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Sep 13

17/18 Busts/Overvalued Players

Avoiding players who bust, especially early in the draft, can be just as important as finding that late-round sleeper who vastly outperforms their draft position. Luckily, most non-injury related busts are somewhat easy to spot. The same group of players are overrated year-after-year and this season is no different. I might as well rename this column “The Annual Andrew Wiggins and Other Players You Should Avoid List”. I bring up Wiggins because he is a good example of the type of player that is usually taken far too early in drafts. Wiggins is a big name who lights up the points category. How well known a player is should obviously have no bearing on how you value a player. That may seem like common sense, but most leagues have that one guy who is walking away from their drafting thinking they hit the jackpot because they drafted Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Harrison Barnes. Lots of managers also struggle to understand that points is just one category. You don’t get bonus points for winning points instead of steals.

Y! – Current Yahoo Ranking

EFB – Current Elite Fantasy Basketball Ranking

Isaiah Thomas

Y! – 33 EFB – 71

Let’s start with an easy one. Thomas is a DND until, at least, the middle rounds. If he’s out until the All-Star then he becomes close to undraftable in leagues without an IR spot. If his timeline is that bleak, but you play in a league with an IR spot, you’ll likely have to spend a mid-round pick to acquire Thomas’ services. I’d likely still stay away in that situation as the Cavaliers will play it safe with their new star point guard and it will take some time for Thomas to get acquainted with his new teammates. If he’s only out until around January, I think a fifth-round pick would be fair if we assume third-round production once he is on the court. His usage rate with Boston was significantly higher than Kyrie’s usage rate was with the Cavaliers so another first-round finish is out of the question. Thomas was a top-40 player in 2015-2016 and a repeat of that season’s numbers is a more reasonable expectation (22.2 PPG, 2.0 3PG, 6.2 APG, 1.1 SPG).

Gordon Hayward

Y! – 25 EFB – 39

Yahoo’s ranking doesn’t make a lot of sense. Hayward had the best season of his career in 2016-2017 and finished as the 33rd-best per game player in 9-category leagues. He accomplished that as the Jazz’s first option. He’ll play second fiddle to Kyrie Irving in Boston and a drop in his scoring (21.9 PPG) and usage rate (27.6%) should be expected. It’s not just Hayward’s usage rate that you should make you uncomfortable with this ranking. Hayward is also coming off of a season in which his efficiency improved significantly (47.2 FG% in 2016-2017, 43.3 FG% in 2015-2016). He crushed his 2015-2016 shooting percentage both from both deep (39.8 3P% in 2016-2017, 34.9 3P% in 2015-2016) and at the rim (69.2% in 2016-2017, 62.2% in 2015-2016). Some regression is very possible especially from deep. Three-point shooting tends to take more than a season to stabilize and Hayward could be closer to his career average of 36.8% from three in 2016-2017.

Jeff Teague

Y! – 45 EFB – 75

Teague is another easy one. Don’t expect Teague to approach the 7.8 APG that he averaged in 2016-2017. Jimmy Butler often ran the Bulls’ offense and that will likely happen in Minnesota as well. His scoring numbers should drop too (15.3 PPG) as he will be be the clear fourth-option behind Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins. You may be tempted to grab Teague when that inevitable point guard run takes place in the third and fourth round, but resist the temptation. There will be better point guards available a round or two later that won’t cost you a fourth-round pick.

Jusuf Nurkic

Y! – 47 EFB – 60

The fourth-round is way too high for one of the league’s most injury-prone players, especially when you consider that the hype surrounding Nurkic is built off of 20 games. Nurkic did produce top-45 numbers during his time with the Blazers, but only lasted 20 games before breaking his leg and missing the remainder of the season. This was the first time in Nurkic’s career that he consistently played close to 30 MPG and he only lasted 20 games. Not good. It’s also fair to wonder if his FG% is going to hold up. He shot 50.8% from the field in 2016-2017 after only shooting 41.7% from the field in 2015-2016. Everything else, excluding his FT% (57.1 FT%), should be very good (17.1 PP36, 12.1 RP36, 1.3 SP36, 1.9 BP36), but there’s no reason to take Nurkic at his current fourth-round price. There are plenty of players available in this range (i.e. Andre Drummond) who have even more upside than Nurkic and are much safer picks.

Carmelo Anthony

Y! – 48 EFB – 68

Everyone, excluding LeBron James, eventually declines and it appears that Carmelo has entered that phase of his career. Anthony played 34.3 MPG last season and sported a very high usage rate (29.0%), but that wasn’t enough to allow the Knick to post top-50 numbers. Melo’s scoring (22.4 PPG) and threes (2.0 3PG) were actually better than they were in 2015-2016. Unfortunately, he was worse in almost every other category. His rebounds dropped from 7.7 RPG to 5.9 RPG and his assists dropped from 4.2 APG to 2.9 APG. Things could get even worse if he was to move to Houston. His usage would take a major hit and there’s no guarantee that the likely increase in efficiency would offset the drop in counting numbers. Staying in New York isn’t a great option for Anthony either. The Knicks are going to be very bad this season and won’t have any reason to play Carmelo down the stretch.

Devin Booker

Y! – 51 EFB – 94

Booker has the potential to be very good, but don’t let the 70-point game fool you. He still has a long way to go before he becomes a mid-round fantasy asset. Booker is a three-category player (22.1 PPG, 1.9 3PG, 83.2 FT%) who struggles to contribute in any other category. He is a negative on defense (0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG) and really struggles with turnovers (3.2 TOPG). Booker is also yet to prove that he can be a top-100 player with Eric Bledsoe on the floor. Before Bledsoe was shutdown last season, Booker was only a top-140 option. He’s going to improve, but I don’t think he has a six-round improvement in him and that is what he’ll need to justify his current ADP.

Andrew Wiggins

Y! – 58 EFB – 102 

Wiggins can be considered a litmus test for fantasy basketball knowledge. The Canadian is an obvious trap to anyone who knows their stuff. He provides a lot of points (23.6 PPG) and not much else. In fact, he hasn’t provided above-average production in any non-points category over the past two seasons. Given Wiggins’ need to score to be relevant in fantasy, the arrival of Jimmy Butler is very bad news. Wiggins has yet to post top-100 numbers for a full season and there’s a good chance that his streak continues in 2017-2018. He is laughably overpriced at his current mid-round ADP.

Ben Simmons

Y! – 55 EFB – 120

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves with Simmons. He hasn’t played a competitive game of basketball since last summer league and we have no idea what he’s going to look like when the season tips off. Eventually he should be very valuable, his college stats and his potential on the court suggest that he will be, but there’s way too much uncertainty here to even consider Simmons in the fifth-round. It’s still unclear if Simmons will have any restrictions placed on him and he has some holes in his line that will limit his upside in his rookie year. At LSU, he was a poor free-throw shooter (67.0 FT%) who got to the line a ton (9.0 FTA). He could be very tough to roster outside of the punt FT% build. He also has a shaky jumper and didn’t block shots in college (0.8 BPG). Simmons could be interesting due to his rebounding (10.2 RPG), as well as his out-of-position steals (2.0 SPG) and dimes (4.8 APG), but he’s not interesting enough to blow a mid-round pick on.

Marcin Gortat

Y! – 69 EFB – 128 

Gortat won’t come close to providing mid-round value as long as Ian Mahinmi is healthy. After Mahinmi returned from his knee injury, Gortat only played 25.6 MPG and was barely a top-200 player. Even if Mahinmi was to miss time, Gortat likely wouldn’t be worth much. The Wizards’ center will turn 34 during the season and is coming off of a season in which his game clearly declined. Gortat was a top-50 per minute player in 2015-2016, but was only a top-180 per minute player in 2016-2017. His scoring, steals rate, and blocks rate, all dropped off significantly and got worse as the year went along. Father Time is undefeated and is coming for Gortat.

Dario Saric

Y! – 96 EFB – N/A

Saric, along with Bob Covington, carried the Sixers’ offense down the stretch of last season. He played 30.4 MPG over the last two months of season and averaged 17.5 PPG over that span. Despite the big scoring numbers and big minutes, that only equaled top-100 value for Saric. That is because he is the type of player that is almost never valuable in fantasy. He is a big man who doesn’t score efficiently (41.1 FG%) and doesn’t contribute on the defensive end (1.0 SP36 and 0.5 BP36). He is only 23-years-old and could eventually become a good fantasy option, but that likely won’t happen this year. He’s going to be stuck behind Ben Simmons, and with Embiid back and Markelle Fultz joining the squad, his role on offense won’t be nearly as big. He’s only a final-round flier in standard leagues.

Harrison Barnes

Y! – 63 EFB – 99

Barnes is another example of how overrated PPG is. There is nothing in Barnes’ line particularly useful outside of his points (19.2 PPG). That 19.2 PPG is not even that impressive. It is roughly equal to 1.3 SPG or 1.0 BPG. If Barnes produced the exact same amount of value, but his best category was steals instead of points, he wouldn’t be ranked nearly as high. He’s not terrible at the line (86.1 FT%) or on the boards (5.1 RPG), but he is not a difference maker either. Barnes is a below-average three-point threat (1.0 3PG), doesn’t pass (1.5 APG), and isn’t very active on the defensive end (0.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG). His top-75 2016-2017 ranking is deceptive. He was much worse than that after Dirk Nowitzki got up to speed. Over the last two months of the season, Barnes wasn’t even a top-120 asset.

Julius Randle

Y! – 75 EFB – 121

Randle still hasn’t shown that he can contribute in enough categories to be more than a late-round player. It’s hard to provide mid-round value if your efficiency is mediocre (48.6 FG%, 72.3 FT%) and you don’t produce anything on the defensive end (0.7 SPG, 0.5 BPG). There are plenty of players available at Randle’s current sixth-round price that provide much more well-rounded lines than the Laker. You can do much better than 13.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, and almost nothing else in the sixth. His scoring is likely to stay low now that Brook Lopez is on the roster and with Brandon Ingram expected to have a larger role in his sophomore year.

Zach Randolph

Y! – 102 EFB – N/A

Randolph’s final season in Memphis made it very clear that he doesn’t have much left in tank. Zach finished as a top-190 player and only managed to play 24.5 MPG. With the Kings looking to the future, don’t expect his playing time to rise and even if it does, that likely won’t make Randolph more than a late-round player. He can no longer score efficiently (45.0 FG%, 73.1 FT%) and like always, he’ll be a major drag on your defensive numbers (0.5 SPG, 0.2 BPG). At this point in his career, Z-Bo is only a streamer for those in need of points (14.1 PPG) and rebounds (8.2 RPG).

Dwyane Wade

Y! – 80 EFB – 111

Regardless of where Wade lands, a top-80 finish is very unlikely. He did manage that last season with the Bulls, but his usage is going to drop on any one of the contenders that Wade is considering. The all-time great also continues to be a good bet to miss more than a handful of games (60 GP in 2016-2017) and will be extremely hard to trust during the fantasy playoffs. Expect around top-100 numbers when he is on the court with his best contributions coming on the defensive end (1.4 SPG, 0.7 BPG) and in the scoring column (18.3 PPG).

Rudy Gay

Y! – 95 EFB – 105

There’s better players than Gay that I would be hesitant to draft in eighth if they were coming off of a torn Achilles. We’re still waiting for our first successful recovery from what has become, arguably, the worst injury in basketball. Kobe Bryant, Wes Matthews, and Brandon Jennings all fell off of a cliff after blowing their Achilles. Gay could very well suffer the same fate. Expect the Spurs to handle him with kids gloves and give Gay plenty of nights off. He will also very likely come off the bench and it’s unclear how large his role will actually be. There’s too many question marks here to justify spending a mid-round pick on Gay. Don’t expect him to come anywhere close to matching last season’s top-35 finish.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Y! – 90 EFB – 113

KCP is a poor per minute player who has yet to show the upside to justify his current seventh-round ranking. Caldwell-Pope was a top-110 player last season, but only managed that feat because he played 33.3 MPG. With Jordan Clarkson backing him up, it’s not a lock that KCP matches that number. Any drop in minutes would torpedo his value. He was only a top-170 per minute player last season and doesn’t provide much outside of the points (13.8 PPG), threes (2.0 3PG), and steals (1.2 SPG) categories. He’s currently being taken around his ceiling.

Eric Gordon

Y! – 100 EFB – 133

Gordon was trending down even before the Chris Paul trade. Despite averaging 16.2 PPG and 3.3 3PG, he was barely a top-100 player in 2016-2017. That mediocre final ranking was due to an awful second half of the season where Gordon only managed to post top-160 numbers. Chris Paul’s presence ends any shot he had at repeating as Sixth Man of the Year and makes Gordon no more than a three-point specialist who kills you from the field (40.6 FG%) and does nothing on the defensive end (0.6 SPG). Don’t even consider the Rocket at his current price.

Dion Waiters

Y! – 110 EFB – N/A

Waiters has been terrible for the overwhelming majority of his career and a month and a half of hot shooting doesn’t change that. The gunner just had the best season of his career and still only managed to barely post top-160 value. His game is not fantasy-friendly at all. He can score (15.8 PPG), hit from deep (1.8 3PG), and is a useful source of low-end assists (4.4 APG). Everything else in Waiters’ line is very unhelpful. He is extremely inefficient (42.4 FG%, 64.6 FT%) and contributes nothing on defense (0.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG). Don’t underestimate how much Waiters can hurt you at the line. Last season, the only two guards who had a larger negative impact on the FT% category were Brandon Ingram and Andre Roberson.

Frank Kaminsky

Y! – 121 EFB – N/A

Kaminsky is currently ranked in front of teammate Marvin Williams. That doesn’t make a lot of sense as Williams is the likely starter on opening night and Kaminsky’s minutes at center will now be nonexistent with Dwight Howard in town. The stretch four won’t see enough minutes to be relevant in standard leagues. Pass on Kaminsky during the draft and treat him as a streaming option when you are in need of threes (1.5 3PG) and a few boards (4.5 RPG). If Kaminsky could score efficiently he’d be an interesting flier, but thus far, he’s shown no signs of being able to (39.9 FG%).

Jordan Clarkson

Y! – 132 EFB – N/A

The Lakers’ signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ends any chance that Clarkson had of being relevant in standard leagues. He was only a top-150 player last season and will likely see his minutes cut to make room for KCP. Like his new teammate Caldwell-Pope, Clarkson is not a good enough per minute producer to overcome a drop in playing time. He wasn’t even a top-200 per minute player last season and wasn’t much better on a per minute basis in 2015-2016. There’s a good chance that Clarkson doesn’t provide above-average value in any category this season. He may just end up being a low-end three-point specialist (1.8 3P36) who provides average swipes (1.3 3P36).

Taj Gibson

Y! – 136 EFB – N/A

Gibson is exactly the type of player that you want to stay away from late in drafts. In the final rounds, your focus should be on upside and Gibson has none. Maybe he can finish as a top-150 player, but that won’t win you any leagues. In fact, rostering players like Gibson can hurt your chances as wasting a spot on a low-upside player who provides passable, but not particularly useful numbers, can cause you to hesitate on better free agents. Even in a best case scenario, Gibson will still be splitting minutes with Gorgui Dieng and Gibson isn’t a good enough per minute player to be worth much in a 20-to-25 MPG role.

Jayson Tatum

Y! – 130 EFB – N/A 

Tatum is a very good long-term prospect who is going to struggle to see consistent minutes in his rookie year. He’ll be playing on a Celtics team that will be gunning for the top spot in the East and he will be competing for playing time with the likes of Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown. He’s also a rookie wing and rookie wings are almost always useless. Only two rookie wings have finished in the top-100 over the past eight seasons. Those two rookies were Kawhi Leonard and you guessed it, Landry Fields. He’s still a very good pick in dynasty leagues, but the tenth round still has plenty of better options available. Tatum is a mediocre, final-round pick in re-draft leagues.

Follow me on Twitter @EliteFanBBall for the latest fantasy basketball news. I will gladly answer any fantasy basketball related questions that you may have.

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