While it’s more exciting talking up sleepers, bloomers and late-round bargains with your fantasy basketball friends, it’s also helpful to look at the negative side of things. So, in honor of this season of giving, here’s a list of the top five fantasy basketball underperformers for the upcoming 2011-12 season. Each of these players stands a chance of falling short of expectations this season, for various reasons.
Kevin Garnett (PF, Boston Celtics)
The busier-than-usual NBA schedule could pose a challenge to Garnett’s 35-year-old body. He’ll be limited to around 30 minutes a game, with the goal of playing him in three five-minute spurts per half. So on top of closely monitored minutes, Garnett will have to deal with getting pulled out of games more frequently, which doesn’t exactly leave room for getting into any sort of groove. The Celtics will be focused on making the playoffs and preserving their veteran stars. KG is known for his efficient all-around lines and actually finished last season with top 15 averages, but owners should keep their expectations much lower than that this season.
Michael Beasley (SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves)
Beasley was a hot fantasy commodity for the beginning and end of last season, but was mediocre during the middle. Allow me to channel Hubie Brown for a moment: You know what you’re getting from Beasley: a healthy portion of points, some boards, and a steal and a block almost every game. But you also know that he turns the ball over more than he dishes out assists, which is a bummer for leagues that count turnovers as a category. And, of course, you know that a talented kid named Derrick Williams is in town, ready to compete for minutes at both the PF and SF spots. Beasley is an overrated fantasy player in nine-category leagues, and his situation this season seems to have a delicate vibe to it.
Jason Terry (PG/SG, Dallas Mavericks)
The Mavs have retooled their roster with some more offensive firepower. This includes the arrival of Vince Carter, who will likely claim the starting SG spot. Though Terry primarily comes off the bench anyhow, the addition of Carter and the presence of combo guards Rodrigue Beaubois and Delonte West could cap the 34-year-old guard’s minutes and fantasy value this season.
Paul Millsap (PF, Utah Jazz)
Millsap had himself a career season in 2010-11, and he’ll continue to be a solid contributor in all the categories you’ll need him for. However, Derrick Favors is nipping at Millsap’s heels. Favors had an impressive showing (25 points, 12 rebounds and a steal) in Monday’s exhibition game against the Trail Blazers, which Millsap missed with a quad injury. Millsap remains a candidate to be dealt in order to clear up space for Favors and Enes Kanter to develop for the Jazz, but even if he stays, he’ll have a young, hungry player behind him. His ceiling is lower than it was at the outset of last season.
Eric Gordon (SG, New Orleans Hornets)
Count me as one of the many who got a bit hasty with excitement over Gordon’s newfound home. At first glance, it’s obvious that Gordon leaves a team where he was second fiddle or fiddle 1b and lands on a squad where he’ll be the unquestioned No. 1 option. Yes, that certainly raises his ceiling, but it also means that defenses will be able to hone in on him more. Does Gordon have what it takes to meet that challenge? Can his body play in more than 72 percent (his average from the past two seasons) of the 66 games slated for this season? These are two big questions that fantasy owners should consider before spending an early second-round pick on Gordon.
Throughout the season, be sure to leave your questions, comments, concerns, trade offers, roster problems and more in the comments below.
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