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2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Guards (Part 2)

A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who are overvalued while finding gems buried down the ADP leaderboard. The wrong pick can completely tank your season. The perfect steal can give you a magnificent advantage.

Today, let's talk about some players whose ADPs makes little sense given their projections--for the good and for the bad. For whatever reason -- be it talent, a lack/surplus of opportunity, or some combination of those and multiple other things -- these are players who I'm actively tracking in drafts to see how their ADP evolves as we get closer to the regular season.

Let's look at some guards who have sleeper/bust potential this year in fantasy basketball leagues.

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2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Guards

Overvalued: Ja Morant, PG (MEM) - ADP: 16.6

The higher the ADP, the larger the expectations. Are we sure Morant can top his 2022 season, though? While not a real injury-threatened player, the truth is that Ja has yet to appear in more than 67 games in a single season (he reached that figure as a rookie but not after that) and that cuts his upside a bit. That's why he's finished as the top-36, top-35, and top-27 OVR fantasy player in his three NBA campaigns.

Paying more than a top-25, top-30 for Morant feels like entering risky territory. If he can stay healthy for the full season or 75+ games, then he might break into the top-15 players in the whole NBA. Until he proves he has that availability inside of him, though, the risk will always be there. Morant would have finished last year as a borderline top-five player given his FPPG (48.3) had he played such a number of games. Of course, he didn't.

I get the reasoning behind drafting Morant this high. The fact that Jaren Jackson Jr. will be out until the 2023 calendar year, though, gives me pause. Memphis finds strength in numbers and the whole rotation, but having JJJ out of the lineup will (in my opinion) hurt Morant by giving defenses the chance of locking their attention into him and limiting his offense to the extent that's possible.

Since the start of the century, only five guards have posted 46+ FPPG in their age-22-or-younger seasons: Kobe, Chris Paul, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Ja Morant. The first two went on to become all-timers. The next two are on the right path. Morant could join them all. He also kept up that average by playing fewer games among all of them. Reason for concern?

Undervalued: Chris Paul, PG (PHO) - ADP: 35.6

There is a slim chance Paul underperforms his current (expensive, not going to lie) ADP. Even then, odds are he overperforms the expectations and has another top-40 season such as has been the case in all but one year since... the 2010 campaign! There was a bump in the road back in 2019 when he played 58 games missing an entire month of play (no real excuse, though, as he played the same amount of games in 2018 and he finished 40th OVR). Other than that, Paul keeps on giving.

CP3 is going to be playing basketball at 37 years of age this season--not unheard of, but still remarkable: perhaps only John Stockton, Jason Kidd, and Steve Nash were still doing it at Paul's levels at that age back in the day. Not quite bad company, is it? Paul is nearly a lock to post 7+ APG, 4+ RPG, 1+ SPG, and no more than 2.5 TOPG next season. He's not a high-volume shooter anymore, but he'll still go for his good 12+ FGA per game on a nightly basis hitting nearly 50% (yes, you read that right) of them.

Paul, as old as he is, has found a way to adapt his game while keeping his production (real- and fantasy-life wise) intact. He is, in fact, coming off a double-double season (almost a 15-11-4-2 per-game line) for the first time since he did it in 2016.

Paul might not be a top-10 OVR player anymore, but he's not one poised to miss ample time due to injuries (he always misses games but not as many as to consider that a red flag) while he should still keep most of his numbers up. The Suns have kept the squad together--including Deandre Ayton--so that also helps his case.

Overvalued: Cade Cunningham, PG/SG (DET) - ADP: 35.8

This is a very dangerous pick to make early. Cade Cunningham remains undefeated after his first season in the NBA; there's no arguing against that. The rookie took the league by storm, posted a 17-5-5-1 per-game line, and although he did it over only 64 games played, that was still a large enough sample (2,000+ MP) for us to consider it a legitimate outcome. Now, hear me out: the risk is always there when it comes to building over already-great rookie campaigns.

In the history of the Association, only 80 players averaged 35+ FPPG in their debut season and then went on to have another such-great campaign in their sophomore year. That's not a lot of players, again, in the history of the league. In fact, only 15 of them have reached those heights in this century, and of those only seven can be considered true guards: Steve Francis, Chris Paul, Steph Curry, John Wall, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and LaMelo Ball. Will Cade join that flashy group in 2023?

Betting on that happening is a low-chance winning proposition at most. Cunningham missed the early part of last season and almost 20 games total. He could still go on to play 75+ next year, of course, but even then he might find it hard to load up on counting/average stats. The main reason is the addition of Jaden Ivey to the fold along with the improvement of Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart and what that might mean--basically: larger roles and usage rates.

Cunningham is coming off a 27%+ usage rate season, but I don't trust that figure staying that high next year. He also committed an incredibly large 3.7 TOPG as a rookie, and while that will get better with reps and more playing time, it doesn't mean that's a huge negative overall--let alone for those in leagues where TOs are counted as a negative FP.

Cunningham posted a 50.5 TS% (far from good) and although the assists rate was bonkers (29.1%), the TOV% was just demolishing at 17.5 percent. Here is a list of players who have posted similar figures in the past few seasons (min. 2,000+ MP): T.J. McConnell, Rajon Rondo, Emmanuel Mudiay, Elfrid Payton, and Michael Carter-Williams. All of them finished outside of the top-50 (Cade was 56th last year). Just a warning of what could be coming Cade's way.

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