C.J. McCollum, last year’s Most Improved Player, continues his ascension as one of the best shooting guards in the game. In a battle for the 8th playoff spot in the west between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks, McCollum dropped 32 points (13-21 FG), none bigger than his runner with 0.9 seconds left that sealed a Blazers’ win:

Ultimately the game winner, it came right after Dirk Nowitzki hit a clutch three to put the Mavericks up 113-112 with 3.9 seconds to go. Nowitzki turned back the clock in the game to post 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 4 threes, but it wasn’t enough as McCollum put the nail in the coffin.

The 4th year guard is having a career year, but has been shooting even better lately. In the last 5 games, he’s knocked down 13-28 from deep and shot 55.8% from the field overall.

Having such an efficient backcourt mate has taken some of the pressure off of Damian Lillard (29 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 threes), who is having his best shooting season of his career as well.

Unfortunately, both guys will need to continue to step up, if the Blazers have a chance at the playoffs, as guard Evan Turner broke his right hand in the third quarter of the game. No timetable has been announced, but he should miss at least a couple weeks. The injury should open up opportunities for Allen Crabbe (4 points) and Maurice Harkless (8 points, 7 rebounds).

It was a short slate of games on Tuesday, as only 3 games were played. JB made sure to make it known to me that he had to recap 11 games on Monday. Boy, did I get lucky this week! Here are the rest of the nightly notables:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Wizards have been playing much better as of late. Despite being down 18 points in the second quarter, the Wizards came back to win to push them over .500.

John Wall knocked down the game-winning jumper with 5 ticks left, to complete another fantastic performance with 26 points, 14 assists, and 6 rebounds.

Now that’s what Steve Buckhantz calls a dagger!

Wall was voted Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December and continues his strong play in the New Year. There hasn’t been a better player in the East over the last 6 weeks.

Now the Bulls were missing Jimmy Butler (illness) and Dwyane Wade (rest), but I don’t care. I’m going to take every opportunity to talk positively about my Wizards. They’ll disappoint me soon enough so let me enjoy my moment.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So I’m not a basketball historian, and I’m still a young pup. I barely remember the Bulls glory years – I was in elementary school when they won titles 4-6 (yikes, aging the crap outta myself), but I do vividly remember the Byron Russell push-off and I cherished my Michael Jordan cards. I still have a bunch of em! This one is still in a nice case and one of my favorites… Anyway, when I saw Jimmy Butler go off for 52/12/6/3/1 last night, I was about to make all sorts of tongue-and-cheek MJ parallels…

Got the same reverse layup and everything! But then it dawned on me… Butler is more like Scottie Pippen if there was no Jordan. Pippen’s best season was 93-94, unsurprisingly the year without MJ, and went 22.0/8.7/5.6/2.9/0.8 on 49% shooting with 0.9 treys. So far this year, J Buckets is 25.3/6.8/4.4/1.7/0.3 on 46% shooting with 1.1 treys. While Pippen was obviously one of the best defensive players of his generation, Butler is a much better FT shooter and gets to the line more. But the rest is really close, and I thought kinda interesting food for thought. So the answer for the Bulls is simple – find a Michael Jordan for Buckets to play next to! I’m a problem-solver – if only every team’s issue in the NBA was this easy! Hah! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

For richer for poorer, in SICKNESS and in health. Yeah, you gotta play through injuries, Josh Richardson! Part of the NBA grind! Attributing his shooting woes to a wrist injury (and hey, I’m not here saying he’s wrong or the wrist isn’t the issue!), J-Rich went into last night shooting an abyssal 26.4% from the field over the previous 5 games, and went so far as to saying he has a sharp pain in his wrist when he shoots right before last night. Well, apparently the Heat have some good painkillers, because ish wasn’t bothering him at all yesterday! Went for a career-best 22 points on 9-16 shooting (2-6 3PTM 2-2 FT) for 22/5/3/1/0 with no TO in 37 minutes.

Looks good to me! But yeah, BANK! Does that one still count…? Maybe more importantly though, kept gutting it out even after the Heat were getting slaughtered, unlike someeeeeeeeeeone (who we’ll get to below). I always liked J-Rich’s multi-cat ability, but argued with Slim about his FG/3PTM %s, not seeing a repeat of 45.2%/46.1% that we saw last year. Yeah, throw that out the window! But I don’t think he’s as bad as 38.6%/31%, and if the wrist thing was “that” bad, the lowly Heat would just shut him down. In one of his interviews on the ailing wrist, he did say “no excuses”; as I feel like I’ve seen a thousand times with lingering “smaller” injuries, it seems like the night is always darkest before the dawn when things turn around like this. I do wish we were seeing more steals (maybe the wrist is keeping him from playing more aggressive on D?) as his per-36 D-stats have fallen WAYYYY down from last year, but he’s on an awful team that is playing him big minutes, so I would be adding him again in 12ers. Let’s get the backed of our rosters J-Rich, bitch! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Man, without fantasy, blowout NBA games featuring sub-.500 teams might be more insufferable to watch than Vanderpump Rules. I would know, because I was watching both last night – L.A. hipsters being the absolute worst on the TV with the wife, then professional NBA players being the absolute worst on the iPad!

But of course some guys played well in the Denver @ Dallas travesty – a game I know Slim watched as well due to his Nuggets-bias – including Nikola Jokic going for a career-high 27/11/4/0/1. Hit 10-12 FG, 7-7 FT, and after Salah Mejri looked like Hassan Whiteside with 3 blocks in the first few minutes, Jokic really helped anchor down better post play.

Side note on those first two buckets for Jokic – look at Dwight Powell struggling to play D on centers. Just sayin’ based on our Pod this morning! Anywho, this is obviously the right step forward for Jock Itch to get unleashed, and he should have no problem working his way up to 30+ MPG every night now, right? RIGHT?!

F@#% You, Malone. So that tells me both A) you don’t reward players for playing well, B) but you do punish players for playing poorly, C) actually that makes total sense! It’s why we keep seeing the rotations wildly different night-to-night with no consistency for good performers. It’s exploitative coaching 101 – you don’t reward your underlings for doing something good, only punish them if they disobey. This also tells me it’s yet another Jusuf Nurkic slam, who went 4/6/2/1/0 on 2-6 shooting with 3 TO, and got thrown around a little by Mejri. I think Slim chose the wrong time to be REL-biased by the Nuggets, shoulda stuck with his Jazz! Here’s what else happened last night in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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…

Houston Rockets (41-41)

rockets

Key Acquisitions:

C Ryan Anderson

G Eric Gordon

C Nene

G Pablo Prigioni

G Tyler Ennis

G/F P.J. Hairston

Chinanu Onuaku

Key Losses:

Dwight Howard

F Terrence Jones

G Jason Terry

F/C Donatas Motiejunas?

All hail D’Antoni!  Well, at least for fantasy.  Although with the NBA record-holder for most TO in a single-season, do the Rockets lead the NBA in turnovers this year?!  Maybe they become the all-time record holder?!  I think I found that it’s 24.5 a game by the Nuggets in the 70s…  Would be tough to top!

Obviously Harden is a stud, and with the uptempo pace, there is a lot to like from Houston this year.  And I can’t complain about them not playing Tjones anymore!  I can now consolidate all my rants to the Pelicans…  Anywho, here’s how the Rockets roster is shaping up for 16-17:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

1617-rcl-logo

My first RCL draft is in the books!  I may drop another league closer to the start of the season – we’ll see on that.  [editor’s note – if you’re interested in joining an RCL league, you can take a spot in several leagues with openings here!]   At any rate, I’m fairly happy with how this draft went.  I had the 11th pick, so that was ugly, but I caught a break in the first round, and I don’t think I blew it too badly after that.  You can be the judge though!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s all starting to come together!

50-75 always feels like that nebulous range where we get out of the sure things and start veering into the mess that is the sleeper-range, but don’t want to go too nuts for your guys. There’s just a little too much value on the table to reach for a potential superstar like Patrick Patterson! Hah, I keed, but you know what I mean.

Hopefully you’ve checked out my Top-10, Top-25 and Top-50 as we start getting into the late-middle rounds. Things are starting to get hairier in the comments too! But give me all your thoughts and quibbles you have, because I’m just one idiot that gets to pose my thoughts to the smart collective. Together as a think tank, Razzball Basketball is going to own the hoops-o-sphere! Just need to pay more attention when we play stupid Chris Liss in the Yahoo F&F Final… Ugh! Here’s the Top 75 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

(you can also put your quibbles with my ranks to the test in the 2016-17 Razzball Basketball RCL Leagues, now open and 100% free to join, start a league and sign up now!)

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Perhaps no player since the great Oscar Robertson has felt like such a nightly threat to record a triple-double than Russell Westbrook. Lately, when the Thunder point guard takes the court on any given night, you’re expecting huge production. You can just tell how much he wants it. He is a special player with an unparalleled combination of aggression and talent…and it was on full display on Tuesday night.

For the third game in a row and the sixth time this month, Russell Westbrook poured in double-digit points, grabbed double-digit rebounds, and handed out double-digit assists. He finished Tuesday’s home win with 21, 13 & 15.

After Tuesday’s game, Westbrook now has March averages (11 games) of: 20.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 11.4 assists.

The remarkable thing though, is that Russ is ranked 54th for 9-category per-game fantasy value this month, due in large part to 4.7 turnovers per game and a high-volume .408 mark from the field. This is a perfect illustration of how eye-popping numbers can be misleading when gauging a player’s actual value to your team. In contrast, Kawhi Leonard is a full 50 ranking spots ahead of Westbrook this month with more modest averages of 22.7/7.4/2.9. But when you add in a .495 shooting percentage and only 1.6 TOs, the valuation swings wildly in his favor.

So while Russell Westbrook is posting trip-dub after trip-dub, it’s prudent for fantasy owners to keep in mind exactly what goes into the making of a star in the real world versus the fantasy world as this 2015-2016 season comes to an end.

Let’s take a look at some of the other note-worthy performers on a quiet four-game Tuesday night in the NBA…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?