Fantasy Basketball: Stock down due to poor starts

by Tommy Beer on January 15, 2012 @ 10:45:56 PDT


Previously we examined which players had busted out of the gate and were off strong starts this 2011-2012 fantasy campaign. Today we'll take a look at the other end of spectrum and highlight those players that have not delivered as expected...

While we only have a handful of games over a few weeks to draw data from, things are not looking good for the players listed below. And considering where they were selected in drafts last month, they have been major disappointments to GM's who called (or clicked on) their names on draft day.

Tim Duncan's minutes and production are both down this year

Tim Duncan - San Antonio Spurs
We all know Timmy D has been inching towards the finish line of his epic career, but Duncan still managed to post relatively impressive numbers last year. However, in this lockout-shortened 66-game sprint of a regular season, Coach Pop has been significantly reducing Duncan's minutes, and Tim's production has declined sharply as a result. Duncan is playing just 26 minutes a night for San Antonio, and is averaging 12.3 points (while shooting below 45% from the floor), 6.4 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks - which would all represent career low's for the future Hall-of-Famer. The Spurs understand that in order for them to have any shot at making a deep run in the playoffs, they will need a healthy Timmy D, so expect Duncan to continue to spend plenty of time on the pine... As an aside, Duncan's recent “struggles” Makes you appreciate just how dominant Duncan has been throughout his career. Just how consistently dominant was Duncan when he first entered the league? He averaged at least 21 pts, 11 rebs, 2.5 apg & 2 blocks in each of his first eight NBA seasons.

Dorell Wright - Golden State Warriors
As I detailed in my Top-100 preseason rankings, Wright was a player I had concerns about prior to the start of the 2010-2011 season. A regression back to the mean was fully expected. He was coming off a career-season in an offensive system perfectly suited to his game - with very little competition for minutes. It was a perfect fantasy storm, and to his credit, Wright made the most of it. However, with a new coach (Mark Jackson promised to focus on defense) and some new wing players on the roster (Brandon Rush has earned PT), the outlook for Wright wasn't nearly as bright. And over the first few weeks of regular season, the results have been even worse than imagined - especially painful for those fantasy leaguers that spent a fourth or fifth-round pick on Dorell. Wright's production is way down across the board. After averaging 16.4 ppg, 3 apg, 1.5 steals and a league-leading 2.4 three's per game; he is currently averaging 7.3 points, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.2 three-balls. His numbers have been basically cut in half. A major factor in this decline has obviously been playing time (38 minutes per game last season down to just 30 mpg this year); but that isn't the only issue: Wright has seen his percentages drop as well. He shot over 42% from the floor and 37.6% from three-point territory in 2010-2011. This year he is at 35.8% from the field and 29% from downtown.

Danny Granger - Indiana Pacers
Unlike many other players on this list, Danny Granger is actually playing more this season than last. The issue is that his efficiency (and thus his production) has dipped dramatically. Granger is shooting an abominable 33.6% from the field this season, which is 10 percentage points below his career accuracy rate of 43.9%. His scoring average is down below 16 ppg (he averaged 20.5 ppg last season and 24.2 in 2009-2010). His assist and rebound numbers have also taken a turn for the worse. While I expect Granger to bounce back and put up improved stats going forward, there is obviously cause for concern. If you can trade Granger and still get something relatively close to top-tier talent in return, I'd suggest making that move.

John Wall - Washington Wizards
The #1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, there were lofty expectations attached to Wall's rookie season. However, the youngster experienced some growing pains and struggled with inconsistent play and too many turnovers. This season, with a full 82-game slate under his belt, was supposed to be far better statistically. Unfortunately, the results remain disappointing. In fact, Wall's numbers have all moved in the wrong direction. Despite seeing extensive PT, JW's scoring, rebounding, assists, and steal totals have all decreased. Wall is also shooting below 34% from the floor and he has yet to hit a single three-pointer this year (0-5 from downtown). I've never been high on Wall due to the excessive turnovers; I'd wait until he strings together a few solid games in a row, then attempt to trade him for a more consistent/less frustrating player.

Elton Brand - Philadelphia 76ers
After signing a big free agent contract with Philadelphia three years ago, Brand's numbers had been trending downward over his first two seasons in Philly. However, Elton turned back the clock last year, finishing the 2010-2011 season ranked inside the top-50 in nine-category fantasy leagues. Brand poured in 15 points a night (on 51.2% FG), grabbed 8.4 boards, while also chipping in 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks last season. But Brand's numbers have come crashing back down to earth over the first few weeks this season. Elton just has not looked 100% healthy, and his body has apparently not responded well to the onslaught of back-to-backs this truncated schedule has wrought. EB is playing just 27 minutes a night (after logging over 34 mpg in '10-11) and is averaging a career-low 9.7 ppg (he's never scored fewer than 13 ppg in his 13-year career). With Spencer Hawes playing extremely well and the Sixers boasting a deep bench, it's hard to see Brand approaching last season's production level. I'd try to package him and deal him if possible, even if it means “selling low” relative to his draft position.

Serge Ibaka - Oklahoma City Thunder
Ibaka was hyped as a favored breakout candidate by many heading into the season, after stretches of dominant play late last year. Last March, Serge averaged 11.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, and a whopping 3.4 blocks per contest over 16 games that month (while playing a career-high 30 minutes a night). His stellar play continued well into the postseason. But Ibaka has been erratic and his playing time has been frustratingly inconsistent early on this season. Fellow Thunder bigs Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison have split minutes fairly evenly, limiting the fantasy potential of Ibaka. (Even Nazr Mohammed is averaging over 14 mpg.) Ibaka has the skill set to be an impact player, but don't expect his PT to suddenly spike...

Chauncey Billups - Los Angeles Clippers
Initially, Billups was penciled in as the starting PG for the Knicks, feeding Amar'e and Melo and banging in open threes. Then, after the Knicks waived him to make room for Tyson Chandler, there was still hope that he would be able to put up impressive numbers as the starting two-guard on an up-and-coming Clippers squad. Billups got off to a solid start, pouring in 21 points in L.A.'s opener, but his all-around numbers have been relatively disappointing since. Despite averaging more minutes than he did for New York, Chauncey's points, rebound, and assist totals are all down.

Channing Frye - Phoenix Suns
Like many of the guys listed above, Frye is stuck in a nasty timeshare, and has seen his playing time and value plummet as a result. Channing averaged 33 minutes per contest last season, but that number has dropped to 22.8 in 2011-2012. His percentages have remained steady; he is just not seeing the same opportunities -as center Robin Lopez and rookie forward Markieff Morris have eaten into Frye's share of playing time.

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About Tommy Beer

Tommy Beer is a senior NBA writer for HOOPSWORLD and also serves as the Fantasy Editor. Tommy covers the Knicks and the Nets and is one of the foremost fantasy basketball experts in the business.

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