Feb 8, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) smiles on the court in the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Oklahoma City won 122- 106. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

I apologize for the click-bait title right away.  However, the sentiment is correct, since Westbrook will go too high to be drafted by the savvy fantasy owner.

“Why is this??”  You ask incredulously. Good question!  I’ll tell you!

I absolutely love Westbrook in real life.  He plays with a passion that rivals the likes of Bryant, Iverson, the original Isaiah Thomas, and many other greats.   However, he will kill your fantasy team.  I’m sure you can already guess why, but hear me out.

Obviously, the argument about his FG% and turnovers will not ring as true in an 8-cat league, so I’m purely addressing 9-cat here.  I personally own Westbrook in the Razzball writers dynasty league.  He put my team on his back all season, however, when I came up against a complete team in the playoffs, the category losses really came back to bite me.

So here are the premises to my argument:

  1. Westy is a big time contributor in points, assists, FT% and boards.
  2. Also a solid contributor in steals at 2 a game.
  3. His numbers will give you a leg up in those statistical categories, but those numbers will not completely dominate.
  4. He is a mediocre 3 point shooter, at best.
  5. Turnovers – 4.5 per game.  Even if that doesn’t go up with no KD, it likely won’t go down.  That number has held solid for 3 seasons.
  6. High volume FG% – It’s hard to get an exact measure of his more recent career FG% with KD out of the lineup, but a solid estimate is around 41%.  There are other variables here, but it certainly is a major drain from any angle you look at it.  His FG attempts jump to over 22 per game.
  7. These drains will lose you those two categories.

 

That being said, if you’re confident enough in your team building ability to punt two categories, then go for it!  There simply isn’t a need to do so.  The other problem is, there aren’t high volume FG% guys with great percentages to counterbalance that category.  Therefore, you’re likely punting FG% from the start.  The turnovers you may think that you can make up for.  The problem is, Westy occasionally has games where he commits 7-8 TOs.  Are you really willing to bet your playoff success on that not happening when there are much safer plays?

I fully expect Russ to average a triple double.  He may be a little shy in the rebounds area, but essentially, that’s not a big difference.  Those gaudy numbers simply don’t justify a top 5 spot in fantasy ranks.  Even James Harden puts up 44% from the field.  That’s a massive difference for a player who will also give you treys, along with the menagerie of stats.

Do as you will, but I will personally be avoiding Westbrook in the world of fantasy.  Drafting him feels like a proverbial deal with the devil for regular season success.  I’ll take my chances elsewhere.  Hell, I’d rather take a shot with someone like Kawhi in the early first.  Yes, he won’t win the league for me on his own, but he also won’t lose it for me either.  Plus, I bet someone else will take the plunge in the top 3, so he won’t even be a decision at the 4th or 5th pick.

 

Writer’s note: Ironically, the idea for this article started as an ode to Westbrook, but eventually reality came crashing down and objectivity prevailed.  He’s just one of those players that I will continue to love in real life, but the price is just too high in fantasy. 

  1. G. says:
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    I agree. I’m drafting fourth in my 12-team league and I seriously hope Westbrook is gone before 4, because I don’t want him and yet I’m not sure I would be able to pass on him at 4 either …

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @G.: I think I would pass at 4… I highly doubt he falls to 4 though. He’s definitely the MVP front runner this year, so the real world hype will drive his fantasy value.

      • G. says:
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        @Adam: Thanks for the reply! I’ll hope he’s gone before then, but if not, I might consider passing on him anyway. We’ll see!

  2. Mon Chi Minh says:
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    The thing with drafting Westbrook is he is going to make you lose FG most weeks, not all of them. Some weeks he will get hot, some weeks the rest of the team will make up for it. Sure, it’s a HUGE disavantadge, but it’s not like punting assists, or punting blocks, where you are going to lose everyweek.

    That’s what i was thinking… Am I too far off? Help, razzball!

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Mon Chi Minh: The problem is, he already guarantees a loss in Turnovers, at least as much as any other punt. You may get lucky, but it’s a definite punt.

      The problem with FG% is that he can sink you on any give week with his FG% in the upper 30s, or even in the low 40s, but with 20+ shots per game. Are you willing to gamble that that won’t happen during a playoff week? It’s just not a risk I’d want to take with my top pick. Why risk it if you don’t need to?

  3. OldNavy says:
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    I am in two leagues with field goals made and free throws made. One of the leagues has a turnover category the other doesn’t. Westbrook will be a good choice in both.

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @OldNavy: Definitely! Without percentages, you’re only punting the 1 category, and he will be a beast in both made categories.

  4. Tim says:
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    Okay – I want to pose you an interesting idea. I am in a keeper roto league 9 categories. Our rules are keepers are kept a round lower than they were drafted last year. As a result I have Paul George, Ricky Rubio, Draymond Green and Avery Bradely kept with my 5, 6, 7 and 11th round picks.

    I am picking 8th. Conceivably I can map out my first 4 rounds before the draft.

    I am hoping that Giannis will fall to me… but if he doesn;t none of the great selections are good for my team. I have lots of steals and assists and need to get my FG% up – so point guards arn’t the best and COusins also doesn;t help much in roto as his value is derived from steals…

    ironically klay thompsn and Aldridge are very good in my build.

    I was thinking going Aldridge and Thompson round 1 and 2 followed by B. Lopez or Valenciounous at round three and a good C at round 4 (maybe Dieng).

    It leads to a very good team if i can do it…
    Any thoughts on players to target or avoid given the players I already have?

    Thanks/

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Tim: It’s tough to say, since I don’t know what players are available, given the keepers. I like all the players you mentioned, except for Klay.

      I’m avoiding him everywhere, since he’s already quite THRAGNOFy and I suspect that he takes the biggest hit with KD in Warrior land. Curry and KD are going to get theirs, and Dray isn’t a high volume guy to begin with. Klay’s value is predicated on high percentage volume, and even if he keeps the percentages up, the volume is going to drop. Wouldn’t surprise me if he averaged around 15 a game with close to 3 treys.

      It really sucks being the annoying little brother to two of the best scorers in history… Who woulda thunk that Klay would be the spot up shooter/defensive specialist… At any rate, that’s my 2 cents. Let me know if you have a more specific list of players. I also may do a full article on players to avoid in the near future.

  5. Tim says:
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    The problem is that my build needs threes without hurting percentages. Klay really does that well and essentially means I do not need to get threes. Remember i have no picks rounds 5-7, so after rounds 104 I don;t pick again until 8th (at which time it is hard to get a good thraganof).

    I am trying to get round value, but if I miss out on Giannis the best picks for me are Aldridge into Brook Lopez or something which seems horrible. I guess i could go Irving into Aldridge, but just think that is bad. Essentially I can ignore steals and need to elevate my FG%. Maybe I ignore Klay and go Irving into Lopez and Hope that I can get

    I am fine if at the end of round 4 I have 2 good centers from the following list:

    Jonas, Brook, Ibaka, Horford, Dieng, Pau Gasol, Vukevic, Jokic (none of these are kept).

    how realistic is it to get two from that list if i don’t pick one int he first two rounds? Aldridge is very good in my build – how realistic is it to get him late 3rd?

    it is weird but every team i draft on Basketball Monster with Thompson in it just looks great on all categories, and when he is not there it just looks bad.

    Late rounds targeting Geroge Hill and Robin Lopez.

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Tim: If you need percentages and some volume, I’m liking Brook and Ibaka or Horford on that list. Ibaka or Horford hopefully can give you a handful of 3s as well.

      I’d personally lean Irving, but I get the debate there. Personally, I always try to draft value over stat need, and I figure I’ll trade for what I need later.

      I could see Klay being a total bust and never getting into any rhythm… Not necessarily likely, but I’d rather go with a situation that I know.

      I like Rolo and Hill late, especially with the 3 and percentage needs.

  6. Toni says:
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    Hi boys!

    I´m in roto-dinasty- 11cat (FG%, 3PTM, 3%, FT%, Pts, Oreb, Dreb, Asist, Stl, Blk, To)

    Curry – KD- Harden – WB would be the right draft?

    Thanx

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Toni: With 3ptm and 3% added, I don’t think there’s anyway Westy could be 4th… I would lean Towns at 4th, and then Kawhi. Starts to be more of a debate between westy and CP3 then. Kawhi definitely takes a leap in that format, and Towns gives you the percentages, a few 3s here and there, plus the board help.

      • Adam

        Adam says:
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        @Adam: Maybe JB or Slim can chime in on this one too

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
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          @Toni: @Adam: Yeah OREB with Towns shoots him up, but I’m definitely going Curry first. His high-volume 3% and 3PTM pretty much wins two categories, as long as you don’t tank it across the rest of your roster. Then I’m probably going Harden 2, then Durant, then Towns, then Kawhi

  7. Jim says:
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    Another option for drafting 4th (assuming KD, Curry and JH go top 3), would be to draft Chris Paul. You get your elite PG, then go big in round 2 with BroLo, Aldridge or Blake–grab Walker in round 3 (2 top PG in first 3 rounds). The next 2 picks are 45 and 52 where guys like Pau, Vucevic and Gobert should be available–get 2 of those 3 and you are REALLY looking good in your first 5 base players. Then you have another pocket at 76, 93 and 100 to grab some sort of combination of Parsons, Covington and maybe Fournier to round out your 3’s cat. I like that build over Westbrook– because by drafting Westbrook, you’d spend the next 5 picks targeting FG% and low turnover bandaids who are most likely players who have serious holes in the other categories (canceling out Westbrook’s strengths)–all just to salvage those 2 categories–which very well could be a worthless cause given Westbrook’s volume.

    • G. says:
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      @Jim: Hey, thank you for your suggestion. I was also thinking about that. I thought about the same player you mention, but I even thought I could go FT punt starting with CP3 (unless I can snatch Curry at 4, then I would FT punt with him) and get something like : CP3, Jordan/Drummond, Irving/?, Gobert, Dragic, Parsons, Howard, Payton/D. Russel, or even Rondo actually. These are not in order, but I like the idea of FT punt with CP3, as I think I’ll have options (Parsons and Dragic should be rather cheap and their FT% is pretty low ideally, same with Payton/Rondo).

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Jim: I love me some CP3, but the durability is a bit too concerning for me to use a first rounder on him. Maybe it’s just perception, but that’s the reasoning behind leaving him out. Definitely love him from a statistical perspective though.

      • G. says:
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        @Adam:

        Solely based on the durability?

        • Adam

          Adam says:
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          @G.: Ok, not solely, he does have a well rounded game, but he just doesn’t have high volume for percentages or 3s, and a huge lack of blocks and boards. He’s a solid pick, but I’d rather have some upside with a younger player. CP3 has actually been pretty healthy the last two seasons, but there are the other factors.

          He also seems to be a lot better when Blake is out.

          • G. says:
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            @Adam: Fair enough.

          • Jim says:
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            @Adam: For sure–I think there’s a higher than usual durability concern with a lot of potential 1st rounders this year–most of them actually! Lol

            I think Paul’s stat set fits a roto build better than the head-to-head format. Last full year with Blake he shot almost 50% on 14 shots and 90% on 4 FTA. Definaly not the volume you want, but you could slightly modify a few mid-round picks to compensate for FTs. For example, swap IT3 for Walker–then grab Gallinari at some point for volume. Or go with what G. is saying and consider Dragic at 69 for that FG% boost from a guard. You might not win a % category but you could certainly aim for top 5 or even top 3 in both.

            I’m with you though–no way I’m touching Westbrook in Roto this year. Let someone else win Pts, Assists and Rebounds and finish 6th!

  8. Benjamin Lee says:
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    Just did my draft! Wanted your opinion on it! What do you think?!
    Note: I was second pick in a 10 man league of 10 cats (9-cat standard with DoubleDouble).

    1. James Harden
    2. Paul Millsap
    3. Kemba Walker
    4. Lamarcus Aldridge
    5. Serge Ibaka
    6. Evan Fournier
    7. Enes kanter
    8. Kent Bazemore
    9. Chris Bosh (Accidental Draft)
    10. Elfrid Payton
    11. Rodney Hood
    12. Wesley Matthews
    13. Luol Deng

    My watch list is:
    Danny Green
    J.J. Barea
    Tony Parker
    Matt Barnes
    Mirza Teletovic
    Ersan Ilyasova
    Taj Gibson
    JR Smith
    Jamal Crawford
    Marvin Williams
    Cole Aldrich
    Kris Dunn
    Omri Casspi
    Terrence Jones

    What do you think my strengths and weaknesses are? Do you think I should focus on punting a certain cat? Any players you think I should be on the watch? Any other additional opinions?

    Thank you!

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Benjamin Lee: Looks solid in every category to me! I actually don’t mind Bosh at that point. You got an incredible steal with Harden and Millsap, that locks up a lot of categories.

      Your weakest category would definitely be FG%, but you should win easily, even with punting that. Blocks could be an issue, but that’s somewhat dependent on how Ibaka does in Orlando. Keep it in mind though. I’d probably consider swapping Deng for Dunn or Barnes, but that is very role dependent, so wait to see how the season starts.

      Nice job man!

      • Benjamin Lee says:
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        @Adam: Yes, I plan to pick up Barnes once the Rudy Gay news starts to clear up more. What makes you say Dunn would be a good pick up? Especially if he is a rookie? Also, Clint Capella is on my radar as well (If he has any value to you haha)

        • Adam

          Adam says:
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          @Benjamin Lee: if Dunn can grab 20+ mins, he’ll have some solid assist/steals value. I’d pick up Capela for deng right now. With Harden, I think you have the ability to swallow the free throw hit.. Payton is a bit of a punt guy too, but he’s low volume.

          • Benjamin Lee says:
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            @Adam: Just got news about Bosh and the nightmares are coming true! I’m eyeing Jusuf Nurkic right now. What do you think of him a fantasy player?

            • Adam

              Adam says:
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              @Benjamin Lee: I’d definitely swap Bosh for Nurk. He’s on your wire??

            • Benjamin Lee says:
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              @Benjamin Lee: or even KCP??

              • Adam

                Adam says:
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                @Benjamin Lee: Ok, there are too many options now haha. I’d swap Bosh for Nurk, if you want the big man. Check out the updated rankings for the rest! JB finally got them up today

                • Benjamin Lee says:
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                  @Adam: Haha my bad. Thanks a lot!

  9. brycek says:
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    I calculated FT% scores weighing volume for the top 32 PG’s (my league is 16 teams, start 2 pg’s) and Westbrook was -0.2 standard deviations below average.

    So in a 16 team league it’s likely that he hurt you a little bit in FT%

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