There aren’t many worse feelings in fantasy sports when you draft a guy you are excited about, only to continually watch him disappoint. You desperately attempt to trade your struggling stars, but no one in your league seems to be biting. So, before you draft these guys, let me provide you wit my fantasy basketball busts for the upcoming season, saving you a trip to depression.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: Nowitzki isn’t getting any younger, and despite playing well in the preseason, I’m not investing in the 35-year old power forward this year. Sure, Dirk struggled towards the start of last season before going down with injury, and after the All-Star break, he averaged a strong 18.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 three-pointers. However, there are so many options out there with higher upside, and present more multiple category production. Last season, Dirk finished with less than one block per game and only 6.8 rebounds, which isn’t something I like out of a fantasy big man. While many believe the addition of Monta Ellis will boost Nowitzki’s fantasy value, I’m not so sure. Ellis takes a ton of shots, and his history of taking poor shots could result in less offensive touches for Dirk. I think he’ll be fine, but considering he is coming off of the board as the number four fantasy power forward, I think he’s a bust. I don’t believe he will live up to his ADP. Don’t fall in love with name value, folks.
Paul Pierce, Brooklyn Nets: Pierce, a future Hall of Famer, is an outstanding player. However, from a fantasy perspective, I’m not all that excited about his 2013 prospects. He and Kevin Garnett join a crowded Brooklyn club, and while Pierce will start, he’ll have to compete for minutes more than he’s ever had to in his career. Both point guard Deron Williams and shooting guard Joe Johnson are very ball-dominant offensive players, so Pierce will have to work for offensive touches frequently. Last season with Boston, Pierce was obviously the focal point of the offense, averaging 14.2 shots per contest. Brooklyn has plenty of guys this year, so Pierce won’t be asked to do as much. He may be a more efficient player with all of this talent around him, but his minutes and touches should decrease quite a bit, which no longer makes him the fantasy slam dunk.
Greivis Vasquez, Sacramento Kings: Vasquez was arguably the NBA’s most improved player a season ago, averaging 13,9 points, 9.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 three-pointers per game. Now, with Jrue Holiday in New Orleans, Vasquez was moved to Sacramento, where he will battle it out for the starting job with third-year man Isaiah Thomas. Many expect Vasquez to win the job, but he likely won’t see the 34.4 minutes per game that he saw last year. The Kings have a lot of depth in their backcourt, consisting of Thomas, Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton and rookie Ben McLemore. He should still thrive in the assist department, but we just simply aren’t aware of how the split at the point guard position will look as the season progresses. The point guard position is the deepest in all of fantasy basketball, so look elsewhere.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: This one could end up biting me at the end of the season, but here it goes. Griffin did post his best fantasy season last year, averaging 18 points, 8.3 rebounds and catapulting to 1.2 steals per game. He also improved from the strike, posting a free throw percentage of 66 percent (.521 last year). But with that progression, and the fact that he is a dominate force in the paint, why is he getting to the foul line less? Over the last three seasons, Griffin has seen his free throw attempts drop from 8.5, 7.1, to 5.3 per game last year. You’d think Griffin would be at the strike more, not less. With free throw attempts, his rebounds have regressed as well during that span, plummeting from 12.1, 10.9, to 8.3. Keep in mind that he had offseason knee surgery, too. Sometimes owners fall in love with the out-of-this-world athleticism and highlight reel potential, but from a fantasy perspective, Griffin could be (and should be) doing more.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.