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Eastern Conference Busts

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Last week we looked at potential sleepers in both the Eastern and Western conferences. Today we’ll examine the roster of each team in the East and highlight one player that is currently overvalued, and therefore possesses bust potential. It’s important to note that these are not players that should be avoided at all costs, rather they simply tend to be ranked a bit higher than they should be.

 

Atlanta Hawks - Ersan Ilyasova:
It’s a reach to suggest anyone on the Hawks will be a “bust” this season, as Dennis Schroder will likely be the only Atlanta player drafted in the top-100 in many fantasy drafts. However, since we’re selecting one player from each team, I’ll go with Ilyasova. Ersan should put decent all-around numbers for a Hawks team that is desperate for offense, but rookie John Collins was remarkably impressive in Summer League action and could earn significant playing time right away. In fact, in the Hawks first preseason game on Sunday, Collins came off the bench to score nine points and rip down a game-high 15 boards in 20 minutes. Mike Muscala and Miles Plumlee will likely also eat into Ilyasova minutes at power forward.

 

Boston Celtics - Gordon Hayward:
Hayward was the alpha and the omega in Utah last season. He led the Jazz in field goal attempts, scoring, usage rate and minutes played per game. In Boston, he’ll have to share the offensive load with Al Horford and a hungry Kyrie Irving. (We know Kyrie didn’t demand a trade out of LeBron’s shadow to play second fiddle somewhere else.) Hayward will obviously still get plenty of touches as one of the focal points of Boston’s attack, just not quite to the extent as was the case in Utah. Also, it may take Hayward and his new teammates some time to familiarize themselves with a new offense and with each other. Gordon is a solid pick in the mid-30’s, but it’s best to keep expectations in check due to the uncertainty of the situation.

 

Brooklyn Nets - Caris LeVert:
At the end of last season, many fantasy pundits had LeVert ticketed as Brooklyn’s starting shooting guard and potentially one of the Nets’ breakout stars in 2017-18. Then Brooklyn traded for D'Angelo Russell, as well as wings Allen Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll. Thus, LeVert won’t get anywhere near the playing time initially projected back in April. Despite showcasing his impressive skill set in a promising rookie campaign, LeVert is only worth a late-round flier.

 

Charlotte Hornets - Dwight Howard:
The Hornets will be the fourth team Howard has played for in the last five years. And while D12 has been vocal about how he’s finally matured and is ready to re-establish himself as one of the game’s most dominant post players, shrewd fantasy owners should be hesitant to buy in. Just as the NBA has shifted away from centers who remain anchored in the paint, so have fantasy GM’s. With the plethora of bigs around the league that now knock down 3-pointers, it’s tough to roster a player such as Howard, who has made a total of five treys in the 954 games he’s played in his career. And, as always, his atrocious free-throw percentage in an albatross that is often too burdensome to bear.

 

Chicago Bulls - Robin Lopez:
RoLo is a relatively safe pick in the later rounds, especially in leagues that start two centers. He’s been durable (hasn’t missed a game due to injury since the 2014-15 season) and his production is predictable, posting cumulative averages of 10.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks over the last five years. And, with Chicago in rebuilding mode and having gutted its roster, Lopez may be asked to shoulder more of the offensive burden this season. However, the risk with Lopez is that he may get traded sooner rather than later. The Bulls will surely want to give as many minutes as possible to Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio, which makes a veteran such as Lopez expendable. Furthermore, because Lopez is locked into an affordable contract, he would be an attractive trade target for teams in need of a reliable, defensive-minded center. If he ends up coming off the bench for another team, his fantasy value would undoubtedly take a significant hit.

 

 

Cleveland Cavaliers - Isaiah Thomas / Dwyane Wade:
The downside with Thomas is obvious. The Cavs are not expecting him to make his season debut until January, which means the best case scenario is Thomas missing “only” a third of the regular season. Even after he’s cleared and back in action, IT will have to make a major adjustment to fit in with Cleveland. He posted a usage rate of 34.0 last season, which was fifth highest in the league. That number will drop dramatically with the Cavs, as the offense runs through King James. Once he finally returns to the floor, will he stay healthy? Or will he run into any setbacks during his rehab? As those of us who drafted Colts QB Andrew Luck back in August can attest, injuries will find you in fantasy; there’s no need to chase them on draft day… As far as Wade is concerned, I’m skeptical of him even coming close to matching his production from last season, when he averaged 18.3 points and a career-low 3.8 assists in 29.9 minutes for the Bulls. The Cavs have an abundance of depth at shooting guard, as Wade will be competing for playing time with J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver and Iman Shumpert. The Cavs will likely limit Wade’s minutes early on to keep him fresh for the postseason. Still, Wade will probably be drafted higher than he should due mainly to name recognition. I’m letting someone else overpay.


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