As the regular season opener inches closer, we will take a look at potential busts - one for each team. We define a bust as a player being drafted higher than we project them to finish by season's end.
Paul Pierce, G, BOS: While consistency has been Pierce's motto throughout his career, you may need to put an asterisk next to the 2012-2013 season. Letís face it, Jason Terry just isn't Ray Allen. Pierce is now Boston's only big-time scoring weapon. A year after Pierce recorded his lowest field goal percentage in five years, defenses will now collapse on him even more. Age, injuries, and playing time are also concerns as the thirty-five-year-old is still recovering from an MCL sprain and will be competing with Green for minutes.
Andray Blatche, F, BRO: The Wizards wanted to rid themselves of Blatche so desperately that they amnestied him, paying the overweight, underperforming power forward the remaining $23 million on his contract to skip town. He's a reclamation project for sure but still a presumed upgrade over the perennially disappointing Johan Petro. Blatche is undisciplined and unmotivated, so unless he shows up to camp dedicated and in shape, the jury is out on his effectiveness going forward.
Amar'e Stoudemire, C, NY: Stoudemire not only saw his production decrease last season, but he had an embarrassing lapse in judgement in the playoffs, as he cut his hand punching a fire extinguisher glass case. He worked with Hakeem Olajuwon in the offseason to try and improve his post-up game, but he is still going to lose shots to Carmelo Anthony and has another year of wear and tear on his injury-prone knees. Stoudemire should be picked early in drafts based on his name alone, but he is unlikely to put up the kind of production that will be expected from him based on where he will be drafted in many leagues.
Andrew Bynum, C, PHI: While Bynum is in a contract year, there are just too many questions about his attitude and his injury history to make him someone to rely on. It was nearly miraculous that the seven-footer was able to make it through the compressed season unscathed. From 2007 to 2011, Bynum missed 124 games, so there is more evidence that he will miss a number of games. Coach Dough Collins has also never coached a dominant low-post presence. Bynum can also be a bit goofy, which will likely wear on Collins. Bynum has a very high ceiling, but the floor might be jarringly low.
Jose Calderon, G, TOR: He is too much of a professional to let a timeshare with Kyle Lowry affect his overall game, but that same level of professionalism means GM Bryan Colangelo can afford to wait for exactly the right package before dealing him, knowing that Calderon won't try to sulk his way out of town. However, Calderon's fantasy output is directly tied to either a deal or a Lowry injury, and if neither of those things occur, he simply won't see enough minutes to be of much use.
Richard Hamilton, G, CHI: Has missed 101 games the past three seasons and could be on the pine even more, despite the absence of Derrick Rose.
Tristan Thompson, F, CLE: It's not that Thompson is coming off a good season or that the expectations are that high. It's just that the raw Thompson, while he has potential, could be another year away from being anything other than a bit player. Most of Cleveland's players won't even get a look from fantasy owners. Thompson might, but he seems the most likely to disappoint.
Tayshaun Prince, F, DET: With numerous younger and cheaper options available, the Pistons will be best served to cut back on Princeís minutes this season. Heíll likely still be the starter at small forward, but Jonas Jerebko, Kyle Singler, and others will cut into his playing time. At 32, Prince is past his prime.
Tyler Hansbrough,F, IND: The league has caught up with Hansbrough, as defenders learned they canít let him catch and shoot open jumpers. Hansbroughís scoring numbers dropped when opponents started challenging his shots. He hasnít been able to adjust to that and remains a relatively one-dimensional player on offense.
Samuel Dalembert, C, MIL: Dalembert may appear to be a natural replacement for Andrew Bogut, thanks to his ability to rebound and block shots, but he may not play enough to make the impact some expect. Dalembertís minutes have dropped each of the last two years, all the way down to 22 last season. He is still the likely starter at center, but on a Bucks squad that has a lot of frontcourt options, he is unlikely to see starterís minutes.
Devin Harris, G, ATL: Harris was once a promising point guard, who had a couple of excellent seasons, but he didn't play well with the Jazz and now finds himself with yet another new team. He averaged only 27.6 minutes per game last season, which marked his least amount of playing time since the 2006-07 season, when he also averaged just 10.2 points and 3.7 assists per game. He's likely to see similar minutes this season but could struggle again to put up significant numbers. There is also the possibility the Hawks could even trade him again as they look to continue their roster overhaul. His name alone could result in him getting drafted too high in some leagues based on the numbers he could post this season.
Tyrus Thomas, F, CHA: Thomas has never really lived up to his early first-round draft status, and last season was one of his poorest seasons statistically. With the Bobcats having depth at Thomasí position, do not expect his numbers to improve much from last season.
Dwyane Wade, G, MIA: Yes, he's excellent. And shooting guard may be the weakest position in fantasy hoops this year. But given Wade's age and injury history, this could be the year that coach Erik Spoelstra starts cutting his minutes. And that would be easy to do, given Miami's depth on the perimeter. He'll still be good-to-very good - outstanding in stretches - but will he post numbers to justify a likely top-ten draft position?
Hedo Turkoglu, F, ORL: Turkoglu has been bad-to-mediocre for the last three seasons now, so there shouldnít be expectations for much else. Technically, heís still a 6í10 player with an ability to create off the dribble, but his abilities have been eroding ever since he won Most Improved Player in 2009. Donít expect Turkoglu to light it up from outside anymore, either, after a career-worst shooting year in 2011-12.
Trevor Ariza, F, WAS: Ariza was brought in to be the starting small forward, and some believe a new environment could improve his offensive numbers. The Wizards' roster, however, includes fellow forwards Martell Webster and Jan Vesely, who could both eat into his minutes if Ariza continues his poor shooting from the previous three seasons.
Elton Brand, F, DAL: Itís not that Brand wonít find a niche in Dallas, but the new role will not be what we are accustomed to seeing from a player with his resumť. Playing behind Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman will obviously cut into his minutes, and Dallasí second unit is primarily guard-driven, meaning his scoring numbers should continue to slide. Someone will reach on Brand based on his name alone, but expect his fantasy contributions to be one-dimensional.
Jeremy Lin, G, HOU: The Tim Tebow of the NBA - great for media coverage but an incomplete real-life player - Lin is capable of scoring and dishing out assists, but he plays a little out of control and tends to turn the ball over. The Rockets don't have much depth at the point, but coach Kevin McHale could lose patience if Lin doesn't take care of the ball.
Marreese Speights, C, MEM: Speights set career-highs in many categories in 2011-12, but it is hard to envision much of a follow-up performance in 2012-13. Zach Randolph will undoubtedly reclaim the starting PF spot on Day 1, which will leave Speights to contend with the returning Darrell Arthur for reserve minutes in the frontcourt. Let someone else get distracted by his 8.8 ppg from last season.
Al-Farouq Aminu, F, NO: While winning his position battle last season, Aminu never really took off with his extended minutes. With the new acquisitions in New Orleans, Aminu will receive playing time but it will come exclusively off the bench, and he finds himself in another minutes battle with Darius Miller. Aminu needs to take his level of play to the next level to avoid being passed over for minutes.
Danny Green, F, SA: Green was a key to the Spurs success last year and earned a three-year contract extension. But much of his fantasy value came from much better-than-expected three-point shooting, as he hit 103 treys in 2011-12, after hitting 13 total in his first two seasons in the league. And much of his playing time came because Manu Ginobili missed more than half the season. Don't be surprised if Green's production is flat or takes a slight hit in 2012-13.
Wilson Chandler, F, DEN: Chandler has the skill-set to be a solid, consistent contributor, but with the amazing depth at small forward, we just donít see him getting enough minutes to make any fantasy impact in 2012-13.
Derrick Williams, F, MIN: It's hard to see how the 2011 No. 2 overall draft pick finds significant minutes on this roster with two players set at center and power forward and a host of options at small forward. He may need a trade to another team before he's finally able to get starter's minutes.
J.J. Hickson, F, POR: The opposite is true in Portlandís frontcourt. Hickson has to contend with a rookie in Meyers Leonard, who may start at the five from Day 1, and an immovable object in LaMarcus Aldridge, whose 38-plus minutes leave little room to prosper as his backup. And have we mentioned the introduction of Joel Freeland, Victor Claver, and Jared Jeffries to the equation? Hickson may find the playing time he requires to be successful hard to come by this season.
Serge Ibaka, F, OKC: Last year, Ibaka was the sleeper pick in this space. So what changed? For one, perception. Ibaka outperformed his draft slot last season. He likely won't do that this season. While Ibaka is the league's premier shot-blocker, he failed to improve much in other phases of his game last year. Aside from a good mid-range shot, he brings little else offensively (his scoring actually dropped by nearly a point per game, despite receiving slightly more playing time than in 2011-12). Despite his size (6-2, 220) and huge wingspan, he doesn't have a low-post game to speak of. His hands are stone, contributing to his 1.2 turnovers per game, and he shot only 66.1 percent from the line. Don't misunderstand, Ibaka has a ton of talent and upside, but he might be overvalued for those who expect more than blocks.
Earl Watson, G, UTA: At this point in Watson's career, coming back from a torn medial meniscus in his knee will be a tough obstacle. He is a very smart player, and his primary value comes in running an offense. He is likely to see minutes as the backup point guard, but don't expect his minutes per game to reach his averages of past years. He will not have much value in points or many other fantasy categories, except possibly low levels of assists and steals.
Richard Jefferson, F, GS: Jefferson is on the wrong end of the age spectrum for the 2012-13 Warriors. The team has several younger athletes who will be part of the franchiseís next competitive window, so allotting playing time to Jefferson runs against the teamís long-term goals. He could be a starter early on, but look for Harrison Barnes to relegate Jefferson to a bench player.
Jamal Crawford, G, LAC: Crawfordís efficiency has consistently gone down over the past three years, which is not something you want to see in a 32-year-old guard. He shot only 30.8 percent from three last season, and if he is unable to score at a solid rate, he wonít be able to bring much else to the table.
Kobe Bryant, G, LAL: Betting against the Mamba isnít wise, and thatís not what weíre doing here. Bryant is about one thing at this point Ė rings (plural). He doesnít want to tie Jordan - he wants to pass him. He knows he canít afford to overdo it every night, and now he doesnít have to. Itís not that Bryant refuses to share, heís usually just surrounded by so much mediocrity that he feels he has no choice. Thatís no longer the case. His numbers will be fine, but someone in your league wonít be able to help themselves when heís sitting there at pick 20. Donít let that person be you.
Michael Beasley, F, PHO: The contract was a head-scratcher at the time it was handed out, and there really isn't much in his career to suggest that Beasley would be worth about six million dollars annually. He's the favorite to win the starting job, but Beasley has never been one to put in the effort defensively, which will likely land him in coach Alvin Gentry's doghouse, like it has with past coaches. Beasley will get his looks offensively, but he has never been an efficient scorer, and he doesn't contribute threes, blocks, or steals. Let someone else in your draft pick him based off name value.
Isaiah Thomas, G, SAC: Thomas had a spectacular rookie campaign, especially considering he was the last pick of the 2011 draft. While he is undersized, there is no doubting his ability to contribute on the court. The only problem is the Kings brought in veteran guard Aaron Brooks this offseason, and he will likely eat into Thomasí minutes. Many of us remember the kind of production Thomas was putting up towards the end of last season, which has many pegging him as a sleeper this season. But most of that production came while Thomas was averaging upwards of 35 minutes per game. With an established vet in town in the likes of Brooks, coach Keith Smart will likely split minutes between the two, which will undoubtedly limit both of their fantasy prospects this upcoming season.