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2012-13 Draft Prep: Busts for Draft Day

Fantasy Writer
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There were plenty of players to come out of nowhere and break out a season ago. But in turn, there were also players who failed to live up to expectations. We call those busts in Fantasy and the 2012-13 season will spring a new batch of underperformers.

Whether it's a player drafted too high or someone coming off a breakout campaign that simply cannot duplicate it, busts are inevitable in Fantasy. Owners who have scoured the rosters to keep up with the offseason moves probably already have a pretty good idea of who may not be able to perform as expected.

We at CBSSports.com have compiled a list of candidates we feel will take a step back this season.

Guards

Raymond Felton, Knicks: Many believe Felton will be in for a bounce-back campaign after returning to New York in a trade with Portland in the offseason. Don't jump to conclusions just yet. He averaged 17.1 points with 9.0 assists and 1.8 steals in 54 games with the Knicks in 2010-11, albeit that was under former coach Mike D'Antoni. Point guards have always thrived in D'Antoni's run-and-gun offense and Felton was no exception. New Knicks coach Mike Woodson, however, runs a slower-paced offense and prefers everything to go through Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire for the most part. While Felton should be able to put up more than the 11.4 points with 6.5 assists he averaged last season for the Trail Blazers, we would advise Fantasy owners not to overreach for the 28-year-old on Draft Day as he probably won't be able to match the production from his first tenure in the Big Apple.

Steve Nash, Lakers: Nash led the league in assists for the sixth time in the last eight seasons a year ago and while his scoring fell off a bit, he remained a solid option in Fantasy. An offseason move to the Lakers has all the makings of hindering his value, however. He gives Los Angeles a true facilitator on offense but with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard expected to do the bulk of the scoring, the 38-year-old could see his points fall into single digits more nights than not. Nash has already seen his scoring decrease each of the last three seasons and shot just 39 percent from beyond the arc a year ago, which was his worst percentage since 1998-99. Owners know that the offense in Los Angeles runs through Bryant so Nash could be in for a huge letdown in Fantasy this season.

Forward

Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: Things are already looking bad for Nowitzki as he has been slowed by a knee injury during the preseason and could end up undergoing surgery due to swelling. Good news is that he overcame this issue last season but showed up out of shape and needed an extended break to get back on track. It looks as though time is finally catching up to the 34-year-old. His numbers took a dip in 2011-12 as he averaged 21.6 points with 6.7 points and shot 45.7 percent from the field, which was his worst shooting percentage since his rookie campaign. Nowitzki's run as a must-start Fantasy forward could be coming to an end so owners should keep that in mind heading into 2012-13.

Brandon Bass, Celtics: Bass enjoyed a career campaign in his first season in Boston as he averaged 12.5 points with 6.2 rebounds and nearly a block per game while becoming a reliable option in Fantasy. However, early reports out of Boston are that the team loves rookie forward Jared Sullinger and he will likely steal time from the 27-year-old in 2012-13. Sullinger gives the Celtics a versatile big-man that is a slightly better rebounder than Bass and adds a bit more size to their frontline. Bass could also end up coming off the bench, which would limit his role even further and hinder his value in Fantasy, so putting up the numbers he did a year ago could be tough. Owners should not be too eager scoop Bass up before the later rounds on Draft Day as it looks as though he will come back to earth this season.

Ryan Anderson, Hornets: Anderson was one of the bigger surprises in Fantasy last year. After averaging just 8.6 points with 4.5 rebounds through his first 193 games in the NBA, he put up 16.1 points per contest with 7.7 rebounds and shot nearly 44 percent from the floor in 61 games for the Magic. Anderson struggled in the playoffs without Dwight Howard alongside him, however, scoring just 9.6 points with 4.6 rebounds and shooting 34 percent from the field. He was traded to the Hornets in the offseason and could find trouble scoring on a consistent basis in New Orleans. The offense runs through Eric Gordon and with rookie Austin Rivers and Anthony Davis part of the rebuilding process, Anderson will likely play more of a secondary role with the club. The 24-year-old shoots the ball well from the 3-point line (38 percent for his career) but a repeat of his 2011-12 campaign seems unlikely. Anderson is definitely someone we think will be a disappointment in 2012-13.

Centers

Andrew Bynum, 76ers: Bynum put together the dominant campaign Fantasy owners had been waiting for a year ago as he averaged career highs with 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Lakers. He also played in 60 games for just the third time in his career and shot nearly 56 percent from the field. An offseason move to the 76ers had most owners salivating over the potential numbers he could put up since he would not longer have to share the ball with Kobe Bryant and he immediately became one of the best centers in the Eastern Conference. But, just like it has in the past, injury concerns have begun creeping up during the preseason as the 24-year-old has already received a Synvisc injection on his right knee and was also shut down due to a knee bruise. Bynum had that done each of the previous two seasons but there are also some complaints about his conditioning early on. Bynum has proven to be a must-start Fantasy center when healthy but given his history, owners should temper expectations heading into his first season in Philadelphia.

JaVale McGee, Nuggets: Many people, including us at CBSSports.com, believe this is the season that McGee finally stops frustrating Fantasy owners and takes his game to the next level. After spending the offseason working closely with coach George Karl and Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, it looks like he's on the right track. However, this is not the first time we have heard this about the 24-year-old as he has appeared on numerous breakout and sleeper lists over the last few seasons. This is why we have decided to list McGee as a possible breakout or bust option this year. While he looks to have the skill set to become one of the elite big-men in Fantasy, owners cannot be blamed for avoiding the hype around McGee again in 2012-13.

Rookies

Dion Waiters, Cavaliers: The Cavs reached a bit for Waiters with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 Draft and he has gotten off to a shaky start in his NBA career. After being compared to Dwyane Wade on draft night, there were reports that he showed up to camp out of shape and his struggles during the preseason have caused him to be pulled off the court at times. Coach Byron Scott thinks Waiters could be a dynamic player in the league but it will likely take some time for the 20-year-old to mature. While he believe Waiters has the ability to become a reliable option in Fantasy down the line, that doesn't seem likely to happen in his first season in the NBA.

Thomas Robinson, Kings: Robinson was one of the more dominant players in college during his junior year at Kansas as he averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per contest and led the nation with 27 double-doubles. He could have a hard time getting his numbers on a Kings team that has a ton of scorers, however, and will likely be coming off the bench in his first season in the NBA. His rebounding will likely not be as proficient too as DeMarcus Cousins has been a monster on the boards so far in his career. Keep tabs on Robinson going forward but don't count on him for a ton of production during his rookie campaign.

Royce White, Rockets: White is certainly one of the more interesting Fantasy options among rookies as he has a unique skill set for someone with the 6-foot-8, 260-pound frame. He averaged 13.4 points with 9.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks per game at Iowa State last season. His battles with an anxiety order, however, have raised some red flags. Due to his fear of flying, the Rockets will allow him to travel for some of the team's road games by bus. While White could end up having a huge role in his first season in the NBA, there is some concern that he could end up missing games due to his travel arrangements. There are simply too many question marks surrounding the 21-year-old to consider him a reliable option in Fantasy heading into his rookie campaign.

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Player News
Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(5:39 pm ET) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 


Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(5:00 pm ET) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   


Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:41 pm ET) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 


Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(3:51 pm ET) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per Stats.NBA.com, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 


Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(3:02 pm ET) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per MySynergySports.com, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  


Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:09 pm ET) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 


Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:28 pm ET) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 


Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 


Jrue Holiday cleared for contact ahead of camp
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was able to participate in full-contact offseason drills last week, the first time he has done so since undergoing season-ending surgery last January.

"Getting out playing has been a joy," Holiday told The Times-Picayune. "I've been running and jumping and stuff, but getting my rhythm back on the court is definitely a big thing right now for me."

The Pelicans open training camp Sept. 30, and Holiday is not expected to have any limitations as the team prepares for the start of the season. Holiday averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season prior to the injury.


Kent Bazemore focused on conditioning in recovery
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:18 am ET) Newly signed Hawks guard Kent Bazemore did not pick up a basketball until August, preferring to focus on conditioning in his recovery from foot surgery in April.

"I think the injury was definitely a blessing," he told the Daily Press, "because I was able to step away from the game of basketball. I took myself out of my element all summer. I did stuff I'm not used to doing."

Bazemore signed a two-year deal with the Hawks this offseason, and is expected to compete for playing time on the wing immediately, as he is fully recovered from the surgery. 


 
 
 
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