Back when Larry Nance Jr. was a Los Angeles Laker, younger Son had a Nance Romance. I’d watch this 6′ 7″, 245 pound poster maker get busy night in and night out. With his 7′ 1″ wingpan and 37.5″ hops, Nance would Statue of Liberty every dunk. It didn’t matter if there was a defender there or not. It was patriotism at its finest. Unfortunately, he was never able to get more than 22 minutes of run per game, as he was down on the depth chart, suffered an injury when the opportunity finally arrived, and his tweener status gave coaches the heebie jeebies. When he got traded to Cleveland, I was sad to see him go but was curious to see if he could thrive. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always thrives? The Stocktonator. Once again, the depth chart was not kind to Nance, but the team signed him to a four-year, $44.8 million extension. He had to play, right? Of course not because it’s the Cavs we are talking about. He could never carve out a significant role and primarily relied on injuries to get run. Well, here we are now. Tristan Thompson is out with a knee injury while Andre Drummond is nursing a calf injury. Last night against the Boston Celtics:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 15 4 4 0 2 2/5 7/13 3/6

In 39 minutes. Nance has always been a good rebounder due to his athleticism and pursuit, but he’s developed a decent shot from downtown to go along with his handles and passing ability. He’s always been a maven for steals, as he plays the passing lanes well. The one conundrum has been the lack of blocks. He’s never come close to averaging 1 block per game despite receiving around 27 minutes per game during stretches. Probably has to do with overall defensive IQ, as athleticism isn’t the issue. Maybe he and Blake Griffin studied at the same dojo for how not to get blocks. Regardless, in nine games as a starter for the Cavs, Nance has averaged 35.2 minutes, 14.1 points, 1.3 tres, 9.9 boards, 3 dimes, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 50% from the field and 81% from the line. That’s equated to top 40 production for fantasy. Wouldn’t he be the perfect player for the Houston Rockets? Anyways, only use Nance when both Thompson and Drummond are out, or if the Cavs come out and say that he’s going to be the starting power forward from now on. Don’t hold your breath.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I now understand why this forward position is named power, as it is a microcosm of society at large. There is the 1% vs everyone else. For fantasy basketball, there is Giannis Antetokounmpo vs womp womp womp. While all the other positions have multiple players who could legitimately vie for the top spot, everyone bends the knee to G. This is 1985-1989 Mike Tyson-esque domination. Could a Buster Douglas come out of nowhere? Sure, as black swan events can never be discounted, but outside of injury to G, that scenario is highly unlikely.

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I’m such a degen that I signed up for the first NFBKC Draft Champions league as soon as it came out back in late July. What can I say? I’m a pookie for the drafts. Anyways, it’s a 12- team, 8-cat league with a $150 buy-in and implements KDS and TRR. KDS stands for Kentucky Derby Style, which allows owners to rank their draft order preference. TRR is Third Round Reversal, so during the draft, the first two rounds proceed as a normal snake draft, but in the third round, the 12th team picks first. The starting lineup consists of 4 guards, 4 forwards, 2 centers, and 2 flex spots. There are no trades or waiver pickups, so what you draft is what you roll with for the entire season.

For this piece, I’ll provide the draft board and give you my thoughts on why I chose the player I did in each round. During the draft, I utilized a spreadsheet that tracked everyone’s picks and showed I how fared in each category based on my projections, which I will post in the middle. Finally, I recommend that you look at teams 2, 3, 5, 7, and 12, as all have won at least 3 contests in the past at the NFBKC.

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(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

We live in crazy times, when nothing can be trusted. That tweet? Better check for the blue mark and read the name AFTER the @. That picture or video? With photoshop and other editing software, it can be very difficult to distinguish what is real and what is fake. The boobs or the butt on the girl from across the room? How about a free trial period? Oh geez, that didn’t come out right. A certification of authenticity perhaps? The news? It’s always been used as a tool to further agendas and “inform” the people, but the lack of objectivity and amount of Hollywood-esque manipulation these days make my head hurt. Thank goodness for sports and De’Aaron Fox.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 10 15 1 0 3 3/4 9/13 10/11

Fox messed around last night, but it was all good. Entering last night’s game, the Kings were 5th in offensive pace. Fox has been a huge reason why. Anyways, he can score, grabs a good number of rebounds for a guard (4.6), is dishing out 7.8 dimes, and is shooting 50% from the field. Holla! Not all is good, though. The free throw percentage is only 67%, no threeecolas, and the turnovers are high at 3.3. Fox did shoot 72% from the line last year, so there’s reason for optimism. He’s only 20 years old and this is his second year in the league, so improvement should be expected. Fox is currently the 79th player according to Basketball Monster.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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You know a team is peaking at the right time when its role players are shining. The Pacers are getting set for an epic playoff run led by their All-Star Victor Oladipo (3/27/3/5/3/0) and their breakout star Domantas Sabonis (0/30/8/3/3/0). Yes, the 30 points were a career high and, yes, both players were acquired via trade (for Paul George) in the off-season, but that is not even the most amazing thing about the Pacers’ season. The crazy thing is that the person who was supposed to be their can’t-miss stud has been an all-time dud.

Myles Turner has had an extremely disappointing season in both real-life and fantasy (funny how those are tied together) and last night he may have finally hit rock-bottom: 0/0/1/0/0/0 in just 6 minutes. No, it wasn’t injury-related. It was foul-trouble related, which should be strictly a rookie problem for big-men. The Pacers could end up being a very dangerous playoff team if somehow Turner can figure out his issues. My money is on…..drumroll…..no, no he won’t. This has been a problem the entire season, so there is no reason to believe he will suddenly be the team star again. I do think he will have some good nights, but overall he will be the same.

The good news is that the Pacers can win without him (maybe that is messing with his head and confidence), so it is not really that big a deal. The bad news is the Pacers cannot win a championship without him. But more good news, nobody expected them to even be in the playoffs, so they are playing with house money.

Anyway, here is what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Most are familiar with chapter 3, verse 16 of the Gospel of John: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son <Hey! That’s me!!!>, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Before storm clouds gather up above and lightning fries my plump physique into a mush of cooking oil, I was just joking God. Ha ha. I’m probably fine because I’m sure he/she/it was overloaded yesterday, but….out of respect and….juuuuust in case. Anyways, because we go next level here at Razzball, I want to mention chapter 3, verses 18-19 of the Gospel of John: Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. <Hey! It’s me again!!!!> This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Yesterday, the fervent followers and believers of the NBA were graced with a sermon from the Book of John Henson, chapter 3, verses 18-19.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 18 3 0 2 0 0 8/14 3/5

Granted, it was against the Brooklyn Nets, a team that is atrocious against the center position. With that said, since Jason Kidd was fired as coach of the Bucks (seven games), Henson has averaged 29.4 minutes, 12 points, 7.57 boards, 2.42 dimes, 0.8 steals, and 1.1 blocks. As long as the Bucks do not trade for a center at the deadline, have faith in the Henson. Is it any coincidence that I am Son and John is a Henson? I thinks not. See the light and come out of the darkness. If the Bucks trade for DeAndre Jordan or any other big man, then you can tear the Book of Henson out, get on your knees, and scream to the heavens: Why have you forsaken me?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Like most of you, I’ve been through more fantasy drafts than I can remember. Online with old friends thousands of miles away, in-person with coworkers I’d deal with every day of the season. Basements, bars, over wings. Once, I was driving from one draft to another while the second draft was beginning, pulling over to make each of my picks until I arrived. There was a draft via text on a road trip before phone apps existed, a manual auction in an AOL chat room (not advisable), drafting online for one league while drafting in-person for another, slow-drafting, making it so that I was checking my phone every 10 seconds when the next pick might not be made for 17 more hours. Some day, I’d really like to do something on par with the show The League and draft in-person at one of the NBA Summer Leagues.

I did end up having a pretty sweet drafting experience this season. So, one of my favorite bands is 311, and I’d never seen them live in the 20+ years I’ve been listening to them repeatedly. When I found out they’d be relatively close to me last fall, I decided I wasn’t going to miss them this time. Okay, October 15th… why did that sound familiar? CRAP! My favorite league, my dynasty league, was having it’s seven-round draft that night! Yeah, I could’ve pre-ranked… but, I’d traded up in the draft enough that I’d only be drafting on my phone for about 20 minutes… and it looked like the draft would be during the opening act. I determined I’d do both, draft at the concert and just ignore the opening act and hope I’d be done by the time 311 took the stage. I didn’t count on the opening act being crazy-fun, but you can’t have too much of a good thing. So, there I was, leaning against the back wall with Tropidelic providing a great soundtrack to me drafting some top rookies I’d been drooling over for months (we keep 18 players, so the draft is all about the rookies). I finished my last pick just in time for 311 to rock my face off (and psychedelically funk my face off) while I dreamed of my rookies turning into top 20 fantasy players.

See me? Riiiiight…. there.

So, how are these rookies doing? Usually around this point, we’re nervous about our rookies’ future, since they’re getting DNP-CDs and G-League stints. But this year at Christmas time, we’ve seen the best crop of fantasy rookies in many years. Though, it’s not all the guys we expected doing the damage. For those of you that love trying to spot the future stars as much as I do, I’d like to take a look at the per-36 stats of the rookies we’ve seen. In case that’s not familiar, it’s their stats prorated to 36 minutes. It’s not a perfect projection, of course, but I figure, in most cases, the rookies at their career peaks are going to play closer to 36 minutes than what they’ve played so far. And, while they likely won’t get to 36 minutes exactly, they should make up for some of that shortcoming by greatly improving (a lot of these guys are 19 or 20) and by becoming larger parts of their teams’ offenses in the future. It’s not one-size-fits-all, as guys like Tatum, Simmons, and Kuzma might already be relatively close to what their peak minutes and team involvement might be (think of who’s likely to join their teams in the next season or two). Some rookies have hardly played or have only been role players in garbage time against third-stringers, so this isn’t going to be too predictive for them, either. But, I’d guess this’ll give us a rough estimate of the type of players the rooks might be if they keep improving as we’d hope. I left out guys that have barely played, but that still leaves 45 rookies to check out.

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There was no Batman in Boston last night, as Aron Baynes ran roughshod over the team from Tinseltown. 21 points, eight boards, and three dimes in 23 minutes. The 21 points were a team and career-high. Baynes was drilling jumpers from the elbow, dunking over hapless defenders on the baseline, setting screens then pinning smaller defenders onto his buttocks, jump hooking with the right, jump hooking with the left, and skying through the air for putback dunks. It was quite the performance. Thanks Batman. Signed, Lakers fans. Now, Baynes played a prominent role because Al Horford missed the game due to a concussion. Horford missed nine games last season due to a concussion, so there’s a chance that Baynes continues to wreak havoc on the league. Interestingly enough, Charlotte, a team that supposedly has a Superman, is next on the docket. In two games, they travel to New Jersey, which is a hop and a skip from Gotham City. DFSers heeded the signal and played him last night. He’s worth an add for the quickie, as the Celtics are super-thin in the front court.

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Image result for official logo celtics

It’s the end of an era for the Boston Celtics. It’s crazy to think that Isaiah Thomas had only been with the team for 2 1/2 years, but he became the heart of soul of those squads. I guess it all makes sense when you realize that IT is only 5′ 9″ 185 pounds and was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2011 NBA Draft. Always bringing the business, irrespective of the social construct of time and making us question the E=MC Squared equation because the energy does not seem to be interchangeable with his mass.

Got nothing but love for you IT. With that said, the NBA is a business. Here’s something for you to ponder. As I sit in this chair writing, it always pisses me off that there are salary caps in professional sports. Do we not live in a free, capitalistic meritocracy? Why is there a limit on the amount of money a player can make? Now, if I actually owned a NBA team….SALARY CAP!!! Why? Because it makes the most business sense. It’s a doggy dog world out there and cute, cuddly emotions are reserved for when you get home. The Celtics made a bunch of business decisions this offseason. As much as I love IT, it’s a move that was in the best interest of the team going forward.

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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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