Russell Westbrook has always been a controversial figure in basketball. There are those who love his competitive spirit, ability to lead and mentor his teammates, and dynamic and physical play. There are also those who criticize the lack of progress in his shooting, defensive commitment, and success in the playoffs. Whatever your take is on Westbrook, in terms of fantasy, there was one moment that proved to be a major turning point. And it wasn’t a trade, an injury, or anything else related to his play.

Over the summer of 2017, the NBA changed the delay of game rules, making it so that a free throw shooter is no longer allowed to go beyond the 3-point line, or he will be assessed a delay of game violation. Westbrook’s ft% average before this rule was 82.4%. His average after it is 70.3%. And he is shooting a whopping 7.1 free throws per game for his career, so you can understand the fantasy impact this has. His shooting woes this year (41.3%) along with a major decrease in steals (0.8) and increase in turnovers (4.9) has him ranked 207th in per-game value. Let that sink in…Take an extra moment, you need it. Now see things clearly and try with all your might to trade him if you drafted him, taking advantage of his name value and the owners in your league that like him in real life, because he is actively hurting your fantasy team, even if you are punting turnovers.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, all were serviceable, with Thaddeus Young leading the bunch with three excellent fantasy lines. Beware that from the “Buy” suggestions, De’Anthony Melton hurt his shoulder and is questionable, so feel free to stream his spot, if necessary.

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Time to give you a peek into the mind of Son. Many, many years ago, I used to puff the weed, eat the shrooms, and smoke way too many cigs. When in this state of mind, I’d often contemplate the concept of fate and free will, and try to break it down. If I walked down the street and placed my right foot here, then left there, was that preordained, or was I in complete control? If I was meant to be with a woman, would said woman knock on my door if I never left? After way too many times contemplating this, I realized that if you want something in life, you have to go out and get it. With that said, sometimes when you’re out roaming the earth, the universe comes and slaps you in the face. Every night, when I write the recap, I search for who is worthy to be the lede. Last night, there was no searching as it was apparent that I Otto make Porter the lede.

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Larry Drew parted ways with Cavaliers brain trust when they refused to remove the interim from his title or pay him like a real NBA coach. Instead, the team went to the college ranks and provided John Beilein of Michigan the opportunity. He may long for the days of the Big 10 once the season starts and the losses pile up, but for now, he remains optimistic, hoping his young charges can grow, especially at the defensive end.

The Cavaliers tied for the second-worst record in the Association last season with only 19 W’s. The team’s best player, Kevin Love, missed three-fourths of the games which didn’t help. He was not the only player, though, as Larry Nance, Cedi Osman, Tristan Thompson, John Henson, Brandon Knight, and Ante Zizic all missed games. With just a smidgen of better luck, a return of Kevin Love, and any contribution from three rookie additions should make the Cavaliers more competitive.

We could see a Cavaliers fire sale come trade deadline time, as Jordan Clarkson, Thompson, Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, and Brandon Knight are veterans on expiring contracts who could help a playoff-bound team in search of additional pieces. Love and Nance could also be involved in trade discussions, with Love sure to garner interest. If they keep Love, and the youth movement improves, they could at least be a fun team to watch.

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If you remember Young Joc, you lived through the downfall of hip-hop. OK, no one can really pinpoint when Rap music really started to go downhill, but there was a time when Young Joc captivated the minds and ears of 13-year-old children everywhere. Similarly, last night Jamal Murray captivated the minds of NBA fans by going 9-46-6-8-0-1-5 on 16-of-24 shooting and 5-of-6 FTs. It’s been a bit of a down year for Jamal, but he had 31 on Friday and 77 points in two games is going to help your team a lot, especially with 13 three-pointers. He’s been kind of a disappointment on the year, but could end up having a solid season.

Here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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Does it sometimes seem like what AD does on the basketball court is kind of unfair? He simultaneously makes everything look way too easy, while also looking like he hasn’t reached his potential. Those eyebrows only add to his mystique as some otherworldly basketball entity. I’m not saying he’s secretly a real life Monstar, but if that was revealed to be true, I would only be like 90% shocked. He’s the clear cut #1 option in fantasy basketball this year and it’s not even close. If you drafted him #1 this year, enjoy your chip.

Anthony Davis

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
20/32 8/11 0/2 48 17 4 1 2 1

AD has been on a crazy tear this season, and especially so in December. This game is just additional icing on the cake and shows his insane ability to produce in every cat. The only nitpick is the lack of 3’s, but hitting a go-ahead basket, in addition to nearly 50 points more than makes up for that.

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Remember when Emmanuel Mudiay was the #7 overall pick by Denver? He never seemed to live up to his potential or draft position. He ended up in NY and, for fantasy teams, was a complete afterthought. Well, looks like we were wrong because he has been playing great lately. I am skeptical about Mudiay’s overall production and his ability to continue, but for now, enjoy the ride because he’s playing like a totally new player. He’ll probably fall victim to the notorious Knicks rotation, but you have to like the production recently and, if you could use points, assists, and surprisingly solid percentages, you could do worse. He’s a definite sell high if you can find someone who is buying in. Just point to this game and see what a GM might give you in exchange.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
14/21 5/6 1/4 34 3 8 1 0 3

Wow! Mudiay had been hovering close to the top 100 over the last month, on the strength of nice scoring, assists, and FT%, but this was his coming out game. The 34 points were a career-high. More importantly, he showed confidence and swagger and seemed to know he was the man. He nearly hit the game winner, which we all thought was going in. He could be a contender for Most Improved Player if he keeps it rolling.

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When you have the initials JC, you’ve already got a lot to live up to. John Collins is definitely on his way. Okay, not going to get into the religious stuff, but 3-30-12-5-0-1-1 on 12-of-20 shooting and 3-for-4 FTs in a win against a good Nuggets team is pretty Godly. I seriously underestimated the jump Collins would take from year one to year two. Especially, with the injury setback. He’s already averaging nearly eight points more than last year. The blocks should come up as well as he averaged 1.1 last season in four fewer minutes. I expect his FG% to come down a bit from 62.2%, especially since he’s attempting 2.5 3-pointers at a 25.9% clip, up from his 0.6 attempts last year. Enjoy him if you drafted him, but I doubt you’ll be able to pry him from his owners’ icy grip in your league.

Here’s what else went down in the NBA on Saturday night:

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What’s up Razzballers? In one of the more surprising finishes of the night, the Nuggets went into Cleveland strong and snatched a convincing win from under the Cavaliers. The King was slain in his own castle, mostly at the hands of Gary Harris. Harris was a beast tonight, much like he has been all week, and went off for 32/2/4/1 on 10-for-17 FG (6-for-10 3P, 6-for-6 FT) and no TOs. He’s been somewhat overlooked all season but is poised for an extremely strong finish as one of, if not the main guy on offence for a team jockeying for playoff position. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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Certain things in sports are sexier than others. It’s as simple as that. While Ichiro strives to make singles sexy, the saying goes, “chicks dig the longball.” In hockey, Barry Melrose’s mullet screams sexy over Ovechkin’s buzz cut.  Big hits catch the eye before a 3 yard run up the middle. Lastly, slam dunks will always be more exciting than a mid-range jumper. Larry Nance finds himself in quite the unique situation. How many times since the inception of the dunk contest, has a contestant debuted their fresh new jersey on that stage? I’ll admit, I didn’t look into this at all, but man would it make a great HQ trivia question. In comes Larry Nance, I assume junior, or maybe even the third, traded from the Lakers and now sporting a Cavs uni. The same Cavs that are his favorite team, the team in which his father, Larry Nance, probably the first, played for and won the slam dunk contest with. The same Larry Nance whose number is hanging in the rafters at the Q. If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, I don’t know what will. As Kevin Costner said, it’s hard not to get emotional about baseball. Wrong sport, yes, but the man just wanted to have a damn catch with his dad, and now he can!

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What’s up Razzballers? Anthony Davis went absolutely nutty in a double overtime win over the Nets last night, rainbowing for 44/17/2/6/3 on 16-for-35 FG (3-for-5 3P, 9-for-14 FT) and just three TOs in almost 50 minutes. Losing DeMarcus Cousins is a big blow, in fantasy and in real life, but Davis should be able to ball out in his absence. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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