Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL Ė Bryant managed to play in all 82 games last season, but his minutes dropped sharply, as his 33:53 mpg was his lowest mark since 1997-98. Especially on a stacked Lakers team, itís a smart strategy in an effort to prolong Bryantís career, but itís bad news for his fantasy value. Bryant is as tough as they come, and heís always willing to play through chronic injuries, but heís now surpassed 1,100 career games played, and thatís not even counting 208 more in the postseason. Bryant is just 33 years old, but thatís a lot of mileage accrued. A sharp decline in steals (1.2 spg) last season might be a sign weíve officially entered Bryantís decline phase. Heís going to continue to bring a high price tag, with the question being whether heís still worth it.
Baron Davis, PG, CLE Ė Davis averaged just 13.1 ppg last season Ė the lowest since his rookie year back in 1999-00. Consistently out of shape, Davis hurts you in the shooting categories and is now staring at a backup/mentor role in Cleveland to top pick Kyrie Irving. Davis has said all the right things since the Cavaliers used the No. 1 overall pick on the point guard, but itís easy to see him mailing it in while in a timeshare on one of the worst teams in the league. Always a significant injury risk, Davis now finds himself in a situation in Cleveland that really hurts his fantasy value.
Ricky Rubio, PG, MIN Ė After years of anticipation, Rubio is finally set to join Minnesota and make his NBA debut this season. Heís unlikely to cost a high pick in fantasy leagues, but with his name value and previous hype, donít be surprised if heís not exactly cheap, either. Rubio is likely to get a decent amount of minutes right out of the gate, but itís important to remember heís still just 20 years old with a body that needs to bulk up to undergo the rigors of a full NBA season. While he remains a terrific passer, Rubio has regressed overseas, as he averaged only 6.5 ppg last season in the Euroleague, shooting just 39 percent from the field and 22 percent from beyond the arc. His shot clearly needs a ton of work.
Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL Ė Nelsonís production actually improved after Orlando traded for Gilbert Arenas last season, but if the latter can stay healthy and as he gets more comfortable in the Magicís system, the former may enter something of a timeshare at point guard. Nelson is a solid player, but he doesnít score all that much and offers little in steals from a position that typically is among the league-leaders in the category.
Vince Carter, SG, FA Ė It seemed like a trade to Phoenixís uptempo system would be a boon to Carterís value, but instead, an otherwise down season got even worse, as he finished with 13.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg and 1.6 apg while playing 27:11 mpg in a Suns uniform. Heís expected to be bought out once the lockout ends, making him an unrestricted free agent, but if he canít excel in Phoenix, itís questionable how much he has left in the tank as a 34-year-old approaching 1,000 career games played. Carterís next role very well may just be as a sixth man off the bench.
Brandon Roy. SG, POR Ė Roy is reportedly feeling great and experiencing no soreness in his knees this summer, but heís a ticking time bomb at this stage of his career, which is unfortunate since heís still just 27 years old. Royís days as a starter appear to be finished, and he averaged just 8.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg and 2.2 apg during 24 games after the All-Star break last season. Roy, who once looked like one of the best players in the NBA, is now just a shadow of his former self thanks to the knee problems.
Joe Johnson, SG, ATL Ė Johnson is a fine player, but heís paid like a superstar. Now heís on the wrong side of 30, and his numbers were down across the board last season. It was the first time he failed to score 20 ppg (he got 18.2) in his six seasons with Atlanta, and Johnsonís shooting from three-point land really fell off (29.7 percent). He ranked as just the 91st most valuable fantasy player on a per game basis, behind the likes of Nicolas Batum and Carlos Delfino. A bounce back is entirely possible, but Johnsonís name value isnít currently commensurate with his production on the court.
Andrew Bynum, C, LAL Ė Bynum is a terrific talent and supposedly lost a bunch of body fat over the summer, but his troublesome knees continue to make him a highly risky fantasy investment. Heís missed an average of 31 games over the past four seasons and scored just 11.3 ppg last year. Still just 23, thereís plenty of time for further growth, but Bynum is also a major problem in the FT% category. And even if he somehow managed to stay healthy, it doesnít look like heíll ever approach 35 minutes per game thanks to his balky knees.
Chauncey Billups, PG, NYK Ė While being the point guard for a Mike DíAntoni run offense is a positive, Billups will turn 35 this season, will soon pass the 1,000 games played threshold and is a liability in the FG% category. He suffered a knee injury late last year that didnít require offseason surgery, and while heís expected to enter 2011-12 fully healthy, heís an injury risk moving forward. Thereís also a real chance Toney Douglas starts seriously cutting into his production. Billups offers more downside than upside at this point of his career.
Tim Duncan, PF, SAN Ė Duncanís minutes per game dropped for the fifth straight year last season to a career-low 28:23. He remains productive enough when on the floor, though his 13.5 ppg was also easily a career-low, and with San Antonio concerned more about the playoffs than the regular season, expect a further dip in playing time for Duncan during his age 35 season. Heís also a major liability in free-throw percentage. Duncan is an inner-circle Hall of Famer and one of the best basketball players of all-time, but his fantasy value is in rapid decline.