Sleepers. Breakouts. Busts. Bargains. Overrated. Underrated. That’s about all we think about in the weeks (months, for many of us) leading up to the fantasy NBA season. Even if your methods are sound, you’re not going to be right about all of them. Of course, that’s mainly due to injuries that directly affected the number of games played or indirectly affected a player’s role. But despite that, I thought it would be fun to review the season’s biggest overachievers and underachievers. Pat yourself on the back for good ones. Know that we feel your pain caused by the bad ones.

For this exercise, I just compared FantasyPros average draft position to their Player Rater rankings through 4/2 (8-category total stats – not per-game). Winning definitely requires the use of streaky players that were hot for short bursts, but today we’re really taking a look at the players that did it (or failed to do it) over the entire season.

 

A few notes about the numbers:

*The ADPs are reliable up until roughly 125, since that’s when we get to some players that were going undrafted on at least one site, and that skews the average draft position. I’ll label anyone on their list that’s past that point in ADP as “125+” and anyone off their chart as “200+”.

*Keep in mind that a player picked at #5 that finishes around #20 could have a bigger drop in value than a player drafted at #50 that finishes at #150.

Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

First, let’s check in on the draft-n-stash guys that started the season on the IL. They’re difficult to evaluate based on their season-long player rank, so I used Basketball Monster’s per-game rank.

(ADP/Per-Game Rank)

69/52 – Lauri Markkanen

87/29 – DeMarcus Cousins

100/DNP – Kristaps Porzingis

125+/409 – Isaiah Thomas

 

Onto the players you likely cursed at one point or another or maybe at quite a few points. Many are here solely because of injury, which didn’t hurt as much since you could likely replace them with something, but plenty took a big step back or did so in concert with missed games. I’ll focus mainly on the players drafted highly enough that we were counting on them to provide something more than just an upside lottery ticket.

 

Significant Underachievers

(ADP/Player Rank)

The guys that were bad despite playing pretty close to a full season:

7/32 – Russell Westbrook (not bad if punting free throws)

12/35 – Ben Simmons (ditto)

21/42 – Donovan Mitchell

32/62 – CJ McCollum

41/117 – Gordon Hayward

62/168 – Andrew Wiggins

109/235 – Tyreke Evans

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The rest — guys that missed big chunks of games:

1/11 – Anthony Davis

11/19 – Kawhi Leonard (how many rest days do you need???)

20/43 – Kyle Lowry (missed most of the fantasy playoffs again)

23/60 – Chris Paul

86/158 – Taurean Prince

81/171 – Robert Covington

92/173 – Kris Dunn

68/180 – Jeff Teague

14/192 – John Wall

64/194 – Lonzo Ball

15/195 – Victor Oladipo

73/198 – Gary Harris

60/200 – Brandon Ingram

78/207 – Elfrid Payton (but how about those five straight triple-doubles?)

58/208 – Dennis Smith Jr.

65/259 – Will Barton

48/274 – Goran Dragic

128/284 – Jordan Bell

28/285 – Kevin Love

111/303 – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

102/404 – Carmelo Anthony

51/407 – Dwight Howard

 

Now for the fun stuff. Here are the guys that we’ve been seeing all over winning teams. Now, a player can outperform his draft slot simply by playing a lot of games while the injured players that are better slide behind him. So, I’m looking for pretty big jumps here.

Significant Overachievers

ADP/PR

3/1 – James Harden (because his value was so far ahead of 2nd place)

18/6 – Paul George

27/8 – Bradley Beal

47/10 – Nikola Vucevic

29/15 – LaMarcus Aldridge

31/16 – Rudy Gobert

42/17 – Tobias Harris

95/21 – Brook Lopez

59/22 – Myles Turner

110/23 – Buddy Hield

43/24 – Mike Conley

200+/25 – Pascal Siakam

75/27 – Jusuf Nurkic

72/31 – D’Angelo Russell

118/34 – Danilo Gallinari

84/40 – De’Aaron Fox

77/41 – Trae Young

125+/47 – Montrezl Harrell

125+/51 – JaVale McGee

125+/54 – Bojan Bogdanovic

93/55 – Serge Ibaka

125+/56 – Thaddeus Young

117/61 – Derrick Favors

125+/65 – Jeremy Lamb

125+/66 – Marcus Smart

125+/68 – Malcolm Brogdon

125+/69 – Jerami Grant

125+/71 – Dewayne Dedmon

125+/72 – Domantas Sabonis

125+/76 – Danny Green

125+/81 – Joe Harris

125+/82 – Bam Adebayo

200+/84 – Jeff Green

125+/85 – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

200+/87 – Tomas Satoransky

125+/88 – Kelly Oubre

200+/91 – Terrence Ross

200+/92 – Mikal Bridges

200+/95 – Mitchell Robinson

200+/101 – Thomas Bryant

200+/104 – Nemanja Bjelica

200+/118 – Monte Morris

 

Can we learn anything from this information that can help us next season? Injuries are nearly impossible to predict, but you can avoid injured players to begin the season. In some leagues, drafting injured players makes sense if there are DL slots and you have the confidence to work the waiver wire well as you wait for the players to return. While some young players were overachievers, I still recommend avoiding the young guys with the most hype, as they rarely outperform their draft slot. If anything, seeing all the great waiver wire pickups throughout this season reinforces my thoughts about drafting mainly high-floor guys in the first two-thirds of a draft followed by upside guys that I could easily drop for the next hottest things. Also, as I’ve mentioned a few times, due to the mania around the sexy picks, the old boring guys can easily be the overachievers as this season illustrated nicely.

This will be my last entry for this NBA season. Thanks for reading and for the comments throughout. Enjoy the playoffs and what should be another fun offseason!

  1. Jep says:
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    Thanks Tad for the great reads this season. I’ll be going into next year with Trae-Boogie and the 2nd pick. I got a feeling first pick is going Giannis and his keepers. If I have the choice of Harden or KAT, who would you draft?

    Have a good off-season and look forward to your articles next season.

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