The NBA regular season is in Autumn. Around 20ish games remain for every team, about a quarter of the season, and then the “real” NBA season begins with the playoffs. The remaining games in the regular season will be intense for the contenders as both conferences have more than 8 teams vying for a playoff seed. (This is good, by the way! Two-thirds of a league being competitive is great!) The last 20 games will also allow tanking teams to experiment with their young players, and give more playing time to those who’ve gone without. Minutes are like water in the NBA: without them, naught can grow.
So, as NBA teams analyze their employees, we should do the same and see whether the Name Brands have performed as well as the generics. Below are some of this season’s most “overrated” players (in the context of their average draft position versus their actual fantasy production so far this season; these are all still fantastically good basketball players, even if some of them didn’t play as well as we hoped they would this season). If your fantasy team is out of the playoffs, and you’re contemplating trades or wire pickups, or just wanna do some early prep for next year, then you should consider who actually got minutes this year, and how well they spent those minutes. Tracking trends in playing time is a great way to position yourself for success. Just think of Ancient Taj Gibson’s minutes at the beginning of the year, and how we scoffed and scoffed; well, his minutes have been chock full of stats all season, and odds are that he helped a surprising fantasy team make their league’s playoffs. People can come out of nowhere (Hi, Professor Spencer Dinwiddie!), and stars can fall (Adios, Melo, vaya con Dios).
Considering whether a player is keepable in dynasty leagues is one of the toughest parts of fantasy. It happens during the offseason, so we’re all passionate about our dudes and our biases and our hopes and dreams for the coming season. Gordon Hayward was usually drafted 20th in fantasy this season. That was over real damn quick. But, you obviously shouldn’t drop him, duh. But, some guys get old, some guys go to better teams and thus lose some volume, and some guys just don’t seem to have put it all together yet. Let’s look at a few guys who’ve underperformed their draft position.
Carmelo Anthony, 97% owned
Hoodie Melo’s average draft position (“ADP”) was 35th, right before Paul Millsap and Kevin Love. First, that’s an absolutely brutal series of players. Second, please double that 35, because that’s where Melo’s actual value lies, at best. In my league, Hoodie Melo is just within the top 75 players on the year, but in ESPN basic, he’s nearly out of the top 100. Over the last month, Melo’s been a Void Rider, meaning that his value has basically hovered on either side of 0.00. His player rating over the last 30 days is 0.06, lower than Alex Abrines. Holy Mother Fudging Sheet, that is NOT what OKC wanted when they traded for one of the best scorers of his generation. Far be it from me to criticize the Thunder’s coaching (Billy Donovan is...nnnnnot...g...o...o....d……), but Hoodie Melo is playing 30 minutes a night and shooting 36%. Fantasy-wise, Melo still gets his shots, but he just isn’t doing anything with them. Maybe it’s a slump, maybe he’s hurt, maybe he’s gassy, maybe he just read Left Hand of Darkness again and can’t get over Ursula K. LeGuin’s recent passing.
Melo’s name brand recognition and previous fantasy (scoring) glory are the only thing keeping him afloat. He’s not unrosterable, but he ain’t a third rounder, anymore, neither. I mean, Ben Simmons got drafted over twelve picks after Carmelo. Not great, Bob.
Do you hang onto Hoodie Melo if you’re in a dynasty league? Hell yeah, you do! Unless, you can trade him for actual value, which is improbable right now. (But, if you can, DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT!!!!!) Melo’s future is murky, much like the OKC Thunder’s. Will Paul George be there next year? Hell, will Carmelo? Melo can still score, if given enough volume. That’s worth keeping him around for (I held on to Austin Haunted Rivers for the exact same reason, though he’s 25 and Melo is playing like he’s older than Time itself), and, if this is all a slump, then “Carmelo Anthony” might reemerge this season and get pumped for the playoffs and start playing out of his mind. Because his play recently does sortakindamaybe seem like he’s not trying his absolute hardest. Though, if he were really saving his legs, then he probably wouldn’t be playing 30+ minutes every game.
You have to acknowledge that he could be done, but just like with Dwyane Wade, what does “done” look like for Carmelo? He’s not going to retire, so will he be a starter or a bench player? Time will tell. There’s still banana boat conspiracy theories out there, after all.
At this point, though, Hoodie Melo is not worthy of 97% ownership. He’s averaging 13 and 6 over the last 30. That’s like Serge Ibaka or DeMarre Carroll country. That may be where Melo’s fantasy future lies.
Andrew Wiggins, 96% owned
In my league, three dudes each have a 5.83 player rating for the season: Kelly Oubre, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Andrew Wiggins. Full disclosure: I like all three. But, Wiggins was drafted with the 39th pick, on average, and he’s delivered maybe one third of that value for his owners this season. I mean, Oubre is 20% owned (GO GET HIM RIGHT NOW IF HE’S ON THE WAIVER IN YOUR LEAGUE) and his ADP is 178th. You could have gotten Wiggins’s value with one of your last picks, basically.
Wiggins’s main problem is that the dude just can’t shoot threes (32 3PT%). If he upped that a bit, it would make life/spacing MUCH easier for the Timberwolves, and it would also mean that Wig’s fantasy value would more accurately align with his ownership. As is, I don’t need a perimeter player who can’t shoot threes with one of my first three draft picks. Wiggins can score, and he’s still super young. He most likely will develop an outside shot. I would hang onto him in dynasty leagues.
But, next season, before the draft, remember: Wiggins’s ownership obscures how vastly overrated he is in fantasy. You can find his production elsewhere, and pretty easily, too.
Other players who’ve underperformed this season, in regards to their ADP, are:
- Myles Turner, 94% ownership, ADP 27th (!!), still a top 100 player, but definitely not top 30; his player rating is 6.77, worse than Courtly Courtney Lee or Derrick Favors. That’s not who you thought you were drafting with your third pick.
- Eric Bledsoe, 94% ownership, ADP 40th, current PR of 8.66
- Hassan Whiteside, 98% ownership, ADP 16th (!!!!!!), current PR of 8.71
- Both of these guys are too similar to discuss separately. They’re both top 100 players, but not top 50. You can replicate their production much, much more cheaply, especially Whiteside, who may never get drafted as highly as 16th ever again.
- Also, Spencer Dinwiddie, who went 154th in most drafts, is the player right before Bledsoe & Whiteside in player rating: 8.82 on the year. His ownership is 72%.
- Herr Dennis Schroder, 94% ownership, ADP 49th, current PR of 8.43. This is slightly splitting hairs, but Schroder’s ownership suggests a top 50 player, and he wasn’t one this season. He’s top 100, but I wouldn’t pay such a high draft price for that. Ancient Taj has had a better fantasy season than Herr Schroder, and Ancient Taj’s ownership is in the 70s.
Several of these guys are young, and will improve. Lost seasons happen more than we’d like to think. But, if Bledsoe stays in Milwaukee, will his ADP remain so high? Where will Melo be drafted? Is Whiteside a top 10 center, still? What the hell happened in Atlanta this year and can we trust any of the players who come out the other side?
These are questions fantasy owners have to ask as our season winds down and we head into the offseason.