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In 2016, there were six teams that did not have a 20 ppg scorer: Pistons, Hawks, Magic, Nuggets, Mavs, and Lakers. The Pistons’ leading scorer was Tobias Harris at 16.1 ppg. The Magic had Evan Fournier at 17.2 ppg, while the rest of the teams had a leading scorer at 18ppg or higher. The Bad Boy Pistons of the late-80s proved that you don’t need a 20 ppg scorer to win a championship, but even those teams had two players in the 18 ppg range, Isiah Thomas and Adrian Dantley. If you were wondering, Joe Dumars was at 17.2. Anyways, I have a friend in Japan that makes fly-like drones with audio equipment embedded inside. We were able to place a few in the Pistons War Room during this year’s NBA Draft. Here are some of the snippets that we gathered. SVG (Stan Van Gundy): I’m a great defensive coach. Look, we were ranked seventh in points allowed, fourth in steals, and sixth in blocks. We need more offense gentlemen! 22nd in field goal percentage, 27th in three-pointers made, and 26th in points scored is not going to cut it! JB (Jeff Bower): Calm down Stan. I know you’re a great defensive coach because…well…I hired you. We will get you offense. SCOUT: Mr. Bower and Mr. Van Gundy. We as a scouting group are in love with Donovan Mitchell. He’s a great athlete, will help us on D, and can shoot the heck out of the ball. SVG: God damn it!!! Didn’t you hear what I said earlier??!! I am a great defensive coach and we were awesome on D last season! We need offense! SCOUT: But…but….but…Mitchell is. SVG: Get these clowns out of here! Why are you studdering mother bleep bleep bleeeeeeeep! I like this Luke Kennard kid. Exactly the kind of player we need. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2016 Detroit Pistons.

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Oh man, the jet lag is real!  Sorry for the later daily notes again this morning, I’m in sunny Florida but couldn’t get my ass up in the morning!  Still on LA time!  And you could probably say the same for those lousy Chicago Bulls these days, they were sleepwalking in Orlando.  The walking of the Bulls!  Doesn’t have the same ring as running of the Bulls…  But they looked old last night, even on only 1 hour difference, and no one covered Elfrid while owning from the Shelfrid!  20/14/14/2/2 last night, in an epic rainbow tripdub from Elfrid Payton.  As voluptuous as his hair!  He’s been unreal the past week going 16.3/10.0/8.8/1.5/0.8 hitting 66% from the field.  Of course it’s just a hot streak, and in the daily notes I’ve been really apprehensive the minutes/production would go back down, but things be hot hot hot in Orlando!  But one thing that occurred to me is Nikola Vucevic went down 4 games ago, and these last 3 games have been without Vucci Mane and his USG-whoreness down low.  Replace him with Bismack Biyombo down low, and you need a lot more playmaking elsewhere.  So while yet another season of SKIIIIIIIIIILES!!! residue and inconsistency for Elfrid has me hesitant to push for him yet again in 17-18, if they move on from Vuc and keep more-or-less this same core, I’ll be buying right back in and getting him on my Shelfrid on 17-18 teams.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Uggghhhhhhh. I hate when the intro has to be about a bad injury, but alas, tis what tits with fantasy sports. After playing pretty well against the Pacers last night (21/4/0/2/1 in 28 minutes), Rudy Gay went down in the third quarter and had to be carried off the court, with tests indicating he tore his Achilles. He’s had issues with that Achilles in the past with a partial debridement, but it gave out at absolutely the worst time. Yeah, maybe he didn’t handle wanting to get out of Sacramento the most gracefully (who WOULD want to play there?!), but at least he showed up, ya dig?! Now he has to stick it out while rehabbing, this was going into a contract year… It just sucks. I’ve never been the “biggest” Gay fan, but I’ll be rooting for his rehab and hopefully he can be vintage Gay a few more years on a new squad.

In the meantime, it opens up a ton of wing minutes in SAC. Arron Afflalo of DNP-ville got 31 minutes last night, aided by Garrett Temple having to play backup PG because Ty Lawson is nursing a kankle. A R Ron! went for 11/1/1/0/1 in his usual snoozefest line, with Temple going 9/4/3/0/0 with a trey. Yikes. Matt Barnes might move back into the starting 5, but he’s hit-or-miss, depending on how drunk he is at the night club. Hey oh! 7/4/4 for Barnes in 20 minutes, and Ben McLemore only got 4 minutes this game. It’s a real trainwreck without Gay, and I don’t see any sort of clear answer on this team to fill in the void. So you’re likely looking elsewhere on the wire for Gay’s scoring, and hopefully you sold high after a red hot start through the first stretch of the season. Get well soon, Rudy! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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We did it! YES WE CAN!! Make rankings great again! Oh man, I’m ready for election season to be over… But I’m even more ready to have my top 200 out into the world!

So I don’t really have a sound philosophy for these final ranks… We do all of our rankings for 12-team, 9-cat H2H, since that’s how we play our Razzball Commenter Leagues. Shameless promo time! We need more RCL Players out there in Razzball Nation! Just follow that link and either start up or join an open league today! Anywho, in a 12-team RCL league (13 roster spots), you’re only drafting 156 players, so most of these ranks are guys you’re not drafting. Do I rank guys all as sleepers for your final pick? I’m not sure that really helps anyone. So the final ranks here are a blend of sleeper potential, and possible last-roster-spot-usability for a specific build. Is Arron Afflalo REALLY going to be your last pick? Meh, probably not, but maybe he has a hot month and it could be the first month! You never know… If you’re still catching up, check out all our ranks in the Top-10, Top-25, Top-50, Top-75, Top-100 & Top 150 which you can also find linked above in the 2016-17 Ranks menu. Here’s our final big rankings post, the Top 200 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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Lob City was alive in well in Houston on Wednesday. Chris Paul was throwing DeAndre Jordan alley-oops left and right. By halftime, Paul already had 11 assists. He finished the blowout with 15 points and 16 assists, while Jordan added 23 points and 16 rebounds. Jordan even shot over 50% from the FT line (7-13 FT, but not by much!). J.J. Redick also knocked down 5-9 from the 3PT line to finish with 25 points. It was all Clippers from the beginning and the Rockets just couldn’t find an answer.

James Harden did his usual thing, trying to carry the disappointing Rockets, but it wasn’t enough. He finished with 33 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. Big men Dwight Howard (6 points, 7 rebounds) and Clint Capela (3 points, 3 rebounds) were rendered useless against Jordan. The only other bright spots for the Rockets were Trevor Ariza (16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 threes) and newly acquired forward, Michael Beasley, who scored 16 points and grabbed 8 rebounds off the bench. Coming over from China, Beasley makes a good waiver wire add for all teams.

The Rockets started the season with lofty expectations, but are currently tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the 7th playoff spot. If they finish 7th or 8th, they’ll end up playing the San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors in the first round of playoffs, something that nobody wants to do.

The Warriors, by the way, won their 50th straight game at home on Wednesday, dismantling the New York Knicks by 36. Stephen Curry hit 8 threes and scored 34 points (6 rebounds and 4 assists), before sitting out the 4th quarter of the blowout.

I don’t think anyone saw the Warriors playing on an historic level or the Rockets playing this poorly at the beginning of the season, but that’s why you play the game!

Now onto the other nightly notables:

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You’d think a team decimated by injuries would throw in the towel. Not the case with the Bulls. Already missing Jimmy Butler (left knee strain), Nikola Mirotic (appendicitis), and Joakim Noah (shoulder surgery), Derrick Rose was a last-minute scratch due to right hamstring tendinitis. The Bulls won anyways, their third straight victory.

Playing alongside a makeshift lineup, Pau Gasol played through the flu, just missing a triple-double with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists. While it wasn’t Michael Jordan’s flu game, it was a still a pretty strong line.

Even with the Bulls’ starters ailing, there is value to be had on the roster. Under-owned guys like Taj Gibson (17/7/7), E’Twaun Moore (17 points and 3 rebounds), and Doug McDermott (14/5/2), can and should be relied upon down the stretch for both the Bulls and your fantasy teams. McBuckets also had the dunk of the night.

They won’t win you a championship on their own, but don’t overlook lesser named (and owned) guys during your playoff push.

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With any All-Star list, it’s impossible to include everyone who is having a great year. There are only 12 roster spots and there will always be well-deserving candidates that just don’t fit on the roster. It’s what makes the All-Star selection so noteworthy.

With the All-Star Game this weekend, here is my list of valuable fantasy all-stars who just don’t receive as much love:

Eastern Conference:

Kemba Walker – The Hornets are right in the hunt for the 8th playoff seed in the east and that’s due to the play of Walker. Al Jefferson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (more on him later) have missed most of the season, while Nicolas Batum (11/6/5) has been in and out of the lineup. Walker produces night in and night out with whoever is playing alongside him. Walker scored 25 points with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals to lead the Hornets to another victory.

Nikola Vucevic – Vucci Mane has been the cornerstone of the Magic and has single-handedly won the game for them with a few recent game-winners. He did much of the same on Wednesday with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. He’s only 25 so there’s still time for him to make the roster one of these years.

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Full disclosure – the entirety of this post was written before Sunday afternoon. I know that either A – I would be too drunk to try to finish this if the Panthers win the Super Bowl, and my writing would be as incoherent as the screenplay of Southland Tales. Although to be fair, I actually kinda liked that movie! It was a mess; but a weird mess! A little JT before he went full movie star! And Amy Poehler before she, ummmm, fired her agent. And Cheri Oteri! Before she, ummmmm, was never heard from again. Or B – I would be too depressed to write anything about basketball.

As we chug along into the All-Star Break, one train is certainly doing the Ozzy Crazy Train right now! Gorgui Dieng just tore apart the Bulls, going 24/14/7/0/1 in 41 minutes, hitting 10-13 FG and 4-4 FT. And you’ve been benching this guy for Kevin fuc$*$*$&#*#*$$ing Garnett!? Even Ricky Rubio is like, “wait, he got more assists than even MI last game!? Ay dios mio!” The Dieng Train is on an absolute tear the past 7 games, and Coach Sam Mitchell said “he might be willing to find out” if Dieng can play 40 minutes a night. Hey Mitchell, I might be willing to bitchslap you if you play KG at the starting 4 again! I might go so far as saying Dieng is a top-50 option ROS, which is as disheartening as it gets as I own him nowhere. I was late for the Train! The conductor was like “All Aboard!” and I was like, “F that, Mitchell isn’t playing him enough!” Kudos to you if you hopped aboard anyway right before this run. Here’s what else went down over the weekend, plus the 14 [kinda] Ahead for Week 16:

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So injury-prone guys certainly get a stigmata.  Wait, I mean stigma.  Well, if you got a stigmata, it certainly would make you injured!

But I’ve been as guilty as anyone of really depressing Anthony Davis‘ value due to his injury issues yet again this year.  Boy needs to put some meat on dem bones!  Brow tried to lead the Pels to a win last night, going 39/11/0/1/1 on 16-25 shooting.  But you gotta make your free throws!  7-12 at the stripe, and the awful, no good, very bad Pelicans lost to the even worse Lakers.  At home!  Oh man, I’d be binge-eating some beignets, that’s for sure!  Even with a rocky start, Brow is 4th in per-game numbers this year, and I think some of the “shut down” concern should be alleviated.  Of course if he gets a nagging injury in late-March it’ll happen, so maybe we should keep him out of the top-10 discussion ROS.  Oh no, I’m doing it again!  Guilty is me!  Brow should still probably be a top-5 option, especially with getting me a point on the 30-point challenge board!  I would link it, but I’m lazy and haven’t updated it yet…  [update – let’s do this 30-Point Board, comeback is nigh!]  And to be honest, I’m just grinding through today to get pumped for the Super Bowl weekend!  I’m wearing my NFC champ shirt today, but might wear my “Smart” jersey all weekend for luck.  Let’s do this Carolina!  And let’s do this, rest of the daily notes!

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