January 20, 2021, 4:01 pm
The 2020-21 season has ticked over the one-month barrier, something that is a positive in itself. The fact that fantasy basketball is back seems like a win for everyone at this point. However, perhaps now more than ever, managers are looking for instant satisfaction across all aspects of the game. I, myself have managed to grab both Chirs Boucher and Richaun Holmes off waivers after their managers decided to move on after a couple of sub-par performances. Situations like this are happening all too often, as evidenced by some of the questions we are seeing in our discord channel.
In an effort to calm the farm, I thought I would discuss a few players that, currently, sit well below their preseason ADPs. Given we are still early on in the piece, I have selected players that have played in the majority of games, with very few absences. Taking a look at their Yahoo ADPs and current 9-category rank, let’s see which players have failed to live up to the hype thus far.
What Was I Thinking?
Trae Young, G, Atlanta Hawks (ADP:10 Rank: 83) – After a hot start to the season, both Young and the Hawks have fallen off a cliff of late. With rumors of discontent constantly circling the team, it has been Young who has been most impacted. Outside of assists, his numbers are down across the board, resulting in his lowly rank. He appears to be playing through a couple of nagging injuries and this could certainly be a contributing factor. His relationship with John Collins is something that has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons, although they did appear more in-sync during their most recent game. The Hawks recruited heavily during the offseason and some regression was to be expected for Young. Taking that into consideration, it is really his efficiency that we would like to see move in a northerly direction.
Looking ahead, it is hard to envision Young playing any worse than he has been over the past two weeks. That said, I am not sure he will be able to perform at the level many had hoped. Once all is said and done, I think Young will manage to climb the rankings quite quickly, ending as a second-round talent. Before that can happen, the Hawks need to work some internal stuff out, including managing player egos and coming together on a uniform goal for the team. Perhaps John Collins is on the trade block but that relationship is something that needs to be rectified nonetheless if the team, and Young himself, hopes to reach its potential.
Devin Booker, G, Phoenix Suns (ADP:14 Rank:112) – While the Suns are meeting all expectations, Booker has been a significant disappointment. Unlike Young, he is a player that I felt was being over-drafted in many situations. For that reason, I don’t see him as big of a letdown at this point. His ADP put him as an early second-round talent, whereas I had him as more of a target in the 20-25 range. Given, he has still performed well below that level and there is certainly room for improvement. Playing alongside Chris Paul is something that he has to familiarize himself with. While not a prolific scorer, Paul typically has the ball in his hands when he is on the floor, resulting in Booker playing off the ball a little more. The evolution of Mikal Bridges as an offensive option has also quietly had an impact, limiting Booker to just 22 points per game.
Not unlike Young, I do see Booker elevating his game, especially on the offensive end of the floor. He should be able to edge towards 25 points per game, signaling an increase in his efficiency. His lack of defensive production does limit his upside and so I would be viewing him as a top-40 player at best moving forward.
Zion Williamson, F, New Orleans Pelicans (ADP:26 Rank:97) – Much like Booker, Williamson is a player who was significantly over-drafted in almost every league. Going in the early third-round was always going to be fraught with danger unless of course, you were punting free throws. His efficiency from the field is another story with his impact amongst the best in the entire league. His rebounds are solid enough without being spectacular, but that is really where the positives come to an end. While his assist numbers are fin given the low bar, his defense remains an issue, although there have been signs of improvement on that end.
Unlike the first two players we discussed, this is basically who Williamson is at this point. We know where he helps and we know where he doesn’t help. His path to fantasy glory lies in his ability to improve his free throw stroke and to increase his defensive output. I am not confident either of these are going to increase enough to get him even close to his ADP. For me, he projects to finish right around the 100 mark, barring a specific punt strategy.
Jamal Murray, G, Denver Nuggets (ADP:37 Rank:100) – Murray presents much the same as Booker in that he is a player that was over-drafted, in part due to his impressive play in the bubble. He too offers very little on the defensive end and typically relies on efficient scoring to bolster his value. The emergence of Michael Porter Jr., as well as a more aggressive Nikola Jokic, is going to hamper Murray’s offensive upside. That said, he has been battling an elbow injury that while far from severe, is clearly causing him some discomfort and impacting his shooting stroke.
Murray is a player that has gone through rough periods before, only to come out the other side with a vengeance. His ADP was not wildly off the mark like Booker and Williamson but still seemed to leave very little room for value. When all the cards are on the table, Murray should emerge as a top-50 player in what would be a best-case scenario.
Robert Covington, F, Portland Trail Blazers (ADP:60 Rank:137) – Of all of these players, Covington is of the most concern for me despite having the clearest path to improvement. He has always been a player that was typically under-drafted, resulting in a draft-day steal on more than one occasion. Heading to the Blazers, it was thought he would simply slide into a role similar to that which he has filled before. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and he is bordering on drop territory. His efficiency from the floor has been disgusting, coming in at a lowly 31 percent. His block numbers are way down and the rebounding has regressed, although that was to be expected.
While injuries are never a good thing, the Blazers’ recent player losses could be a blessing in disguise for Covington. While he will not play exclusively at the center position as he did for the Rockets last season, his rebounding numbers could be in for a spike, as could his block numbers. With no Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers will be resorting to Enes Kanter, a player certainly not renowned for his defense. Covington could absolutely play as their small-ball five, putting him in a position to be able to mix it with the big men a little more. As for his shooting, it simply can’t get any worse from here. As soon as his shot starts falling at a clip closer to his career mark, the scoring and 3-point production will, in turn, follow suit.
Kelly Oubre Jr, F, Golden State Warriors (ADP:66 Rank:150) – Oubre is perhaps the simplest of all these players when it comes to analyzing their early-season form. In this case, it really comes down to the shooting. He is sitting at 37 percent from the field over the first 13 games, a number that is already increasing. With no Klay Thompson, the Warriors need all the scoring they can get if they hope to push for the playoffs. Oubre has proven he can score the basketball and so this looks to be more of a ‘fit’ issue than anything else.
His playing time remains solid and the shot is starting to come around. The defensive production has been really good, currently averaging a combined 2.3 defensive stats per game. He has shot at least 50 percent from the field in two of his past three games and as the confidence builds, so should his offensive output. While he may not get to his ADP, he should still be able to flirt with top-70 value without changing too much.
Is Adam on the money with his Early Season Busts? Let him know in our Fantasy Basketball Forums or over on our members-only Discord channel