Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! This year it seems like there are more bad teams than usual, but that’s what happens when half the NBA has Luca Doncic and some of the other top prospects in their sights. There are some teams that have just a couple of reliable fantasy assets at best, so that’s what our topic is going to be on this week.
So guys, if you had to build a fantasy team using only players from a single NBA team, which teams would be the absolute worst or hardest to rely upon?
Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)
For me, the easy answer is the Kings. Can you imagine having Zach Randolph as your top producer while all your young talent continues to have volatile roles? George Hill checked out in Week 2 and has tweeted out more angry emojis than made 3s, Randolph dominates the touches on the offensive end only to jog back and get toasted on defense, while Kosta Koufos just won’t go away.
Willie Cauley-Stein is really the only player besides Z-Bo that fantasy owners can rely on for now, as Skal Labissiere has lost all his confidence , Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic have been all over the place and De’Aaron Fox has hit the rookie wall. However, as we approach the new year I do think we’ll start to see some of these younger guys find their groove, and it’s absolutely possible that Hill, Garrett Temple or other veterans could be moved at the deadline which would open up a lot more minutes.
WCS, Fox, Hield, Labissiere and Bogdanovic are all intriguing names for the second half of the season, while Frank Mason is another sneaky player to monitor. Fox is still the future of the PG position in Sacramento, but Mason is arguably the better player right now and has seen his role increase steadily with three straight games over 25 minutes. Fantasy owners probably want nothing to do with these guys right now, but Sacramento could become a hotbed for waiver-wire pickups later on.
The Grizzlies aren’t quite as bad as the Kings in terms of fantasy assets, but that could change very soon. With 16 losses in their last 17 games, this roster could be blown up any day now and Marc Gasol may already have one foot out the door. Who knows when Mike Conley will come back from his injury, but there’s a good chance he’s moved too. I don’t want Chandler Parsons and his 5-minute restrictions anywhere near my fantasy team, while Tyreke Evans’ durability would make me very nervous down the stretch, especially in a contract year.
JaMychal Green may be able to have steady late-round value all season, but the only two young players that peak my interest are Deyonta Davis and Andrew Harrison. Davis has never played extended minutes in his NBA career, but that would change with a Gasol trade. He has per-36 minute averages of 12.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 2.2 blocks, and he’s a career 56.8% shooter from the field. As for Harrison, he usually struggles with his shooting percentage, but he’s really impressed me over his last two games with 18.0 points, 5.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 triples.
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Daniel Dobish (@danieledobish)
Nikola Mirotic? Lauri Markkanen? It's a long time since Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the halcyon days on the west side of Chicago. Heck, Bulls fans would probably be happy to just to see B.J. Armstrong, Toni Kukoc or Will Perdue back in the Windy City. The cupboard isn't exactly bare, as Mirotic is a strong scorer and rebounding option, finally healthy after an altercation with Bobby Portis cost him about six weeks of game time. However, he or Portis might need to be traded, as the duo haven't mended fences after their dust-up.
Markkanen has emerged as a solid fantasy piece, but can you imagine one of your best players being from Finland? Hockey, yes. Basketball...well, that's not exactly a hoops hotbed. Justin Holiday is the team's third-best scorer, but he isn't even the best Holiday in the league. Kris Dunn, David Nwaba and Denzel Valentine are a few good looking pieces, but this is a mish-mash roster with a dim future. They'll need to continue building through the draft and hope they have the same type of success stockpiling for the future like we saw in Philadelphia. And look how long it took to turn things around there. If you were building a fantasy roster from just one team, Chicago should be your 30th choice. Maybe once Zach LaVine is healthy enough to return they'll resemble an NBA-caliber team a little more frequently.
I know my co-workers have a lot of love for Dennis Smith Jr., and rightly so. He gives fans in the Metroplex a little bit of hope for the future. But the Mavs need about three more DSJs if they're going to be competitive anytime soon. If you're only able to rely on one team for fantasy purposes, Harrison Barnes, Smith and maybe Wesley Matthews are doing enough to give you production on a regular basis. Unless you're able to find a time machine back so you can go back about five years, Dirk Nowitzki isn't helping much. This team has used Maximilian Kleber in the starting lineup 13 times, and Yogi Ferrell in the starting five on 10 different occasions. That's how ugly the situation is in Dallas.
Of course, you could always build around Nerlens Noel. OK, not really. He is showing that the 76ers brass is pretty wise, as they realized he is a bust and quickly foisted him on another organization. It would make Larry David and J.B. Smoove smack a high-five, it was such a great foist. Noel is already finding it hard to make it into the lineup with this assortment, so things will get even more dicey once Josh McRoberts is healthy enough to return. Yes, Dallas has guys like Seth Curry and Josh McBob on the mend, but they have such few attractive fantasy options that it's hard to believe they have even won eight games.
Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)
I certainly can’t disagree with the teams already listed, but I’ll throw another squad into the mix: The Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks most valuable fantasy asset is Dennis Schroder. Although he’s had a solid season up to this point, it appears he’s not on the same page as coach Mike Budenholzer. Coach Bud benched Schroder for the final 16 minutes in Atlanta’s loss to the Knicks last Sunday. Afterward, Schroder stewed and expressed his frustration to reporters, while Budenholzer said it was merely a “coach’s decision.” Schroder also sat out the entire fourth quarter of Atlanta lopsided loss to the Cavs. We’ll have to keep an eye on this situation to see how it plays out.
Elsewhere on the roster, Taurean Prince has been fine, but hasn’t lived up to the preseason hype he generated. Dewayne Dedmon was playing well, but is currently sidelined by a left tibia stress reaction. Ditto for promising rookie John Collins (shoulder), although he is reportedly on track to return this week. Mike Muscala (ankle) has been inconsistent and often injured. Ersan Ilyasova has shown some flashes of late, but he will see his playing time reduced once Collins returns to action.
Ryan Knaus (@Knaus_RW)
It's indisputable that the Bulls and Kings are among worst possible teams in this scenario. Sacramento has some fantasy upside with guys like Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, De'Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere, but coach Dave Joerger has shown zero inclination to turn them loose early in the season. Nikola Mirotic's recent hot streak notwithstanding, if you take the Bulls you're hoping Lauri Markkanen doesn't hit the rookie wall, Justin Holiday and Kris Dunn start to make their shots, and Zach LaVine's restrictions aren't too onerous when he returns from ACL surgery. The Hawks are right up there, too, but at least they have guys like Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore and (eventually) Dewayne Dedmon, plus the upside of Taurean Prince and John Collins.
Dan mentioned the Mavericks, and I completely agree. The rebuilding Mavs are being led by Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes -- the former is increasingly at risk of DNPs with Dallas tied for last place in the Western Conference, and the latter has a low fantasy ceiling thanks to a lack of defensive stats (0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks) and limited assists (2.0). Dennis Smith Jr. was ruining owners with high turnovers (3.0 per game) and disastrous percentages (39.5% FGs, 66.0% FTs) before missing time with his hip injury, and there's simply not much upside on this roster. Maxi Kleber? Nerlens Noel when he returns from thumb surgery? Less than ideal.
I'll mention one more team I'd hate to build around this season: the Nets. Brooklyn's best player to date (8-cat/9-cat) has been Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, one of two players (with Spencer Dinwiddie) to crack the top-100. It's anyone's guess when D'Angelo Russell (knee) will return, so you're essentially banking on rest-of-season development from Caris LeVert, Allen Crabbe, Jarrett Allen and Jahlil Okafor. I'll conclude by saying that I also want nothing to do with the Grizzlies, especially since Mike Conley (Achilles) doesn't have a clear timetable and Marc Gasol's frustration has reached a boiling point.
Mike Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher)
It has to start with the Kings, right? It feels like each player has a short leash or there is a high probability for rest. Sure, Z-Bo has been awesome, but can we really feel confident he’s going to be playing in at least half of the March and April games? So many of the perimeter players have a seesaw for fantasy value. In other words, when Bogdan Bogdanovic is up, Buddy Hield is down, and you could say the same for their trio of point guards. Three-way seesaws are still a thing, right?
I don’t think anyone is even close, but I guess the next closest would be the Grizzlies. Between trade rumors on Marc Gasol, a new coach and possible ownership changes, this is just a mess. Plus, they’re currently tied for last in the Western Conference, but at least they’re only 5.5 games out from the No. 8 spot. Maybe if Mike Conley comes back this month, they can get it figured out. If Conley gets hurt again, it could be curtains for a lot of fantasy value.
The Suns are bad and they’ve been one of the more open teams about not caring about wins this season. Excluding T.J. Warren and injured Devin Booker, nobody is safe and coach Jay Triano will go with a hot hand at the other three positions. Plus, can you imagine a team rotating three guys in for two center spots? This is just crazy talk and really nobody has been fun to own on this team for this month. Josh Jackson has been a disaster so far as one of the most inefficient players in the NBA and don’t get me started on Marquese Chriss. Plus, there’s always a chance Booker and/or Warren get shut down late this season.