Last week, I wrote about the biggest surprises of the 2020-21 season. But Fantasy is just as much about the busts as it is the booms. Listed below are players drafted in the top 100 who failed to live up to expectations.
I excluded players who are disappointing purely due to injury, so the following players have underperformed in their time on the court. If player rankings are referenced, it's on a per-game basis.
We have to at least give some credit to Westbrook for how well he's played recently. Since March 13, he's the 10th-best Fantasy player on a per-game basis. However, his struggles before that matter just as much, and he ranks just 33rd for the whole season. Considering Westbrook's ADP was 8, it's been a rough season for managers who took a chance on him having a return-to-form season with Washington.
Westbrook's decline in scoring and his awful free-throw shooting are mostly to blame. Westbrook is averaging just 21.8 points per game -- compared to 27.2 last season -- and he's shooting only 64.1 percent from the charity stripe. His steals per game (1.3) are also tied for a career low.
The addition of Chris Paul to Phoenix has resulted in the Suns being one of the best teams in the NBA. However, it's come at the expense of Booker's Fantasy value. Mainly, his assists are down, which is understandable given how much CP3 controls the offense. Booker went from 6.5 assists per game last season to 4.4 assists this season.
In addition, Booker's free-throw percentage took a significant dip. His 91.9 percent free-throw shooting last season bloated his Fantasy value considering he shot just 85.4 percent in the four years prior. This season, he's back to a more typical number, hitting 85.8 percent of his freebies. The result has been Booker ranking 71st in Fantasy compared to an ADP of 18.
Simmons' 2019-20 season was his best. He set career highs in field-goal and free-throw percentage (58.0 FG%; 62.1 FT%), plus a league-leading 2.1 steals per game. It made sense for Fantasy managers to bank on Simmons improving again in Year 4, even if the 3-point shot will never happen.
The opposite became true, and Simmons is in regression. He's posting a career-low 14.5 points per game with his second-worst field-goal percentage (55.7). He's also posting career lows in rebounds (7.4) and assists (6.9) per game. While Simmons has improved in real life to the point where he's a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, likely to claim first or second in the voting, it hasn't translated to Fantasy success overall. With an ADP of 22, Simmons ranks just 65th in per-game value.
Last season, Morant ranked as the 74th-best Fantasy player on a per-game basis, and he won Rookie of the Year. He showed the ability to be an elite passer and a walking 15-20 points with shot-out-of-a-cannon athleticism. Fantasy managers drafted him at an average of 32 this season, assuming the sophomore would iron out some flaws in his game -- low-volume 3-point shooting and lack of defensive stats -- while boasting increased usage.
That didn't come to fruition. He's ranked 113th per game this season. Morant increased his scoring (19.1), but it came at the cost of decreased field-goal and free-throw percentages (44.9 FG%; 74.1 FT%). And while he's taking one more 3 per game than last season, he's shooting an abysmal 29.8 percent. Morant's assists (7.3) and steals (0.9) remained steady as well. As it stands, his game just isn't as Fantasy-friendly as one would hope.
Nurkic is putting things together just in time for the Fantasy season to be over. Across his past seven games, he's averaged 15.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 combined steals-plus-blocks in 25.3 minutes. Managers would have loved this earlier in the season. Over his previous 23 appearances, Nurkic averaged just 9.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.9 combined steals-plus-blocks in 22.8 minutes. Overall he's ranked just 111th on a per-game basis, which is quite the drop off from his ADP of 33.
The main problem is Nurkic's workload. He saw 31.6 minutes per game in his eight bubble appearances last season, and he even saw 27.4 minutes per game in 2018-19. He's down to 23.3 minutes this season. He's shockingly splitting time with Enes Kanter, who was exiled from Boston after last year. It was just tough to imagine the scenario playing out as it has.
Russell was a top-40 Fantasy player in back-to-back seasons heading into 2020-21. During the previous two seasons between Brooklyn, Golden State and Minnesota, he averaged 22.1 points, 6.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 3.2 3s and 1.1 steals in 31.3 minutes. In drafts this season, Fantasy managers understandably selected him into an ADP of 41.
Every statistic mentioned in the previous paragraph decreased this season, as did Russell's free-throw percentage (77.9). Part of the issue has been Russell seeing just 27.9 minutes per game. His per-36 numbers are relatively consistent, but he's been forced to split time with Malik Beasley, Ricky Rubio and Anthony Edwards throughout the season. It's possible Russell's long-term future in the NBA is not as a starting guard, especially once his current contract runs out.
After an injury-riddled and disappointing 2019-20 season, there was some hope Griffin would be able to get back to the form he showed in 2018-19 -- his first All-Star season since 2014-15. That year, he averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists for Detroit. Optimism led to Griffin holding an ADP of 60 this season.
The result was a worst-case scenario. Aside from missing time due to injury yet again, Griffin's performance was awful to start the season. While with the Pistons, he averaged just 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists on 36.5 percent shooting from the field. His subsequent buyout and signing with the Nets certainly has improved his career, but it hasn't resulted in much better Fantasy value. With Brooklyn, he's averaged 9.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 21.0 minutes. The shooting percentage has at least improved (48.2), but that's not helping any Fantasy managers who drafted him as early as 60.