Biggest Fantasy Basketball Busts of the Early NBA Season

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2013

Biggest Fantasy Basketball Busts of the Early NBA Season

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    Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

    A slew of would-be NBA standouts have left countless fantasy basketball owners shaking their heads in dismay early in the 2013-14 season.

    A few of these disappointing performers are future Hall of Famers, players whose shooting percentages are never this unsightly. Others are current stars who are simply underachieving, and there are also some role players getting less opportunities than expected.

    It's important to remember that we are only three weeks into the new season, so many of these struggling ballers will iron things out and gradually escape the fantasy dog house.

    Who are the biggest fantasy basketball busts of the early season?

     

    Stats gathered via Basketball-Reference.com, accurate as of 11-20-13.

Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers PG

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    Danny La-USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 Stats: 22.5 MPG, 6.7 PPG, 4.8 APG, 26% FG, 39% 3PT, 92% FT

     

    In his prime, Steve Nash was a fantasy basketball titan, delivering huge offensive numbers every night in an ultra-efficient manner. 

    Now, in his second campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers, those glory days seem ages ago.

    Entering the 2013-14 season, there was a healthy amount of hope surrounding Nash and Pau Gasol as they aimed to keep L.A. in contention until Kobe Bryant returned. Nash couldn't duplicate his old creative prowess, failing to finish drives or convert short jumpers like he used to.

    It turns out he's battling nerve root irritation in his back and is still sidelined for a few more games. This setback is another reason for owners to be wary about trading for him or utilizing him.

    Nash is 39, so it feels weird to call him a "bust" at this point in his career. That shows how high the bar was set for him by the media, fans and himself.

Ed Davis, Memphis Grizzlies PF

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    Fernando Medina/Getty Images

    2013-14 Stats: 12.0 MPG, 3.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 41% FG, 50% FT

     

    Many expected Memphis Grizzlies power forward Ed Davis to thrive in an expanded role and enjoy something close to a breakout year in 2013-14.

    It seems as though the Griz lost faith in the young big man before the season even tipped off. They didn't come to a contract extension agreement with Davis (because extending him would have pushed Zach Randolph out), and he hasn't earned much playing time at all in the first three weeks of the campaign.

    In fact, during Memphis' most recent road trip, Davis didn't play a single minute, which is disconcerting for all parties involved.

    Fantasy owners were hoping for 15-20 minutes per game for the 24-year-old reserve, but he hasn't diversified his ball skills enough to warrant substantial trust.

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls PG

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    2013-14 Stats: 31.4 MPG, 15.0 PPG, 4.5 APG, 34% FG, 33% 3PT, 88% FT

     

    Fantasy owners knew there was some risk involved in drafting Chicago Bulls returnee Derrick Rose.

    In the long-term, they might reap rewards, but for now, Rose has fallen miles short of expectations. With just 15 points and 4.5 assists per outing, he's producing more like a middle-tier combo guard rather than the 2010-11 MVP.

    His early-season output is definitely worthy of the "bust" label, but it would be naive to think his stat will remain underwhelming. Rose is too explosive and too versatile to not generate and convert more scoring chances for Chi-town.

    He's in the category of players worthy of our patience, because he has the physical tools and basketball intangibles to take over games and go on a hot streak. Even if the Bulls don't truly challenge the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat, Rose may enjoy some dominating fantasy stretches.

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs PF

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    Tim Duncan's Shot Chart as of 11-20-13
    Tim Duncan's Shot Chart as of 11-20-13Media.NBA.com

    2013-14 Stats: 28.2 MPG, 12.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 38% FG, 78% FT

     

    We're not shocked that someone Tim Duncan's age (37) is experiencing a downward trajectory in his stat totals.

    What's shocking is his shooting efficiency. Timmy's numbers have fallen off a cliff.

    A career 51 percent shooter (who's never shot below 48 percent in any season), Duncan is converting at a 38 percent clip so far. He's got an uphill climb ahead to get back in the good graces of fantasy owners.

    The San Antonio Spurs' iconic big man is failing to finish most of his pick-and-roll chances, and he's also shooting terribly in spot-up scenarios.

    Duncan's percentages should return to acceptable levels within a few weeks. It's just striking to see such an ugly start.

Tyreke Evans, New Orleans Pelicans G

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    Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

    2013-14 Stats: 23.8 MPG, 9.6 PPG, 3.5 APG, 39% FG, 10% 3PT, 60% FT

     

    Anyone who was high on New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans entering 2013-14 saw their fantasy team's field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage pulled down significantly.

    Evans, who was a hot preseason pick for Sixth Man of the Year, stumbled out of the gate and couldn't summon any rhythm or consistency. Questionable shot selection and atrocious three-point shooting helped him produce career lows in several offensive categories.

    Lately, he's been shooting a bit better from the field, but now his free-throw shooting is tanking. He's 12 of his last 22 charity-stripe attempts, which is deplorable for an NBA guard.

    The good news for Evans is that three straight solid outings have coincided with the Pelicans scoring 105-plus. His fantasy faithful hope that the recent double-digit outings are a stepping stone for improved results.

    Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday may be the primary guards in NOLA, but there's plenty of room for Evans to step up as a fantasy X-factor.

Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers F

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    David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 Stats: 11.6 MPG, 1.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 14% FG, 8% 3PT, 50% FT

     

    Some bold fantasy general managers projected Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anthony Bennett to transition easily into the NBA and win Rookie of the Year honors.

    Instead, he's playing like a young 'tweener who can't take advantage of any opportunities.

    Is he actually a 'tweener? No, especially once he gets into better shape and learns how to make the most of mismatches. For now, however, he hasn't done anything to warrant inclusion in the Cavs' regular rotation.

    When Bennett uses his quickness, strength and length to beat opponents to the rim, and then finds some consistency on his jumper, the numbers will immediately multiply.

    Until then, fantasy hopefuls must find alternative forwards to fill their rosters.

Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn Nets PF

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    2013-14 Stats: 22.9 MPG, 6.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 33% FG, 80% FT

     

    It's unfair to ask 37-year-old forward Kevin Garnett to crank out the kind of numbers we're used to. He's not going to be the domineering "Big Ticket" forever.

    Nevertheless, his paltry scoring figures and unhealthy field-goal percentage have surprised everyone, including the Brooklyn Nets, who brought him aboard to expedite the championship process.

    An older body, new surroundings and a bum ankle have contributed to Garnett's embarrassing start.

    It would be one thing if his point totals were down, but his shooting percentages have been gruesome for most of the early season. The only bright spot for Garnett's fantasy production is his rebounding rate.

    Will KG's numbers improve as the season unfolds? We think so, because he'll eventually find his mid-range jumper. But there's certainly the potential for him to remain stuck in the Nets' quicksand of mediocrity.

     

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