Wow, how good is Russell Westbrook? Two nights after dropping 40 points and 14 assists against the Grizzlies, Westbrook scored 43 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds on Wednesday. The Thunder controlled the game, but never really put the game out of reach for the injury-riddled Pelicans. Whenever the Thunder needed a basket, Westbrook had no problem getting to the hoop or finding the open man. My only knock on Westbrook’s game is the turnovers, but when you’re posting near triple doubles every night, you’re allowed to turn the ball over as much as he does.

Now his stats are inflated a little because Kevin Durant has been sitting with a hamstring injury, but Westbrook is still a top 10 talent even with Durant in the lineup. Should Durant leave the Thunder next season (to go to, say, the Wizards!!!), Westbrook would enter my top three, along with Steph Curry and Anthony Davis.

Now onto the other notables from Wednesday night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

How do you decide who is most deserving of the lead between these two stellar performances?:

  • Player A – 25 points, 18 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 10-15 FGs
  • Player B – 22 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks, 10-14 FGs

I’m going to give the nod to the player who posted his gaudy stats in a winning effort and that would be Player A, also known as Detroit center, Andre Drummond. The Pistons asked a lot from their franchise big man, and he responded with 39 minutes of terrific play that helped lead his team to a win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. Drummond was a +17 in a five point win, and even made the Cavs pay when they intentionally fouled him in the fourth quarter. After starting 1-4 from the line, AD made four of his last five to help seal the deal. It was a great overall performance and at this point the only thing fantasy owners need to fear is this heavy workload catching up to him later in the season. But at only 22 years old, there’s no reason why Drummond can’t make 2015-2016 his career campaign.

Player B is Miami Heat center, Hassan Whiteside. In just his 77th career game, Whiteside treated fantasy owners to his second points/boards/blocks triple-double. Unfortunately it was in a losing effort to the visiting Timberwolves, and was accompanied by four turnovers and a 2-9 mark from the charity stripe. Despite the sub-par free throw shooting (which was a bugaboo coming into the season), Hassan is providing first round returns and very likely earning himself a max contract when he hits free agency in the summer of 2016. Similar to Andre Drummond, there are no legitimate threats to Whiteside’s value other than injury, so it’s a “sit back and enjoy the ride” opportunity for his owners.

Honorable mention goes to Brooklyn’s pivot, Brook Lopez, who wasn’t too shabby himself on Tuesday night, dropping a 24/10/1/1/3 line in a two point win over the visiting Hawks. BroLo only turned the ball over once in 35 minutes and made 11-21 from the floor against a reasonably stout Atlanta front line. He may not be posting the monster lines like Whiteside and Drummond, but he’s chugging along as a third round per-game value in 9-cat leagues which is likely providing his owners with a solid return on their draft day investment.

Let’s take a look at what else shook down on a highly entertaining seven-game Tuesday evening…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Maybe he didn’t call glass on his clutch three with 1:05 left in the 4th, but when you’re Dirk Nowitzki, a future hall of famer, who cares? I know fantasy owners don’t care whether it was a swish or a banked in three. All we care about are the final stats. And, boy, did Dirk deliver.

Down one going into the second half, Dirk took over for the Mavericks, leading them to a 10-point win against the Clippers. Dirk finished the game with 31 points and 11 rebounds on 11-14 shooting, including 5-6 from downtown. It was vintage Dirk.

Midway through the 3rd quarter he caught a Zaza Pachulia pass off of an offensive rebound and without squaring up, knocked down an one foot fade away jumper without hesitation. He knocked down threes with DeAndre Jordan in his grill. It was truly a great game.

As a fan of the game, it’s amazing to watch games like this, but as a fantasy owner, you have to realize that these games aren’t as common for the 37 year-old as they used to be. It was Dirk’s first 30-point game since December 28, 2014. In his 18th year in the NBA, Dirk is still a top 50 player when he plays, but just be aware his minutes are monitored more closely and he sits on back to backs, hurting his total overall value.

Now onto the other nightly notables:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Well, that was a bit of a bloodbath.

On what should have been a relatively quiet evening in the NBA, there sure wound up being a lot of noise. And not a lot of it was good noise. For a lot of fantasy owners, Tuesday probably sounded a bit like this.

Mid-game injuries, late-breaking inactives, and low minutes due to a few blowouts seemed to be the consistent narrative of the night.

We’ll get to all that depressing stuff, but let’s start out on a high note – Mo Williams had himself a game. On nearly perfect shooting (8-9 FGs, 9-10 FTs, 4-4 from 3-point range), Mo helped the Cavaliers slip past the Utah Jazz 118-114 in the best game of the night. In addition to the stellar percentages, Williams chipped in six boards, six dimes, and stole the ball twice just for funzies. Five turnovers took a bit of shine off an otherwise brilliant outing, but this still goes down as one of the top fantasy lines of the evening. Mo Williams will continue to be a must-start player until Kyrie Irving comes back, and common sense would suggest that if Mo keeps balling at a high level and the Cavs keep winning, there’s no reason to rush Kyrie back anytime soon. So it’s a bit of a snowball effect in that the immediate returns are great, but they’re also likely to help extend Mo’s opportunity for a 30+ MPG role on a title contending team. People waiting on Irving to return won’t enjoy hearing that, but it’s championship-or-bust in Cleveland, so Kyrie isn’t coming back with health a single percentage point below 100.

Not to be outdone, LeBron James had himself a phenomenal fourth quarter, scoring 17 points (6-8 FGs), 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal as the Cavs scored 38 points in the final frame against one heck of a good defensive team. LBJ finished the game with 31/7/8/2/0 and dropped in a three pointer. He matched Mo Will’s five giveaways and missed four of his 12 freebies, but for all intents and purposes this was a win for LeBron owners as he made it out of the game healthy after soldiering through an owwy on his thigh.

Let’s get on to the rest of the notables…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This fantasy team you’ve assembled is still settling into place, like the foundation of a new building. As someone who knows nothing whatsoever about construction beyond my adventures in Ikea assembly, it stands to reason that if the foundation isn’t sound, if the footprint is comprised of poorly poured concrete, the building won’t stand. Or maybe it will, I haven’t the foggiest clue. But in terms of your squad, I proudly assert that I am marginally less out of my element. Look at it this way: we all need to take these early weeks as seriously as the later ones, particularly for securing those cumulative stat categories, if we wish to compete for a championship, right? So I say, perhaps recklessly, that even entering week 3, improving your foundation should be everyone’s goal, particularly those employed in the concrete business. Check out these cornerstones I’ve poorly stuck into this analogy:

Please, blog, may I have some more?





The list of superlatives that can be applied to Andre Drummond is a long one. The Pistons big man went berserk on Tuesday night with his second straight 20/20 game. To be precise, he went for 25 & 29 – the second 25/25 of his career. For perspective on just how good he’s been so far this season:

  • Only player since NBA/ABA merger to have 75 points and 75 rebounds through his first four games
  • First player since Kareem with multiple 20/20 games in his first four games
  • No other Piston has had a single 25/25 game in the last 30 years

Drummond had 11 offensive rebounds tonight which was more than any other player had in this game…combined. If the points and boards weren’t enough, he also tossed in three steals and a block for good measure.

The one knock on AD has always been (and will continue to be) his poor free throw shooting. At .403 FT% for his career, it’s quite the albatross. But this season – early as it may be – Drummond is up to .576 (19-33), making owners who thought they were punting the category feel pretty darn good about their chances across the board.

The stars seem to have aligned for Andre to post a truly special season. Lane-clogging Greg Monroe is gone. Stan Van Gundy isn’t afraid to play his starters heavy minutes and the team is winning (i.e. rewarding this approach). A summer of work with a shooting coach is paying immediate dividends at the foul line. At this point, the only thing that could conceivably derail this train is injury…and Drummond has only missed one game in the last two years, so there are no concerns about chronic or lingering ailments.

Now on to the rest of the happenings from an eventful Tuesday night of round ball…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m pretty sure Stephen Curry looks at fantasy ADPs.  He’s like, “I’m not a runaway consensus #1, and this labradoodle Brow IS?!”

Of course I started writing this open when Anthony Davis was 1-16, then he got red hot AND MADE TWO IN A ROW!  Somebody cool him off, he’s NBA Jam on fire!  Brow was more uncomfortable with the ball in his hands than watching Scary Movie 2 with your parents last night, wrapping up with a 4-20 FG outing.  Might be the worst reference to 420 I’ve ever seen!  10-15 FT helped salvage some points – and he got his 3 swats – but 18/6/2/0/3 with 5 TO and a deathstroke to your FG% is not what the #1 pick ordered.  Curry on the other hand treated New Orleans like Hurricane Katrina!  Too rough?  Fine, then he treated them like BP…   Yikes, Nawleans has had a rough ride.  Then their NBA team has everyone get hurt!  Steph just straight whipped it out (I mean his MVP trophy!) and pummeled the Pelicans and their awful PG for 40/6/7/2/0 on 14-26 FG (5-12 3PTM 7-7 FT).  Hey, it’s opening night, and the Warriors are phenomenal at disrupting big men.  And the Pelicans had all their PG minutes played by guys on the street a week ago.  Hopefully you own Curry in a league or two, and I’m literally about to spam Brow owners as hard as LinkedIn emails.  Seriously, I don’t care if some recruiter looked at my profile, I don’t need an email on that ish!  No, no, blurb on Ish Smith is later…  What an awful Pelicans team…  Here’s what else went down on NBA’s opening night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So I think I used that title a couple of years ago in the season intro post, did something similar last year, and was thinking of something new this season…  But F it!  I’m too excited, IT ALL STARTS HERE BABY!

The 2015-16 season starts tonight, with the Pistons going at the Hawks, Pelicans going at the champ Warriors, and the bigun – Cavs at Bulls.  A very nice slate to kick it off, but I wanted Nets at 76ers!  That’s a premiere matchup right there!  All of our hopes and dreams for the year start this evening (hyperbole police are after me!), with my optimism for an REL title, everyone’s yearning for the RCL title, and my year-long nervousness my ranks look good in April.  Would it be narcissistic if I win the RCL title to put myself in the RCL hall of fame?!  It would be like Heisman awarding himself the first Heisman!  Or something like that…  I’m all talk though, we all know Slim is going to be in the top-10 yet again with me lower on the master table in disdain…

If you missed it yesterday afternoon, our 15-16 lineup features several awesome new writers and you can check out our weekly schedule of content for the season.  The size of that hyperlink mimics my excitement for our articles this year!  Trust me, I’m not compensating for something…

And I’d like to thank all of you out there in Razzball Nation for bringing legitimacy to the phrase/cliche I’ve used on the kickoff post for three straight years: 15-16 is going to be our biggest year yet!  We’ve grown a ton, and I couldn’t be more thankful to you readers and commenters.  Can’t wait for opening tip…  LET’S GET THIS GOIN’!  Here’s a few thoughts on the opening night matchups:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.

(Yep, I just dropped a Chinese proverb, so y’all know this article is about to go next level…)

I’ve always found it fun to read – and write – some of the more unconventional or against-the-grain prognostications for the upcoming fantasy basketball season, and it can be a gas to revisit them at various points throughout the year to see if they’re gaining any traction or skidding wildly off the road. It probably goes without saying, but the bolder (see: nuttier) the prediction, the less likely it is to bear fruit. So the intent here is to provide an unpopular – but not unrealistic – take on a player that may actually help you during your fantasy draft. You’re likely to disagree with most (they’d be the consensus if you didn’t) but if I can hit on one akin to last year’s “take a late-round swing at Rudy Gobert and hold him until starter minutes come available,” it can be a season defining gamble. So pick your favorite(s) and let’s go diving for pearls together! (Man, that is without a doubt the least cool analogy I’ve ever come up with. But it’s a call-back to the opening line which I thought was kinda clever, so I’m gonna own it.)

Prepare the hot takes cannon as we fire off 30 bold fantasy basketball predictions (one for each NBA team) for the 2015/2016 season:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yikes.  After an injury-plagued 14-15 season where virtually every starter missed a good chunk of time, the injury bug hath reared it’s ugly head yet again for the Pelicans.  I need comfort!  Time to shame eat 50 beignets!

After Jrue Holiday‘s slow recovery from another stress reaction in his leg, the Pelicans plan to limit him to 15 minutes a game until January and sit him on back-to-backs.  Then Norris Cole suffered a high-ankle sprain a little over a week ago, and given an “up to 6 weeks” timetable.  And right when the Tyreke Evans buzz couldn’t get louder, we get hit with news on The Blindside (starring Sandra Bullock) that he had arthroscopic knee surgery and will be out 6-8 weeks.  The Pelicans need a new conditioning staff!  Hopefully this gets all the injuries out of the team’s system and we see 82 games of Brow…  Anyway, the Pelicans signed Nate Robinson late last week, and all the sudden he’s looking at starting minutes to open the season – starting when Jrue sits and playing a ton off the bench after Jrue’s 15 allotted minutes.  Lord help me, but I actually drafted him in the JB vs. Slim RCL last night…  All he needs to do is put it within 15 feet of Brow and he could fall into 5 assists with the upside for a few 3s and some points with low TO (18 Pts last night, but 0 AST and 4 TO – had 9 dimes previous 2 games with only 3 TO, TO isn’t usually an issue).  It’s like Jose Calderon, but with a few more minutes.  Ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little with that comp though…  Here’s what else has gone down over the past few days in preseason action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?