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Five Players With Fantasy Basketball Bust Potential

fantasy basketball offseason trades free agents NBA sleepers

The NBA season is just around the corner. You're probably doing a bunch of fantasy basketball prep right now, so here's something to help you with that: a piece about potential busts.

For the purposes of this piece, I'm basically talking about two kinds of busts. There are players who are being drafted too high and should be fine, and there are players who I'm legitimately worried won't be very good.

Below, you'll find five players who are being drafted in the top 75 in most fantasy formats who have the potential to bust this season.

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James Harden - G - Philadelphia 76ers

It's not necessarily that I think Harden will be bad, but Fantasy Pros currently has his ADP at 11. He's being drafted early on both ESPN and Yahoo.

I just think there's a little bit too much risk with Harden as a first round pick. Yes, he's someone who can fill up every piece of the stat sheet, but he's also someone who has some really worrisome indicators.

Last season, Harden shot 41% from the floor, his worst mark since his rookie season. He shot 33% from three, his worst number ever. His assist rate dropped around four percent. His usage rate was his lowest since his Thunder days. His Box Plus/Minus was also the lowest its been since he was with the Thunder.

Now, Harden could bounce back in Philly this year, but going by the numbers, his 21 games with the 76ers last year were a little worse than his 44 games with the Nets. Harden seems to be approaching that wall—could he drop below 10 assists per game? Will his scoring bounce back? We'll see, but at his current ADP, I'd much rather take a chance on someone else.


Dejounte Murray - G - Atlanta Hawks

Murray posted the best numbers of his career last season, as he averaged 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 9.2 assists and a league-high 2.0 steals per game. It was a breakout campaign for Murray, who made his first All-Star team as a result of his play.

There are a lot of people who I really trust who like Murray this year:

Our own Dan Palyo—the FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year—is high on Murray. I think it's valid to think that his move to Atlanta will be good for him, because the defense won't be able to key in on him, since Trae Young is sharing the backfield with him.

But I also think my position is valid too: being really worried about Murray because of Trae Young.

Murray's jump in production last year came in part because he posted a career-high in usage rate and assist rate at 27.3% and 40.6% respectively.

My concern is that he joins a Hawks team that already has that role filled. Trae Young was fourth in the NBA in usage rate and first in assist rate last year. Murray's probably going to be more efficient in Atlanta. He'll get more open looks. But he'll also get less looks overall, and the ball won't be in his hands as much, which limits his assist upside as well.

Murray's a good player. But I think he's being drafted at his ceiling right now. If his ADP dropped a round or two, he'd be a great pick, but I just see too much uncertainty here.


Christian Wood - F/C - Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks traded for Wood this offseason and now have to figure out how to fit him into their frontcourt rotation. This is one of the players who I'm legitimately worried about this season.

Wood's a good player. He averaged 17.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Rockets last year, the first season-long double-double of his career. But he also saw his points per game drop from 21.0 the previous year. Part of that was the addition of Jalen Green, who needed shots.

Now, he heads to a Mavericks team where his scoring upside is limited even more by a backcourt that's full of scoring options in Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie.

Worse for Wood, it looks like he'll come off the bench behind JaVale McGee. The Mavericks also have Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell who can both play the five, and who have experience on this team.

Dallas needed a wing this offseason to help make up for the loss of Jalen Brunson. Instead, the big addition was a center who is going to come off the bench. I worry that Wood's role is going to be significantly smaller than it was in Houston.


Ben Simmons - G - Brooklyn Nets

Simmons could just as well be a sleeper candidate. There's a huge, huge range of outcomes for the former No. 1 overall pick this year as he finally will start to figure out his fit with this Nets team.

Ben Simmons is a talented player, but he has some very clear limitations in his game. He's a career 59.7% shooter from the free throw line. He's made exactly five three-pointers in his career, and was 0-for-16 from three in his first two seasons.

For Simmons to pay off, you have to like what he gives you everywhere else enough to justify how much he hurts you in threes and free throws. And heading into this season after he didn't play at all last year, I'm not sure I trust that he'll give us enough everywhere else.

One issue is how Simmons will be used. He played point guard in Philly, but the Nets have Kyrie Irving to man that spot. Will that mean fewer assists for Simmons? Will he be able to score off the ball? Just too many question marks.


Alperen Sengun - C - Houston Rockets

I love Sengun as a player, but I'm not sold on him as a top 75 pick. I think there are a lot of safer picks at center, and while Sengun has some elite upside, I think we're not quite at the point where we can count on that upside.

As a rookie, Sengun averaged 9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He shot 47.4% from the floor and 24.8% from three.

The reason people are high on Sengun this year is that there are more available minutes for him, as he started just 13 games and played 20.7 minutes per game last year. Christian Wood and Daniel Theis are both gone though, opening up more minutes at the five.

But even with Sengun starting, the Rockets are going to be looking to get other guys minutes up front. Derrick Favors can give them some good veteran minutes, while Bruno Fernando just had his contract converted from a two-way to a four-year deal because of how impressive he's looked in camp. Usman Garuba exists too, and Willie Cauley-Stein and Boban Marjanovic are currently on this roster.

I think we're a year away from Sengun getting the minutes needed to really break out. I also want to see some improved shooting before I fully buy in here.

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