We’ve hit the midway mark of the NBA season, and while it’s typical for Fantasy writers to hand out their mid-season awards, I wanted to take a different approach this week. I don’t necessarily want to look at the best of the best. I’d much rather look at those disappointing players who have spurned Fantasy owners this season. Heck, you can only praise Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and Amar’e Stoudemire so much. I’m sure even those three guys are sick and tired of the accolades and cheers from the sidelines. Well, you can argue that one never tires of hearing such praises, but I’m pretty tired of giving them. Let’s get a little gritty and talk about the so-called busts and see if they can turn things around in the second half.
Brook Lopez (C, NJN)
You can make the case that Lopez has been the biggest bust this season, based on ADP (average draft position) and the fact that we don’t have any specific injury to point to. Is there anything worse than having a early-2nd round franchise center who only averages 5.8 rebounds per game? I submit that there is not. Lopez came into the season with Fantasy owners hoping to get 20 points, 10 rebounds, 50-percent shooting from the floor, 80-percent shooting from the line and 1.7 blocks per game. No such luck. At least not as far as the rebounding is concerned. His scoring has improved slight (19 points per game, up from 18.8 last season) and his shooting has been less efficient (47.2 FG%), but it really is the rebounding that kills you. In the month of January, Lopez is pulling in just 4.6 boards per game. Lopez has had one double-double ALL season long (Dec. 1). That’s amazing.
The tough part here is that you can’t really point to one particular problem: injury, rotation, minutes etc. Maybe Kris Humphries is taking a few boards away from Lopez, but his numbers are truly unacceptable. After all, wasn’t Troy Murphy supposed to clean the glass for the Nets? It’s not like Humphries and Murphy are beating him up for rebounds. My assessment for Lopez in the second half of the season is that you can’t move him because right now you’re getting 50-cents on the dollar in the trade market. I would suggest, however, that if he notches back-to-back double-doubles or goes off on a little hot streak, send him packing for comparable value. Someone like Andre Iguodala, maybe?
Troy Murphy (FC, NJN)
Speaking of Nets who have broken our hearts, Murphy is among the biggest busts in the game. Again, he was expected to come to Jersey and grab 10-plus boards while hitting close to two 3-pointers per game. Murphy, however, has played in just 16 games all season long, with no injuries to point to, and made just four 3-poitners. Thank you, Avery Johnson. There’s nothing you can do about Murphy’s season except to express your disgust for Johnson’s distaste for Murphy. The only way we’ll see Murphy become a relevant Fantasy player is if he’s bought-out or moved. The problem is, you can’t really afford to hold onto him and play the waiting game. This is going to be a lost season for Murphy.
Anthony Randolph (PF/C, NYK)
Another season, another missed opportunity for Randolph. Save for a complete melt-down in the Garden, I don’t see any way the Knicks give Randolph significant minutes this season. We keep hearing rumors about him being moved, but even if he does wind up in Houston(?) you can’t assume he’ll fit into the rotation in his new digs. Randolph has played just 110 minutes in 14 games, making 11-of-38 shot attempts on the season (that’s an off night for Dwyane Wade!). No way I see Randolph, a 7th-8th round pick, giving Fantasy owners a return on their investment this year.
David Lee (FC, GSW)
I know I need to be fair here with Lee, since he did have a few injuries to deal with on the season (gross elbow, bro!), but Lee, a double-double machine last season, only has 17 double-doubles in his 34 games played this year. Again, he hasn’t been terrible and he has been banged up, but as it stands right now in 9-category leagues Lee is ranked 103rd overall, per Yahoo! You can say that you expected his shot attempts to go down in Golden State, but I think most believed that he could at least average 10-plus boards per game. I also don’t think that many had Lee pegged as a guy who would lose five-plus percentage points to his FG% and FT%.My belief is that Lee is worth holding onto because he’ll improve, as he’s shown of late. I’d only sell him for someone of greater or equal value, but don’t over-react and under-sell Lee.
Gerald Wallace (F, CHA)
I was among those who thought Wallace would not be able to replicate his 2009-10 season, but I didn’t think he’d be this bad. His rebounds per game are down a whole 2.1 boards. His scoring has dropped to just 15.6 per game, and while you were hoping to get 1.7 steals per game from Wallace, he’s only picking 1.1 balls per. Yeah, he’s been dealing with injuries, but he’s also been awful from the field. For someone who came into the season as a career 48-percent shooter, to see him shoot 41.8 percent from the floor really kills your buzz. I believe that if he can remain healthy, stop shooting those long-range jumpers and become more efficient at the rim (he’s shooting a career-low 54.6 percent at the rim, per HoopData.com) he’ll get this season quickly turned around. With his current ranking sitting at 143rd overall, there is nowhere to go but up for Wallace. I might even try to see if I can buy low on him.
Tyreke Evans (G, SAC)
To be fair, Evans has been dealing with multiple foot/ankle issues all season long, including the ever popular plantar faciitis, but 17.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists seems unacceptable to me. So too is his 40-percent mark from the floor, 2.8 3-pointers attempted per game, 73-percent shooting from the line and 3.1 turnovers. I’d like to think that Evans can turn it around, but he’s going to be playing with plantar faciitis for most of the season. He’s opted not to have surgery, but it would be disastrous to lose Evans for the season due to his foot. I’d think about moving him, since you can probably get value based on his name. I’ve never liked Evans as a Fantasy player, but there are plenty of owners out there who do.
Darren Collison (PG, IND)
I’m not sure where you stood on Collison heading into the season, but I was not among those who were drafting him in the late-3rd, early-4th round. Sure he warranted an early pick based on his audition in New Orleans last season while Chris Paul was out, but I didn’t think he was worth looking at so early. I also, however, don’t think he’s the 99th most valuable player in the game. He’s much better than he’s shown. Collison was lost in the offense early on, but now he seems to be fitting in nicely. Ranked in the Top 50 over the last two weeks, Collison is starting to raise his profile. Still, we can’t look past his poor play over the first two months of the season. I’d try to trade for him now if you can, but don’t give up too much for him.
O.J. Mayo (SG, MEM)
Well, anytime you go from being a rising star in the game to coming off the bench behind any and everyone with a pulse who can play shooting guard you know things aren’t going well for you. Here is what I can say about Mayo: don’t trade for him, but don’t drop him either. He’s valuable enough to be rostered in all leagues, save for those with six owners. He’ll play better ball in the second half and he may end up back in the starting lineup for good, but even if he doesn’t he can carve out a role similar to Jamal Crawford’s.
Gilbert Arenas (PG, ORL)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m not an Arenas fan (poor FG% and high TO-rate), but if you told me that he was going to play 39 games to date and would have averaged just 13.2 points and 21 minutes I would have thought you were crazy. I’m not touching Arenas in 12-team leagues, especially since he’s averaging 7.2 points per game in Orlando. I’m sure you’ll figure out what you need to do with Arenas, but all I know is that I’m not buying him.
Roy Hibbert (C, IND) – His coach is messing with his head. I don’t blame Hibbert. He should be playing 30-plus minutes per game, but he isn’t. At least not this month. I’m still holding on Hibbert, but if things don’t get any better it might be worth dropping him.
J.J. Hickson (FC, CLE) – The future in Cleveland has to wait for… another time. This isn’t quite the breakout season many were hoping to get from Hickson. Such is life, right? I would see if you can get him cheap. At the very least you know you’re getting a guy who is going to play and play often.
John Wall (PG, WAS) – Nice season, sure, but in Fantasy circles he’s been tough to own. He’s shooting 40 percent from the floor, under 80 percent from the line and turning the ball over 3.9 times per game. That’s just awful. In H2H leagues he’s more manageable, but tough to own in roto leagues.
Carl Landry (F, SAC) – You can blame his head coach too, but Landry has been a tough guy to own this season. Especially since we knew heading into the season that he doesn’t play much defense, when his FG%, FT% and rebounds aren’t to snuff he’s probably worth dropping in most formats.
Marcus Thornton (SG, NOH) – Another player who has been scorned by his head coach. Thornton is not getting the minutes, which in turn means that he’s not putting up Fantasy numbers. When Marco Belinelli is stealing your thunder you know you’re in trouble.
Robin Lopez (C, PHO) – Like brother, like brother. Lopez can’t rebound nor keep Marcin Gortat on the bench. He’s not worth owning in 12-team leagues right now.
Brandon Roy (SG, POR), Greg Oden (C, POR), Yao Ming (C, HOU), Mo Williams (PG, CLE), Aaron Brooks (PG, HOU), Brandon Jennings (PG, MIL), Carlos Boozer (PF, CHI) and Joakim Noah (C, CHI) have all hurt owners based on their injuries. I would say that Roy is the toughest one to swallow thus far.
*All stats as of Monday, Jan. 23 (prior to the start of Monday night’s action).
You can contact Tom at Lorenzo@RotoExperts.com. Send him your Fantasy questions and he’ll make sure to get back to you in no time.