The big news last season for the Washington Wizards was the shuffle at the top, as Tommy Sheppard replaced team president Ernie Grunfeld as the key personnel decision maker for the team. Since then, Sheppard has been busy. In the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Wizards were involved in six trades and twelve signings. That doesn’t even include all the Exhibit 10 contracts they executed to get a look at young talent.

But no contract was bigger than Bradley Beal’s 2-year, $72 million extension. Getting Beal to extend his contract was the team’s top objective for the season and his enthusiastic acceptance was their best case scenario. It was a “lost” year for the Wizards, as John Wall never returned from a ruptured Achilles tendon, so making sure they secured Beal for the future was the only good potential outcome.

Sheppard did a great job nabbing a lot of “no risk” gambles. Every player he signed or traded for had high potential at dirt cheap cost. Jerome Robinson, Isaac Bonga, Admiral Schofield, Gary Payton II, and Moritz Wagner all fit that mold. None of them panned out to be a monster given the opportunity, but with another year of development, one of them may surprise us. Bonga is the most appealing to me because of his 6’8″ frame combined with the rumors he has the court vision to be a “point forward.” However, he only managed 2.2 assists per 36 minutes this past season. I’m quickly losing faith in NBA scouts.

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I am 25 years old. I idolized Michael Jordan, but was too young to watch him live when he built his legend. On the contrary, the player that my generation grew up with is Kobe Bryant. We got to witness him build his dynasty with the Lakers, hit tough shot after tough shot, return from gruesome injuries and give his absolute all for the game he loved so much. And after his retirement, we watched him grow as a businessman, a community leader, an ambassador for basketball, and a motivator for any young player that wants to get better through hard work and devotion.

His influence is not easy to grasp or describe and that’s why his loss has that enormous an impact to the whole basketball world. Kobe was unique in every way, a true sports titan and he will be remembered for a long time to come, whether from basketball fans appreciating his game and mentality or by anyone shooting a piece of paper to a can and yelling “Kobe”. It is always a reality check when these tragic things happen as people of his stature, so famous and successful, seem invincible. It’s an instant reminder of our own morality and how fragile and precious human life is. It’s not a great time to talk about player performances and fantasy contributions but I’ll try my best.

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Injuries usually lead to opportunity. I believe the moniker amongst fantasy friends is “next man up”. Well, in certain situations, the next man up is an all-time great and needs to be considered for your fantasy liking. This week we are going to talk about someone who is most definitely beyond his glory days. See what I did there, all puns intended, and you will like it! Dwayne Wade has been on the cusp of retirement since he took to Instagram to save his wife from the eyes of Jimmy Butler. Never before has Wade taken to social media to make a stand, but when your career is going down faster than the Hindenburg, you do things to remain relevant. Going back to Miami was surely a  sanctioned retirement tour, and what we failed to remember was that retirement tours can bring out the best of players (see: Kobe Bryant’s 60 Burger). Wade has been taking advantage of injuries to Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson, and has been playing his best basketball of the season. Over his last four games he is averaging 21.5 points, 2.3 3PM, 3.5 REBs, 5.8 AST, and only 1.5 TOs over 29.5 minutes per game. Couple that with 46% from the field and 79.2% from the stripe and you have one of the top players in that time frame. If Wade has been rejuvenated, this could be scratching the surface of a useful season.

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So, Lonzo Ball put up a very impressive stat line that night with his 19/12/13 triple-double. And, as you’ve likely heard, he was five days younger than LeBron James was when he’d set the record for youngest triple-double. And if you watched ESPN’s highlight package for this game, you were treated to six Lonzo plays focusing on his accomplishment followed by one Giannis Antetokounmpo put-back dunk and a brief mention that, oh yeah, the Bucks actually won the game. Now, I’m quite the Lonzo apologist, and I spent far too much of the last year studying his game because of how much it impresses me… but ENOUGH WITH THE TRIPLE-DOUBLE MANIA! I’ve previously mentioned my disdain for how much these stat lines get overrated simply because an arbitrary number was reached in three categories. If we had 18 fingers and had decided on a base-18 number system thousands of years ago, a triple double would really be something, but is 10/10/10 a worthy threshold for what should be considered a noteworthy game? The thing that really bothers me is that, these day, even a “near-triple-double” will often get more attention than a more valuable stat line, even if it’s only like 11/8/9 (a Rajon Rondo Special). For example, Giannis went 33/15/3 that same night. Is that more valuable? It depends on whether you’re talking about value to the player’s actual NBA team or to our fantasy teams. When it comes down to who was more effective in the actual game, there are plenty of stats that try to figure that out. A simple one is plus/minus where Lonzo was +10 and Giannis was +13. That depends on who’s on the court with you, though. There’s John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating. Basketball Reference has a game score, as well. I guess we nerds will continue to try to whittle down a player’s performance into one number, for whatever it’s worth.

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Summer Leagues are upon us and the recent draft class has already left their mark. Jayson Tatum has been an offensive revelation, Donovan Mitchell has displayed his potential on both ends of the floor, and Markelle Fultz has shown the offensive skills that we’ve been drooling over, although he still showed glimpses of defensive naivety. Bam Adebayo has dominated in the paint and surprised us with some big offensive numbers, while Jonathan Isaac has flashed potential, but confirmed that he is still a project.

Yes, Summer leagues matter. Every point, assist, and turnover changes the perception that the other owners in your dynasty league have on players in the pool. But, let’s not delve too much into summer leagues yet.

Here’s what you came for. Part Deux of my Dynasty Rookie Rankings:

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Well, the somber day has come where I have decided to hang up the sneaks (I keep getting kankles!) from Razzball, and focus on one thing more important and one thing less important in my life – my family, and my career.  Haha, if anyone at my job stumbles onto this, I’m only kidding!  When you work full time along with giving Razzball Hoops the love and tender care it needs, it can stretch you a little thin.

Man, 4.5 years leading the Razzball Basketball charge.  I thought it was only 3.5.  Can’t believe I took this over at the tail end of the 2012-13 season, had my first articles get maybe 2-3 comments and sometimes none, and the community here grew to what it is today.  Still getting all you guys visiting after the season just ended!  It’s awesome.  I know when people leave they get sappy, and blahty-blah they say emo things, but it’s 100% true that the biggest thing I’m going to miss will be the comments and you commenters.  Just having people spend their time dropping by to chat hoops meant the world.  In that vein, hit me up any time on Twitter (@jbgilpin) to keep talking some hoops, and I’m sure Razzball Basketball is going to continue to be the best spot on the interwebs for fantasy hoops content.

Can’t believe this is going to be my final post…  It’s so weird!  Almost 6 years at Razzball, 8 writing for fantasy sports, and it’s just become my time to retire.  Blabby run-on intro, JB, what else is new?!  Hah, so for my final post, I decided to take it on Daily Notes style, since that was my favorite part of basketball writing.  I thought it’d be the most fun to review everything from my tenure notes style, for a look back and the laughs and the cries (F you Andrew Wiggins!) over the years.  Slim and I are going to do a sign-off Podcast this week, then I am setting sail around the world (aka, going to spend more time with the family and my new dog).  So for the last time, here’s what went down over the last 4.5 years of Razzball Fantasy Basketball:

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Mid-January approaches. I am about to be snowed in up in Toronto, so I am acutely aware that we are in the thick of winter. If you follow an NBA team’s social media, you likely have been getting the email prompts to vote in your potential All Stars. If you didn’t know, I am a long-suffering Raptors fan, and I’m finally getting rewarded for all those dark days with a team that is finally relevant. I got the prompt to vote in Kyle Lowry and  DeMar DeRozan, both deserving of the honour, and I should expect they will make the Eastern All Star team, either through fan voting, or by coach appointment. But all that glitters ain’t gold, and there are several players that are on the voting ballot that aren’t skilled enough for that lofty appointment, both in real life, as well as from a fantasy perspective. So lets take a gander at which All Star hopefuls are made of gold, and who’s just made out of tin:

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Happy weekend Razzball nation, and on the eve of the new year I thought I would bring you something a little different and closer to home for a change. So what is your New Year’s resolution in fantasy? Maybe you have promised yourself to be a little more patient and not to panic by week 3; maybe you have decided not to overvalue shiny young toys; or maybe like me you have decided not to write off 30-somethings in the NBA for your fantasy team. Whatever your New Year’s resolution be sure to check out all the good work from my cohorts here at Razzball nation to help guide you to the same level of success we all enjoyed in 2016.

So what of this week’s article, and why do we have characters from the hit Disney movie ‘Monsters Inc’ as the lead image?………….Well hopefully that is a clue that you can put your oxygen tanks away as we return to the fantasy surface for just a short while, and for the last time in 2016. If your team is in need of some help, or maybe you are looking to remain dominant, then keep reading as this will hopefully allow you to move closer to an attempt to tip the scales (in a good way, and not from the Christmas booze and turkey) as I guide you through a couple of targets of mine for the second half of the NBA season:

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Every week, we’ll be pitting our two die-hard Larry Bird fans in a duel to the death on a fantasy debate.  Hopefully this will become as infamous as Burr vs. Hamilton.  Look what it did for Broadway!  This week, we’re debating the buy or sell merits of slow-starting Victor Oladipo, and [going into last night] red hot Devin Booker.  Buy!  Sell!  Make millions on Frozen Orange Juice Futures that I still don’t understand!  Here’s what our dueling Birds feel on the issue this week:

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Feb 8, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) smiles on the court in the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Oklahoma City won 122- 106. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

I apologize for the click-bait title right away. However, the sentiment is correct, since Westbrook will go too high to be drafted by the savvy fantasy owner.

“Why is this??” You ask incredulously. Good question! I’ll tell you!

I absolutely love Westbrook in real life. He plays with a passion that rivals the likes of Bryant, Iverson, the original Isaiah Thomas, and many other greats. However, he will kill your fantasy team. I’m sure you can already guess why, but hear me out.

Please, blog, may I have some more?