With the Fantasy playoffs just around the corner and the play-in tournament a little more than a month away, it feels appropriate to start looking back at what went right and what went wrong in Fantasy for some of the league's most hyped players. I found the biggest differences in Average Draft Position to current Fantasy ranking (total production, eight-category leagues) for each round of drafts this season to compare expectations to reality.
What players have had the biggest booms, and which are the biggest busts of the first five rounds?
Biggest Boom: Nikola Jokic
Current Rank: 1
Two other players drafted in the first round, Steph Curry and Damian Lillard, have also seen their current rank jump eight spots above their ADP. However, Jokic breaks the tie since he's the best player in Fantasy. Jokic's numbers have slowed down since Aaron Gordon joined the team, though you won't hear the Nuggets complain since they've rattled off six straight wins. On the season, Jokic has averaged 26.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 1.5 steals in 35.5 minutes. He projects as both the real-life MVP and Fantasy MVP.
Biggest Bust: Anthony Davis
Current Rank: 134
Davis was having a down year even before suffering injuries to his calf and Achilles that have kept him out for 23 straight games. His points, rebounds, assists, 3s, blocks, steals and free-throw percentage are all lower than last season. Whether it was fatigue from playing in the NBA Finals a little over two months before the start of this season or taking it easy to save himself for this season's playoffs, Davis' downturn in production was going to hurt Fantasy managers even if he didn't get hurt.
Biggest Boom: Nikola Vucevic
Current Rank: 5
Vucevic put up great numbers during both the 2018-19 season and 2019-20 season. But his lack of help from teammates this season, due to both injury and skill level, forced him to run more of the offense than ever before. And so far, being dealt to the Bulls hasn't affected his numbers. In 33.8 minutes per game, Vucevic has averaged 24.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
Biggest Bust: Ben Simmons
Current Rank: 61
On a per-game basis, Simmons is in the midst of the worst Fantasy season of his career. He's unquestionably made strides on defense during his career, and we have to give him credit for continuously improving his free-throw percentage, but he's gone stagnant everywhere else. After he put up 16/8/8 with nearly three combined steals and blocks as a rookie, it would have seemed inconceivable for us to be seeing a version of Simmons that's producing worse across the board as a fourth-year player. My guess is that he'll continue to be drafted based on upside for most of his career, but it's becoming difficult to blame those who see his name available and pass in the second and third round.
Biggest Boom: Bam Adebayo
Current Rank: 15
Adebayo certainly can't be blamed for the Heat's struggles. He's proving to be one of the league's elite, well-rounded big men. In 33.6 minutes per game, Adebayo has averaged 19.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.2 blocks. In addition to his nice bump over last season in points, Adeabyo's improved free-throw shooting (82.4%) has really helped his cause. It's hard to imagine Adebayo not being a second-round staple from next season onward. His only true weakness is a non-existent 3-point shot.
Biggest Bust: Andre Drummond
Current Rank: 185
Many Fantasy managers (including myself) took a chance on Drummond having a great season with Cleveland before inevitably being dealt somewhere else, where his numbers could decline. What wasn't expected was the Cavaliers telling Drummond to go home more than an entire month before the trade deadline. Losing about six weeks of production from a player in Fantasy Basketball is just as brutal as it is in Fantasy Football, and those who selected Drummond in the third round are feeling it now. He also got injured almost immediately in his first game with the Lakers, and we haven't seen him since his debut. From here on out, getting anything from Drummond is a bonus.
Biggest Boom: Chris Paul
Current Rank: 10
After Paul ranked 11th in total value last season, the thought became, "there's no way he continues to stay healthy and plays at this high of a level as a 35-year-old." Joke's on us. Paul is on pace to have an even better season this time around, and he's helped drag the Suns to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. In addition to his 16.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, Paul has averaged his most assists (8.8) since his final season with the Clippers.
Biggest Bust: John Wall
Current Rank: 152
Fantasy managers took a shot here, banking on Wall returning to great form after last playing in December of 2018. Wall hasn't been bad -- 20.2 points, 6.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.0 steals -- but the lack of assists from a man nicknamed Optimus Dime is concerning. He was also one of the best sources of steals in the NBA during his prime. His 40.0 percent field-goal percentage is the lowest of his career as well. And this is all before we get to him missing 18 games due to injury and rest. The pessimists prevailed in this one.
Biggest Boom: Julius Randle
Current Rank: 12
Randle believers are taking a victory lap this season, as new head coach Tom Thibodeau has handed the keys to the seventh-year forward. He's posted career highs nearly across the board, with averages of 22.9 points, 10.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 37.0 minutes. Randle leads the NBA in total minutes played (1,849), which is part of what's vaulted him to first-round value. Considering Randle is just 26 years old, there's still room for more improvement next season and beyond. It wouldn't be shocking to see him drafted in the third round in 2021-22.
Biggest Bust: Steven Adams
Current Rank: 132
This is a bizarre ADP. Adams has never ranked higher than 68th on a per-game basis in his career. Regardless, Adams' time in New Orleans hasn't felt exactly comfortable. He's a poor fit with Zion Williamson, and there was a point in time where coach Stan Van Gundy began to experiment with giving more minutes to Willy Hernangomez -- not a great sign for Adams' on-court fit. Adams is having his worst season since his sophomore campaign, as he's averaged just 7.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals in 28.1 minutes.