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Eastern Conference Busts

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


 

Detroit Pistons - Reggie Jackson:
Similar to the aforementioned Isaiah Thomas, injury concerns are the primary reason I plan on steering clear of Reggie Jackson on draft day. Jackson missed the first 21 games and the final nine games of the 2016-17 season due to left knee tendinitis. He was shut down for 16 weeks this summer to manage the wear-and-tear on his knee and has been participating in only one of the two-a-day sessions in training camp. Now, in addition to the knee issues, we get word that Jackson is also dealing with an adductor injury. Furthermore, even when he suited up last season, Detroit often played better when Ish Smith was running the point. (Smith ranked second among all NBA point guards in assist-to-turnover ratio in 2016-17 and third overall in the NBA. Chris Paul was the only point guard with a better ratio.) The Pistons also signed Langston Galloway to a three-year, $21 million deal this summer, traded for Avery Bradley and drafted Luke Kennard, further crowding the Pistons backcourt.

 

Indiana Pacers - Lance Stephenson:
Back in June, there were rumors out of Indy that Pacers' president of basketball operations, Kevin Pritchard, was considering utilizing Stephenson at point guard. However, Indiana ended up signing free agent Darren Collison and trading for both Cory Joseph and Victor Oladipo. ‘Dipo and Myles Turner will be the Pacers offensive focal points, while the underrated tag-team of Collison and Joseph will handle all the minutes at point guard. Stephenson will still serve a valuable role as the team’s sixth man and may see increased minutes now that Glenn Robinson III (ankle) is expected to miss two months, but Lance’s fantasy value is capped coming off the bench.

 

Miami Heat - Dion Waiters:
Speaking with reporters last week, Waiters revealed just how serious the ankle injury he suffered towards the end of last season really was. He explained that he was offered the option of ankle surgery last March that would have sidelined him for eight to 10 months. Instead, Waiters, who was a pending free agent, decided to rest the ankle and let it heal on its own. Waiters signed a four-year, $52 million contract over the summer, but admitted he is still dealing with lingering soreness. That’s concerning. Dion will be motivated to suit up every night, as he has an incentive built into his new contract that includes a $1.1 million bonus if he appears in at least 70 games next season. Still, in addition to the concerns related to his ankle, Waiters is going to have to compete for minutes with Josh Richardson, whom the Heat recently signed to four-year, $42 million contract extension. The Heat coaching staff loves Richardson, as he can make significant contributions on both ends of the floor. Considering Richardson’s ADP is far lower than Waiters, I’d much prefer J-Rich a few rounds later.

 

Milwaukee Bucks - Malcolm Brogdon:
Brogdon exceeded all expectations last season. The 36th overall pick in the 2016 draft was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year after averaging 10.2 points, 4.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.0 3-pointers on 45.7 percent shooting. Those are undeniably impressive numbers for a rookie, and his production got better as the season progressed. However, it's important to keep in mind that he finished the year ranked 114th overall in standard fantasy leagues, according to Basketball Monster. Sometimes we let awards such as ROY cloud the judgment of a player’s projections. Brogdon is a fine pick in the ninth round or tenth round, but there’s no need to reach for him.

 

New York Knicks - Enes Kanter:
Some pundits have asserted that Kanter’s trade to the Knicks is a major boost to his fantasy value. I’m not so sure. Over his last two seasons in OKC, Kanter has averaged 13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per contest. Although the Knicks would love to see Kanter make significant strides, there is a numbers crunch at center that will make such development difficult. Willy Hernangomez played very well late last season and was projected as the team’s starting center as recently as last week. In addition, after he finishes serving the final 12 games of his suspension, Joakim Noah, who is owed $55.5 million over the next three seasons, will look to enter the rotation. Lastly, Kyle O’Quinn, who led the entire team in PER (20.5) last season, has proven he deserves playing time. The Knicks also have plenty of depth at power forward, with Michael Beasley and Mindaugas Kuzminskas backing up Kristaps Porzingis. Add it all up, and there’s simply not enough minutes to go around. As a result, I’d place the over/under on Kanter’s minutes per game at 21.0 for the season, and I'd probably bet the under. Even if he won the starting job, kept it all year, and averaged 26-plus minutes a night, Kanter’s game is not all that fantasy-friendly. I’ll pass.

 

Orlando Magic - Evan Fournier:
Fournier scored a career-high 17.2 points per game last season, but was disappointingly inefficient, shooting just 43.9 percent from the floor and a career-low 35.6 percent from 3-point territory. I fully expect Fournier’s accuracy to increase next season and have little doubt he’ll once again lead the Magic in scoring; however, I’m not sure he’s worth a top-75 overall pick, and that’s likely what will be needed to acquire him in your fantasy draft. He finished last season ranked outside the top-100 overall and this summer the Magic signed Jonathon Simmons and Arron Afflalo and drafted Wesley Iwundu. Fournier’s minutes aren't expected to dip much at all (he averaged a team-high 32.9 minutes per game last season), but Orlando will surely want to find a way to get Simmons plenty of playing time and see what they have in Iwundu towards the end of the season, if not earlier.

 

Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid:
There’s no player on the planet with a greater variance than Joel Embiid. If you draft Embiid and he plays 70-plus games, there’s a good chance you’ll win your league. If you draft Embiid and he plays fewer than 30 games, there's a good chance you'll won't win your league. Common sense dictates it’s challenging to remain competitive when your third round pick misses the vast majority of the season, no matter how prolific he is in the games in which he appears. I’ll admit I’ll be extremely tempted to Trust The Process and would love to land him in a league or two. He’s undeniably one of the most entertaining and enjoyable players in the Association. Yet, the reality is he’s played in just 31 out of 246 games (12.6 percent) since he was drafted and is still limited as a result of knee surgery last March. Part of me is hoping he gets nabbed before I pick so I’m not left with that difficult decision or drafting Embiid or a far safer, less exciting player such as Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley or Kevin Love.

 

Toronto Raptors - Serge Ibaka:
Again, it’s important to preface these comments by stating unequivocally that Ibaka is a still a reliable fantasy producer, just that his previous production and fantasy reputation may result in him being drafted a bit earlier than necessary. In particular, Ibaka’s defensive contributions have decreased dramatically. Serge led the league in blocked shots in 2011-12 and 2012-13, but has now seen block totals decline in five consecutive seasons. In addition, after shooting 54.7 percent from the floor over his first five years in the league, Ibaka has shot just 47.8 percent from the floor since the start of the 2014-15 season. He has added a reliable 3-point shot to his arsenal, which obviously helps sustain his fantasy value, but he’s no longer the top-25 overall stud he was earlier in his career. There’s no need to reach for him before the sixth round.

 

Washington Wizards - Markieff Morris:
Morris underwent sports hernia surgery on September 22nd and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. He’ll be sidelined for at least the first few weeks of the regular season and could miss up to 15 games. Although he’s coming off a strong 2016-17 campaign, drafting and stashing Morris is likely not worth the risk, especially if you play in a league without an IR spot, as roster spots are so valuable early in the year. The Wiz have already talked about playing Otto Porter at PF and getting Kelly Oubre more minutes while Morris is sidelined. If that combo plays well in Morris’ absence, Washington may choose to utilize that lineup occasionally even after Markieff if fully healthy. In addition, Morris saw an uptick in minutes last season because he logged plenty of playing time at center due to Ian Mahinmi missing most of the year. With Mahinmi now healthy, Coach Scott Brooks won’t need Morris to spell starting center Marcin Gortat as often.

 



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