Fantasy basketball 2023 elimination candidates: LeBron James, Nikola Vucevic and more will fade in draft

Fantasy basketball draft season is in full swing, and it’s an important time to consider not only the players who might become stars, but also the stars who might take a step back. Of course, we’re talking about “failed” candidates — players we value well below their ranking and average draft position (ADP). Today we’re going to highlight five such players that we’ll either completely miss or do our best to avoid being drafted.

If you’ve been following The Sporting News’ fantasy basketball coverage over the past few weeks, you know we cover rankings, sleepers and breakouts. We’ve also highlighted six emerging star candidates we think can follow in the footsteps of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Mikal Bridges. But picking a successful team across nine divisions involves not only weeding out the overrated players, but also identifying the sleeper ones.

Often, the inherent risk lies with players who are older or prone to injury. Maybe a player has changed teams and may see a drop in usage and shot volume. Others may stay in an organization that changes the environment around them. There are many factors that contribute to a player’s negative return – it’s our job to expose these warning signs and keep you away from potentially problem players before you even build your team.

Let’s jump right into our list of fantasy basketball busts for the 2023-24 NBA season to help you limit your liability so you can compete for a championship.

More Fantasy Basketball:
Top 200 Rankings | Sleepers | Breakouts | “Don’t Draft” Lists | Star Candidates

2023 Fantasy Basketball Half Candidates

LeBron James, Lakers

Fans of modern goats will love this choice, but let’s just be realistic. LeBron is about to turn 39, he’s exempt from the NBA’s player participation policy prohibiting load management, and he’s surrounded by a team that’s better than the Lakers have been since the bubble championship.All signs point to LeBron not wanting it or Needs to score as much as he did last season, and even if he stays healthy, we’d be shocked if he plays more than 65 games.

Let’s face it: LeBron isn’t going to stay healthy all season. As it stands, he injured a tendon in his foot while campaigning, and multiple doctors have recommended he undergo surgery to repair it. However, instead of undergoing surgery, he underwent load management and returned at the end of the regular season to lead the Lakers to the Western Conference Finals.

Despite such a magical performance in the WCF, basketball fans and fantasy players alike can see that James is clearly not yet 100 percent. He lacks many parts of his game that we’ve come to expect from him in and out of his game: a quick first step, a strong drive to the rim, fast-break intensity and toughness on the boards.

The last thing Los Angeles wants is to over-press its most valuable player in the regular season, compromising its playoff strength, durability and stamina. Daven Ham’s team just proved that they can still make a deep run in the playoffs despite winning the seventh-most games in the regular season (as did Miami), so Brown may play fewer games — — and it’s definitely possible his usage rate is even lower (his 33.3 USG% in ’22-23 was the highest since ’09-10.

It didn’t help LeBron that Anthony Davis missed a month last winter. He played over 1,000 minutes in 27 games in December and January, averaging 37.1 MPG. A run like this would take a toll on any 38-year-old’s body, even Benjamin Buckets.

This season, with a healthy AD and a more reliable supporting cast, we highly doubt Bron will need to be superhuman again to keep Los Angeles in the playoff picture. With the inevitable decline in points and rebounds combined with his declining 3-point shooting, chronic slump in free throw shooting, and minimal defense, it was time for “The GOAT” to fade. Let him be someone else’s early regret.

Nikola Vucevic, Bulls

Vucevic had a great season for the Bulls in 2022, but the team finished with a 40-42 record. He played in all 82 games, averaging 33.5 minutes per game, and maintained an amazing efficiency (52/35/84) while averaging 17.4 points and 11 rebounds per game. Sounds like a sure-fire third-rounder, right? Of course, if he can repeat it.

Don’t draft based on last year’s results, especially when you’re talking about a big man who just turned 33 and played 34 minutes a night and topped out at 0.7 steals/0.7 blocks. Due to a major injury, Vucevic fell apart at ADP in his mid-30s. Lose 10 games — or a slight dip in any of his shooting metrics — and you’ll be lucky to get a sixth-round contribution from him.

Watch is also stubbornly obsessed with three-point shooting. From February to the end of the season, he played 32 games and took 117 three-pointers, but only made 36 of them (30.8%). Taking three to four three-point attempts per game and shooting 70 percent of them will not only lower his shooting percentage, but also negatively impact his rebounding and assist numbers.

We love this guy – don’t get us wrong – can you find a guy who shoots that well from the free throw line and grabs 11 rebounds a game? But he’s never been the best option in Chicago, is coming off his lowest usage rate since 2013-14, and is getting older and slower at a position filled with young athletic beasts. .I would still be happy when I found him in the 50’s but in the 20’s and 30’s I saw him go a lot ofhe is a bust.

Marcus Smart, Grizzlies

Smart still has green blood flowing through his veins for the Celtics, and he must spend his first NBA season outside of Boston. His new leading scorer, Ja Morant, will be suspended for the first 25 games of the season. His best attributes, defense and rushing numbers, began to wane last season. He won Defensive Player of the Year two seasons ago — and he wasn’t the Celtics’ third-best defensive player last year.

Smart turns 30 in March, and we’re worried he’ll have a hard time finding his identity on an extremely young and often immature Grizzlies team. Will the teams around him respond well to his intensity? Will he shoot 3-pointers and stymie Tyler Jenkins’ offense? How much will his assist numbers drop now that he’s playing with Desmond Bane and (eventually) Ja Morant? Who will be shooting for Memphis while Bane is double-teamed or on the bench during Morant’s suspension?

There are too many questions and too few answers. We are passing on the heart and soul of what was Celtic Nation before. He left his heart and fantasies in Boston. For whatever reason, people drafted him in the eighth round. We won’t touch him until the 110s — and even then, we’ll pass on a high-ceiling player in favor of a low-fantasy-floor guy.

Jerami Grant, Trail Blazers

Grant was drafted in the 1970s, and memories of one strong season as Detroit’s leading scorer were clearly still fresh in people’s minds. News flash, people: Jerami is now in Portland, where he’ll likely become Chauncey Billups’ fourth scoring option behind dynamic rookie Scott Henderson, kicker Ann Finney Simmons and prized big man acquisition DeAndre Ayton. Hell, even Malcolm Brogdon could be draining his per-minute usage rate.

He’ll still take a lot of shots, but that’s not always a good thing. Grant is basically Tobias Harris, averaging more points per game but shooting at a lower shooting percentage. The sixth and seventh rounds should be reserved for motivated players, not players with their prime years in the rearview mirror like Tobey Maguire in Bat Nation. If you thought Grant was suddenly going to be a strong one-on-one scorer just because Damian Lillard left, you’re in for something else.

Derrick White, Celtics

Another player affected by the recent big trades, when Marcus Smart was traded for Brad Stevens, who could be the Celtics’ sixth man, for Jrue Holiday, the DE ·White left Boston’s starting point guard position. There’s no doubt White will be good, we just don’t think he’ll be as good as he was last year with the additions of Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis.

We still like Dwight’s passing vision and incredible shot-blocking contributions from the guard position, but we’re reluctant to go too far when we know he’s probably the sixth-best statistical contributor on the team. We’ve seen him taken with the No. 75 pick in some drafts — don’t think about grabbing this guy until No. 110.

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