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I’ve had fun writing these team previews, so I’m sad that this will be the final one for this season. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the journey with me. Not all is poo poo, though, because it means the season starts tomorrow night! Yaaaaaassssssss! Any of you remember Voltron, Defender of the Universe? Five robot lions, that each had specialized skills and roles, would come together and form a super robot to protect the universe from evil? That’s what the Warriors are. Five players that can do damage individually, but go to a completely different level when playing with a collective consciousness. What if the response by the aliens to one of the SETI signals beamed out to outer space is: Game on, bitches! Putting all hate aside, the Warriors would be the squad we’d send, right? They are the NBA’s Voltron.

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One of my all-time favorite movies is Rounders. Matt Damon and Ed Norton talking all smooth and playing poker in cool-looking clubs with John Malkovich spouting repeatable lines in… sort of a Russian accent. Plus, there’s a great Counting Crows song during the credits that I’ve never been able to find anywhere. Anyway, Damon’s Mike McD is the relatively good boy, while Norton’s Worm is the slimier friend.

After Worm gets them beat up with all their cash stolen for having been caught cheating, the gloves come off in an overdue shouting match between the old friends.

Mike McDermott: What the F*** were you thinking?

Worm: I was trying to give us an edge… …I don’t think like that.

Mike McD: No, you don’t THINK!

Worm: No, I don’t think like YOU! You always think you can beat the game straight up. That’s not me. I told you, I’m always gonna look for that edge. Always.

As much as Mike is the better role model, if you’re picking from the two gambling addicts, in fantasy basketball you want to be like Worm. Even if you tried, you can’t cheat in most leagues, but you want to be the one thinking differently, finding your edge. Last week, I mentioned ways to make your league more engaging. From here on out, I’ll give you ways to get an edge in your league by using the numbers to your advantage. These next two weeks leading up to the season, we’ll talk drafting.

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Whoa, how weird is that?!  “2017-18 Fantasy Basketball”?!?!  Already?!  Well, as what typically happens with postseason fantasy hoops disappointments for me, I’m ready to again turn the page.  Gonna get nothing but titles next year, wooooo!  I’m gonna be like UCLA in the 60s-70s.  Plenty of white players on those teams, right LaVar Ball!?  Oh shizz, yeah let’s get straight to the inappropriate right off the bat for 2017-18!

As tradition, we’re kicking off our Way Too Early Ranks for 17-18 on the last day of the 16-17 season, passing the torch to next year on a hot handoff, but not hot enough to knock the baton out of someone’s hands.  Ish ain’t allowed!  Also, I should be disallowed from ranking Chandler Parsons, amiright?!  Thanks again to everyone reading through the season, and let’s get some early rankings on!  Here’s my Way Too Early Top 10 for the 2017-18 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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It’s been a while since the East has boasted a better division than the West, but even when you spot a lowly East team a big lead on a West team, nothing is safe!  Russell Westbrook just went insane (I would too if the Magic were beating my playoff bound team!) in the OKC comeback charge, turning around a 21-point deficit during the second half on his way to a 57/13/11/3/0 line.  He shot 21-40 from the field with 6 treys, just willing OKC to the W after this dramatic 3 to get it into OT.

Good thing Nikola Vucevic can’t hit his FT!  Westbrook took the missed freebie board, and no Magic was gonna stop him…  Take that, Voldemort!  It’s come to pass as just the norm, but at 31.8/10.6/10.4, it looks like Westbrook is going to easily average the tripdub, something I really didn’t think we’d ever see again.  Hopefully you built your team around his deficiencies fairly well, because man he’s tough to beat if you can slaughter the right cats.  Westy is your besty!  What an unbelievable season,  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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In a battle for real life playoff implications, Hassan Whiteside tipped in Goran Dragic’s missed putback to give the Heat a 97-96 win:

It was just the tip, but sometimes that’s all you need, as the Heat went up a game on the Bulls and 2.5 games ahead of the Pistons for the final playoff spot in the east. Whiteside finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Dragic added 28/4/4 on 9-16 shooting.

Oddly enough, it was the Heat’s first game-winning buzzer-beater since 2013, when a little known player by the name of LeBron James beat the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

With the playoffs in full swing, every game matters, so here are the rest of your nightly notables:

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The Bulls came into Toronto having beat the Raptors in 11 straight games. It took overtime, but the Raptors snapped the losing streak behind DeMar DeRozan’s 42 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. Double D shot 17-38 and helped erase a 16-point deficit in the 4th quarter to secure the win.

DeRozan battled all game against Jimmy Butler, who also went off for 37/10/6. Despite these two all-stars’ phenomenal performances, the game was overshadowed by the fight between Serge Ibaka (16 and 6) and Robin Lopez (12 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks):

Usually Lopez only fights mascots, but took exception to Ibaka’s shove in the back. Fortunately the guys were separated rather quickly, but the league will obviously review the fight and make a decision later on whether either player will be suspended any games. Personally, I’d expect both guys to miss at least one game, but hopefully it’s just a fine and they return for their teams’ next game.

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What a way to kick off the week!  Well, that is, if you own Rudy Gobert!  Monsieur Elbow says “No!”  And “Oui, I own l’paint!”  Absolutely monstrous 16/14/3/0/8 last night against the Pacers, hitting 7-12 from the field with only 1 TO.

So much swattage!  His 13 blocks the last 2 games now gives him a 13.2/12.8/1.2/0.7/2.6 slash on the year, hitting 65% from the field.  Oddly 65.5% from the stripe too!  Which isn’t good, but not a punt either.  BB Monster has him 20th overall in per game stats, and 12th in total.  Absolutely insane draft day value, but it really grinds my gears he’s doing this this year, and not in 2015-16!  Had him 11th and well above consensus, just one year too early – stupid FIBA wore him down.  Focus on the NBA, you Frenchy!  Oh shit, now he’s gonna hunt me with one of those elbows, NOOOOOO!!!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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It was the night of the triple-double. Perennial MVP candidates, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James, each notched a triple-double to lead their teams to victory.

Westbrook added 25 points, 19 assists, and 12 rebounds for his third straight triple-double, all of which are Thunder victories. It was Westbrook’s 33rd triple-double of the season, who remains just 8 shy of tying Oscar Robertson’s NBA record of 41 in a season.

For LeBron, he needed just 28 minutes to post 16/11/12 against the Pistons, a team he seems to dominate since his unforgettable 48-point performance in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals. He wouldn’t be denied and knocked over anything in his path, including teammate Kyrie Irving:

The Cavs were in a bit of a slump, losing 4 of 5, heading into their matchup with the Pistons. With the Cavs just 2.5 games up on the Celtics, hopefully James will finish the year on a tear. It was James’ 10th triple-double of the season and third in the last four games.

Now onto the rest of the nightly notables:

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The biggest news of the night comes from a guy who barely played at all. Less than 2 minutes into the game between Golden State and Washington, Warriors’ center Zaza Pachulia (12 points, 8 rebounds) fell into Kevin Durant’s left knee. KD walked away gingerly before heading to the bench and being whisked away into the locker room. Diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee, Durant did not return to the game.

Is this karma from the Basketball Gods for his comments about not wanting to come home to play for the Wizards? Kidding aside, this is terrible news to the Warriors, fans of the NBA, and fantasy owners. Hopefully KD’s injury isn’t long-term, but more will be known after examining the MRI results.

In the meantime, the Warriors wasted no time in reaching out to free agent Matt Barnes and are expected to sign him later this week. Released by the Kings after trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, Barnes is excited to rejoin the Warriors, after playing for them from 2006-2008. I wouldn’t rush to add Barnes until more is known about KD’s injury, but Barnes has been useful for fantasy purposes before.

On happier notes, here are the other nightly notables:

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