We knew from the start that this was going to be a weird season. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has become a part of our life for the last year and basketball couldn’t remain unaffected. During the last 2 weeks, more and more cases are appearing in the league and some games have already been postponed. Furthermore, there are teams that are decimated by the virus and the contact tracing procedures that it involves, with these teams playing many games with 8 or 9 active players and usually without their stars. It is a difficult and unique situation that the experts expect to escalate during the next month. Maybe a pause in action for 1-2 weeks would prove beneficial for all parties, as neither teams, nor fans want to watch games with depleted rosters or constant postponements and uncertainty. The league has just implemented stricter restrictions for NBA players and personnel, that pretty much affect the whole spectrum of their everyday life, in an attempt to contain the spread.

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Surprise, I’ve taken over the Wednesday recap this week, let’s get jiggy with it!

Nets vs Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks undefeated 2020-2021 season came to an end at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, December, 30th, but not without some positive signs of progress for this new look roster. At the moment, the Hawks have the second best Offensive Rating in the league at 119.9 and their opponent, the Nets, have the best Defensive Rating at 98.3. I’m not sure if these numbers include the data from Wednesday’s competition, but either way, the Hawks were the team that lived up to their statical billing in this one. The teams went shot for shot through most of the game until Kyrie Irving took over in the fourth quarter and the Hawks suffered enough empty possessions on offense to walkaway with their first L. Both teams broke a hundred by the third quarter and the final score of 141-145 tells you everything you need to know. Neither team played much defense in this game and that end of the floor will remain the biggest question for both teams going forward.

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The NBA season may only be 72 games this season, but it’s still going to be a long and grueling slugfest regardless. The players we consider locks for value now will be the drops of tomorrow, and the undrafted players will suddenly become league-winners overnight.

But how does that happen?

Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. Lineup shifts are a real thing too as people slide into and out of minutes. A lot of that is hard to predict but likely trade candidates, on the other hand, are less difficult to forecast.

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If you’re a habitual bad drafter like I am, you’re probably well acquainted with the power of the waiver wire. First I was a bad drafter in fantasy football and now that non-skill has transferred over to fantasy basketball. I often make too much of my hay on the wire. I have never won the championship in my fantasy football league—an indication that I haven’t had the top-end talent necessary to take home the trophy. But I have made the playoffs every year except one—an indication that timely, intelligent pick-ups on the wire are not to be taken for granted, especially in football where long injury absences are common. I also made the playoffs in my first year of fantasy basketball as an expansion team after auto-drafting. It’s a 14 team, 9-category, head-to-head Yahoo league for perspective. I tell you all this not to toot my own horn, but to lay out my strengths and weaknesses, to cement my waiver wire guru credentials.

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Most of the teams in this division are what we thought they were. The Dallas Mavericks are more competitive with their new additions, but still not playoff ready. The Memphis Grizzlies, with a healthier roster, are returning to Grit-and-Grind, playing at a pace nobody wants to play. The New Orleans Pelicans will go as far as AD takes them, while hoping to capitalize on the momentum of sweeping the Trail Blazers in last year’s playoffs, but ultimately realizing the rest of the roster has a second-round ceiling. The Spurs are the Spurs, so even with multiple roster changes, the Kawhi Leonard drama, loss of veteran leadership, injuries, and adjustments, Coach Greg Popovich is still the master puppeteer who will figure out how to win more than he loses. He would probably do that even if you gave him a roster of Lilliputians. Which leaves the exception and the outlier, the Houston Rockets, who have not been what we thought they were. We all thought they would take a step back defensively, but who thought they would forget how to shoot? They seem to be finding their sea legs, and even beat the World Champion Golden State Warriors, but who would have guessed the team with the best record in the league last year would be happy to be 7-7 after 14 games?

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Welcome back Razzball Nation. What a night the draft was. A true testament to Adam Silver and the NBA for putting on a fantastic spectacle which had more twists and turns than a South American mountain road. One clear message that came from current and former players was that work is only the beginning. For this article, I have also taken a twist and turn, as I bring an email dialogue between myself and Steve Connell about the draft. Steve works hard researching high school and college basketball and provides inspiration for many of the Dynasty Deep Dive articles. Two minds are better than one, right?

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It’s that time of year again Razzball Nation! The pre-draft edition of the Dynasty Deep Dive rookie rankings, and what a treat I have for you, as I am not only sharing with you my rankings, but the rankings of two of the great minds that do a lot of research and discussion behind the scenes that inspire the Dynasty Deep Dive articles. I can’t stress enough how influential these brothers from different mothers have been, as they scout games, debate, and open my eyes to different paths of thinking. Not only that, but our leader here at Razzball basketball has dropped in to give a few of his thoughts and top 15.

For those of you that are new to Dynasty Deep Dive, these rankings are for the entirety of a career. Therefore, should not be used for redraft leagues. It’s also important to consider that these are pre-draft, so landing spots will shake things up. I will make the necessary adjustments for my post-draft rankings, so keep an eye out for those. 

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The combine has now come and gone, and a whole set of rumors have come with it. We now have speculation that the Celtics may have interest in moving up to acquire the services of man child Mo Bamba, the Nuggets are willing to part with the 14th overall pick for the two years/$26 million left on Kenneth Faried’s contract, Luka Doncic is gobbling cheeseburgers and piling on the pounds faster than a John Wall coast-to-coast dunk, and of course both Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young declaring that they are the best player in the draft class.

NBA Twitter is flush with draft big boards right about now, but as I have stated numerous times, it is important to remember that each team has a vital role to play when it comes to developing the players. Would Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum, or Donovan Mitchell have had the same kind of season on other franchises? My guess is no because each player landed in the ideal landing spot for their development and were utilized to maximize their potential. Fact of the matter is that landing spot is HUGE! 

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Another day in my recovery from back surgery and another post, this time bringing you more ideal landing spots for another ten prospects destined for the 2018 NBA draft.

The final ten ideal landing spots coming tomorrow before we get into the nitty-gritty of my predraft fantasy rookie rankings.

Let’s quit the jibber-jabber and get straight into the action.

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