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Fantasy Basketball Draft Day Disappointments


It is your turn to pick and your mouth salivates at the thought of getting that player that you just know is going to break out. That player everyone else is sleeping on, but you know deep in your gut this player will exceed all expectations and show everyone else what a fantasy basketball guru you really are. Some people in your draft may scratch their heads at what they consider you reaching, but you know you'll have all the validation in the world when you're hoisting your league championship proudly above your head.

Despite all of your scouting and research however, the impossible has happened...your "stud" is looking more like a bust. The buyer's remorse starts settling in and you start thinking of all the amazing players you passed on your quest to acquire your sleeper. Players you did not look twice at are producing at levels that make you envious. Suddenly what once seemed like a steal, now feels like a gigantic burden.

This scenario is one that is all too familiar to anyone that plays fantasy sports. As the imperfect humans that we all are, we all buy into hype, or perhaps find a little too much pleasure in being the one to discover "a hidden gem". While finding sleepers will always be one of the most gratifying aspects of crafting your team, finding out your pick was more Anthony Randolph than Rudy Gobert will cause you to lose sleep at night. In this article I want to discuss some of the players that I personally identified as draft day studs, but so far have looked a lot more like busts.

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Draft Day Disappointments

Jamal Murray, PG/SG, Denver Nuggets

Jamal was easily one of the most overhyped players I witnessed the entire off-season in fantasy basketball circles, including by yours truly. Jamal Murray who for his young age is an incredibly skilled players was getting comparisons to fantasy studs such as C.J McCollum and Bradley Beal. Ambitious owners identified him as the clear cut favorite for the starting point guard on a Nuggets team already sporting other fantasy beasts such as Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and Nicola Jokic. His potential to score, hit 3s at a high rate, while boosting your percentages and assists was simply too alluring.

While on paper his raw stats of 13.4 points per game, three rebounds per game and 2.3 assists per game are not terrible, they are not nearly enough to offset his complete lack of peripheral stats. His .7 steals and .2 blocks are not the only ugly side to his fantasy game however, as this overhyped baller is only shooting 42% from the field and a stinky 1.1 three pointers made per game at 25.3% shooting (much maligned Lonzo Ball is shooting 25.7 percent from three at 1.3 per game). This abysmal production was definitely not what his owners were expecting when they burned a mid-round pick on him.

Josh Richardson, PG/SG/SF, Miami Heat

Josh Richardson serves as living proof that old habits do indeed die hard. Josh Richardson's hype in fantasy basketball circles has been ongoing for much of the last two seasons. After showing the potential to be an elite 3 and D player as a rookie for the Heat, many people bet on Josh Richardson providing value similar to fantasy studs such as Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza. After starting the 2016-2017 season at a snail's pace, Josh proceeded to average 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 blocks, 2.3 steals, 2.8 3 pointers on a red-hot 53% from that range in six April games. That small 6 game sample-size was enough to make everyone forget the mostly abysmal production he displayed the rest of the season.

Josh Richardson proceeded to validate those owners who reached for him by looking like a stocks (steals and blocks) monster in the preseason. That is right around where the fun ended, however, as he proceeded to tank the field goal percentage of anyone who gave him a chance. With meager averages of 9.6 points on 39% field goal, three rebounds, two assists, and 2.2 turnovers with 1.4 threes at a abhorrent 28% from that range in 32 minutes per game, those who haven't cut bait have heavily considered it. While his 1.3 steals and .7 blocks per game are fairly decent for a guard, it's a far-cry from the production those who drafted him were banking on. While he has looked a lot more productive over the last week, it's too early to tell if it's another mirage from a very inconsistent player.

Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Dallas Mavericks

After an off-season full of rumors claiming that Nerlens Noel turned down a near maximum contract extension with the Dallas Mavericks and instead took his qualifying offer, many owners used a mid-round pick to acquire his services. I personally drafted Noel in over half of my leagues, with visions of his elite blocks and steals potential while helping to anchor my field goal percentage. Noel burst out of the gate with 16 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and a steal on a spotless six for six from the field, making all of those who drafted him look like geniuses.

Things soured very quickly, though, as his minutes continued to drop from the low 20s, to the mid-teens, to suddenly not even playing at all. The player many reached for to be a game-changer, was suddenly losing his minutes to players such as Salah Mejri and Dwight Powell. With constant news coming out of Dallas that the Mavericks are not at all thrilled with his work ethic, I dropped Nerlens Noel in leagues deep as 20 teams. While the potential still exists for a break-out from Noel, it looks like he has gotten himself an extended lease in Rick Carlisle's dog house.

Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

Some of you may be asking how Mr. Triple Doubles finds himself on my list. On paper his popcorn stats are still as savory as ever, with 22 points per game, 9.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game. Everything has to be kept in context however, and so far Mr. Westbrook is not performing at the level in which he was drafted, with many people picking him within the top 5 picks. With Paul George and Carmelo Anthony joining the fray, and decent role players such as Patrick Patterson coming onboard to shore up the Thunder's shooting, many expected Westbrook to replace some of his volume scoring, with higher efficiency. Instead of producing at the top 5 level in which he was drafted, Westbrook is currently ranked in the 40s on Yahoo mostly due to his 40% field goal percentage on 19 shots per game, and a pedestrian 72% from the free-throw line. While this lack of elite production may be seen as simply early seasons struggles, I don't think anyone expected this type of drop-off after an MVP clinching campaign.

Gorgui Dieng, PF/C, Minnesota Timberwolves

While Dieng may not be a house hold name, for the past two seasons he was considered an elite fantasy producer among competitive fantasy basketball owners. As a big man who could contribute in every category while not hurting you in any category, many owners brushed off the Timberwolves signing Taj Gibson and used a mid-round pick to have him on their team. It did not take very long however for owners to realize that Taj Gibson was a more disruptive force than he was given credit for. Dieng is only averaging 16.7 minutes per game, which is the lowest minutes he has received since his rookie year. While his per 36 numbers are in line with his career production, his blocks took a very steep drop from 1.3 blocks per 36, to an almost non-existent .2 per game. A big man that was once known for shooting above 80% from the free-throw line, is now shooting a much less impressive 74% on freebies. While there is still hope of a resurgence, many owners might consider a turn-around as too little, too late.

 

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