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NBA Blog: Rebound & Rant

Ken "K-Train" Crites

An early RotoWire contributor from back in the 90's, K-Train returns with the grace of Gheorghe Muresan and the wisdom of Joe Gibbs. Tweet him @KenCrites or e-mail him at Ken won the FSWA 2014 Humor Article Of The Year award. He's also the 2015-16 champion of the prestigious RW NBA Keeper League. Ken still owns a RotoNews shirt.

Did I Mention I'm Old?
Did you waste your Monday night watching the Seahawks stomp the Saints, or did you bask in the glory that is the modern NBA?

Front-runners (Yes, front-runners!) Portland and Indiana had an epic Monday confrontation, with the upstart Trail Blazers snapping Indy's seven-game win streak.

The starless Bulls and Pelicans (no Rose, no Davis) battled through three overtimes, with Jrue Holiday's last second heroics earning NOLA the road win. And the hapless Wizards made it back to .500, heady air they haven't enjoyed since 2009.

It was a glorious night, especially for fantasy football owners ready to move on from a frustrating season. (Did I mention I gambled big on David Wilson, Tavon Austin and Ray Rice? Ugh.)

My entire Fantasy Hoops team seems to have a non-displaced fracture in their hand, so forgive me if the following observations are a tad cranky. Think of me as your drinks-too-much uncle…where are my plaid pants?

Man, The East Stinks
The East is terrible. As of Thursday afternoon, only two Eastern Conference teams (you know who they are) are playing above .500 ball, with Washington and Atlanta at an even .500.

Out West, only Utah, Sacramento and Minnesota (that will change) have losing records.

What's this mean from a fantasy perspective: easy, playing time opportunities abound in the East, with losing coaches making frequent lineup changes. Coach Brad Stevens is wisely shuffling the deck each night in Boston. Orlando has young talent to test versus letting Glen Davis and a hobbled Jameer Nelson take every shot.

Heck, with Derrick Rose's knee problems and Luol Deng gone via free agency next summer, even Chicago's GM John Paxson must be giving more thought to the draft versus in-season upgrades. Keep an eye on Eastern Conference box scores, regardless of the ugly games. Guys like Jared Sullinger, John Henson, Maurice Harkless and Terrence Ross should receive more playing time soon.

Rookie Sensations or Bad Teams?
I know it was exciting to see two rookies, Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams, face each other and put up triple-doubles on Tuesday. But keep some things in mind before putting each in the Hall Of Fame. First, the game went through two overtimes. Second, these teams are terrible, forcing rookies to play too much. Third, the two combined for only one three pointer out of 10 attempts (MCW hit one of five). Fourth, MCW had seven turnovers. I know, I know, I'm a cranky old man. If you have these guys, deal them while the hype machine is in full affect. [Editor's Note: Since I want to shine a little happiness inside of your cranky hole, Ken, I'll offer a more positive perspective. Both players are in great situations. While they may not be in terrific situations to win games, both players will get a lot of minutes, which is the most important stat in fantasy. I'm comfortable using them all year, and while their shooting percentages could hurt you in Rotisserie leagues, Oladipo and MCW's counting stats are gold mines in H2H leagues.]

Westbrook Is NOT Fully Back
When it was announced that Russell Westbrook was only going to miss one week of the regular season, lots of owners (including myself) rejoiced. Now it seems maybe they should have given him more time. He's shooting a career-low 39 percent. For the last 30 days, he currently ranks 122nd for Average Game stats in my Yahoo League. CBS has him at 43rd over the last 14 days. I know, I need to be patient and stop rattling my cane. Thank you for letting me whine. Check in with his now disappointed owners -- now might be the time to make a trade offer for Westbrook. He's gotta get better soon.

OK, this is just awesome. If your team has any players who reside at the Target Center, this is mandatory viewing. (Does it show that I'm old if I like all things Cheers?). Ricky Rubio fits right in…

The Hand Switch Is Working
Remember the stories (and chuckles) about Tristan Thompson changing his shooting hand from left to right? Well, it's working. Thompson is shooting 75 percent from the charity stripe, up from his career 61 percent rate. And, as I'm sure coach Mike Brown is happy to see, his free throw attempts per game are up from 3.5 to 4.2. That's what power forwards are supposed to do: bang inside and draw fouls. Plus, his field goal percentage is up to 47 percent from his career average of 42 percent. Kudos to the Canadian.

You Have Noticed Trey Burke, Right?
Holy smokes, I did not see this coming from Trey Burke so early in his NBA career, especially coming off of October 15th finger surgery. Toss out his first three games, and he's averaging 16.0 points, 5.0 assists, 2.4 treys and only 1.4 turnovers over the last five games. He's the affordable rookie to get, if still possible.

What was Trey Burke's average stat line during his last year at Michigan?

Paging Enes Kanter
This was supposed to be the year Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors blew up, right? Favors is doing OK, but Canter is NOT justifying his number three draft pick of 2011. Despite averaging 30 minutes per, he's only getting 6.6 boards and 0.6 blocks a game. That is not breakout material. He's ranked 212th year to date in CBS Leagues. Ouch. [Editor's Note: Enes Kanter is legit. He's just young, and the Jazz' offense looked like a bunch of mice on random drugs scurrying and twitching on the court before Trey Burke (love him, too) got healthy and began starting. Now that coach Ty Corbin has a player who knows how to play point guard, Kanter will be much more effective.]

Free Agent Pickups?

Channing Frye (PHO): He's probably already owned, but if you are in a thin league with guys who think the Suns only have guards, grab him. We're talking threes from a guy who often qualifies at center. But he's probably already gone.

Martell Webster (WAS): Lots of folks were scared off from the social media fiend, thinking last year was a fluke and Otto Porter would steal his minutes. Wrong. Porter already has an air of disappointment, and Beal's injury opens up even more minutes for Mr. Webster.

Khris Middleton (MIL): Another example of a bad team giving a new guy more minutes. He's started 11 games, yet no one knows him or spells his first name properly.

DeMarre Carroll (ATL): You have noticed that he's started every game for the Hawks, right? I might grow out my hair like Mr. Carroll, just to make my wife angry.

Mason Plumlee (BRK): He's today's Deep League Special. The rookie is showing surprising production while the rest of the Nets fall apart. (Who enjoys seeing both NY teams stink things up? I sure do.) Plumlee is especially worth a flier in keeper leagues.

Trey Burke was the Wooden Award Winner last year, so should I really be surprised with his early success? Probably not. In his last (sophomore) year as a Michigan Wolverine, he had an average stat line of 19.0 points, 7.0 assists, 46 percent from the field, 80 percent from the charity stripe and 1.9 treys per game. Utah is going to play him until his knees bleed.