Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up
View All Scores

10 Fantasy NBA Players to Avoid This Season

NBA Rookie of the Year odds: Wemby, Miller lead
Jay Croucher and Drew Dinsick review current NBA Rookie of the Year odds and explain why it could be worth considering long-shot contenders over the favorites on Bet the Edge.

Last week, I posted a column with 10 players to reach for in fantasy drafts. This time, we’ll discuss the opposite. Before we get into it, let’s set a few ground rules. In my humble opinion, there isn’t a player that you can draft that is technically a bad pick. What matters is where you draft them. Drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t a bad pick. Taking him first overall probably is. Taking him with the 12th pick could be considered the steal of the draft. In category leagues, you can even prove that theory wrong with the proper punt strategy. Drafting Giannis at pick 4 might be a tad early, but if you’re able to pair him with Zion Williamson (assuming health) and punt 3-pointers, free throw percentage and turnovers, then it may be worth the slight reach.

Now that we understand this, you may disagree with some of these picks based on how you choose to build your team. For example, if you punt defensive stats, Kyle Kuzma may not be a bad pick for you. I’m going to look at overall value and consider a few statistical deficiencies. You can manipulate a punt strategy to make some of these guys very, very valuable. Generally speaking, these are the players that I probably won’t be drafting this season, since I won’t pay the price that I’d likely have to in order to get them.

Kevin Durant

This is KD we’re talking about. One of the most lethal scorers of all time and a perennial top ten player in fantasy basketball. Why would you pass on him? Well, in his four seasons since leaving Golden State, KD has played in a grand total of 137 regular season games. Injuries aren’t his fault, but he seems to get more of a pass than guys like Anthony Davis (195 games played during that stretch), Kawhi Leonard (161) and Paul George (189). When it comes to per-game value, there aren’t many players better than KD. However, his lack of durability since he left the Warriors is enough for me to not burn a first-round pick on him.

Chris Paul

First of all, the trade that sent CP3 to the Warriors didn’t make much sense to me. I get they wanted to get Jordan Poole’s contract off of their books, but adding in draft picks to get a small point guard that is 38 years old just feels strange. Will they really start Draymond Green at center? Maybe sometimes, but they simply can’t afford to do that consistently. Plus, Golden State’s perimeter defense could really struggle with such a small backcourt. Assists are hard to find in the later rounds, which could give Paul some value, but I think he’s set to have the worst fantasy season of his career. Of course, that isn’t saying much, since he is coming off of his worst season, and he finished 31st in 9-cat scoring according to Basketball Monster. However, Golden State plays a different style of basketball from what he’s done his entire career. It’s hard to imagine him having much fantasy success if he adapts his playstyle to their system.

Victor Wembanyama

This is pretty simple. Do not draft Wemby in the first round. If you’re really desperate to have him on your team, you probably have to take him in the third. The last rookie to finish in the top-25 in 9-cat scoring was Karl-Anthony Towns, who actually produced first-round value as a rookie. Could it happen? Sure, but there are smarter routes to take. Also, despite Victor being pretty insistent that he’ll play as much as possible, the Spurs simply won’t take risks. NBA players don’t decide when they play. The training staff does. San Antonio isn’t a playoff team yet, so any minor ailment will likely result in Wemby getting a night off. There’s a real chance that he gets shut down towards the end of the season as well. The blocks will be valuable, but it’s hard to imagine him producing top-25 value and playing more than 60 games. Rookies usually struggle, and this will be the worst season of his career. Let someone else reach for him.

Keldon Johnson

Through four seasons in the NBA, Johnson has shown the ability to do one thing incredibly well: score. Last season he averaged 22 points and 2.1 threes per game. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really contribute value in other categories. His rebounding took a slight dip this past season, which was the only other category that he was at least able to do okay. In the late rounds, adding 22 points per game is valuable. However, I wouldn’t target him in the top-100 due to his lack of production across the board.

Austin Reaves

If any player is going to be overdrafted this year, it’s Reaves. He has all the makings of a player that won’t meet expectations. He shined in the playoffs. He’s a really good basketball player. He plays for the Lakers. My expectations are more along the lines of a borderline top-100 player, though I wouldn’t call it a guarantee. Reaves is a solid player, but his game doesn’t exactly translate into fantasy dominance, and he won’t truly shine in any individual category.

Marcus Smart

A lot of people are going to look at Ja Morant’s suspension as a great opportunity for Smart, and it will be! With Tyus Jones gone as well, Smart should get off to a good start to the year. For 25 games. He finished outside the top-100 last season despite averaging a career-high in assists. At least he had the ball in his hands a good bit in Boston. When Ja returns, Smart will be reduced to a catch-and-shoot threat that can also come away with steals. Don’t overdraft him just because he’ll get off to a good start to the season. He’ll lose the majority of his value by the end of December.

Brook Lopez

BroLo was incredible last year and ended up having one of the best fantasy seasons of his career. He finished 22nd in 9-cat leagues according to Basketball Monster, and he played 78 games. Not many players can provide his combination of both 3-pointers and blocks. It’s doubtful that anyone is doing this, but make sure you aren’t taking him in the first few rounds. His value is also maximized alongside other players that can hit threes and block shots, so unless you’re able to pair him with Jaren Jackson Jr., he may not be worth the early (ish) pick.

John Collins

The past few seasons have been quite the fall from grace for JC. During the 2019-20 season, he finished SEVENTH in 9-cat scoring, per Basketball Monster. That was the third season of his career. It appeared that the Hawks had quite the duo with Collins and Trae Young. Then Clint Capela arrived and took a lot of his pick and roll opportunities. Then Nate McMillan took over and didn’t call plays for Collins (to be fair, Lloyd Pierce didn’t really either. His coaching philosophies just resulted in more looks for Collins). Then he injured his ring finger on his shooting hand. He’s coming off a horrible season, and while a fresh start in Utah may be good for him, don’t expect him to become a force in fantasy again. With Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler stealing boards, Collins may struggle to find a role on offense, since they don’t exactly have someone to feed him dunks out of pick and rolls. It’s hard to envision him returning to the top-100, especially with Taylor Hendricks fighting for his spot.

Alperen Sengun

I’m pretty nervous about what Sengun’s season could look like. He was good last year, though he was a bit overdrafted. Despite being a guaranteed starter, the rest of his circumstances seem to be working against him. Everyone else on the team is built to play tough defense, force turnovers and turn it into fast break points. Sengun’s style of play sticks out like a sore thumb, since he isn’t going to be able to lock down the paint to allow the perimeter defenders to gamble in passing lanes, and he isn’t a rim runner. Will Ime Udoka utilize him in half-court settings enough for Sengun to be effective? Or will he get run off the floor at times and not play enough to produce like the early draft pick that he’s expected to be?

Kyle Kuzma

Much like Keldon Johnson, Kuz doesn’t do much aside from scoring. He’s a slightly better rebounder and passer, but he’s surprisingly bad from the free throw line. The expectation is the Kuz and Jordan Poole are going to run wild this season, and they will! Unfortunately, Kuz isn’t the most efficient player, and he doesn’t contribute defensively. He is a good option for points, rebounds and threes, and he’s decent for threes, but it takes a pretty specific punt strategy for Kuz to not mess everything up. In points leagues, he’ll be great. In category leagues, not so much.