20 Oct Fantasy Basketball: 10 Busts for the 2016-17 Season
As every fantasy season approaches (whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, or whatever sport you may play) everybody likes to make claims about breakout or “sleeper” type players. While that can be fun and all, picking players who will fall short of their draft day prospectus can be more beneficial to the average owner. As it is often said and redundant in my pre-draft articles, the saying “you can not win your league with your first round pick, but you definitely can lose it,” refers to the notion of picking a bust with your first, or first few selection(s). Each year for every sport, there are a few busts that end up being landmines to somebody’s team, and we here at the SportsCrew will help you navigate your draft unscathed.
A bust does not necessarily mean that a particular player is terrible and not a solid NBA caliber talent. This list we be compiled off players we consider busts based on where their ADP is currently, and justifying why it is too high for you to take on that risk on draft day. I think you get the picture here and let’s not waste anymore time getting to the meat and potatoes, or spoiled meat and rotten potatoes if you will.
Andre Drummond (DET), Center
This call holds more credence in a rotisserie/5×5-6×6 category type format more so than a strict head-to-head points based format. Watching Drummond clean-up and dominate the glass is a pleasure to watch, and easy to see why he is the NBA’s top rebounder. That’s not all he can do on the hardwood, as he is a stat-based defender averaging 1.5 blocks and steals per game. The latter is quite a lofty number as far as centers are concerned in today’s game. With all of those gaudy statistics, you may pondering where the bust potential lies here. Well his inability to hit free-throws at even a Shaq-like efficiency is not a hyperbole. In his 2015-16 campaign, he hit from the charity stripe at 36 percent which is one of the worst of all-time.
Just like if you are in a highly penalized turnover league, you would want to avoid guys like: John Wall, Dwayne Wade, or Rajon Rondo due to their donating ways of giving the ball to the other team. This is the same for Drummond in any league that tabulates free-throws, but at an exponentially worse risk. Drummond handed in a -9.76 free-throw ratio last season. A total so bad, that it knocked him all the way down the rankings next to guys like Cody Zeller and Lou Williams; good for 114th in ESPN leagues last season. If he could have even hit for replacement-level type production at the line he would have finished somewhere around Paul Millsap and Kyle Lowry, which would have paid off his late-first round early-second round ADP. The notion that these “big men” who struggle with free-throws just need to practice more, has been shot down by many who have struggled in the past saying that they have practiced non-stop, but it has more to do with their mental state and confidence. Taking all of these factors into consideration and where his ADP sits for this season, you should steer clear of Drummond especially in roto-leagues.
Klay Thompson (GSW)
Another player who’s average draft position (ADP) hovers around the third-round opposed to the second-round pick you would have needed to draft him last season. With Golden State doing their best impersonation of Boston’s Big-Three, or “The Decision” laden Miami Heat super-teams’; they were able to reel in the biggest free-agent catch this offseason in Kevin Durant. Coming off a season where he posted career highs in points (22.1) and shots per game (17.3), Thompson will almost certainly see both of those numbers take a noticeable dip in 2016-17. And his usage, which ranged from 24.3-25.5 over the past two seasons, will likely fall as well. These are all huge red flags, and Thompson doesn’t do enough aside from scoring and shooting the 3-pointer to make up for a lesser role in the offense. With Durant now in town, his shot total will definitely decrease which really puts a cap on his ceiling, while his floor should also slide down a bit.
Furthermore, the one statistic that Klay churns out the most is three-pointers, a statistic that you can obtain elsewhere as the three has become much more prevalent in today’s game. Last season, there were 28 players who averaged 2.0 3-PPG, a dozen of whom handing in 2.5 3-PPG. At his current ADP, I would much rather take a chance on guys with a higher ceiling such as: Kemba Walker, C.J McCollum, Victor Oladipo, Gordon Hayward, or Isiah Thomas.
Harrison Barnes (DAL)
Here we have a descendant from Golden State, as Harrison was due up for a big-money contract, but the Warriors needed to clear space for Durant. Let’s be honest here, during the postseason last year Barnes couldn’t hit the side of a barn door with his jump-shot. Mark Cuban and his bottomless pockets have continually failed to bring in a big-ticket to Dallas and be the predecessor to Dirk Nowitzki. The only thing Dallas got from DeAndre Jordan was his voicemail, so Cuban was able to get the full commitment from Barnes and inked him to a 4-year/$94M deal. A deal of this magnitude would suggest that Barnes is capable of star-level production. The Mavericks might think Barnes has it in him to be the focal point of an offense, and that his production was simply limited by playing with other great players. His mediocre-at-best numbers in 2015-16 may have been indicative of him just not being that “max-deal” type star player that some people drew him out to be.
Playing on arguably one of the best team’s of all-time in Golden State should have at the least led to more than the measly 1.8 assists he had per game. One could argue that he could have shifted his focus to become more defensive minded, but concluded by the 0.2 blocks and 0.6 steals per game, that just was not the case. His per-game production numbers should see an uptick with his new team simply because he will see more minutes than he did with Golden State. Just be cognizant that his rise in minutes will not correlate to a rise in stardom. The new NBA and its TV money has allowed teams to sign mid-level players to max contracts, so be weary of those middling high-paid talents.
Dwayne Wade (CHI)
Wade was the go-to player in Miami, despite his injuries and age. Wade finished fifth in usage percentage last season among qualified players, topping out at 31.5 percent, just below Kobe Bryant and right above Russell Westbrook. Wade is obviously going to be headed to the “Hall” when his career is said and done, but when you are mentioned with Kobe and RWB in terms of usage, you have yourself a very productive situation.
He now goes to a Chicago Bulls team devoid of outside shooting and playing a faster pace than he is used to in Miami. Since entering the NBA, the highest pace Miami played at was 95.8, his last season that added Goran Dragic, a notable transition player. The Bulls played at 98.3 in 2015, Fred Hoiberg’s first season as head coach. Jimmy Butler is the young talented nucleus of this Bull’s team, so reverting back to the de-facto number two option with the fast pace and his age, I don’t think he will play up to the same standards and results as in Miami.
Kevin Love (CLE)
Love’s role limits his upside and makes him no more than a boring mid-round pick. The stretch four has been a top-40 option in each of his two seasons in Cleveland, but in the third-round, you want to be targeting players who you think can finish within the top-20. Love can’t do that as long as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving remain on the roster. He is a good fit for the punt FG% build (41.8 FG%) due to his rebounding (9.9 RPG), but even in that build, I would wait until the fourth round to target Love.
Jeff Teague (IND)
This is a classic case of paying for a player’s ceiling, something you always want to try to avoid. Teague was an inconsistent player with the Hawks, often following months of looking like an early-round player, with months of barely looking like a top-100 option. He’ll be an especially risky pick now that he’ll be forced to share the ball with notorious usage-hog Monta Ellis and Paul George. Teague does have a lot of weapons on offense, but his inconsistency, and the likelihood that his usage will drop, makes him one of the least attractive point guards currently being drafted in the middle rounds.
Rajon Rondo (CHI)
I really dislike having to write this one up because I loved him so much heading into last season as he was joining Boogie Cousins and Rudy Gay on a fast-paced Sacramento squad. Rajon looked like the guy he was in Boston last season, but his new teammates make another top-50 finish extremely unlikely. Dwyane Wade completely destroyed Goran Dragic’s value in Miami and I expect his presence to have a similar effect on Rondo. Add in Jimmy Butler and it’s very likely that Rondo’s league-leading 11.6 assists per game will see a noticeable drop. It’s also likely that we’ll see a drop in his FG% (45.4 FG%) as teams will pack the paint against the Bulls and dare the guards to beat them from the perimeter. As always, Rondo will be one of the league’s best sources of assists and steals (2.0 SPG) and contribute little elsewhere.
Devin Booker (PHO)
Booker had an extremely impressive rookie year that didn’t translate to much fantasy value. He simply does not contribute in enough categories right now to be more than a low-end option. Over the last three months of his rookie season, Booker played 35.3 MPG and averaged 18.5 PPG, 1.7 3PG, and 3.8 APG. Despite the huge minutes and gaudy counting stats, the rookie was only a top-175 option over that span. His value was brought down by weak rebounding (3.0 RPG), non-existent defensive impact (0.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG), a high turnover rate (3.0 TOPG), and most of all, awful shooting from the field (40.3 FG%). Booker’s game obviously has plenty of room to grow, but the incoming drop in minutes due to the return of Eric Bledsoe, as well as the presence of Brandon Knight, will likely offset any improvements that Booker makes to his game.
Otto Porter (WAS)
The third-round is far too early for a player who was only a top-70 player over the last three months of 2015-2016. Porter did provide early-round value before Christmas, but doesn’t have the track record to justify a ranking this high. Until the Wizard can show that he can sustain a high-level of play for more than a couple months at a time, he has no business being ranked beside much more consistent and proven options. Porter is an excellent fit for the punt points build (11.6 PPG), but even in that build, third-round value is unlikely.
Andrew Wiggins (MIN)
Wiggins already plays major minutes (35.1 MPG) so he’s not going to benefit from the presence of Tom Thibodeau as much as his fellow starters will. The Canadian may see a minor bump in playing time, but owners currently drafting Wiggins within the top-50 will have to hope that the swingman’s game expanded significantly over the summer. Wiggins does not currently have a fantasy-friendly game. In his sophomore year, the only categories that he helped owners win were points (20.7 PPG) and blocks (0.6 BPG). He provided below-average production everywhere else. The lack of across-the-board production led to a disappointing top-115 finish. I expect Wiggins to improve in his third year in the league, but it’s tough for a player who won’t be seeing a significant increase in minutes to jump up fifty or sixty spots in the rankings. There’s plenty of players available in the same range as Wiggins that have both a higher ceiling and higher floor.