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5 Busts to Avoid in Fantasy Basketball

Oct 18, 2019
Paul George

Shoulder issues could give Paul George owners headaches

The basketball season is right around the corner with tip-off happening on October 22, Tuesday night. With plenty of drafts scheduled for the weekend, we understand how important it is to have some straightforward advice on sleepers and in this case, busts. We reached out to our featured pundits below to identify which names you’ll want to avoid in this year’s draft.

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Q. What one player inside the top 40 are you avoiding this year and why?

Paul George (SF – LAC)
“The theme of the 2019-2020 fantasy season is going to be load management. With teams being extra cautious with their players, why inherit an established injury and an established timeframe to start the season? When on the floor, Paul George will be one of the best players and you’ll want him in the games when Kawhi Leonard sits. George is slated to miss the first 10 games at least, and the Clippers will manage his workload all season. He’s a guy that I would take on the 2-3 turn if I had a top 5 pick and could get a reliable building block. If I don’t have a top 5 pick, I’m out on George.”
– Michael Waterloo (FantasyPros)

“If I’m drafting today I’m avoiding Paul George. He had offseason surgery on both shoulders, and his timetable to return has been all over the place. The latest word is the new Clippers star will miss the first 10 games, and that’s according to Doc Rivers. Shoulder injuries have notoriously long recovery times, and I wouldn’t be surprised if George’s absence extends longer than the 10 games. Plus, there could be additional maintenance days upon his return. His ADP of 15 is just way too high for a player who could miss a decent sized chunk of the season.”
– Seth Klein (Fantrax)

“It’s a hard pass for me on Paul George this year, especially given his early second-round asking price. The veteran forward experienced a resurgence in 2018, dropping a career-high 28.0 points per game while swiping a league-leading 2.2 steals. Those stats alone make George seem like a tantalizing fantasy prospect at first glance, but disappointment could be in the cards for owners who select the new Clipper with a top-15 pick. George is still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and is expected to miss training camp and likely the first 10 games of the regular season. The Clippers gave up a haul to get him and will surely want to take every precaution possible when getting the superstar back into the lineup. With a talented core of Kawhi Leonard, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and Landry Shamet in place, there’s no reason to rush George back before he’s 100 percent healthy. If his health isn’t enough to dissuade fantasy managers, his usage should be. George’s renaissance came in OKC in a two-man show with Russell Westbrook. As we saw last year through an improbable playoff berth, this Clippers team under Doc Rivers is about playing team basketball, meaning George’s workload – even when healthy – will not be what it was as a member of the Thunder.”
Zachary Hanshaw (FantasyPros)

Russell Westbrook (PG – HOU)
“I won’t have any shares of Russell Westbrook this season at or near his ADP. He is currently going in the 1st round and while I understand the appeal, it is virtually impossible for him to return value while sharing an offense with the NBA’s ultimate usage hog, James Harden. One of them will have to take a step back and seeing that this is Harden’s team, you can bank on Westbrook’s Points, 3PM and Assists all plummeting.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

“Fading an NBA player in the Top 40 is really hard, mainly because volume and opportunity usually return some sort of value. Since a lot of these players have guaranteed roles, then their production is heavily reliable. With that being said, I will own 0% of Russell Westbrook going into the year. It might be a basic take, but for a player who is not efficient in his touches, losing touches is the worst thing that can happen to him. With a career field goal percentage of 43.4% including 30.8% from three, he is not someone who will continue to score with fewer shots. Plus, with the isolation ball Houston plays, his assists and rebounds figure to take a hit as well. One thing that probably will continue, however, is his penchant for turning over the ball. All we have to go on so far is the preseason, which is not always reliable, but in this case, it has shown that Westbrook is a turnover machine. He ranks second in the preseason with 5.7 turnovers per game and is averaging 11.0 per 48 min. With all the competition he faces for counting stats on this Rockets team as well as his inability to produce efficiently, Westbrook is an easy fade for me.”
Stuart Easton (Owl Eats Football)

Zion Williamson (PF/C – NO)
“I’m avoiding Zion. And this was before news came out that he is expected to miss a ‘period of weeks’. My projections had him down for 19.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2 assist, 1.5 steals, and 1 block per game. Are any of those numbers week-winning? Nope, but as an overall package they are lovely. Unfortunately, that’s not the complete picture, as the free throw shooting will be sub-70% and the contributions in three-pointers will be minimal. I do have the field goal percentage projection at 51%, so I could bump that up significantly. Zion is not going to shoot 71% from the field like he’s done in the preseason, but a number closer to 60% is fair. With that said, while he’s maintained the theft production from college, the blocks have not been there. Without those, you are looking at a Julius Randle-esque player with steals. For perspective, Randle was consistently outside of the top 100 before he started contributing some three-pointers and upping his scoring. Now, Zion is expected to miss the beginning of the season, which is not good in and of itself, but the knee issue is something he’s dealt with in the past and could linger throughout the season. As a result, there could be more missed games down the road.”
Stan Son (Razzball)

Joel Embiid (C – PHI)
“The highest number of games Joel Embiid has played in a single season thus far is 64. With Philly in a legitimate position to chase a ring, Brett Brown and 76ers’ management have already stated they’re inclined to do whatever it takes to ensure their franchise cornerstone is as healthy as possible for the postseason. Statements like that should raise a red flag for fantasy purposes. Furthermore, with the addition of Al Horford, the need to play Embiid on a nightly basis diminishes a little bit. The 76ers won’t necessarily need Embiid to suit up when they’re facing some of the Eastern Conference’s bottom-feeders. This will become especially concerning down the stretch when they have their playoff spot locked up – right around the time the fantasy playoffs roll around, I might add. I’m not saying that I’ll actively avoid Embiid at all costs, but he would have to fall a handful of spots in the draft for me to consider him.”
– Jay Taaffe (The Fantasy Unicorns)

Mitchell Robinson (C – NYK)
“I’d avoid drafting Mitchell Robinson inside the top 40. Knicks Coach David Fizdale was inconsistent with his rotations last season. The team added a plethora of big men to their roster that could easily cut into Robinson’s minutes. He was the 82nd best player last season in 20.6 minutes per game, but projecting 30 a night is difficult given the rotation and foul trouble issues. Avoid Robinson in your drafts.”
Tyler Watts (Watching the Boxes)

Thank you to the experts for naming their busts for the 2019-2020 NBA season. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more advice all year long.

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