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2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Guards (Part 1)

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

Undervalued: Bradley Beal, SG (WAS) - ADP: 30.9

How many players with an ADP of 30 can be considered undervalued? How many not just now, but in the history of the NBA or fantasy basketball, have been good enough to claim that little fact? Probably not many. One of them entering this fall is Bradley Beal, though. Beal is getting drafted past the 30th overall pick in most Yahoo drafts these days. Beal also is coming off a career-worst 130th OVR fantasy season.

Did I mention Beal had had five consecutive seasons of finishing as a top-30 player prior to that, with the latest four into the top-15 OVR? Hhmmm... last year was more of a fluke than something to be too worried about. Beal only played 40 games for a Wizards team that, simply put, was playing for nothing more than trying to convince Beal to re-ink his deal with the organization--which they did. So that's a win!

Beal's 40 games, when looked at them from a fairer per-game angle, marked Beal's fourth-best season in terms of FPPG with 40.7 per contest. His 1.13 FP/min figure was also his fourth-best ever. In other words: Beal missed time and volume/availability is key to winning in fantasy sports, but Beal was the exact same player he's been for five, maybe six seasons now. A superstar and a must-draft player, full stop.

Beal is one of the best scorers out there and that won't change. His 45/30/83 splits from the 2022 season were more of a fluke than a trend. Looking at his past six seasons (from 2017 on), Beal has averaged at least 17+ FGA and 4+ FTA per game with shooting splits approaching an average of 46/35/83. Remove that fluky 2022 and the splits go up a tick to 47/36/83.

With Beal missing all of his games last season from the start of February on, he will be entering next season after a nine-month resting/recovery period of time. He will enter the new year too having Kristaps Porzingis as a teammate from the get-go and a better overall first unit to help him boasting Kyle Kuzma, Monte Morris, Will Barton, and rookie Johnny Davis.

Beal is a lock for a bounceback season and I wouldn't worry that much about his 2022 missed games. Even though he played 57 and 60 games in 2020 and 2021, he still found a way to finish as a top-15 player in both of those campaigns. That's his floor entering 2023, one much higher than his current ADP of 30th OVR pick.

Overvalued: Kyrie Irving, PG/SG (BKN) - ADP: 15.5

Kyrie is the greatest ball-handling player the Association has ever come to know. As simple as that. Kyrie is also a head-coach headache and a man who has yet to stay healthy (or want to play) for more than around 60 games every year. And that's actually the best-case scenario for Irving these days: in the past seven years, Irving has played more than 60 games just two times; he has not reached 55 in three years and counting. Ugh.

The 11,972 minutes Kyrie has spent on the court in those seven seasons combined rank 77th among players with playing time in that same span. Above him: Tim Hardaway Jr., Gary Harris, Patty Mills, and Wesley Matthews, just to name a few. If you're going to pony up as much as a top-15 draft pick, you better be sure you are drafting 1) a legitimate performer and 2) a player that is assured to feature in 65+ games at the very least given his track record. I'd say Kyrie almost fits the first point, but definitely (and sadly) falls sort of fitting the second one.

Irving is great for the 30-to-50 games you know he'll most probably play. A 20+ PPG, 6+ APG, 4+ RPG, and 1+ SPG with no more than 2.5 TOPG. He can shoot wonders with averages combined to build some ridiculous 48/40/92 splits since he arrived in Brooklyn. He hoists 20+ FGA a game, and 7+ of those attempts come from three-point range. That's insane!

But I'm not paying a top-15, near-first-round pick for Irving and his volatility. There will be times when you find yourself looking at the daily/weekly scores and blaming your decision of passing on him. Then, there will come the moment of the ultimate realization when Kyrie is injured/traded/suspended or just refuses to play for some reason or another... and you'll instead celebrate that decision.

Undervalued: Russell Westbrook, PG (LAL) - ADP: 83.0

I am writing this as a report from The Athletic has emerged discussing the willingness and determination of the Los Angeles Lakers staff and mostly head coach Darvin Ham to leave Russ on the bench next season instead of automatically handing him a starting role at the point. That sucks for Russ and probably also cuts down his upside a bit when it comes to his fantasy appeal, but even then, Westbrook's current ADP makes little sense to me.

It is impossible to try--let alone find--anything new to discuss when it comes to Russ at this point in his career. The man is already entering his age-34 season, as ridiculous as that is to believe judging by his still-intact athleticism. Westbrook has been a top-12 OVR fantasy player for eight years in a row, and only an injury (46 games in 2014) has prevented him from stringing 12 such seasons--he finished 79th OVR in 2014 even though he missed nearly half of that season, seriously.

Of course, Bench Russ is an entirely different animal and one we have never had to deal with. Will it work? Will Westbrook handle it with a Melo-esque "hey P, they want me to come off the bench!" followed by a threatening laugh? I don't really know. The last time Russ came off the pine instead of playing as a starter was in his rookie season, just imagine. Barring that and his sophomore year, Westbrook has never failed to score 18+ PPG. He has eight consecutive seasons of averaging at least 7+ APG and 7+ RPG in the same year. He has stolen at least one ball per game in all of his single seasons. And the list goes on and on.

Even if Westbrook hits the pine--something I won't believe until I see it happening--he is going to average 15+ points, 5+ rebounds, 5+ assists, 1+ steal, and some blocks here and there. You don't rely on Russ if you need three-pointers or if you're looking for high-volume, high-percentage free-throw shooters. But other than that, and for fantasy-related purposes, Russ' ADP of 80+ is a joke, a bargain, and a bug in the system you must exploit before other GMs catch up with it.

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