Fantasy Hoops: Disappointed with Carmelo Anthony, Andrew Wiggins? You're not alone
With the season winding down, we're taking a look at the biggest disappointments in Fantasy for the 2017-18 season.
We're nearly at the end of the 2017-18 fantasy season, which feels like an appropriate time to take a look back at some of the players that were taken too early in many, if not most, fantasy drafts.
Below is a list of five players who fit that bill. While the list certainly is not comprehensive, it contains some of the higher-profile players who ended up having underwhelming campaigns.
Turner seemed poised for a breakout campaign after the Pacers dealt Paul George to the Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The change made it seem more likely the Pacers would run a more balanced attack, with everyone in the starting five accounting for George's lost production. Of course, that included Turner, who needed just 10.7 shots per game (including 1.4 threes) last season to average 14.5 points on an efficient 51.1 percent from the field, all while snagging 7.3 boards and swatting 2.1 shots. It wasn't out of the question to think Turner could hover around 20 points, 10 boards and two blocks per game this season.
That has not been the case, however, as both Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis became focal points of the team's game plan, actually reducing Turner's role in the process. Amid a few nagging injuries, Turner has slipped down to 28.3 minutes per game and averaged slightly reduced numbers almost across the board. For someone who appeared poised to become a top-level center, at least in terms of volume, it's been an underwhelming third season.
Nurkic was traded to the Blazers from the Nuggets at the deadline last season and looked like he would be a true cornerstone heading into the 2017-18 campaign. With Portland last year, Nurkic averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals across 29.2 minutes while shooting 50.8 percent from the field. Many fantasy owners drafted him assuming he would not only reach those numbers, but perhaps surpass them.
Defensive struggles have led to Nurkic seeing about three fewer minutes per game than last season, often ceding time to reserve center Ed Davis – a more athletic, defensive-minded player. That said, a three-minute role reduction isn't all that dramatic, at least not to a degree to justify Nurkic's overall production declining. It's especially noticeable when it comes to his rebounding (8.4), passing (1.8) and shot-blocking (1.2). Nurkic certainly hasn't been bad, per se, but he's not living up to his selection in the third round of many fantasy drafts.
Anthony was the go-to option for the Knicks last season, averaging 22.4 points on 43.3 percent shooting, in addition to 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He was traded to the Thunder in late-September, representing the first time he's changed teams since he was dealt to New York from Denver back in the 2011. Though he'd be joining both Paul George and Russell Westbrook – two ball-dominant players – most assumed Melo would still be able to get buckets at a relatively high volume. And even if his shooting volume decreased, he would probably get better looks, leading to a higher percentage.
The reality has been much different. Anthony has seen his field-goal attempts drop from 18.8 to 15.7 per game, and he's become less efficient, with his field-goal percentage dropping to 40.8% and his free-throw percentage dipping from 83.3 to 77.2 percent. He's also averaging 1.6 fewer assists per game. It's unclear if Anthony is simply having a tough time adjusting, or if this is what we should expect from the 33-year-old from now on. Either way, he'll likely be drafted much lower next season.
After playing the first six years of his career in Minnesota, Rubio was dealt to the Jazz during the offseason. Few expected Rubio to suddenly turn into a great scorer simply due to a change of scenery, as his career-high in scoring sat at 11.1 points per game, while he'd struggled throughout his career to top 40 percent from the field. But it was assumed he would continue his high-level assists production.
Surprisingly, Rubio has posted a career-low 5.3 assists per game, not to mention a career-low 1.5 steals per game, which has tanked his fantasy value. He's done so without drastically improving his scoring, as he's averaging just 12.1 points per game on 40.7 percent shooting. Some of that can be attributed to the rise of Donovan Mitchell, who's now perhaps the front-runner in a two-man race for Rookie of the Year. Mitchell boasts the highest usage rate on the team (28.9%), while Rubio sits at 22.5 percent. A second year in Utah could help Rubio gain comfortability, but it seems unlikely that fantasy owners will reach for him again in 2018-19.
Wiggins had been an increasingly utilized part of Minnesota's offense over the past three seasons. He increased his field-goal attempts from 13.9 per game as a rookie, to 16.0 as a sophomore, and finally 19.1 last season. In 2016-17, Wiggins posted 23.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steal across 37.2 minutes per game. The addition of Jimmy Butler made it likely that Wiggins would see a reduction in volume, but – like Anthony in OKC – the belief was that he could make up for it via increased efficiency and better supplementary stats.
Wiggins took a far bigger downturn than expected, as his scoring has dipped by 5.7 points per game, while his assists have also waned. He's also about equally efficient this season as he'd been over the past two years, except for his free throw shooting, which has bizarrely dropped to 63.5 percent, a dip of more than 12 percentage points. In standard leagues, Wiggins has ended up being a relatively fringe player for much of the season.
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