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Where Should We Draft Last Year's Fantasy Basketball Busts in 2023-2024?

Ben Simmons - NBA Injury News, Daily Fantasy Basketball, DFS Lineup Picks

Every year, all types of fantasy sports bring surprises and disappointments, values and busts, and so forth. The 2022-23 basketball season was no exception to this dynamic, and navigating through assets that fall under these categories properly can often make or break fantasy rosters. This article is about those busts.

For instance, De'Anthony Melton and Trey Murphy III probably helped your team a ton during the campaign’s first half either by drafting them late or picking them up while starting players were injured. On the flip side, spending a first-round pick on Karl-Anthony Towns proved to be detrimental with a calf injury that cost him more time than Minnesota anticipated. This was coupled with a mostly unsuccessful shift to power forward to accommodate Rudy Gobert.

This article focuses on last year’s fallers and how to treat them in 2023-24 leagues ahead of training camp. Most, if not all, of these guys are coming off the board lower than they did last fall, so let’s see if they’re offering a bargain at their deflated costs.

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2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Fallers (Guards)

Collin Sexton- PG/SG, Utah Jazz

2022-23 provided a bit of a whirlwind for Collin Sexton's fantasy managers in Year 1 with the Jazz. The 24-year-old played behind veteran Mike Conley pre-trade deadline as a forward-thinking buy-low candidate but was banged up throughout the campaign. Sexton averaged 16.5 points on 53.7% shooting with 4.6 assists in 17 games without Conley last year, reaching double figures in all but an injury-shortened Feb. 15 game.

Sexton was unfortunately only able to get in four games as a starter after Utah traded Conley away. The combo guard will have to stave off Kris Dunn, who staged a late-season rise in his absence, but Sexton represents a great bounce-back pick in points leagues with precious little to offer defensively. Overall, he looks like a rich man’s Cam Thomas.

Russell Westbrook- PG/SG, Los Angeles Clippers

9-category fantasy managers might breeze past this one anyway as Russell Westbrook has been a liability in those formats for several years now. The 34-year-old former fantasy beast will see his ADP skewed upward after stepping up in the playoffs, but that resurgence largely came without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Westbrook wasn’t efficient with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but he was far more accurate (48.9% FG, 35.6% 3P rates) with the two Clippers superstars. I’m still not biting on the bait in 9-cat, where he is annually overvalued, but those shooting figures make the nine-time All-Star a bet-on-talent late-round proposition in points leagues.

Ben Simmons- PG/SG/SF, Brooklyn Nets

It’s that time of the NBA calendar when everyone is supposedly in “the best shape of their lives,” and Ben Simmons is no stranger to the hype. The 27-year-old certainly possesses plenty of counting-stat upside, but can Simmons tap back into it after looking totally shell-shocked off his 2021-22 back injury/holdout?

Simmons’ disruptive defense and passing acumen remained intact, but Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are now gone as possible receivers. Simmons is another bet-on-talent pick with an uptick in usage on the horizon. The three-time All-Star's offensive role has nowhere to go but up after he was not utilized as a pick-and-roll ball handler whatsoever in his Nets debut season. Free throws and lack of outside shooting will remain hamstringing, though.

Kyle Lowry- PG, Miami Heat

The clock might be ticking toward midnight for Kyle Lowry’s fantasy value. I liken the 37-year-old to fantasy basketball’s version of Ezekiel Elliott: just a glue guy at this stage of his career. Lowry was certainly reliable when on the court last year, but the ceiling was virtually nonexistent. The six-time All-Star now stares at a bench role behind Tyler Herro, and the returning Josh Richardson looks poised to occupy Lowry’s 2022-23 role. Damian Lillard’s potential arrival would pretty much put the nail in the coffin, in any event.


2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Fallers (Forwards)

Khris Middleton- SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks

Khris Middleton’s injury-ruined 2022-23 yielded his lowest workload (24.1 MPG) and true-shooting rate (55.1%) since 2013-14. The 32-year-old had offseason wrist surgery last summer and knee surgery this past offseason, but he should be ready to rock for Opening Night.

Middleton’s three-level offensive repertoire, passing ability, and solid defense lends itself to a very 9-cat friendly game, making Middleton worth a fifth-/sixth-round bet in a cohesive Bucks lineup with his cost driven down off an injury-plagued year. He’s one of my favorite bounce-back candidates, albeit a popular one.

Gordon Hayward- SF/PF, Charlotte Hornets

Gordon Hayward supplied Charlotte with a stabilizing presence while franchise cornerstone LaMelo Ball missed most of 2022-23 due to multiple ankle injuries. The 33-year-old enters the final year of his lucrative deal and could represent a trade candidate at this year’s deadline for contenders during the stretch run. Even on a paper-thin Hornets roster, Hayward is still penciled in as a sixth man behind No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller and with Miles Bridges returning.

It’s hard to draw much of a rosy image for Hayward’s 2023-24 prospects with the former All-Star’s best fantasy days behind him. The veteran forward could have early-season value if Miller starts slow, but Hayward's likely to be a low-end commodity and I’d shoot for more upside in this draft range.


2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Fallers (Centers)

Jusuf Nurkic - C, Portland Trail Blazers

Since exiting Nikola Jokic’s shadow in 2016-17, Jusuf Nurkic has been consistently able to showcase his unique offensive versatility. But the 29-year-old's availability -- on the other hand -- has been inconsistent. The oft-injured big man hasn’t been able to appear in greater than 56 games in any year since 2018-19.

Nurkic has always carried explosive upside, and his combination of rebounding, defense, and creation is rare at his position. His 2023-24 role hangs in the balance with Damian Lillard’s status uncertain; he could be a usage hog in Portland, or more of a complementary piece if he ends up on the move as well. Nurk is pretty much Jakob Poeltl with an outside jumper that he appeared to refine last year.

John Collins- PF/C, Utah Jazz

John Collins looks to be devolving into a bit of a mystifying player. After flashing nightly 20-point, 10-rebound potential earlier in his Hawks tenure, the 25-year-old’s across-the-board efficiency and aggregate numbers have dwindled in virtually each of the past four years. The explosive Collins looks for a fresh start in Utah, but Salt Lake City is quietly deep down low with top-10 pick Taylor Hendricks and jack-of-all-trades veteran Kelly Olynyk pushing for minutes.

Collins’ role as a restricted spot-up shooter in Atlanta will need to expand after he didn’t stand out in any particular category a year ago. Here’s to hoping the Jazz can unlock Collins the way they did Lauri Markkanen last season.

Rudy Gobert - C, Minnesota Timberwolves

Well, Year 1 of Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert experiment was a mostly failed one for fantasy purposes. The 30-year-old’s 3.9% block rate marked the lowest of his career, and his 18.9 player efficiency rating was his worst since 2015-16. Gobert remains arguably the best source of FG%, boards, and swats a draft pick can buy, but the Timberwolves may not be properly equipped to maximize his strengths the way Utah was with floor-spacers Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, and Royce O'Neale. At least Gobert still has Mike Conley, though.

If the Wolves don't jam in the clunky Towns/Gobert frontcourt, per-minute machine Naz Reid and coach's favorite Kyle Anderson could seriously steal minutes late in games due to Gobert’s FT shooting. He’s worth snagging if the price is right, but a top-50 pick may be too steep.

Isaiah Stewart- PF/C, Detroit Pistons

Isaiah Stewart got a bit lost in Detroit’s frontcourt logjam as first-round rookie Jalen Duren emerged, and they traded for apparently-coveted former first-round burnout James Wiseman. The Pistons tried to use Stewart in a John Collins-type role as a stretch four to mixed results, enabling Stewart to smash his previous career high with a 46.5% three-point attempt rate.

The 22-year-old appears stuck in a reserve role to start 2023-24, and the way he is being utilized on the perimeter offensively simply isn't conducive to his impressive rebounding and shot-blocking skills. With an annually descending block rate and a seemingly redundant role to Marvin Bagley III, Beef Stew is probably someone I’m willing to be out on this fall.

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