We’ve touched on the biggest early-season fantasy basketball surprises, and it’s now time to examine the disappointments. These are players who likely excited you before the season, but they’re now failing to reach expectations. You’re left wondering what to do.
Do you patiently ride out their struggles? Do you dangle their name in trade talks? Do you even consider cutting such a player?
Let’s highlight the most disappointing players thus far. It should be noted that players who have endured injuries (i.e. Chris Paul, Anthony Davis) are not considered here. The players listed here are featured due to their lack of on-court production.
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Stats: 16.3 PPG, 46.9 FG%, 85.7 FT%, 0.2 3PM, 6.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 0.7 BPG
Big Marc is still a respectable fantasy big man, but he’s fallen from where he was a year ago. He finished No. 12 on Player Rater last year, but he sits at No. 43 at the moment. His scoring, shooting percentage, rebounding and shot-blocking have all declined. His rebounding and shot-blocking tally have made the most significant dips. There’s no reason to sound the alarm yet, because Gasol isn’t far removed from being a top-tier center. But there’s at least reason to wonder if he’s starting to show signs of age (he’s now 30), which could attest to the diminishing production in rebounds and blocks. I’d ride out his struggles and hope he regains his old form (he did have a triple-double last night!), but you may be stuck with the reality that you own La Tanqueta a year too late.
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Stats: 8.7 PPG, 52.5 FG%, 60.5 FT%, 11.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, 3.0 BPG
Similar to Gasol, there’s still plenty of worth in Gobert’s current production. However, it’s disappointing considering how he finished last season. After Enes Kanter was traded, Gobert averaged 11.4 PPG, 13.7 RPG and 2.5 BPG. His percentages were also better throughout last year (60.4 FG%, 62.3 FT%). Needless to say, Gobert entered the season with super-high expectations, but he hasn’t maintained his output from the end of last season. In drafting Gobert, owners were hoping for a double-double machine who could contribute 10-12 PPG and 13-15 RPG. He’s instead regressed, and he sits at No. 69 on Player Rater. Positively, his shot-blocking ability remains elite. Gobert should see his value rise in the near future, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be quite the stud many were forecasting before the season.
LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
Stats: 15.3 PPG, 42.9 FG%, 86.0 FT%, 9.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.9 BPG
It was expected that Aldridge’s value would take a hit joining the Spurs’ loaded cast. But there was still optimism that he could register around 20 PPG. He averaged 23.4 PPG and 10.4 RPG last season with Portland, helping him earn the No. 22 spot for 2014-15. Currently, he’s ranked No. 78. His shooting percentage is the lowest it’s been throughout his career. Aldridge should improve as the season progresses and he finds more rhythm in San Antonio’s offense. But it’s clear his value has dropped convincingly, far more so than most predicted.
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
Stats: 16.3 PPG, 41.0 FG%, 76.7 FT%, 1.2 3PM, 5.0 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Hayward was a top 20 player a season ago. He’s slipped nearly 100 slots through the early stages of 2015-16, currently ranking No. 115. His production has declined in every statistical category listed above, and it’s honestly quite mind-boggling. His minutes are about the same, and Utah’s roster looks similar to a year ago. Hayward is just struggling. It’s that simple. It sure seems like he can only go up from here, as both of his last two seasons showcase far better contributions. I’d recommend keeping him and hoping he soon settles into a groove. His value has dropped on the trade market, so your best bet is to hope he finds his old form, and finds it fast.
Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers
Stats: 11.1 PPG, 42.5 FG%, 60.6 FT%, 8.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.1 BPG
Noel’s disappointing start is extremely comparable to Gobert. Like Gobert, Noel finished last season on a tear. During the month of March, Noel notched these averages: 14.3 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 2.1 SPG and 2.1 BPG. He also shot 50.0 percent from the field during that stretch. As a result, owners targeted him as a potential fantasy beast throughout 2015-16. Well, not only have Noel’s points, rebounds and blocks been underwhelming, but he’s also been glaringly inefficient. His percentages are woeful, and he’s even racking up over three turnovers per game. The addition of rookie Jahlil Okafor could restrict Noel’s offensive output, but you’d at least think he could maintain better efficiency while also adding more blocks. He could be worth placing on the trade block to see if anyone remains hyped on him from last season, but the likelihood is that you’ll be left with him, hoping he turns the corner in the near future.
Ty Lawson, Houston Rockets
Stats: 8.3 PPG, 31.9 FG%, 67.5 FT%, 0.7 3PM, 3.0 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.3 SPG
The Houston Rockets have had a disappointing start, and Lawson’s struggles are emblematic of this. Lawson averaged 15.2 PPG and 9.6 APG last season in Denver. These figures were predicted to fall in Houston thanks to joining usage monster James Harden in the backcourt. But I highly doubt anyone thought Lawson’s value would be almost completely zapped. He’s currently ranked No. 167. If your league is eight or 10 teams, you certainly have reason to consider dropping Lawson. It just doesn’t look like he fits in Houston’s offense. And while he may improve, this will likely only be marginal. Harden runs the show in Houston, and I don’t see Lawson controlling the ball enough to be a consistent fantasy threat. He’s likely the biggest disappointment of all, and his owners should begin looking elsewhere to fill the void at point guard.
Honorable Mention: Goran Dragic (Miami Heat), Danny Green (San Antonio Spurs), David Lee (Boston Celtics), DeMarre Carroll (Toronto Raptors), Al Jefferson (Charlotte Hornets)