As a follow up to my 30 facts on 30 NBA teams column a couple weeks ago, today I’ve decided to try to find the biggest fantasy headache from every team.
I am expecting this exercise, in and of itself, to be a headache. Hopefully it will be a useful one.
Atlanta: Cam Reddish
This one pains me greatly, and it is here that I’ll say that most headaches eventually subside. But there’s no doubt that the Reddish experience is the worst kind of fantasy roller coaster right now, as it was just over one week ago that he was reminding us of his serious upside with 24 points against the Nets, and in four games since, he has averaged just 6.8 ppg.
The biggest issue for Reddish right now is his jump shot — he is an almost impossibly bad 4-for-33 on 3s his last seven games, and teams are flat-out daring him to shoot.
He eventually came around last season and finished strong. I still expect that to be the case this season, and for that reason — coupled with my blind Reddish loyalty — I am not dropping him anywhere. Ultimately, I do think that patience here will pay off.
Boston: Kemba Walker
Different story here, as this headache is related to a knee. After missing the first 11 games of the season, Kemba has played in seven and missed two more. He has had his moments, but right now fantasy managers are having to deal with the risk of future DNPs along with a bad FG percentage. Over his last three games, he’s shooting 28.9 percent on 15.0 attempts per game. I think if I had him on my rosters I’d be trying to tell myself this is going to work out well, but looking at it from afar, I’m very glad I didn’t draft Kemba anywhere.
Brooklyn: DeAndre Jordan
Here are Jordan’s minutes, game-by-game, since the James Harden trade: 29, 23, 38, 24, 26, 21, 20, 22, 20, 19, 16. As you can see, we’re trending in the wrong direction. Jordan is basically a guy who may get you 2-3 blocks on any given night, but also might post a complete dud like he did his last time out (seven points, five rebound, one steal, no blocks in 16 minutes).
Charlotte: Devonte’ Graham
(Disclaimer: not that big of a headache, but I needed to find one from every team, so here we are)
After a horrible start to the season in terms of shooting (26.9 percent from the field in his first 10 games), Graham is shooting it much better lately — and for him that means an also-not-good 39.6 percent on 14 attempts per game in his last 12 games. His counting stats during that same stretch (specifically 17.5 ppg, 5.8 apg and 3.6 3s) make Graham worth starting, but we know by now that the shooting issues aren’t going away — and the next soul-crushing low-30’s shooting slump could arrive any day.
Chicago: Coby White
Nine. That’s how many steals Coby White has in 20 games this season, a tough number to stomach from a fantasy point guard, especially one who’s shooting just 40.2 percent. White currently ranks 189th overall in 9-category leagues (per BasketballMonster.com), but he is getting 34 minutes a game, so he’s still a trade target for me, especially considering the heater we saw from him last season (26.1 ppg, 4.4 apg, 0.9 spg, 3.9 3s over his final nine games).
Cleveland: Taurean Prince
First five games with the Cavs: 12.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.0 bpg and 2.2 3s.
Last four games with the Cavs: 5.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.0 3s.
This one isn’t that complicated, but it feels like it’s only a matter of time before Prince goes off again and makes us think about adding him from waivers. It’s almost like he’s stepped into the Cedi Osman role as a player who will be added and dropped 82,000 times over the next few months.
Dallas: Josh Richardson
Richardson’s point totals the last six games: 6, 6, 9, 24, 14, 6. He’s currently sitting 153rd in 9-category leagues, which is right around the line of a player who shouldn’t be on waivers, but also shouldn’t be in your starting lineup. It’s also quite similar to where he finished last year (145th overall). I think it’s time to stop waiting for J-Rich’s lost fantasy upside to walk through the door, if you hadn’t given up already.
Denver: Michael Porter Jr.
So it’s come to this. He was putting up first-round numbers before his long Covid-related absence, but MPJ has now played 20 or fewer minutes in four of his seven games since returning, including 9.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.3 spg and 0.7 bpg in 19 minutes a game across his last three. As we discuss on Friday’s edition of the podcast, he’s a no-doubt trade target right now.
Detroit: Delon Wright
The way I’m deciding most of these is by going to the Depth Charts page on Rotoworld and going through the lineup from guards to forwards to centers before I find the name that jumps out.
With Detroit, I didn’t have to search for very long. Just looking at Delon Wright’s last 10 games, his point totals have gone 8, 2, 7, 18, 10, 28, 11, 6, 7, 8. The net value over that stretch is pretty good (10.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 5.1 apg, 2.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.1 3s), so it’s a reminder that not all fantasy headaches have the same setup. With this one, it’s that lingering feeling that things could go south again at any moment, like they did in late-December/early-January, when Wright averaged just 5.1 ppg over an eight-game stretch. With just 7.0 ppg on 34.6 percent shooting over his last three, my concern with Wright is we could be at the start of another extended downturn.
Golden State: Draymond Green
How far are you willing to go for assists? Green is averaging 7.1 of them, but his offense (5.0 ppg, 0.4 3s) is basically nonexistent now. Add in just 5.1 rpg (his lowest since 2013-14), 1.2 spg and a career-worst 0.2 bpg, and you have the No. 199 player in 9-category leagues. Basically, Green for the season has been a worse version of TJ McConnell, which is to say — bad. If his recent big games (including a season high of 11 points and 15 assists on Thursday) opens up a window to include him in a multi-player trade, you’re probably in a better situation if he’s not on your fantasy team.
Houston: Jae’Sean Tate
This is a relatively headache-free team right now, and I’m not counting Christian Wood’s ankle injury, because I’m trying to make these performance-based, not injury-based. So I’ll focus on Tate’s inconsistency, which has been at least a little bit annoying. While starting 11 of the last 12 games for the Rockets, he has put up 9.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.8 spg, 1.1 bpg and 0.8 3s, but that stretch has included a maddening combo of big games and low-scoring nights of 9, 6, 3, 2 and 6 points. I don’t have Tate on any of my rosters, but his game log looks like the quintessential example of a player I would put into the lineup at the wrong time.
Indiana: Justin Holiday
Points scored, last eight games: 9, 16, 5, 19, 6, 6, 10, 15. The numbers during that stretch are serviceable — 10.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.6 bpg and 2.4 3s — but they’re dangerously close to leaving Holiday as a points and 3s guy, and an inconsistent one at that. At this point, I think he’s only a must-roster in a deeper format.
LA Clippers: Nicolas Batum
In terms of numbers, this is a similar story to what we just talked about with Holiday. Batum in his last 10 games is averaging 10.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.1 spg and 2.5 3s, but he has scored seven or fewer points in half of those games. I know it seems like Batum is having a nice renaissance season — and he is technically a top-60 player in 9-category leagues because he never turns it over (just 0.7 per game) — but in fantasy terms, he's really just a low-volume points and 3s guy who’s hit-or-miss on a nightly basis. Basically, I’m pretty happy to see him across from me in an opponent’s lineup in a head-to-head matchup.
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LA Lakers: Dennis Schroder
Games like Thursday (21 points and four dimes on 7-of-9 shooting) make you think he should be on your roster. But when you look at the entire picture with Schroder — 13.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.2 apg, 0.9 spg and 1.0 3s, on 43.3 percent shooting — you have a point guard who doesn’t get a lot of steals, assists or 3s, which is not a very good fantasy point guard. For the season, he’s 182nd overall in 9-category leagues, and is just not an impact fantasy player unless you’re playing in a deeper league. At the same time, he also feels like a player who’s too good to drop. Hence the headache.
Memphis: Dillon Brooks
He came out of the chute absolutely on fire — 19.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.2 spg and 2.6 3s while shooting 41.8 percent over his first five games. Since then, the numbers have dropped to 13.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.0 spg and 1.5 3s, with a FG percentage of 36.7 on 14.1 attempts a game. Brooks will still have his moments, as evidenced by his 25-point game this week, but at what cost man? AT WHAT COST
Miami: Kelly Olynyk
The year is 2032. Kelly Olynyk just completed a three-game stretch where he averaged 14.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.2 spg, 0.8 bpg and 2.5 3s, prompting fantasy managers to wonder whether they should actually add the 40-year-old off of waivers. Don’t do it.
In classic Olynyk fashion, he has been both on the fantasy radar this year (first nine games: 12.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.1 spg, 0.8 bpg, 2.6 3s), and off it (last 11 games: 7.6 ppg on 36.1 percent shooting). I’ve seen enough of this madness for one lifetime.
Milwaukee: Brook Lopez
Somehow, Lopez has been both totally fine and completely annoying this season, putting up solid numbers in both blocks (1.5) and 3s (1.8) while being wildly inconsistent (he has 11 single-digit scoring efforts in 21 games). If we’re searching for positives here, he has hit double-digit points in seven of his last nine, while averaging 12.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg and 1.7 3s. Surely, the next six-point dud is just around the next turn.
Minnesota: Ricky Rubio
Rubio is absolutely droppable right now, which means he is absolutely going to start putting up fantasy-worthy numbers at some point this season for someone else’s team. It just feels inevitable.
New Orleans: Eric Bledsoe
Remember what I wrote about Dennis Schroder a few minutes ago? Bledsoe is only eight spots ahead of him (174th) in the 9-category rankings, with a pretty similar stat line: 13.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.7 apg, 0.7 spg and 2.3 3s. Those are numbers that can help fantasy teams in deeper leagues, but the lack of steals is a real deal-breaker for me.
New York: Alec Burks
He got off to a ridiculous start this season (first three games: 20.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.7 bpg, 3.3 3s), but since then he’s been flat-out bad: 10.3 ppg on 36.0 percent shooting. He has had a couple 18-point games with multiple steals and 3s recently to make us wonder if he’s worth rostering, and that’s what makes this equation so annoying.
Oklahoma City: Darius Bazley
There are a handful of fantasy headaches I’m optimistic about, and Bazley is absolutely one of them. Due to his inconsistency, he’s sitting just 195th in 9-category leagues, but that stat line includes 11.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.9 bpg and 1.5 3s. With that in mind, I’m much more inclined to roster Bazley than I am a lot of the names on this list, including Schroder and Bledsoe, to name a couple. The 20-year-old is coming off an 18-point, 12-rebound, two-block, two-trey performance on Wednesday, and could be in line to gather more momentum with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (knee) out again on Friday, and two games coming up against the Timberwolves.
Orlando: Cole Anthony
A high-profile player from a high-profile college program who went in the first round of the NBA Draft and is now the starting point guard for his team with no real competition sounds like someone we would want in our fantasy lineups. The reality has been different. Anthony has had 14 games as Orlando’s starting PG heading into the weekend, and in those games he has produced 12.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.8 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.5 bpg and 1.4 3s on 40.6 percent shooting. As we’ve seen with Schroder and Bledsoe, a fantasy point guard just needs to do more than that, and the lack of steals/low FG percentage leaves Anthony 209th in 9-category leagues during his reign as a starter. He will certainly have some good games here and there, but the net result is not likely to be good news for your fantasy squad this season.
Philadelphia: Danny Green
One of the undeniable laws of the universe is that you cannot have a discussion of fantasy basketball headaches without the inclusion of Danny Green. He will occasionally go off for a pretty big stat line (most recent example: 16 points, four 3s, two steals, two blocks on Wednesday), but then will probably follow it up with something that’s essentially useless (three points on 1-of-5 shooting one night later). Aside from the occasional streaming play, I’m done chasing the good games from Green.
Phoenix: Devin Booker
It is now the first week of February, and the player with a Yahoo ADP of 12.2 is currently ranked 116th overall in 9-category leagues. And here’s the part that I find disconcerting: Booker’s scoring is just fine. He’s averaging 24.5 ppg in two games since returning from his hamstring injury. He’s also averaging career-best numbers in steals (1.0) and blocks (0.4), but the hit to his assists (down from 6.5 to 3.8) has been devastating. I tend to be an optimist when it comes to talent taking over, but I’m curious if there are fantasy managers with an optimistic take on how Booker can make a run to even the top 40. Because right now I’m having a hard time seeing it.
Portland: Robert Covington
Covington scored a season-high 19 points the other night, but has hit double-digit points in just three out of 19 games this season. I still think I’d lean toward trying to acquire him in a trade right now, because he’s starting to rack up a bunch of steals (11 in his last four games) and should find his outside shot eventually.
Sacramento: Marvin Bagley
Close call here between Bagley and Hassan Whiteside (the Kings have multiple fantasy headaches, go figure), but I had to give the nod to Bagley, because his recent ups and downs have just been agonizing. Since putting up a season-high 26 points in a season-high 36 minutes back on Jan. 14, Bagley has seen his minutes go 29, 31, 22, 20, 26, 22, 19. His numbers during that stretch include 11.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 0.7 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.0 3s and somehow 13.3 percent from the free throw line. Yes, Bagley is 2-for-15 from the line in his last seven games.
San Antonio: LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge has seen his numbers fall off pretty drastically in his age-35 season — his scoring average of 14.1 is his lowest since his rookie season in 2006-07, and his rebounds (4.3) are a career-worst. He’s still been salvaging some value due to 0.9 bpg and 1.3 3s, but he’s now out with a hip flexor injury. Overall, bad times.
Toronto: Chris Boucher
It was just a few weeks ago that Boucher was sitting on early-round value, thanks to 16.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.5 bpg and 1.8 3s through his first 13 games. Since then, in eight games, he has averaged just 8.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg and 1.3 3s, frustrating fantasy managers beyond belief and by that I mean Steve Alexander. I still view Boucher as an excellent trade target right now, because he can easily get back to being that early-round dynamo pretty quickly.
Utah: Bojan Bogdanovic
Threes fall out of the sky these days in the NBA, so a player like Bogdanovic who gets points (15.1) and 3s (2.7), but not a ton of either — and not much else — is just not very valuable. The rest of Bogdanovic's stat line includes 3.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.0 bpg and 41.1 percent shooting, and while he has been hot lately (25.0 ppg, 4.3 3s over his last four games), he's really only worth starting when he's hitting pretty much everything. If you're starting Bogdanovic all the time, all season, he's not really helping you. Even with this latest hot streak, the veteran is ranked 198th overall in 9-category leagues.
Washington: Davis Bertans
The guy who shot 42.4 percent while making 3.7 3s per game last season has seen those numbers fall to 32.0 percent and 2.6 makes in 2020-21. Bertans probably has too much upside to outright drop, and is not consistent enough to consistently start right now, and if that’s not the definition of a headache, I don’t know what is.
For more on some recent fantasy developments, check out the latest episode of the podcast (below), where Ryan Knaus and I discuss the rise of Fred VanVleet, a heater from Al Horford and the value of fantasy specialists ranging from Nerlens Noel to Robert Williams to TJ McConnell: