Drafting older guys in fantasy basketball is always a little risky, as you constantly have to worry about their minutes trending down or the occasional "maintenace day." That doesn't mean you shouldn't target them, but it makes sense to let them slide as far as possible in drafts to avoid overpaying for them. With that said, here are some older guys that i can't see myself taking next year at their current price.
Pau Gasol- Yes, he was elite last season with top-20 value in standard leagues, but he turned 36 years old in July and is joining the Spurs, a team known for limiting the workload of their key players. Don’t believe me? Look at LaMarcus Aldridge for example. After playing 35.4 minutes per game in Portland during the 2014-15 season, his minutes dropped to 30.6 per game in San Antonio. Keep in mind that Aldridge is also five years younger than Gasol, so I’d be surprised if the Spaniard played more than 30 minutes per game. The Spurs should also be a top team in the West and will occasionally rest their key guys, so he will pick up some maintenance days as well. I won’t even look in Gasol’s direction until after Round 4.
Tony Parker- Another Spur, Parker has seen his workload drop in four straight seasons and is coming off his lowest scoring average (11.9 points) since his rookie season. He’s also missed an average of 13.5 games over the past four years with a variety of injuries, and he was barely a top-160 player in standard leagues last season. He only played 27.5 minutes per game and and coach Gregg Popovich will likely want to keep him in that range in his age-34 season. Let someone else in your league take a chance on Parker.
Tyson Chandler- Chandler quickly became one of the worst signings of the year after agreeing to a four-year, $52 million deal with the Suns, as he appeared in just 66 games with averages of 7.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.7 blocks. His numbers were down in every category and he struggled to stay healthy, and he played just 24.5 minutes per game, his lowest workload since the 2003-04 season. He’s going to be locked into a timeshare with Alex Len, so I’m not expecting his role to grow. He’s turning 34 years old in October and was only a top-165 player in standard leagues last season, so I won’t be wasting a late-round pick on him.
Dwyane Wade- Look, the guy can still play, but he’s joining a Bulls team that will have two ball-dominant guys in Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo. Wade had a 30.5 usage rate in Miami last season, so that will obviously trend down in the Windy City. The Bulls will also manage his minutes much like the Heat did last year, a wise move considering he will be 35 years old in January. Wade returned eighth-round value in standard leagues last season, but it’s best to let him fall to the later rounds.
Jamal Crawford- He won his third Sixth Man of the Year Award last season, tallying averages of 14.2 points, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals and 1.5 3-pointers, but he has to slow down at some point, right? Crawford is entering his 17th NBA season and is going to be 37 years old in March. He played 26.9 minutes per game last season and the Clippers gave him a three-year, $42 million deal over the summer, but you have to think his workload will be reduced, especially with a healthy Blake Griffin back in the mix for Los Angeles. Crawford was only a 15th-round value in standard leagues on a per-game basis last season, so I won’t be investing a late-round pick in him this year.
Al Jefferson- He couldn’t stay healthy in Charlotte and had mid-season surgery in December to repair a tear in the lateral meniscus of his right knee. He eventually returned after about six weeks on the shelf, but the Hornets kept his minutes in the lower 20s. Jefferson also had averages of just 12.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks, his worst numbers since the 2005-06 season. He landed a new deal with the Pacers, but Big Al will be 32 years old in January and is expected to come off the bench behind Myles Turner in Indiana. Chances are someone will take him in your league based off his resume, but don't let it be you.
Zach Randolph- He turned 35 years old over the summer and missed several games of the 2015-16 season with a sore right knee. He also played just 29.6 minutes per game, his lowest workload in five years. The Grizzlies didn’t add any competition for Z-Bo at the four, but they may be tempted to give Chandler Parsons some run there in small-ball lineups. Z-Bo barely returned top-100 value in standard leagues last season with averages of 15.2 points, 7.8 boards, 2.1 assists and 0.6 steals, and because he doesn’t block many shots, his upside is pretty low. He could be a double-double guy if he finds his form in a contract year, but there’s no reason to gamble on him before the later rounds.
Here are some other guys you should avoid that don’t really need an explanation.
Manu Ginobili- He’s 39 years old, plays for the Spurs and is expected to retire after the season. Any questions?
Joe Johnson- He will be a scoring punch off the bench in Utah, but nothing more.
Paul Pierce- The Truth seriously contemplated retirement over the summer, but he’s back for one more run. He played 18.1 minutes per game last season.
Vince Carter- He won the dunk contest, 16 years ago… Carter will be 40 years old and will collect dust on the Memphis bench. He’s still a legend, though.
Kevin Garnett- Wait, he hasn’t retired yet?
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