Fantasy basketball owners are always looking for the shiny new toy. Entering draft night, we’re all searching for the few select rookies that can make an immediate impact or the up-and-comers that can make the leap into stardom.
The obsession with upside forces aging veterans to the back burner. Marquee names that were once off the board within the first few rounds are now being overlooked, as there are always questions surrounding players on the backside of their playing careers. The threat of injuries, youth movements, and declining minutes provide a bit of uncertainty. However, some players are able to adapt their skill sets when their physical tools begin to wither away.
RotoExperts takes a look at a few of these players.
1. Steve Nash – Nash is a bit of a wild card heading into next season. Hamstring, back, and hip issues plagued virtually his entire year, causing him to miss 32 games. Despite having the ball taken out of his hands more than he is used to, he was able to put up 12.7 PPG on 49.7% shooting and 6.7 APG. Although is it certainly hard to judge his impact, the opportunities should be there with Kobe sidelined. Nash can still put up numbers that can contribute to a Fantasy championship, especially if you are looking to shore up percentages in the later rounds. The question remains whether or not he can stave off the injury bug long enough to make it through April.
2. Gerald Wallace – Once nicknamed “Crash” for his relentless play, Wallace and his confidence crashed to the ground this past season. He delivered his lowest averages in points, rebounds, and field goal percentage in over a decade. Wallace signed a 4-year, $40 million extension to remain with Brooklyn through the 2015-2016 season. However, his style of play has started to take a toll on his body and he will never play like a $10 million per year player again. The good news for Wallace is that Brooklyn has no room under the salary cap to make substantial roster moves. Despite an abysmal 7.7 PPG average during the regular season, Wallace’s 12 PPG average during the playoff series against the Chicago Bulls offers hope for next season.
3. Jason Terry – Let’s face it. Terry had no shot at fulfilling the expectations left behind by Ray Allen. Couple that with an inconsistent role and Terry produced career lows in minutes played, assists, and points if you exclude his rookie season. Terry will provide value at the back end of a draft as he free falls down the board. With a more defined role off the bench and more playing time with Rajon Rondo, Terry should improve on his 10.1 PPG, 1.6 three-pointers per game, and 0.8 SPG.
4. Vince Carter – It only takes a few minutes to see that Carter is no longer the explosive athlete he once was. While the days of dunk contests are over, Vince continues to be a reliable scoring option. He improved on his scoring, rebounding, and assist averages from a season ago despite all the mileage that comes along with a 14-year career. What’s more impressive is the fact that he tied his career-high in three-pointers with 162 made. Unfortunately, the Dallas roster situation is very fluid heading into the offseason, and Mark Cuban has reiterated throughout the year that he plans on making splashes in free agency in order to compete for championship again. With Carter under contract for one more season, it is difficult to peg how much run he will get. But like many other former all-stars, he has re-invented his game in order to adapt to his declining athleticism. With averages of 13.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 2 three-pointers per game, Carter is a player that can contribute in every statistical category.
5. Nene Hilario – Nene played in 61 games this past season, but the Wizards seem to be taking a proactive approach to his injury woes heading into next year by capping his minutes. Hilario will earn roughly $40 million over the next three seasons, and the organization will look to prolong his impact for as long as possible. In just 27 MPG this season, he produced 12.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.9 APG, and 0.9 BPG. As Washington’s current roster stands, Hilario is the team’s third-best player behind John Wall and Bradley Beal and is the most skilled offensive big man. A season of full health will allow Wall and Hilario to develop inside-out chemistry.
6. Mo Williams – Utah will likely opt to bring in some youth to the point guard position. However, Williams can still provide Fantasy owners with worthwhile numbers even in a backup role. The 30-year-old was able to contribute 12.9 PPG, 6.2 APG, 1 SPG, and 1.3 three-pointers per game despite a nagging thumb injury that caused him to miss 36 games. If you subscribe to the strategy that devalues the points category, Mo will provide a great scoring punch at the end of the draft.
7. Anderson Varejao – Through 25 games, Varejao averaged 14.1 PPG, 14.4 RPG, and 1.5 SPG. Dwight Howard, the league leader in rebounds per game to end the season, finished with an average of 12.4 RPG. Although 25 games is not a particularly large sample size, Anderson was counted on to make a consistent impact for a team with a young frontcourt. His remarkable start ended when Varejao suffered a quad injury which required surgery. While recovering, he developed a blood clot in his lung that ended his season for good. While Tristan Thompson has shown signs of trending upward , the Cavs remain unsure on Tyler Zeller moving forward. Varejao should step back into his previous role.