Hey y’all. We’re back again, like we never left, with another Saturday Special. Today we’re kicking it off with none other than the Tall Baller From the G himself, Dirk Nowitzki. He had a nice little vintage performance, as he led the Mavericks to a win over the Thunder, going for 19/5/4/2 on 7-for-10 shooting with four threes. Dirk’s no longer a fantasy stud, but it’s nice to be able to show love to one of the greats when they deserve it. Dirk might get sporadic rest days as the season goes on, but he’ll generally be given free reign to do as he pleases while the Mavericks happily tank for a pick. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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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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It’s late-round magic time! And by late-round Magic, I’m not talking about Stephen Zimmerman! Who? Exactly…

As we hit the trip-digs in picks, it’s time to go all-out for your guys. In standard leagues, you’re hoping to maybe hit a home run on one of your final 3-4 picks, and the others flame out immediately. Why? Because you want to know for sure who you need to hold on to and have quick cuts for the first wave of wire gold. Maybe I’m overly pessimistic, maybe you’re hoping for 2 to work, but all we really want to know is “answers”. I still do my ranks as best as I can to signify “seasonal-value”, but I might get a little crazier with risk than stick with the status quo come draft day and the clock winding down.

If you’re catching up, check out all our ranks in the Top-10, Top-25, Top-50, Top-75 & Top-100. Now it’s time to get into the fun sleeper land. Here’s the Top 150 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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We’re officially at a crossroads! We push all the way to the triple-digits and protrude into the late rounds. That’s a weird word, protrude. Sounds like a scene title from the Anchorman DVD when Will Ferrell complains about the pleats… Hey, I’ve written 100 ranks now, don’t act like you’re not impressed!

Get ready to be impressed by links! Here’s my Top-10, Top-25, Top-50 & Top-75 if you’re still catching up. Ranks, ranks, ranks! And with us now getting to the top 100, I’m sure we’re going to start seeing a lot of comments about guys that fell off the horse. I just double-checked myself looking at Yahoo’s ranks for the first time, and they have someone top-40 that I didn’t even rank yet! Lunacy… Here’s the Top 100 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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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…

Los Angeles Lakers (17-65)

Lakers

Key Acquisitions:

F Luol Deng

F Brandon Ingram (Rookie)

C Timofey Mozgov

C Ivica Zubac (Rookie)

G Jose Calderon

Key Losses:

G Kobe Bryant

C Roy Hibbert

D’Angelo Russell’s Cell Phone Privileges

Wow, you’d think a roster this bad would bring in something better than that! Deng is a pretty good haul, but I’m not giving a unique opinion saying that Mozgov’s deal was preposteroni. The Lakers go into 2016-17 still rebuilding, and obviously the key to rebuild is to sign mid-range free agents to big deals… Ahhhh, the lunacy of this Mozgov deal! [pretend in a Trump voice] “The first thing I’d do is repeal Healthcare.Mozgov! …you’re fired.”

Despite a lackluster output from the Lakers fantasy options last year, there’s some interesting pieces that could be late round steals. Here’s how the purp and gold are suiting up:

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The first round of the NBA Playoffs wrapped up on Sunday, with one awful Game 7 that I think everyone saw coming (I at least figured it was a blowout) and one fantastic Game 7 that seemed like a blowout early on, only to become a thriller.  Paul George isn’t elite!  Oh no, we’re STILL coming back to that one?!

While playoff hoops means very little to the fantasy discussion, there are some little nuggets (no, not Nate Robinson) that can help point us to some sneaky values in the subsequent season’s fantasy draft.  I’m thinking of Draymond Green in the 13-14 playoffs going 11.9/8.3/2.9/1.7/1.7 before his breakout, Otto Porter, etc.  But as we’ve progressed to a few games in the Second Round, there really ain’t that much going on anymore for fantasy purposes.  To be completely honest – and I know it might be sacrosanct – I don’t watch a ton of playoff hoops, especially early.  I’m not a fan of a team anymore, it’s not fantasy, and I admittedly get a little fatigued.  It’s a long season!  But ya know – overall – basketball is awesome!  And there were a few takeaways that I think could be applicable to 16-17.  Here’s a few interesting notes from NBA Playoffs so far:

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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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What a return from the break!

It was an exceptional weekend of NBA action after the wayyyyyyy too long layoff for the break, highlighted by a huge upset by the Blazers.  Is anyone else getting annoyed by that Damian Lillard commercial on the NBA App?!  The one where he semi-raps, then says “thanks for the motivation” when asked about his haters?  Well, it’s kinda fitting now, with that performance after that All-Star snubbery!  Dame went Insame on the Warriors for a career-high 51 points, going 51/0/7/6/0, shooting 18-28 from the field.  But the crazier numbers were 9 treys, and not a single TO.  6 steals and no turnovers?!  That’s winning hoops right there!  He followed it up with a huge night last night as well, going 24/4/4 through 3 quarters before grandpa JB hit his bedtime.  Portland bested Golden State with a crushing 137-105 W in that Friday epic win, solidifying the Blazers as a playoff contender.  No one thought they would even be close, and as Slim and I talked on the Pod, Stotts deserves a ton of cred and maybe some Coach of the Year consideration.  If you told me in October the Blazers would make the playoffs, I woulda said you’re Insame!  Here’s what else went down over an exciting return to hoops over the weekend, plus The 7 Ahead for week 17:

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ESPN picked a good one for their weekly Wednesday night NBA showcase. Stephen Curry vs. John Wall, two of the best point guards in the league. It was a very high scoring, up-tempo game, with the final score 134-121. And the stars did not disappoint.

Curry started out on fire, scoring 25 points in the first quarter and 36 in the first half. He cooled down a little bit, but still knocked down 11 of his 16 three point attempts, en route to 51 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals. Wow. Just like his Charlotte buddy Cam Newton, can they crown him MVP already?

John Wall was doing his best to cover Curry, but it’s a difficult job, even for a strong defender like Wall. Since he couldn’t stop him, Wall tried to match him offensively, finishing with 41 points, 10 assists, and 3 rebounds. He even knocked down all 3 of his three-point attempts, a facet of his game that is nowhere near the level of Curry. It was nice to watch two point guards with very different styles of game dominate the box score.

Oh, and lost in this point guard matchup was that Draymond Green got his league leading 10th triple-double with 12 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. He even added 5 blocks as a point forward!

As a Wizards fan, I figured that the Warriors would win the game, but was happy to see the Wizards play the defending NBA champions close for stretches of the game. Now onto the other nightly notables:

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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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