Fantasy Basketball: Surprises and Disappointments

Story posted January 29, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Matt Noah

It is now week six of the 2020-2021 fantasy basketball season. Most players have given a sample size of what owners should expect for the rest of the season. Some players are on pace to out do their projections or results from previous seasons, while others have fallen behind.

Let’s talk about some of the biggest NBA surprises and disappointments from a fantasy perspective.

Surprises:

Julius Randle, F, Knicks:

Originally drafted by the Lakers, Randle is now in his seventh year in the league.

Last season, he signed with the Knicks and was productive statistically. However, this season has taken his play to new levels. His scoring is up from 19 points to 22 points but he is doing it while doubling his assists per game from three to six and raising his rebound totals to over double digits at 11 per game. A large reason for this change can be attributed to new head coach Tom Thibodeau who has relied on Randle, running the offense through him.

Just as importantly, the Knicks are having a better than expected season with an 8-11 record so far. Playing almost 37 minutes a game, it would be fair to expect Randle to continue his production and far out play his projections coming into the season. His average draft position was 45 but right now he is ranked as the second best power forward in the NBA, fantasy wise.

Jerami Grant, F, Pistons

Grant has made one of the biggest improvements of anyone in the league this season. He went from the third or fourth option on a contending team, the Nuggets, to the number one option on a much worse team, the Pistons.

However, his stats have benefited from the increased role and usage. His scoring output has doubled from 12 points to 24 points a game. As the main option on this Piston’s team, Grant is averaging 36 minutes every game.

He has rewarded owners who took a shot on him later in the draft. His average draft position was 56, he is currently a top five forward in total fantasy points scored.

Disappointments:

Kelly Oubre Jr., F, Warriors

Kelly Oubre Jr. had high expectations heading into the season transitioning from the Phoenix Suns to the Golden State Warriors. However, he started the season in a horrible shooting slump and has still not recovered. At one point, he was 2-31 from beyond the arc and is now sitting at a better, but still not, impressive 22 percent from beyond the arc.

He could still be finding his fit with the team but his scoring is down by seven points a game and the majority of his other stats are suffering too. He could still turn it around having a solid game every now and then. But for a guy who was on average a seventh round selection, he has not lived up to the preseason value he was given for fantasy basketball.

Blake Griffin, F, Pistons

Blake Griffin is now 31 years old and coming off knee surgery less than a year ago.

He is less athletic on the court than in his prime, but even his efficiency has been reduced to a 38 percent field goal mark. For someone with a large name recognition, putting up 13 points and five rebounds per game is not very impressive compared to the 20-plus points and six rebound seasons he used to put up with the Clippers. Griffin can still provide value to the Pistons as a mentor and someone who can have a big scoring night every so often.

Griffin was an eighth round selection and is borderline droppable, which is unfortunate for a player with such high projections.


Matt Noah is a sophomore majoring in journalism. To contact him, email matthewnoah29@gmail.com.