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Fantasy Basketball Draft Busts: Forwards

A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who find themselves in a bad situation. The wrong pick can completely tank your season.

Today, let's talk about some potential busts at the forward position. For whatever reason -- be it talent, lack of opportunity, or some combination of those two things -- these are players who I'm actively avoiding in my fantasy leagues this season.

Let's look at five forwards who have bust potential this year in fantasy basketball leagues.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including NBA Writer of the Year, Best NFL Series, MLB Series, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Lauri Markkanen - Chicago Bulls

A new front office regime, and a new coach to go with it. Oh, and a very fresh draft pick who coincidentally plays the forward position. While the freshman Patrick Williams won't be Lauri's prime competition (Williams is more of the shorter variety and more of a threat for Zach LaVine's minutes long term than Lauri Markkanen's), he will still take balls and lower Markkanen's usage down the road. There were constant rumors of a potential trade of either Lauri/Zach last year, but ultimately the Bulls held onto both, and here's where we're still.

Now, if you want something not very encouraging about Lauri Markkanen's exploits, here's a quick nugget from the 2020 season: Lauri finished the year with similar fantasy-point averages to those of Bulls forward Thaddeus Young. On a per-minute basis, Lauri edged Young by just 0.02 fantasy points. Of course, Wendell Carter Jr. beat him, and even Otto Porter did so... Ugh.

Lauri had an ADP of 44 in last year's fantasy drafts, which feels bonkers in hindsight and knowing what he ended doing in his 50 games with the Bulls.

 

Myles Turner - Indiana Pacers

Myles Turner, believe it or not, was one of the worst players of last season, at least compared to the expectations of fantasy GMs when they were drafting him with the 26th pick last fall. That's correct. Turner was a third-round pick on average in fantasy drafts, yet he could only finish ranked 83rd overall in fantasy points. A lot of GMs got burned by the hype and that will put them off Turner this season, but I'm convinced others will try to buy low raising his ADP for the 2021 season once more.

Indiana has stayed put this offseason and has been able to retain all their players while not making any splash addition. They will run it back for another year, with the "addition" of a seemingly healthy Victor Oladipo. All things considered, they should be better than last season as a unit. Bu I'm still dubious about Turner's upside going forward, and that is if he stays in Indiana, as the Pacers might go into rebuild-mode midway through the season if they are forced to move on from Dipo.

Domantas Sabonis and T.J. Warren are the Pacers no. 1 and no. 2 forwards, full stop. Turner will keep starting games, for sure, but his below-30 FP/G pale in comparison to Warren's and mostly Sabonis' marks last season. The latter posted 44.2 DKFP/G and 1.27 FP/Min, and Oladipo will get plenty more possessions for him this year if he stays healthy. Factor in a potential trade to who-knows-where (either of Turner, Oladipo, or whoever else) and the risk is too high for the price fantasy GMs might be paying to acquire Myles.

 

Julius Randle - New York Knicks

Randle flew a little bit under the radar in last year's drafts (ADP of 55) but he was able to finish the year as one of the best forwards in fantasy leagues as the 29th-overall player and 13th-best forward on total FP. Randle finished with more points than Porzingis, Middleton, or Kevin Love just to name a few, and was more productive than Pascal Siakam or Tobias Harris on a per-minute basis.

But Randle plays for the Knicks. What are the odds Julius puts on another such season in 2021? First of all, he would need to play a lot of games (he logged 64 last year). Then, again, it is not that the Knicks as a team will use him that much after the addition of rookie Obi Toppin and Nerlens Noel--both of whom, all things considered, will most probably eat from Randle's opportunities a bit.

Randle will likely see a  jump in his ADP, as fantasy GMs saw what he did last season and will be a little higher on him than they were over a year ago. But that doesn't mean he will be a top-ROI player once more, folks, but rather the opposite. Randle had as many highs and lows last year, and he's a truly volatile game-to-game fantasy play.

 

Danilo Gallinari - Atlanta Hawks

Gallo made it clear this offseason: he is old enough as to be hunting for money, and he's rather focused on winning at this point in his career. Makes sense. Can the Hawks contend for the title, or even for that no. 8 playoffs spot, though? Hard to write it in stone. Gallinari landed on a team in which he won't be tasked with leading the offense--Trae Young and Rajon Rondo will man the point--nor being the no. 1 offensive scorer--Trae, John Collins, and Clint Capela should do so. The only good thing about Gallinari's situation is the lack of wings in Atlanta's roster, fostering Gallo up the depth chart.

The Rooster finished 2020 exactly where his ADP put him at the start of the year. He was drafted with an ADP of 64 on average, and he indeed finished as the 64th-best fantasy player overall. His per-minute fantasy average of just 1.03 FP was rather paltry, though, and we'll have to wait and see if he can keep up his (probably) unsustainable 43/40/89 shooting splits (only six players with 800+ FGA reached that line, and Gallo played the fewest minutes among them).

While the small forward position will be open for Gallinari to start games in it, I'm very doubtful he will get used on a large share of possessions. He ate a very healthy 24.6% of possesions in OKC last season, but sadly for him, he's getting into a squad that gave no more than 23% of usage to its no. 2 in John Collins (and Capela didn't even get to play), so Gallo will see his opportunities cut down a bit.

 

Pascal Siakam - Toronto Raptors

Absolutely nuts pick of the column, this one, am I right? If you look at the regular-season numbers, you'd be very right thinking I'm nuts. Siakam's 2020 season made him the 27th-best player overall after getting drafted exactly there with an ADP of 27 prior to the start of the year. That's neat and all, but what is great was his bonker 1.17 FP/min and overly-efficient 41.1 FP/G on 60 games over the year.

Siakam's 12th-best-forward campaign would be more than enough to go and make him a second-round pick in this preseason draft at most, but his playoffs were atrocious, being generously kind to him. Siakam went from averaging a 23-7-3 line per 36 minutes in the regular season to a 16-7-3 one in the postseason. That doesn't look like a huge dropoff, but his shooting was atrocious in the postseason, and although the numbers tell that story the truth is that he was almost completely missing for the Raps.

Siakam finished the postseason with negative offensive Win Shares, and only his defense saved him and allowed him to stay on the floor. Not good for fantasy purposes, as even with opportunities he balked. Siakam could be a great buy-low candidate 10-to-20 games into the season if his woes continue and he ends rebounding back, but I won't trust him in drafts until I see him improve on his latest set of performances.

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