The Golden State Warriors, somehow, enter the 2022-23 season as unsteady defending champions after winning what nearly everyone described as their sweetest championship a season ago. A championship that came after two years in the wilderness of abject failure and mediocrity due to injuries to Thompson and then Curry and then Thompson again. Last season’s championship run also unfolded in the absence of all the “you broke basketball” talk that surrounded Kevin Durant’s arrival in the Bay and it saw Steph Curry win his long overdue finals MVP after a historic series in which there was no doubt he was the best player, not only on his own team, but on either team in the Finals. And yet, here we are.

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The Utah Jazz defeated the Denver Nuggets 125-102, snapping a four-game losing streak. The Jazz were just 1-4 without Rudy Gobert in the lineup and Gobert and Donovan Mitchell seemed to trade subliminal jabs in press conferences and on social media. They appear to have righted the ship, for now. The Jazz are a bit of conundrum. They are an undeniably good team that has been labeled “a regular season team” for a few years, maybe even erroneously, except it didn’t matter because they did fall short of expectations in the playoffs. This year, there is once again general indifference towards the team outside of Utah and most interested parties are just wondering when Donovan Mitchell asks for a trade because he can’t get along with Gobert. The Jazz can’t get very far without Donovan Mitchell’s scoring, but they appear even more doom-struck without Gobert’s defense. What can be done? Would Jerami Grant help? Harrison Barnes? Whatever happens, I know fans outside of Utah will watch with crazy-eyed delight if the foundation once again crumbles beneath them in the playoffs.

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As an homage to Son, the fearless leader of Razzball Hoops, we’re kicking the 2021-22 season off by celebrating the traditional way. Play the music, DJ!

Hell yeah. It feels official now. The NBA and our fantasy hoop dreams are back, baby! It was a light schedule last night — the defending champion Bucks hosted the Nets to start, followed by a Warriors/Lakers nightcap — but even dipping a toe in felt good. I’ll say that it was an especially nice night for yours truly, as tickets for the hometown Bucks and the ring ceremony that prefaced the start of the season fell into ole Mr. Hooper’s hands. Not a bad way to get the season rolling. Speaking of good beginnings, this Giannis fellow doesn’t seem to have slowed down at all from the last time he’s been around…

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What are your Netflix recommendations like, dear Reader? According to Netflix’s almighty AI, I’m a 99% match for a good number of action films, (shocking I know). It appears that I’m an inveterate sucker for Hollywood’s IV drip of characteristic stylized violence, where everything and nothing is at stake all at once. The kind of morality plays where revenge and a particularly violent idea of justice come inseparably together. But I’m especially moved by a meta element in these stake-less physical dramas, something the algorithm isn’t picking up on, I hope. The more I can tell the minds behind the film want me to know, that they know, this is all dopamine mush in the mouth of a baby the more I’m pleased. I’m looking for a kind of philosophical match with the director. Something that says, “Yes, this is almost certainly a meaningless distraction on our collective journey to some hopefully plush after, but at least this haze of aesthetic violence offers some neon lights and choreographed blood splatter.” Which is a long-winded way of saying, as artists, writers, thinkers, maybe even as fantasy basketball players, we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.

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Daniel Theis still got the start even with Nikola Vucevic back in the lineup. The former Celtic contributed across the board in his 26 minutes, with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting along with 7 rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks, and a three. Theis (46 percent owned in Yahoo!) has averaged 12.5 PPG over his past six, while also amassing some defensive stats and making close to one triple a game. He’s a great streaming option if he’s still out there in your league.

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Now that it’s looking like I’ll likely lose in my championship matchup this week (boooooooooooo!), I guess it’s time to turn to helping you all out in your championship runs this week. By the way, please move your playoffs up to avoid all the silliness. It happened earlier this year, but I’m a strong proponent of just absolutely skipping the last month of the season as teams randomly sit people and rest up for their playoff pushes.

Anyways, do yourself a favor and take a look at the opponent you are up against. Identify the categories where you guys are close (so if you are both bad at winning a category or if you both are middling at a category or both good at winning a category) and stock up on guys to win those categories. Most leagues are nine category leagues, so remember you only need to win five of them.

That said, here are the guys coming up with a boatload of games, all under 50% owned on Yahoo! that can help you win specific categories.

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The ridiculous and predictably bad “condensed” NBA schedule has finally reared its ugly head. The injuries are rolling in faster than me when they say there’s free cake in the break room, and fantasy teams everywhere are hurting. Hopefully you have multiple IL spots. I have two in the league I run usually, but we upped it to three midseason.

If your commissioner didn’t have such foresight, RIP. But there’s good news: You don’t have to hurt anymore.

When players go out, that means other players step up to fill the void. So who should we be grabbing for the week? Who is going to win us our fantasy playoff matches?

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The Lakers held down the fort against a very depleted Utah Jazz team that was without Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert to name a few. 

The Jazz needed contributions from their role players and bench mob and some did step up. Jordan Clarkson, Sixth Man of The Year candidate, scored 27 points off the back of five triples while also getting five rebounds, dishing out four dimes, and stealing the ball once. Joe Ingles had an impressive outing with a double-double of 20 points and 14 assists while also getting three steals. Ersan Ilyasova took advantage of all the minutes tonight and scored 20 points with six threes while also hauling in five boards and stealing the ball an impressive four times. 

The Lakers had three players score 25 or more points. Andre Drummond flirted with a double-double of 27/8 while also stealing the ball twice and getting three dimes. Dennis Schroder had an excellent game scoring 27 points, handing out eight assists, and grabbing six rebounds, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 25 on 44.4% efficiency and also had five rebounds and two steals. 

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Pat Connaughton benefited from the absence of Donte DiVincenzo, playing 26 minutes off the bench. He hit four of his 11 threes to score 14 points, while also hauling in eight rebounds. It was Connaughton’s third straight double-digit scoring game, and he’s dropped in 11 threes in that stretch. However, he’s as streaky as they come as he finished with single-digit point totals and only three triples over his previous seven outings. If you’re desperate for threes you can stream him and hope he gets hot from deep, and he provides solid rebounding for his position as well (five percent owned in Yahoo!).

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Mason Plumlee: With Flake Griffin sitting, it’s the point center show in the Motor City.  This savvy Dukie can wheel and deal, pound and confound, folks.  Underrated center in the Association, who by the way has raised his FT% to 67%, which doesn’t sound like much, but up from career average of 56%.  See, old dogs CAN learn new trix.  Shhh, he taught Joker all he knows.  Case in point, 10 assists with only 1 turnover!

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