I looked at old guys I was interested in drafting last week and this week’s ‘Five Guys’ (not the hamburger) features an over 30 crowd that I’m going to plan on avoiding. Thirty tends to be the magic number for when NBA players start to show a sharp decline and while it doesn’t happen to every 30-year-old, it happens enough that most of the people in the industry don’t like drafting them. So without further ado, here are five older players I’m going to stay away from. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Mike Conley – 32 – Conley was pretty much a disaster in Utah this season, although he did start to play better toward the end of the season before things were shut down. He was dealing with injuries and missed 23 games, but he also didn’t seem to jibe with his new teammates, especially Joe Ingles, who is having an equally disappointing season. He played just 28.6 minutes per game, his lowest since his rookie season, and averaged just 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.8 steals and 2.0 3-pointers on 40.5 percent shooting. He also shot below 80 percent from the free throw line (79.5) for the first time since the 2010-11 season. He might be best known for signing a ridiculous five-year, $153 million contract in 2016, which was the richest contract in NBA history at the time. He was only worth a 16th-round pick this year and now that he’s 32, the future doesn’t exactly look bright. I’ll only be drafting him if I’m thin at point guard at the end of my draft. You know things are rough when winning the HORSE competition is the best thing he can put on his resume’ right now.
Hassan Whiteside - 30 – Whiteside had a nice season for the Blazers, averaging 16.3 points, 14.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.4 steals and 3.1 blocks on 61.8 percent shooting. Jusuf Nurkic hasn’t played yet this season, which was a blessing for Whiteside, and he’s now an unrestricted free agent, meaning we don’t know where he’ll be playing next year. If he re-ups with the Blazers, he’ll have to deal with Nurkic, and he’ll likely have to fight for a starting job if he signs with another team. He balled out in his contract year and is currently a Top 10 fantasy player this season. There’s a chance he could still be a solid starting fantasy center again next season, but it all depends on where he ends up and he won’t be playing for a big contract, which means he could easily revert into the type of player that drove Erik Spoelstra crazy in Miami for five seasons. I’ll take a flier on Whiteside late, but he’s 30 now, which is when NBA players tend to start to decline, while his price will be inflated after his successful season in Portland. I’ll probably just let someone else draft him.
Robert Covington – 30 – Covington spent most of the season floundering for the Timberwolves, averaging 12.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers on 43.5 percent shooting in 29.4 minutes a night. The steals, blocks and threes are what give him value and he (surprisingly) put up nice numbers after getting traded to the Rockets. In 14 games with Houston he averaged 12.8 points, 7.9 boards, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 2.5 blocks and 2.9 3-pointers on 42.1 percent shooting. He’s a career 40.7 percent shooter and he is generally inconsistent and frustrating to his owners, although he’s always worth owning. On a per-game basis he held fourth-round fantasy value this season, as he doesn’t really hurt you anywhere while providing help in tough places, like the aforementioned steals, blocks and 3-pointers, and he’s also a good free throw shooter (career 81.1 percent). He also missed most of the previous season due to a knee injury that required surgery and now that he’s 30, injury woes may become a staple for him. While he played really well in his short stint in Houston this season, having teammates like James Harden and Russell Westbrook could hinder his scoring some, but his ability to steal, block and hit 3-pointers also means he’ll provide fantasy value without having to fill it up. But as players age their ability to steal and block generally decreases and I get the sense that Covington will be drafted higher than he should be next season.
Draymond Green – 30 – Draymond’s constant talking this year has been exhausting and his feuds with Charles Barkley and Kevin Durant, while at times humorous, weren’t exactly ones that Green dominated. He considers himself part of a Big 3, but I doubt Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry saw/see him in the same light as he sees himself in. In any case, Dray missed 22 games this season and averaged just 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks and 0.8 3-pointers. The season prior he averaged just 7.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.1 blocks and 0.7 3-pointers and he’s not a great free throw shooter, hitting just 71 percent for his career. He ranks at No. 87 in Basketballmonster’s player rankings for this season and drops all the way down to Round 14 if you add in all the missed games. Granted, GSW didn’t have anything to play for this season after losing Curry and Klay Thompson, and it’s safe to say Dray would have played in more games had the Warriors been competitive. His total lack of scoring (and a lack of desire to try to score) is a big fantasy concern and the fact he’s 30 and in his eighth season doesn’t help, either. There’s a chance that Mr. ‘Triple-Single’ bounces back and plays well for the Warriors next season, but I’m not touching him until the later rounds of drafts. Just ask anyone who had him and tried to trade him this season. It was next to impossible. And if he keeps talking off the court as much as he has been, the Warriors might grow tired of him too, if they haven’t already.
Lou Williams – 33 – Sweet Lou has won the Sixth Man of the Year Award in three of the last five seasons, including the last two. He’s also seen his scoring average dip from 22.6, to 20, to 18.7 in each of the last three seasons. He now plays for a super team that includes Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but does benefit by that pair’s tendency to miss games. Williams will be 34 years old by the start of next season and it feels inevitable that his scoring will take another dip. He’s likely got two solid years of production left in his legs, but 34 is no joke and he could start to take a bigger decline next season. He was only worth a 13th-round fantasy pick this season, averaging 18.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.2 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers on 41.6 percent shooting. I’m sure he’d like to win one more Sixth Man Award before he’s finished but if it doesn’t happen this season, I’m afraid the window will start to officially close. And the fact he doesn’t do a whole lot outside of scoring makes him a one-dimensional fantasy player anyway. Given a choice between a 34-year-old scorer or a young kid with a ton of untapped potential, I’ll go the youth route every time at the end of my drafts next year. Perhaps the most eye-opening stat on Williams is that his first year in the league was way back in 2005 in Philly.