to get either. Asshat really wants to pound Brook’s square peg in a round hole, and we all know Asshat has a big round hole! What a mess this team is. Hopefully you don’t have too many shares of Brolo, and if you do, you’re really forced to hold as best you can. No one is giving you anything for him… But at least it opens some opportunities, with Hamilton now a streamer even in 12ers, and you know the rest of your Nets are all going to have ThrAGNOF streamability. Asshat playing his team like Duke. Shooting nothing but 3s… So annoying! No UNC bias there… I don’t think Asshat got the memo that the NBA perimeter is further out… Smh. Here’s what else went down over the weekend in Fantasy Basketball action:

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In what became a weekly manifesto for fantasy basketball, our cap’n, my cap’n, JB Gilpin, decided to hand over the reins to his precious afterthoughts from last season. No, literally. This series was the actual afterthoughts to his daily thoughts that happened every weekend. Well, JB…after thought no more, because this is all I got!

When JB asked me to take over the 7 Ahead, I was most likely still drunk on the booze of an incredible 2015-2016 NBA Regular Season and Playoffs, not thinking about what it actually meant. The more my withdrawals kicked in and I couldn’t wait for the start of the new season to finally effing get here, though, the more I realized how great this article is. If you’ve read me on the football or baseball sides of all things Razz, you may have read my definition of wisdom before. If so, you’re welcome…here it is again: Wisdom is looking to the past to know what’s going to happen in the future before it happens. It’s telling the future. It’s planning on what could happen. It’s everything that is the essence of the 7 Ahead.

Each weekend we’ll be looking forward towards the fantasy basketball horizon of the next seven days. For those of you in weekly leagues, this series may be especially helpful, as I’ll highlight the teams with the most beneficial schedule for your matchups, and which particular players from hose teams may be available for your streaming pleasures. Also, we’ll discuss the game slate for each day over the next seven days, and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be asking some questions and want your responses. This is a dialogue, kids. No monologues here. Those stayed in the past with JB’s novellas that he called this series. And by the way, what in the balls is a ‘bottom dollar’? Does Dame Dolla own a lot of those? Anywho…here’s the first installment of the 2016-2017 7 Ahead.

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What an incredible NBA Opener for big men! Maybe the Sixers aren’t as crazy after all…? But the bigs across the league went absolute ham; they were big hams! It’s why in Supermarket Sweep the people would always go for the hams first. Why did they never go to the wine section?! Just nab the best ish there and start a party!

Myles and JV go for 30, Embiid has an epic debut, but it was Anthony Davis who takes home the best line of the openers thus far, going an absurd 50/16/5/7/4! I mean, it could literally be the best line of the season… Double rainbow, 7 steals?!, shot 17-34, and hit 16-17 FT. After taking a little flack keeping him #1 last year, Brow started the 15-16 season going 18/6/2/0/3 shooting 4-20 (420!) and 10-15 FT. Dude, apparently the Pelicans medical staff – in all of their immense glory and wisdom – should’ve taken a hammer to his ankle before last season! Hard to believe a mere 1.5 weeks ago his status for the opener was in question off a kankle, but we’re seeing the ups and downs of what it’ll be like to be a Brow owner. Especially the dread of seeing him play 41 minutes in a loss… I nabbed him in one league, and might try some preposterous sell highs. But the allure of lines like that are tough to ignore. We just all know we’re one horrific Pels medical staff decision away from this happening to him walking out of the training room. Here’s what else happened on our first major slate of NBA games of the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry reacts after a turnover in the second half against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Barclays Center in New York City on April 27, 2014. The Raptors defeated the Nets 87-79 and tied the series at 2-2. UPI/John Angelillo

Draft season is now truly upon us with all sites having listed their official rankings for the fanatics, but how accurate those rankings are will well and truly depend on the structure of your league. One of the many attractions to the fantasy sport of basketball is the many different strategies that can play out, and of course the variety of settings and types of leagues that can be afforded to those that take the time to be commissioner of one of our favorite past times.

One of the big minefields that I spend scrupulous hours changing my ranks is trying to balance the variety of categories. The biggest minefield for me is turnovers.

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Lady and Gents!  The time is here!  Time for me to expose myself to the ridicule of the internet by laying out my somewhat conservatively outrageous predictions for the 2016-2017 NBA season! All positive input would be greatly appreciated.  All disagreements will result in heated comment debates with no one actually being right, since the season hasn’t even started yet…

Last preseason, I had some solid predictions that were quite controversial!  Namely, that Isaiah Thomas would break out, and that Greg Monroe would be a complete bust.  Ironically, the uncontested predictions were the ones that didn’t fare so well… Primarily due to injury, but what can you do about that?  Clearly, nothing, if you’re the Pelicans medical staff that is.

A little note before hand, my bold predictions will be made relative to the fantasy pros consensus projections.

Lets get this party rockin!

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Feb 8, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) smiles on the court in the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Oklahoma City won 122- 106. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

I apologize for the click-bait title right away. However, the sentiment is correct, since Westbrook will go too high to be drafted by the savvy fantasy owner.

“Why is this??” You ask incredulously. Good question! I’ll tell you!

I absolutely love Westbrook in real life. He plays with a passion that rivals the likes of Bryant, Iverson, the original Isaiah Thomas, and many other greats. However, he will kill your fantasy team. I’m sure you can already guess why, but hear me out.

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Ahhh, the early mid-rounds. This is where you can really start zagging when owners want you to zig, or zig when they wanna zag, or just be a total Zags homer and draft Adam Morrison for the hell of it! Stupid Jordan picks…

So here we start vaulting into some of the bolder calls, where hopefully you don’t say “stupid JB picks”… I finally start going an island with a few calls, particularly some saucy PF-types. Choo choo! “Know what I’m SAYIN’!!!” Uh oh, I am starting to go delirious with the rankings already… I feel like Russell Crowe in that forest outhouse with magazine clippings everywhere. “What did Oladipo say in Slam Magazine about playing with Westbrook?!” Enough foreplay! You can check out the Top-10 and Top-25 though some clickage right there, and here’s the Top 50 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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2016-17 is so close, we can taste it!  Well, it’s not that close…  The season is gonna have a very pungent taste!

Speaking of pungent taste, you can take a look at how our ranks went last year.  Yeesh!  Here’s to turning over a new leaf, a fresh start, and well, screw you Kevin Durant!  My top-4 from the Way too Early Ranks were locked in, set in stone, easy-peezy…  Then you had to go ruin it!  I officially mirror all of Reggie Miller’s thoughts on him moving to Golden State.  Took a Golden State all over my ranks, that’s for sure!

Enough links, let’s get down to business!  As we do every year, our ranks will be put together in one master post that will include Slim’s 9-cat and MPG projections.  Plus be sure to listen and subscribe to the Razzball Basketball Podcast, where we will argue over these ranks incessantly.  Patrick Patterson top 50!  Here’s the Top 10 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Finally, we’ve got some action to break down on the court! And what better venue than the Summer League, where raw NBA rooks and sophs go to strut their stuff and get fantasy basketballers needlessly excited. Remember all the Mario Hezonja hype last Summer League?! Hopefully I did pretty well to quash that! Wow, surprised I was right that “quash” was a word… I thought people were just saying squash too fast!

But one guy I definitely don’t want to squash/quash is second-year PG Cameron Payne. We were pretty big on this guy coming out of the draft last year, and he really surprised as a rookie overtaking D.J. Augustin as the backup to Russell Westbrook by going 14.6/4.4/5.6/1.9/0.3 in per-36 during 2015-16, with only 2.3 TO. He didn’t shoot particularly well (41%), but a lot of that was due to nearly 40% of his shots being treys. In his one start of 2015-16, he went 17/3/7 against the Spurs who shockingly weren’t resting anyone.

In the Orlando Summer League which wrapped a couple days ago, Payne led the league in scoring at 18.8 Pts a game, averaging 4 AST to only 2.5 TO. Not huge in the AST total, but that’s a ton of usage for a very few giveaways. The deep ball was still a little meh only going 4-14 from the perimeter, but he did have a 14-14 FT game in there. The Thunder squad (or quad, maybe?) went 4-0 in the games he played, and Payne looks primed for a bigger role with OKC.

With all the talk on Russell Westbrook being shopped (and even if he isn’t traded pre-season, a deadline deal would be very likely), a lot of focus has been on what newly acquired Victor Oladipo could do. No Westbrook and no other big-time creators would obviously be big for RainbOladipo. But lost in that noise is what it would mean for Cameron Payne. I think he’d all but certainly shift into the starting line-up (or at least near-starting minutes, if they still wanted to start Andre Roberson), and give a nice low-TO line with a handful of dimes and steals. The FG% might be lacking, but he would become a top-80ish asset in my mind. So while visions of sugarplums and rainbow lines for Oladipo might cloud your Christmas Eve dreams if Westy is traded, don’t forget about the huge opportunity it would give Major Payne. Here’s what else has caught my eye thus far during 2016’s Summer Ball:

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