At no point this season did I ever think that Markieff Morris would be getting the lead in an article…unless, maybe, it was because he killed a guy or something (leading victim candidates included a coach, a referee, or a reporter who spoke ill of his twin brother). Well, he got the lead and nobody died…that I’m aware of.

In his first game playing for interim head coach Earl Watson, ‘Kieff showed out to the tune of 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a pair of blocks. If that wasn’t worthy of a raised eyebrow or two, Morris also drained a three and shot 13-20 from the field in his 41 minutes. Hot damn.

Whether he’s actually interested in helping the Suns win games or simply trying to improve the value of his stock in an effort to facilitate a move out of the desert, it doesn’t really matter for fantasy purposes. If he’s going to get the run…if he’s going to keep his attitude in check…if he’s going to play with effort and focus…he needs to be on fantasy rosters. Trying to predict what kind of situation he’ll be in this time next month is likely a fool’s errand, but there is big time upside (as we just witnessed) when everything is kosher with Markieff. I wouldn’t give up anything of value or break your free agency bank account because this could be very temporary, but if you have some dead weight to drop, you could do a lot worse than having Morris occupy your last roster spot until the trade deadline.

Let’s take a look at what else shook down on a five-game Tuesday evening in the NBA…

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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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I’m as surprised as you are, that Withey is relevant.  In spite of the odds, he has been stuffing the stat sheet like crazy this past week, with nearly a double double, 3 blocks, and 1.6 steals per game over the last 5!  I have no idea how long this will keep up, but while Favors is out, he’s starting to look like a must own. Probably just a short term add, but those stats are too sweet to turn down!

Not a whole lot of big news this week, but in Raptor land, Carroll is set to miss 6-8 weeks worth of games, and is probably a cut in standard league.  I don’t see an immediate pickup, but it’s worth keeping an eye on James Johnson and Terrence Ross, to see if anyone can run away with the job.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Pressed into additional service with Nicolas Batum out sick, Jeremy Lin started for the Hornets last night and played like Linsanity was back in full effect.  At 47 minutes of action, even a few cans of Dapper Dan wouldn’t keep the mohawk afloat!  As the game pressed on, the spikes kept drooping like wet noodles.  “Hey Jeremy, the trainer has a handful of Elmer’s Glue for you on the bench for a touch up!”  I still can’t understand how he can play through a really sweaty game, and have it not feel like he just dunked his head in a pool full of Vaseline.

Whatever product he uses is just gonna ooze down his whole face!  While looking like a melting wax statue, Lin went nuts for 35/5/3/0/2 on 13-22 FG (2-5 3PTM 7-9 FT).  He was constantly attacking the rim and all over the defensive glass, really giving this starting opportunity 100%.  Unfortunately there’s nothing too actionable with the strong performance, as Batum should be back soon after his rough Chipotle visit and Lin will be back to a swing man off the bench.  If your streamed Lin then hat’s off to you (mainly because Lin can’t wear a hat), and it does let us know that if Batum should suffer a prolonged injury, you can feel pretty good calling Lin a must-add.  You’d bust out your Ben Stiller hair gel, spike up your hair, and enjoy the ride!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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In an NBA landscape characterized by Steph Curry’s wizardry and Golden State’s record-breaking start, casual fans have missed one of the most interesting subplots from the first quarter of season: the East’s ascension to respectability. With a winning record against the Western Conference (60-58) and ten teams over .500, 2015 has marked a rebirth for the historically lesser conference, now sporting more top-to-bottom depth than in recent memory.

While it’s easy to say, “welcome to the party, we’ve been waiting for you for at least the past decade,” restoration of competitive balance in the East finally appears to be a tangible goal. With two of this season’s biggest surprises in the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets squaring off to open yesterday’s nine-game slate, last night’s contest may have actually been the first iteration of competitive basketball for this particular matchup since the mid-2000s.

With the Hornets emerging as the victors, it begs the question: are they actually good?? For a team with disillusioned hopes of postseason basketball heading into the season, their early successes may still spark skepticism after each passing victory. But with a +3.6 point differential and the fifth placed ranking in the standings this year, the Hornets actually appear to be a legitimately solid basketball team.

One of the main catalysts behind the turnaround, Nic Batum has played excellently on the wing as a secondary ball handler and defensive stopper. For fantasy owners who did not abandon the Batum bandwagon after a disappointing 2014-2015, the Frenchman has more than delivered this season, elevating his status to one of the primer fantasy wing options. Batum continued to produce last night with a near triple double of 13 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in addition to a steal and a block. Vive la France!

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On a weekend where elite guys did elite things – we got served more 40-burgers than a McDonalds – I’m going to open this Monday morning a little further down the bunnyhole.  It may be “rabbit” hole, but it sounded dirtier my way…

When Al Jefferson went down with his calf strain (he’s still out at least another 1-2 weeks), I clowned the Hornets for their “three-headed” monster for C minutes.  I joked it was a nice way of saying none were any good.  Kinda like saying the “three-headed monster” of good M. Night Shyamalan movies.  Especially Frank the Stank, as Michael Jordan’s never-ending conquest of building an NCAA dream team continues to keep the Charlotte franchise in the awful-to-mediocre range.  At least Spencer Hawes looks OK out there, putting up decent lines in 20+ minutes the past two Hornets games.  But watching the Hornets against the Bulls on Saturday – I was mad impressed by Cody Zeller.  Took the lion’s share of PT playing 32 minutes, and went 17/8/2/1/1 on 6-10 FG (5-7 FT) with no TO.  And it wasn’t a cupcake matchup either against Pau Gasol.  Although Gasol wouldn’t get that joke, let’s say “it wasn’t a flan matchup.”  Just at the eye level, he was cutting to the basket with great speed, finished strong at the rim with a few dunks, and took jumpers confidently.  I think the Hornets wanted someone to step up with Big Al down, and they’ve found their guy.  Now this would only be a medium-term pickup in 12ers, plus the schedule is going to be a crazy test.  Hornets get DET, MIA then @MEM the next three, so Zeller is going to have to D up Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside, then Marc Gasol.  Eesh.  At least the Gasol one is more his player-type…  And it’s not like Hawes or Frank Kaminsky is going to play any better against those beasts…  So if you’re looking for a little help up front without the big blocks upside, Zeller is worth a look.  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy hoops action, including The 7 Ahead for week 7:

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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…

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The NBA really is Jordan Belfort.  The Wolf of Fantasy Sports!  It’s tantric and never slows down, from the Finals ending less than two weeks before the draft, free agency hitting a week later and we’re already starting summer ball.  And the NBA will soon revel in the excess that is the 16-17 salary cap boost with a TV deal that put Seinfeld reruns to shame.  I need my ludes to get me through!

Even the Spurs couldn’t avoid the world of excess and massive free agency signings, bringing in LaMarcus Aldridge for a cool $80 million.  Loosening up the purse strings!  My first thought was, “dammit, Kawhi is never gonna be the guy!”  Then again, he got over $90 mil with his extension, so there’s that!  But Kawhi Leonard sometimes struggles with the mid-range and long-distance shooting, so L.A. should help Kawhi by opening up some lanes and keeping him in his game.  This is going to be a crazy offense, with Tim Duncan moving to center and likely being his solid old self.  Which leaves us with what to expect from Aldridge…  And, me no likey for fantasy.  After being really durable early in his career, he’s had a few bumps and bruises (I know, I know, playing through a torn thumb tendon gets mad props) and the Spurs – as we all know – love to limit the minutes.  I also don’t think he quite gets to 20 shots a game like we’ve seen the past few years.  I had him 20 in my way too early rankings, but the move drops him a few spots at the least.  L.A. in S.A. is not OK!  Here’s what else has gone on through the first few days of free agency and rookie ball:

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There’s some sort of postseason going on, Stephen Curry is flying through the air, Klay Thompson is luckily OK after a Vincent Van Gough scare, there’s only two teams left…  but all of that is less exciting to us than the new blood to enter the 2015-16 Fantasy player pool!  As we’ve done for the second straight year (is two years considered a tradition yet?!), Slim and I mocked the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft by alternating picks for their respective teams with a fantasy outlook for each rook.  2014 didn’t… um…  go quite to plan.  But hey!  We got a couple right and this year doesn’t quite offer the top-to-bottom talent as 2014.  With a little bit more of an even playing field, I have a feeling this Draft will feature even more trades and more surprising risers and fallers…  Hopefully we get a good portion of the lottery right!  The optimist in me is ready ta go!  Here’s our 2015 Mock NBA Draft:

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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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?