The preseason has finally come and gone and we got a good look at most of the league in a competitive setting. Unlike the Summer League, preseason performance correlates highly with regular season performance. If you haven’t had your draft yet, this is an excellent opportunity to adjust those cheat sheets based on real basketball before the season begins. If you have had your draft, there are still trades to be made and free agents to be picked up. Without further ado, these five players lowered their stock the most in the NBA preseason.
The 5 Preseason Busts
Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers
Westbrook played poorly, was demoted, sorry, realigned, to the bench, is looked to be traded, and finally, injured his hamstring. That is not encouraging if you’re somehow still hoping for any fantasy relevance. Even if there might be a hope of late-round points, rebounds, and assists, you will be killed on percentages and turnovers. Westbrook should not be rostered in nearly any fantasy leagues.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
Recommendation: Can you take the risk?
There’s been a lot of cautious optimism regarding Williamson’s return to basketball. A lot of it is justified – he’s looked lean and mean in the preseason. However, the warts are there too – Williamson can’t make a free throw, and, more importantly, might have gotten injured and missed the final game because of it. It doesn’t look like he will miss the start of the season but an early-round pick that can’t play the whole schedule will ruin a fantasy season.
Alperen Sengun, Houston Rockets
Recommendation: Late-round only
The darling of fantasy writers didn’t exactly pop off this preseason. In fact, it was all remarkably similar to the last season when Sengun finished outside the top 150 in fantasy. With a roster full of young and exciting players looking to prove themselves, it’s not obvious why Sengun should get the ball in his hands over the rest of the Rockets. The ADP of 60 on Fantrax seems to be more wishful thinking than even a realistic best-case scenario.
Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
Recommendation: Take outside the top 50
After finishing last season in the fantasy top 50, Scottie Barnes is expected to match that and even improve on it. His ADP of 44 on Fantrax is evidence of those expectations. This preseason, Barnes had 1 good game and 4 poor ones. His stats are down across the board compared to last year. Except for turnovers. Not definitely proof of declining performance but something to consider. Perhaps this is the result of his trying to lead the team against preseason competition and failing and he’ll be back in his old role in the upcoming season.
Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies
Recommendation: Use only in deep leagues
In a way, Brooks picked up where he left off – as an inefficient shooter who could make a bunch of threes but doesn’t. With Ja Morant looking back to form, Desmond Bane expected to take another step forward, and Jaren Jackson Jr. returning someday, Brooks will have fewer offensive opportunities than last year too. His real-life defensive versatility isn’t reflected in the fantasy stat line either.
For more great analysis check out our full 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Draft Kit!