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NBA Busts: These Players are Due to Drop Off

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Chris Bosh, PF, MIA – Not that Bosh’s fantasy value is going to fall off a cliff, but he’s gone from being by far his team’s No. 1 focal point to third-wheel. Having two talented scorers and distributors in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade obviously has its benefits, but it’s safe to say last year’s 16.5 field goal attempts per game will take a significant hit. Also, as much as Bosh won’t want to, there’s a real chance the Heat will ask him to play some center, a position at which he’s uncomfortable. Bosh is no doubt a talented player, but for someone who will likely cost a second round fantasy pick, his lack of shot blocking really hurts (averaged just 1.0 bpg each of the past three seasons). Moreover, Bosh has missed an average of 11.4 games over the past five years, so durability is an issue as well.

Steve Nash, PG, PHO – It’s remarkable what Nash has accomplished since joining Phoenix, and at age 36 with his slight build, he still managed to average 16.5 ppg and 11.0 apg last season. He keeps himself in terrific shape, so a drastic decline shouldn’t be expected, but it’s worth pointing out the risk of drafting a 37-year-old Nash. He surpassed the 1,000 career games played threshold last season (the number may seem arbitrary, but it’s historically been a good indicator of when an NBA player starts to show real signs of decline), and his minutes per game dropped for the fourth straight year (32:47), a trend that should continue in 2010-11. It’s also far from ideal getting just 0.5 spg from your No. 1 point guard. The loss of Amar’e Stoudemire combined with all that mileage is worrisome for such a high fantasy pick.

Corey Maggette, SF, MIL – No one considers Maggette a star, but it would be unwise to draft Maggette in 2010-11 based on his last two seasons while playing for the Warriors. It’s nice that he should be a full-time starter in Milwaukee (he came off the bench in 21 games last year), but the move away from Golden State’s uptempo system should ultimately hamper Maggette’s numbers. He’s a good free throw shooter who does a terrific job of getting to the line, but he adds next to nothing in three-pointers, steals and blocks. Maggette has also missed an average of 22.6 games over the past five seasons.

Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL – It seems foolish to question Bryant at this point, but there are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed about a player universally taken in the first round of fantasy drafts. He’s proven to be one of the most durable players in the league throughout his career, and even last season, the nine games missed almost seems like a positive considering the nature of his injuries – most players dealing with a broken finger and a knee that would constantly swell up would have missed far more. Bryant is a workout warrior and still has plenty of gas left in the tank, but his mileage is really getting up there. He’s just 32 years old – Michael Jordan led the NBA in scoring from ages 32-34 – but Jordan was coming off a retirement hiatus, and it’s unfair to point only to Bryant’s 1,021 career regular season games played, because he’s also played in another 198 playoff games. That’s 1,219 total games compared to just 778 for Jordan at the same age (that’s 57 percent more). Additionally, the Lakers are loaded with talent and focused primarily on the postseason, so Bryant’s role will continue to decline (he averaged 19.4 field goal attempts after the All-Star break last season) in an effort to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

Nene Hilario, C, DEN – It’s been great seeing what Nene can do while finally healthy over the past two years, and his ability to contribute in so many categories is rare. Still, let’s not forget he missed a total of 165 games from 2006-08, which makes him quite risky as a potential third-round pick. He’s also not much of a free throw shooter (career 67.2%), and even during his impressive last two seasons, he averaged a modest 7.75 rpg. Denver also added Al Harrington to the mix during the offseason, so with Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin also there, the Nuggets’ frontcourt is quite crowded. Nene has downside.

Mike Bibby, PG, ATL – This may seem overly obvious after Bibby averaged just 9.1 ppg and 3.9 apg last season – both career-lows – but even further decline needs to be expected moving forward. Atlanta really likes sophomore Jeff Teague, and the point guard situation could soon become a full-blown committee. At this stage, Teague offers far more fantasy upside. Bibby’s career path is going in the wrong direction. It would take a pretty deep league for him to be relevant.

Mehmet Okur, C, UTA – Okur might not be ready for the start of the season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon last year. And even when he does return to the court, the serious nature of such an injury might mean it will be a while until he’s back to his old self. Carlos Boozer is gone, but Utah will no doubt want to get Paul Millsap more involved in 2010-11, and the Jazz also traded for Al Jefferson in the offseason, so Okur’s role is uncertain in a suddenly crowded frontcourt.

Mike Conley, PG, MEM – Conley is coming off the best season of his career, but still failed to live up to the expectations Memphis had when it used the No. 4 pick to select him in the 2007 draft. Entering his fourth year in the league, Conley absolutely could improve this season (he did play better in the second half last year), but the organization had O.J. Mayo play some point guard (it didn’t work) during summer league, tried to trade for Chris Paul and drafted Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez. Clearly the Grizzles are far from sold on Conley being the team’s future at point guard.

Gerald Wallace, SF, CHR – There’s absolutely no denying Wallace’s skills on the court, as he’s a fantastic player coming off an amazing season. He doesn’t quite steal as much as he used to (after getting at least 2.0 spg from 2006-08, he’s gotten 1.6 spg over the past two years), but he’s one of the rare players that contribute in every single category. That said, there’s simply too much injury history here for someone who will likely cost a top 15-20 pick. Last year’s 76 games played were easily a career-high, as he averaged 17.0 DNPs over the four years prior. Moreover, for someone who has averaged 6.1 rpg during his career and had previously never gotten more than 7.8 in a season, counting on Wallace to approach last year’s 10.0 rpg would be unwise.