“Busts”. It’s not just a word that fills up my Google search history. In fantasy basketball, busts can ruin your season in either spectacular or subtle fashion. A bust could simply be a first-round pick that ends up returning third-round value. Or a 10th-rounder who you end up dropping by Week 3.
It’s always good to be on the lookout for these evil creatures. There’s nothing worse than having the excitement of a great fantasy draft ruined once the season begins by someone who you thought would flourish. The following “busts” come in all shapes and sizes. And you can save your jokes, because I’ve Googled them all.
Monta Ellis, PG/SG, GSW
I certainly don’t think Monta will be a major bust, but burning an early-second-round pick on him is rather risky this year. With new coach Mark Jackson, the Warriors could change their approach a bit, and the former point guard could be very hands on in trying to rein in the anything-goes tendencies of Ellis and Stephen Curry. There’s a chance the Dubs slow things down (they’ll have to just to allow for new center Kwame Brown to catch up) and focus on being a sounder team. Ellis’ overall numbers could be a notch worse this year, and I’m avoiding him in drafts.
Jason Kidd, PG, DAL
I gotta hand it to Kidd. The guy averaged 7.9 points and shot 36.1 percent from the field (!) yet still was the No. 31-ranked player in Yahoo! leagues last year. Kidd is 39 in March and the grueling gauntlet of a schedule we’re about to partake in isn’t going to make him look any more sprightly. I also feel a Roddy Beaubois breakout coming. I rank Kidd around 75th overall on my preseason cheat sheets. In other words, I’m going to let someone else draft him.
Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, MIL
In the past four seasons, playing for Golden State and Charlotte, Jackson has somehow had the green light to fire up around 17 shots a game. He averaged around 20 points in the process, getting to the line often and providing great fantasy value if you could abide his poor field goal percentage. I don’t see Scott Skiles’ leash being that long for Jackson. An Andrew Bogut resurgance will (okay, should) mean the team runs their offense through him, and Jackson will be playing with Brandon Jennings in the backcourt, an odd combination to say the least. Jennings will have the ball in his hands a ton and he’ll take many of the late-shot-clock and late-period shots that Jackson has always felt were his birthright. I’m leery of investing too much in Jackson. If his scoring falls towards 15 ppg, that 41 percent shooting percentage becomes too much to bear.
Elton Brand, PF/C, PHI
It’s important to identify players who might be more injury-prone than usual in a condensed schedule. Brand turns 33 this year, he played 81 games in 2010-11 (he had played 113 combined in the previous three years) and he averaged 34.7 minutes a game, the most for him in a season since ’06-07. Brand wowed fantasy owners who had written him off to the tune of 15.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 51.2 FG% and 78.0 FT%. Hoping for such excellence across the board even in a normal season at his age would be foolhardy. With this schedule, Brand will be a bust.
Wesley Matthews, SG, POR
Matthews was quite the find last year, emerging for the Blazers and finishing as the No. 37 fantasy player. He’s still going to be very good, but the additions of Ray Felton and Jamal Crawford will put a cap on his ceiling. He’ll also be playing with Gerald Wallace for a full season; after the Wallace trade last year Matthews took over two less shots per game and saw his scoring average fall two points as well. Don’t reach too much for Matthews.
Lamar Odom, SF/PF, DAL
Odom put up some really nice numbers last year – good enough to be the No. 34 player in Yahoo! leagues – and helped many owners win fantasy championships. He was helped by Andrew Bynum missing significant time, and he averaged 16 & 10 as a starter. Off the bench he was still a solid 13 & 7.5 in 47 games, and that’s probably a more reasonable representation of what he could do in Dallas. The problem is that Odom’s best position is power forward, and Dirk Nowitzki is locked in there, so he’ll be competing with Shawn Marion for minutes, and perhaps Brendan Haywood as well if the Mavs choose to go small. It’s quite possible Odom’s numbers could dip even more on a new, deep team. Considering he set career highs in both field goal (53.0) and 3-point (38.2) percentage last year, a natural regression to the norm is to be expected.
Other bust candidates: Manu Ginobili, SG, SAS; Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS; Dorell Wright, SF, GSW; Andrea Bargnani, PF/C, TOR; Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, DET; Marcus Thornton, SG, SAC.