One of my all-time favorite movies is Rounders. Matt Damon and Ed Norton talking all smooth and playing poker in cool-looking clubs with John Malkovich spouting repeatable lines in… sort of a Russian accent. Plus, there’s a great Counting Crows song during the credits that I’ve never been able to find anywhere. Anyway, Damon’s Mike McD is the relatively good boy, while Norton’s Worm is the slimier friend.

After Worm gets them beat up with all their cash stolen for having been caught cheating, the gloves come off in an overdue shouting match between the old friends.

Mike McDermott: What the F*** were you thinking?

Worm: I was trying to give us an edge… …I don’t think like that.

Mike McD: No, you don’t THINK!

Worm: No, I don’t think like YOU! You always think you can beat the game straight up. That’s not me. I told you, I’m always gonna look for that edge. Always.

As much as Mike is the better role model, if you’re picking from the two gambling addicts, in fantasy basketball you want to be like Worm. Even if you tried, you can’t cheat in most leagues, but you want to be the one thinking differently, finding your edge. Last week, I mentioned ways to make your league more engaging. From here on out, I’ll give you ways to get an edge in your league by using the numbers to your advantage. These next two weeks leading up to the season, we’ll talk drafting.

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Whew. 100 down. 100 to go. It’s been a helluva ride, but we almost there. This is where things get really interesting, as it’s a group where some starters still reside, but is mostly populated with bench players. Do you go with a specialist or someone that contributes across the board? Decisions decisions.

Yes! I’m freaking pumped now. Go do your thing right now! I’m going to finish this post then run like Forrest Gump.

If you missed them, here are the links for:

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Image result for charlotte hornets logo

Since 1988, the year that Charlotte was blessed with a NBA presence, the team has had 32 first-round picks in the draft. There have been some good ones: Larry Johnson, Alozo Mourning, Baron Davis, Kemba Walker, and Kobe Bryant. Ouch. That last one must hurt for Charlotte fans. There have been some horrible ones: Adam Morrison. Is this where a mic drop is appropriate? Anyways, out of all the 32 first-rounders that the Hornets/Bobcats have selected over the years, Cody Zeller may be in the top-tier for most valuable. What what? Zeller missed 20 games last season. In those games, the Hornets went 3-17. In terms of ORtg difference, Kemba was +10.1. Zeller? +10.4. Nicolas Batum was the next closest with a +3.7. Ladies and gentlemen, your Charlotte Hornets.

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What a way to kick off the week!  Well, that is, if you own Rudy Gobert!  Monsieur Elbow says “No!”  And “Oui, I own l’paint!”  Absolutely monstrous 16/14/3/0/8 last night against the Pacers, hitting 7-12 from the field with only 1 TO.

So much swattage!  His 13 blocks the last 2 games now gives him a 13.2/12.8/1.2/0.7/2.6 slash on the year, hitting 65% from the field.  Oddly 65.5% from the stripe too!  Which isn’t good, but not a punt either.  BB Monster has him 20th overall in per game stats, and 12th in total.  Absolutely insane draft day value, but it really grinds my gears he’s doing this this year, and not in 2015-16!  Had him 11th and well above consensus, just one year too early – stupid FIBA wore him down.  Focus on the NBA, you Frenchy!  Oh shit, now he’s gonna hunt me with one of those elbows, NOOOOOO!!!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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The most exciting part of the evening, was clearly the debut of the Pelicans shiny new front court. While the Pels did get overwhelmed by the Rockets shooting, the chemistry was obviously there with the New Orleans big men. I would say though, that they’re both a bit tentative, and that will change as they get more comfortable and assertive. I am not scared to say though, that this is possibly the greatest PF/C duo in NBA history. Up there with McHale and Parrish, and Duncan and Robinson. Both bigs have absurd skillsets. I think the key for the Pelicans will be the play of Jrue Holiday, and how involved in the offense he is. Tonight, he was locked down by Beverly, but more slashing in the pick and roll should really help him. I could see his efficiency being extremely high, given the opposite player in the pick and roll.

At any rate, here’s your recap for most of Thursday night! Thank goodness the break is over…

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All we needed is a royal event! Unfurl the red carpet, roll it out in the The Colonies’ biggest city, and The Duchess will grace over his royal territory! Wow, I just made a Brooklyn Mess game sound like a big event. FOOL YOU!

As we continue to see Khris Middleton get his minutes ramped up, this was maybe the most encouraging game of the night for me yesterday, as he gets the ASB to rest up and looks ready for a big second half. Even though it’s more like a big final 1/3, but ya know, NBA… 20/3/7/3/0 for The Duchess K Middleton, with only 1 TO and shooting 7-13 with a trey. His most minutes thus far (played 26 off the bench) and I just loved this little glimpse of chemistry with Giannis Antetokounmpo with the big highlight from this game:

Guys are looking N’Sync! I would totally watch The Duchess and Greek Freak lead a boy band… Through his 4 games back, Middleton hasn’t looked like he’s lost anything, with a stellar 18:4 AST:TO, is shooting 47%, and has two 3 steal games. With Jabari Parker out and a line-up that will need a playmaker next to Greek, this could be a really fun upcoming stretch. Kudos if you were able to stash him all season on your IL, and get ready for a royal finish! Here’s what else went down on the last busy slate of action before the All-Star Weekend:

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C.J. McCollum, last year’s Most Improved Player, continues his ascension as one of the best shooting guards in the game. In a battle for the 8th playoff spot in the west between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks, McCollum dropped 32 points (13-21 FG), none bigger than his runner with 0.9 seconds left that sealed a Blazers’ win:

Ultimately the game winner, it came right after Dirk Nowitzki hit a clutch three to put the Mavericks up 113-112 with 3.9 seconds to go. Nowitzki turned back the clock in the game to post 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 4 threes, but it wasn’t enough as McCollum put the nail in the coffin.

The 4th year guard is having a career year, but has been shooting even better lately. In the last 5 games, he’s knocked down 13-28 from deep and shot 55.8% from the field overall.

Having such an efficient backcourt mate has taken some of the pressure off of Damian Lillard (29 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 threes), who is having his best shooting season of his career as well.

Unfortunately, both guys will need to continue to step up, if the Blazers have a chance at the playoffs, as guard Evan Turner broke his right hand in the third quarter of the game. No timetable has been announced, but he should miss at least a couple weeks. The injury should open up opportunities for Allen Crabbe (4 points) and Maurice Harkless (8 points, 7 rebounds).

It was a short slate of games on Tuesday, as only 3 games were played. JB made sure to make it known to me that he had to recap 11 games on Monday. Boy, did I get lucky this week! Here are the rest of the nightly notables:

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Oh man, what a fun day this is for Razzball Basketball! Let’s start with our big announcement we’re making later today – I’ve teased it a few times, but it’s coming this afternoon! We’ve got a special post going up today that is going to: Blow. Your. Mind. I’ll just leave it at this – it involved robots and very short shorts…

On top of THAT, what a fun night of hoops on Humpday! We had epic drama with the Kings somehow beating THE King (in Cleveland no less!), yet another tripdub for Russ, but then a late night wonder with my boyfriend Ivica Zubac having another awesome game! My preseason darling looked further away than ever for minutes when he barely got run in preseason games, but he just kept his head down and powered through some D-League stints and a handful of junk time minutes here and there until the Lakers finally started unleashing him. Had the 11/13/1/1/3 line 3 games ago against the Nugs, then after low minutes for two games, exploded again last night for 12/10/2/0/3.

He’s just so big and so fundamental! He did only shoot 5-15 from the field (a few “misses” were on consecutive putback attempts though…) and had 4 TO, but hit 2-2 FT and typically should be a true 8-cat guy (no treys). As I mentioned on the Pod last week, in the D-League he shot 57.8% from the field, 82.9% from the FT line, and had a 15.6/9.7/1.3/0.2/1.0 line in 13 games at 30 MPG. I mean, it’s not “epic”, but he’s still only 19 and looks like he could turn into Jonas Valanciunas with D-stats. With ZuBlock showing off his potential and our big announcement today, I’m like a rabid Beatles fan this morning!

After pimping him hard as a possible second-half sleeper in the preseason (I initially ranked him like 160 or something, but then they signed Tarik Black and never played Zubac in the preseason, so I cut him out of my top 200), it’s 100% time to add him if you need a big. It might be bumpy for minutes, but the Lakers have fallen to 16-33 and it’s time to keep the youth developing. Here’s what else went down in fantasy basketball last night:

PS – Podcast will be out tomorrow morning – we are recording later today, just a day behind. Can’t wait to gloat about taking back the 30-point challenge lead!

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Austin Rivers is finally busting out, and showing the ability that we all knew he had.  It appears that biggest factors in this breakout are minutes and confidence.  Rivers is playing with swagger now, and the numbers bear that out.  Over the last two weeks he’s averaging a slash line of 17.2/2.3/4.3/0.5/0.3 with 2.2 treys, 48% FG and 80% from the stripe.  He’s a must-own while CP3 is out, and frankly, he should be a solid part of the Clippers future from here on out.  Unfortunately he’s now just over 50% owned in most leagues, so this is the last call on Rivers.  Please go get him…

Secondly, I would just like to point out what a miserable team the Sacramento Kings are.  Rudy Gay is out now, yet nobody gained any value.  How is that even possible??? Gay’s injury opened up 34 minutes per game of playing time, and the result is negligible!  Come on man!

Anywaysssssss, here are the updated wire recommendations for the week:

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It’s almost baseball season, so let’s start pulling in the puns! I just wanted to be sure everyone knew that I was going for that use-case of the title, not what you’d find in urban dictionary… Who comes up with that stuff?!

Huge weekend from Sam Dekker, getting 28 minutes off the bench on Friday night when Ryan Anderson exited after only 9 minutes (Illness – tried to play through The Plague that is running rampant in the NBA, but it claimed another victim. Somebody really needs to do something about the flu and stomach issues that make the NBA seem germier than going on a cruise.), going 17/7/2/0/1 with a trey in 28 minutes. Then in his first career start Saturday night – at the Grizzlies who are supposed to be a defensive team – Dekker blew up like an upper decker for 30/4/0/2/0 on 12-19 FG with 6-11 treys.

Somebody get a hand in his face! Got 35 minutes, and didn’t commit a single TO in either of these games. Roto-efficiency! Dekker’s been playing decently – albeit a little under-the-radar – in his bench minutes this season, but he’s a good rebounder who hits treys and can pepper in stocks. All the while maintaining a low TO rate. Kinda seems Otto Porter-ish to me! Although Dekker is only 28-49 at the FT line for some reason, good for 57.1%. While Ryno is “only” out sick right now, all his injuries does make him an endangered species… Everyone is out for Ryan Anderson’s ivory! Everyone wants a nice white dude shooter on their team… Now the Rockets have two! So if Ryno’s back flares up again, or if he has any injury really, Dekker would be a must-own. I might even nab him for the short-term, if you have any streaming spots you can dedicate to a little run – because speaking of a little run, doctors told Rynio he might be dealing with this stomach bug for 1-2 weeks. Somebody get this guy some pepto bismol and keep him away from my toilet tanks! Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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