Busts to Avoid (2020 Fantasy Basketball)
It’s all too easy to get tricked into picking fool’s gold early in your fantasy draft. Missing on any of those early picks can be catastrophic to your title chances. Fortunately, there’s such a bevy of reliable talent with little to no question marks within the first few rounds this season that you can build a true contender by grabbing safe options early and shooting for the moon later on.
The keys to look for when targeting high-round athletes are a solid usage rate (like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic), durability (a la Bam Adebayo and Damian Lillard), and gobs of minutes (such as Devin Booker and Jayson Tatum with Gordon Hayward out of town). So which highly-touted ballers lack one of these and come with the most red flags heading into the season? Our featured analysts take their shot at answering that very question for you. Read on to see who they’re avoiding. Also please keep in mind, that we’re not passing on these players at all costs. If any of these athletes slide down far enough in drafts, they’re all worth taking the plunge on.
Q. What one player inside the top 40 are you avoiding this year and why?
Mitchell Robinson (C – NYK): ECR – 38th Overall
“I want to steer clear of Robinson in fantasy drafts. His career numbers of 8.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks are solid when combined with his .720 FG%, but I just don’t see him improving on those enough to warrant a top-40 selection. Robinson played just 23.1 minutes per game last season, and new coach Tom Thibodeau, who usually prefers vets over youngsters, will find a way to keep Robinson’s minutes down in favor of recent acquisition Nerlens Noel. Of course, that’s if Robinson doesn’t do that on his own; the big man fouled out in seven games and racked up at least four fouls in 25 of 61 contests last season. I’m a Knicks fan, so I know it’s pretty much a guarantee they blow it with the guy who’s arguably their most talented player. If you’re looking for boards and blocks, I’d much rather draft LaMarcus Aldridge or Jusuf Nurkic, who will also have higher scoring outputs and free throw percentages and are both being selected after Robinson.”
– Seth Klein (Fantrax)
“Mitchell Robinson is so insanely talented that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit four blocks per game at some point in his career. But to do that, he’ll have to average way more than the 23 minutes per game he saw in 2019-20 and I don’t see that happening this season. Between his tendency towards fouling (5.3 per-36 minutes through two seasons), combined with his penchant for taking unnecessary risks to chase blocks — anathema to new coach Tom Thibodeau’s strict defensive emphasis — there are a lot of obstacles to more court time before even glancing at the depth chart. And while the depth chart is better than last season, it’s still problematic. Even if he expands his workload, he’ll still be actively harmful in five of eight categories.”
– Alex Rikleen (RotoWire)
“I’m avoiding Mitchell Robinson. The elite blocks and shooting efficiency are mighty enticing. So are the steals and rebounds, but he doesn’t offer any three-pointers and assists. Plus, the points are few and the free-throw shooting is terrible. Past that, can he stay on the court, though? Robinson was 13th in foul rate per game and 19th in total fouls last season. Now, Nerlens Noel has entered the fray along with coach Tom Thibodeau, who would play Taj Gibson heavy minutes. That’s a lot of risk for someone being drafted in the top 40.”
– Stan Son (Razzball)
John Collins (PF/C – ATL): ECR – 20th Overall
Although I’m really starting to worry about James Harden (his absence from Rockets training camp and willingness to be traded), I’m going to roll with Collins here. Collins averaged 21.6 points, 10.1 boards, 1.6 blocks, 1.5 dimes, and 1.4 triples while shooting 58.3/80.0/40.1 splits last season and he was one of the most valuable players in fantasy. It may seem ludicrous to bet against a guy coming off this kind of season, but hear me out. Clint Capela is expected to be healthy when the new season tips and Atlanta drafted big man Onyeka Okongwu with the sixth pick in this year’s draft, adding plenty of competition for usage in the frontcourt. The Hawks loaded up elsewhere, signing Rajon Rondo, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kris Dunn, and Danilo Gallinari, suggesting the move to a more well-rounded team effort in 2020-21. A move away from the basket and Capela patrolling the paint could lead to a decrease in rebounds and a decline in shooting efficiency for Collins, while the addition of so many playmakers could limit his opportunities on offense. I’m not expecting Collins to fall out of the top 50, but I can’t envision him living up to his current ECR of 20.”
– Zachary Hanshew (FantasyPros)
“John Collins is one of the best young players in the NBA and is on an up-and-coming Atlanta Hawks team. That being said, they added a lot of depth to their frontcourt starting with trading for Clint Capela at last year’s deadline, signing Danilo Gallinari this offseason, and drafting Onyeka Okongwu with the sixth pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. We can’t forget about De’Andre Hunter needing minutes too. Collins should still be good for routine double-doubles, but the huge upside appears to be gone for now.”
– Keith Lott (Fantasy Six Pack)
Kyle Lowry (PG – TOR): ECR – 39th Overall
“Lowry has been a staple in the top-40 fantasy basketball players since joining the Raptors in 2012, but will that continue this season? The Raptors just handed a four-year, $85M extension to rising star guard Fred VanVleet, the largest contract in NBA history for an undrafted player. He erupted last season, averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists, while turning the ball over just 2.2 times per game. Lowry averaged 19.4 points and 7.5 assists, but turned the ball over a career-high 3.1 times per game. Toronto also used its first-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft on a point guard, Malachi Flynn out of San Diego State. I’d much rather ‘reach’ for FVV than ‘settle’ for Lowry and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if VanVleet (51st in ECR) outperforms the soon-to-be 35-year-old Lowry (39th in ECR) in his 15th NBA season in 2020-21.”
– Adam Koffler (FantasyPros)
“Kyle Lowry has been a staple of fantasy basketball rosters for over a decade now and continued to put up solid numbers last season, but we may be seeing a changing of the guard in Toronto. Don’t get me wrong, Lowry isn’t completely going away, but he is fading behind up-and-coming stars Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. Both Siakam and VanVleet saw massive increases in playing time and production last season and are the focal points of the Raptors. The 34-year-old veteran point guard may still be a vital piece of his NBA basketball team, but he will be a disappointment for fantasy teams this season.”
– Aaron Larson (FantasyPros)
Kyrie Irving (PG/SG – BKN): ECR – 23rd Overall
“Irving is currently ranked 22nd in the latest expert consensus rankings and someone I am trying to avoid drafting within the top 40. He underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in March and is expected to make a full recovery. The 28-year-old guard continues to battle injuries and hasn’t played 70 games since the 2016-17 season. Irving was limited to 20 games last season, but did average 27.4 points, 6.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 triples, and 1.4 steals across 32.9 minutes. It remains to be seen how Irving will mesh with star forward Kevin Durant, who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury. He will also be sharing the rock with Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, and Joe Harris. Irving becomes a risky pick in the top 25 with health issues and a secondary role to Durant. Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons, John Collins, and Deandre Ayton are all players I would prefer to select over Irving, all of whom are ranked close to each other overall.”
– Brad Camara (FantasyPros)
“Kyrie Irving is an elite player. The man is a first-round talent and has been for years. Unfortunately, Mr. Irving has been killing fantasy teams for the past few years. He consistently goes in the second round of fantasy drafts so far this season. He will not live up to his inflated ADP of 23.65 per Fantrax and in head-to-head leagues he is one of the biggest headaches to own with all of the missed games. In Irving’s last five seasons, he has averaged 54.4 games played per season. With him a year older and his body seemingly breaking down, there is no reason to believe things will change, especially in our condensed 72-game season.”
– Shane Mosley (FB-Ninja)
Kawhi Leonard (SG/SF – LAC): ECR – 12th Overall
“I’m fading Leonard this season. Make no mistake, ‘The Claw’ is one of the best players in the game today and set new career-highs with 27.1 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 2.2 3PTM in his first season with the Clippers. However, the poster boy for the load management era has missed 24% of his games over the past two seasons due to rest or injury. While Leonard’s numbers should mirror his 2019-2020 campaign, I can’t justify spending a first or early second-round pick on a player who projects to miss nearly a quarter of the season.”
– Dan Titus (FantasyPros)
James Harden (PG/SG – HOU): ECR – 1st Overall
“I’m going all the way to the top for my bust pick. Right now, Harden has not shown up to training camp and I would not be surprised if he doesn’t show up for any preseason games as well. Either the Rockets give in and trade Harden to the Nets (which likely cuts his value down to a second/third-round guy) or the Rockets start fining Harden, making him angrier and likely causing him to sit out games. Even though he has shown back up in Houston, I still think he is on the road to a trade. This is quickly shaping up to be a messy divorce that I am trying to avoid at all costs.”
– Ethan Masel (The Fantasy Bulletin)
Thank you to the experts for naming their busts for the 2020-2021 NBA season. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more advice all year long.