You can’t win a championship at the beginning of a season, but you can lose one. Much as it pains me to say, I think I’ve already lost.

After a successful Writer’s League last year that ended against Kostas in the semifinal and a pretty intensive offseason of thinking about hoops, I came into this year’s draft feeling like I was in decent shape to post a good showing again. But this year ain’t last year. Stats and success don’t carry over, and if you’re resting on laurels rather than applying lessons learned, there’s no way to bank Ws on account of “experience.” If you’ve been following Kelder’s weekly recaps, you might have noticed that my team isn’t anywhere in the mix. Indeed, you’ve got to scroll almost the way to the bottom of the table to see my name. A record of 19-34-1 is good enough for 11th and I feel all but certain the hole that I’ve put myself in is going to be too deep to recover from. I’m not quite ready to quit on some other struggling squads, but I think it’s safe to let go of preseason expectations at this point and set a different goal for the remaining three-quarters of the season here in the Writer’s League.

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On a recent podcast with Son, I let slip, “If you’re a center that doesn’t get blocks, I don’t think I have any use for you.” It was a knee-jerk line, one that I hadn’t much considered before it fell out of my mouth, and I’ve been wrestling with how true that might actually be ever since. For most of the summer, I’ve been vexed by the center position because, outside of the elite guys, the shortcomings of the position are obvious and numerous. For many, their usefulness in category leagues extends only to rebounds, blocks and FG%, and oftentimes those few spoils are sacrificed at the altar of points, dimes, triples, and free-throw percentage. Drafting a center that doesn’t, it’s a steep tradeoff in the best of circumstances, so when looking at someone like Deandre Ayton – a top-50ish, center-eligible player who produced exactly enough swats last year to break even in the category by z-score – I began to wonder what exactly the point was. 

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 22!  In this post, I identify under-rostered players who can help your team as streamers or long-term adds.  The ravages of tanking, phantom injuries, and real injuries are undoubtedly taking their toll on your squad.  I commend anyone with the intestinal fortitude to play fantasy hoops into late-March or April.  That being said, there are a lot of opportunities out there as we head down the stretch.

In the “late news breaking” category, Ja Morant was just listed as out for tonight’s game against Indiana.  This SHOULD boost the value of De’Anthony Melton and Tyus Jones, so look to them for those elusive assists.

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Can LeBron be corny at times? Yup. Does LeBron flop sometimes? Premier League players break down his tape. Is LeBron entering the final stages of his hooping career? Father Time is undefeated. That said, is LeBron one of the greatest players of all time? He almost won a chip with Eric F’ing Snow at point guard. He’s Magic Johnson in Karl Malone’s body with Zion Williamson hops, before Zion morphed into the long lost Klump. He’s won the chips, received all the accolades and awards, and is still doing this at age 37….

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Happy New Year to the Razzball community! I wish everyone good health, happiness, and fantasy basketball goodness. Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season and watched the games, which are some of the few in the year that are scheduled at convenient European times so we can also enjoy them without falling asleep, usually at halftime.

The basketball side of things last week was dominated by none other than DeMar DeRozan, as he became the first NBA player to hit back-to-back game winning buzzer beaters on back-to-back days. One can even say that those games were in two different years, if you didn’t have enough of that uncle who tells that kind of jokes at the Christmas table. Like the all time classic “I haven’t spoken to you since last year” after the New Year’s Eve which usually gets the following kind of reactions.

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The Covid situation and more specifically the Omicron variant has forced most NBA teams to sign players on 10-day deals, in order to fulfil the minimum roster requirement and avoid postponement of games. Most of those players come from the G-League, some from European Championships but the one signing that caught my eye was the return of Joe Johnson to the Celtics at 40 years old. Exactly 20 years ago, the Celtics drafted Iso Joe with the 10th pick and that age gap is the largest one in NBA history. Of course, what would be more fitting than him making a basket in his return with his usual isolation play.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Nine!  Many of us are approaching the halfway mark of our seasons, with each matchup taking on increasing importance as we jockey for playoff positioning.  Meanwhile, cold and flu season is in full swing, with the added ingredient of COVID-19 sewing more chaos as teams scramble to field full rosters for game action.  Those of us with players on the Bulls, Pistons, and Raptors are already feeling the burn of game postponements this week.  Nonetheless, with every injury or health and safety setback, there are opportunities.  Look no further than the value that Cody Martin and Kelly Oubre Jr. returned while four of their teammates were out with COVID-19.

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Regarding last week’s suggestions, Anfernee Simons is still getting minutes due to C.J. McCollum’s injury so he is worth holding, Doug McDermott provided the value you would expect from him but Killian Hayes was pretty underwhelming and is not looking like a standard league fantasy contributor. On the “Sell” front, Kelly Oubre continued his amazing performances but LaMelo Ball’s return is just around the corner so the sell-high window is shrinking, while Andre Drummond is so bad, he is getting outplayed by rookie Charles Bassey for the backup minutes and remains a drop.

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Brawls in the NBA have been very rare lately, compared to the old days. Just ask Ron Artest. This is of course an improvement and it usually takes something unique to sparkle one nowadays. And in a weird twist of fate, what created one in yesterday’s game between the Lakers and the Raptors was OG Anunoby lifting Dennis Schroeder like he was made out of feather.

Ok, either Anunoby is way too strong or Schroeder is way too light, as he was almost zoned out when he lifted him and immediately went for the apology. Anunoby seems like a very chill dude so I bet he didn’t even realize what he was doing at that moment, but it still created a rare scuffle.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, both Chuma Okeke and Gary Trent Jr. were awesome, with the former producing top 30 and the latter top 50 fantasy production this past week. Jaden McDaniels and Hamidou Diallo were also productive and certainly worth rostering, while Evan Fournier, who was mentioned in the “Sell” column had a great week but is currently out due to COVID-protocols. I don’t even mention Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who was also in the “Sell” column since he hasn’t played yet and I have serious doubts that he will play again this year. The general consensus seems to disagree with me, as he is still owned in 97% of Yahoo leagues.

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In high school, I went out with a girl who was two years younger than me. Things were amazing but then I got accepted to a school on the opposite coast. There was sadness at the inevitable end of the relationship but we made the most of it for those six months. We spent as much time together as we could and tried to cherish every moment. As the summer came to an end and it was almost time to go, the crescendo of emotion and activity was heightened, until the last hurrah knocked on the door and said it’s time. Jusuf Nurkic is close to returning back to action for the Trail Blazers. Enes Kanter knows his time is almost near. As I did with my high school sweetheart, so did Kanter do last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 19 6 0 1 0 0 6/8 7/8

In 40 minutes of action. Sooooo close to his eighth 20/20 game of his career and second this season. He grabbed 10 offensive boards, the fourth time in his career he’s accomplished the feat. On the season, Kanter is a top 75 player. As a starter, he’s averaged 29.7 minutes per game. In 12 games off the bench, he’s at 18.7 minutes. When Nurkic returns to action, it may take some time for him to get ramped up, but once that happens, Kanter will be playing sub-20 minutes again.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I have so many questions regarding the porn industry. Do the actors get royalty fees? Do they get paid by the hour? Salary? Per orgasm? 401k? Dental? Health insurance? Are performance-enhancing drugs allowed? Are there rivalries? I have too much time on my hands. I mean, I uh, had too much time on my hands. Anyways, I have no questions regarding Collin Sexton of the Bulls. He’s a professional hucker and chucker. Sometimes they go in. Other times they go clang. Last night, though….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
36 3 4 2 0 6 6/9 13/24 4/6

….as he led the Cavs to a 116-105 victory over the Raptors. Sexton has attempted 24, 25, and 20 shot attempts in the last three games. On the season, he’s attempted 20 shots in a game 12 times. He’s failed to score in double figures just once this season, has gone for 20 points 28 times with four of those 30-burgers and a high of 42 points. Sexton will contribute some steals, tres, boards, and some dimes, but no blocks. The field goal percentage is a respectable 48% while he’s converting 80% of his free-throw attempts. On the season, Sexton is a top 100 player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Rundown of tonight’s dynamic slate of 10 Games with five Triple-Doubles on this Hump Day.

RAPTORS -VS- (W) PISTONS
Fred Van Vleet: Blessings to my dude for battling Covid-19 this month and making a full recovery.
First game back and understandably rusty.  The three steals and the 7-of-8 from the charity make it much more palatable.  Yum.  
FVV is actually 3rd on the planet in steals rate at 1.7 SPG.

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