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Even though I’m a Lakers fan, I’ve always had an odd fascination with the Trail Blazers. Is it the logo? If you look at it long enough it starts to spin, move, and slowly suck you in. Is it the fact that they drafted Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan? You know when you drive by someone that got into an accident? Is that from a state of concern or morbid curiosity? I think those two things had something to do with it, but it’s the 1999 “Jail Blazers” that always fascinated me. The Lakers beat them that year in the Western Conference Finals, but that team was so stacked and truly had a DGAF attitude. Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon from UNLV. Brian Grant. A young Jermaine O’Neal. Scottie Pippen, granted the expired version but still drinkable. Arvydas Sabonis. Really wished he had come to the states in his prime. He was Jokic before Jokic. Detlef Schrempf and Steve Smith. Deadly shooters. Damon Stoudamire aka Mighty Mouse. Rasheed Wallace was unguardable. The height extension he got on his shot made it unblockable. Bonzi Wells. So strong, both mentally and physically. A straight bull in a china shop. I loved how they never backed down and were tough as shit. They smoked weed. Seriously, what’s wrong with that? When I smoked weed, the basket looked like it was 10 feet wide. Isn’t that a good thing? The worst thing I did on weed was buy too many twinkies. Anyways, I apologize for that trip down memory lane. Both myself and the Trail Blazers have come a long way since those days.

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The most exciting part of the evening, was clearly the debut of the Pelicans shiny new front court. While the Pels did get overwhelmed by the Rockets shooting, the chemistry was obviously there with the New Orleans big men. I would say though, that they’re both a bit tentative, and that will change as they get more comfortable and assertive. I am not scared to say though, that this is possibly the greatest PF/C duo in NBA history. Up there with McHale and Parrish, and Duncan and Robinson. Both bigs have absurd skillsets. I think the key for the Pelicans will be the play of Jrue Holiday, and how involved in the offense he is. Tonight, he was locked down by Beverly, but more slashing in the pick and roll should really help him. I could see his efficiency being extremely high, given the opposite player in the pick and roll.

At any rate, here’s your recap for most of Thursday night! Thank goodness the break is over…

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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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As we prepare for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season, I’ll be taking a look at each NBA team with their major adds and drops to see if we can pan for any surprise rotational gold.  This open is especially witty for the Nuggets…  We’ll be counting down from worst NBA regular season to the best, mainly because I’m still figuring out how to rank the Warriors…

Orlando Magic (35-47)

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Key Acquisitions:

F Serge Ibaka

C Bismack Biyombo

F Jeff Green

G D.J. Augstin

F/C Arinze Onuaku

G C.J. Wilcox

Key Losses:

G Victor Oladipo

F Ersan Ilyasova

G Brandon Jennings

F Andrew Nicholson

C Dewayne Dedmon

C Jason Smith

G Shabazz Napier

SKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILES!

Wooooo, get this Skiles fool out of here!  We get to turn the page on this franchise, and finally get some fantasy excitement going – – only to have them then hoard big men like they’re the Sixers.  There’s only ONE PF and ONE C spot, Orlando!

A lot of the Magic’s turnover happened around the trade deadline last year, and some “key losses” were only in Florida for a hot, swampy minute.  It’s hard to say if they really got any better or worse – losing Oladipo hurts anyone – but I’m excited to see what new frontman Frank Vogel can get out of the band.  Here’s how their roster is shaping up:

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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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Much has been written about Jimmy Butler and Bulls lately. Butler publicly criticized head coach Fred Hoiberg saying that the team needed to be coached harder. Reports then came out that there is growing tension in the locker room between Butler and his teammates. With Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose taking back seat roles this season, there are questions around Butler’s leadership. Just because he is paid well, doesn’t mean he’s the leader.

Leader or not, Butler willed the Bulls to victory over the Pacers in overtime. He scored 7 points in the final minute to force OT, before knocking down the game winner on an alley-oop tip in with 1.2 seconds remaining. The Pacers tried an alley-oop of their own on the ensuing inbounds, but Butler defended Paul George on the lob to preserve the Bulls’ win.

For the game, Butler finished with 28 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. This was a much needed game for Butler, as Rose was a game time scratch with right hamstring tendinitis. As long as Butler is producing, owners shouldn’t worry about the drama surrounding the team. These things usually get blown out of proportion when teams are playing below expectations.

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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:

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Who knows, maybe devoting his soul to the lord of the Sith is what got Hassan Whiteside to where’s he’s at!

Absolutely terrible flagrant-2 last night to the back of Kelly Olynyk, hit-sticking him into the cameramen.  L3, L3!  Friend of the Podcast Mike Gallagher from Rotoworld tweeted out a great vine showing the hit from two angles, and I think that’s maybe a judo elbow he learned from Tekken.  On top of his lingering kankle issues, now we have to assume a game or two out via suspension.  Certainly doesn’t helped he tackled Alex Len a few games ago, with Whiteside’s flagrants turning into an MMA reel.  As Slim and I mentioned on the Pod, Whiteside throws his body around willy-nilly and it’s starting to catch up with him with the physical play from oppos.  Gotta control those emotions, young padawan!  “Concentrate!”  Just has to get the last few mental things together to be an elite NBA big.  Can you do that, Hassan?!  “I’ll try.”  “No!  There is no try!  Do.  Or do not.”  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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So the Daily Notes usually focuses on a short-term look at the past (i.e. the games yesterday!), but we’re going to do something a little different today in the open.

With week 20 abreast (so underused!), in standard H2H scheduling it’s the final week of the regular season.  In other leagues it’s the first week of the playoffs or nearing the end in Roto, so any way you slice it, it’s the most important week so far, OK?!

And in this most important week, those ridiculous New York Poppycockers have five games.  Five!  So all of their not-must-ownable schlubs suddenly have the appeal of Elisabeth Shue in The Saint.  Mmmmmmm!

A quick comparison – Langston Galloway since the break (aka Carmelo Anthony shutdown) is 10.8/5.0/2.5/1.3/0.4 with 1.3 3PTM and 1.4 TO.  So lets compare that, with say, Bradley Beal.  His 14.9/3.8/3.0/1.3/0.3 is a smidge stronger with 1.7 3PTM and 1.9 TO, and Beal is a much, much better player.  But his 3 game week you’d get roughly 45/11/9/4/1 with 5 3s and 6 TO, compared to The Harlem Renaissance for 54/25/20/7/2 with 7 treys and 7 TO.  In weekly leagues, these horrible Knicks deserve a long hard look.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Louis Amundson are both questionable with back spasms tonight, so a little risky there.  Shane Larkin, Alexey Shved, and Cole Aldrich make interesting streamer options though.  And there’s of course Il Diva still out there in 68% of leagues.  Andrea Bargnani is tough to ignore, even in the shallowers.  Plus I can link this for the third time in the past week or two.  “I’m a peacock, Captain, you gotta let me fly!”  Here’s what went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action:

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First thing I want to talk about is site player pricing.  I get aggravated when sites tighten player salaries and then they loosen them up.  Just pick one way or the other. I think being consistent is important and that goes for all the sports that the site offers.  If a site wants to be the next Draft Street and have sharp player salaries, that’s fine.  For example, if the guy doing or looking over the player salaries might be a basketball guy and the salaries are sharper for basketball than other sports.  That’s not the way it should be.  Sites that have consistent player salaries will only help grow the DFS industry moving forward.

We have a 7 game slate on tap for Saturday night.  Couple things I want to bring to your attention.  Atlanta plays Philly after a tough game against Cleveland on Friday night.  Wouldn’t surprise me to see Mike Budenholzer sit some players.  The Heat have some major injury issues.  Be sure to check if Dragic, Chalmers, Deng and Wade are playing.  If any of them sit it could really open up some value.

Disclaimer: James Harden, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Demarcus Cousins should always be considered.

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