With NBA fantasy drafts drawing ever closer, savvy owners should be thinking about potential risks to avoid when making their picks.
While certain players may be overhyped during the offseason or carry a large amount of name recognition, these attributes don’t contribute to a winning fantasy season. Ironically, these kinds of players can doom your season from Day 1.
While owners are intelligent enough to know not to draft players at the bottom of depth charts, they should also recognize that some big-name players just aren't going to live up to the hype this season. Players with huge red flags like Andrea Bargnani and Andrew Bynum won’t be covered here. Rather, this article covers players who should be drafted in every league for the most part—just not by you.
Dwight Howard is gone from Laker land. In his place is the oft-injured, oft-disappointing Chris Kaman. While he carries a decent amount of upside, he’s just not the same player he was when he played for the Los Angeles Clippers.
His last season with Dallas was an atrocity; he played in only 66 games and averaged 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. His defense and decision making weren't any better, and they often led to head coach Rick Carlisle benching him, according to SB Nation's Jason Patt.
Now that’s he’s back in LA, fantasy owners hope that he can round back into form alongside Steve Nash, coach Mike D’Antoni and Pau Gasol, who are three offensive geniuses. It’s possible that he will. If he can develop a nice pick-and-pop game with Nash, he can average 10-12 points, and his rebounding numbers should also receive a slight bump.
However, the fact that he’s a defensive liability isn't going to change, and the Lakers will soon face the same defensive issues that Dallas faced when playing Kaman alongside Dirk Nowitzki. Yes, D’Antoni has never put a premium on defense, but without Howard in town, this defense will suffer. And without Kobe Bryant, these Lakers won’t be outscoring opponents on a nightly basis.
At some point, they are going to have to stop someone.
There’s also the fact that D’Antoni didn't like playing Howard and Gasol at the same time, according to CBS Sport's Matt Moore. Now that Gasol is his best big man, guess who’s going to get the short end of the stick?
Oh, and in case you forgot, Kaman is one of the most frequently injured players in the league, per Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas.
Projected Averages: 63 GP, 11 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2 APG, 43 FG%.
Ilyasova entered last season as one of the most hyped fantasy players in the league. After his play in the 2011-12 season—when he averaged 16.1 points and 9.1 rebounds and boasted a breathtaking 50.8 three-point field-goal percentage post All-Star break—how could he not be?
He was a fantasy stud. He could shoot the lights out and grab rebounds like no other power forward outside of Kevin Love.
But then something went wrong last season. Ilyasova was a shell of himself, unable to score or even rebound. Fantasy owners who had invested high draft picks in order to nab him were burned, and several were forced to drop him.
And there he stayed, on the waiver wire, for a good long while...until head coach Scott Skiles was fired. Under new coach Jim Boylan, Ilyasova started playing a little better, and owners who rode him while he was hot were rewarded.
But his inconsistency never left. Against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 3, he scored 27 points and recorded 12 rebounds. In the next game against the New York Knicks on April 5, he scored just seven points to go along with seven rebounds.
Is his skill set unique among the very best NBA players? Yes. Can he singlehandedly win a weekly matchup? Definitely.
Should you invest anything but a late-round flier on him? No.
Don’t be fooled by him. If you can, let someone else draft him, or if you have no other options on draft day, take him and be sure to sell high as fast as you can.
Projected Averages: 75 GP, 13 PPG, 8 RPG, 44 FG%.
The Boston Celtics are an interesting squad to look at fantasy-wise because they have a ton of potential on the surface. With Rajon Rondo still out with a torn ACL and team leaders Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett gone to Brooklyn, other players have the opportunity to step up.
Only it’s no guarantee that any of them will. While Jeff Green is the obvious choice to do damage in the absence of Boston's stars, it’s far from certain that he’ll do much with the chance.
Sure, he had an amazing game against LeBron James and the Miami Heat toward the end of last season season, putting up 43 points, seven rebounds, two steals and four blocks. But you know what his numbers were prior to the All-Star break?
He averaged 10.3 points and 3.3 rebounds with a 44.3 field-goal percentage—hardly the stuff of legend. And that was with Garnett, Pierce, Rondo and head coach Doc Rivers.
Now? He has Avery Bradley passing to him (another player to avoid, by the way). As Bradley demonstrated (and ESPN's Chris Forsberg reported) in last year’s NBA playoffs against the Knicks, he has no idea how to run an offense or throw an entry pass. None. And he’s projected to be the starting point guard in Rondo’s absence.
There’s no doubt that Green is going to get his touches, but with the lack of firepower on this Celtics team, his scoring numbers may not be enough to overcome the inefficiency that’s likely to go along with it.
Projected Averages: 80 GP, 15.6 PPG, 5 RPG, 2 APG, 39 FG%.
Before we go any further, it needs to be stated that Greg Monroe is an All-Star level talent. His passing, rebounding and touch around the rim are excellent, and he is a player who couldn't hurt your fantasy squad.
Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding him have been changing—and not for the better.
Two seasons ago he was a beast, racking up double-doubles like coffee addicts. He got touches, crashed the boards and was seemingly the future of Detroit basketball. However, that future got a little less certain when Andre Drummond came to town.
No, Drummond didn't really play a lot last season. Head coach Lawrence Frank kept him on the bench amidst cries from fans calling for him to be unleashed.
And with those calls came the implication that Monroe had to change his style of play as well as his position to accommodate Drummond. After all, they both play center, not power forward, per Pistons.com's Keith Langlois.
But somehow, it was Monroe, and not the rookie Drummond, who was supposed to change. Suddenly Monroe found himself playing a little farther from the rim on offense, guarding quicker big men on defense. As a result, he missed out on precious double-doubles, his fantasy calling card.
Well, things have only gotten worse for Monroe this offseason. While the Pistons have become a better team with the additions of Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, they've also become less reliant on Monroe.
The big-man trio of Drummond-Monroe-Smith is intimidating and formidable; however, there are serious doubts that it can work over a full season. The Pistons won’t be playing big all the time.
Against smaller teams, they may elect to go with a quicker lineup. When they’re deciding whom to pull from the game, Monroe will be the first one on the bench. Smith can play power forward, and Drummond can man the center position.
It may not happen right away, but Monroe is in danger of being squeezed out of the Pistons' game plan, and it’s going to hurt his fantasy numbers. If you can get him in the later rounds, don’t hesitate to do so but temper your long-term expectations.
Projected Averages: 82 GP, 12 PPG, 7 RPG, 4 APG, 50 FG%.