Fantasy basketball is a game full of surprises as well as letdowns. Every season a new player rises to the top to become a surprisingly great pick. But there are also players that fail to make a leap or even worse, digress as the season progresses. Some are big name players, some are rookies or sophomores looking to make a name for themselves. Nonetheless, no player is safe from digressing, everyone has to at some point.
3rd Biggest Surprise: Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker is playing some of the best basketball of his career since entering the NBA back in the 2011 season. He has been an all-star for the past three seasons and has easily become one of the NBA’s best ball-handlers in the league. I would rank him amongst the NBA royalty for ball-handling, but that is my opinion.
It feels odd to put Kemba on this list because he has always been a great player, but this season has been different for the Hornet all-star this season. It’s not his team that has played well, in fact, they are only 27-29. Not a record to write home about, but it’s Kemba that is having a great season. He is averaging 25.2 points per game, and that is a 3.1 point increase since last season. He is averaging nearly identical minutes per game so he is more efficient this year when he is scoring. He has also tied his career high for rebounds per game with 4.4 a game this season as well. He was named an all-star starter for the first time in his career this season as well. Another achievement that Kemba has enjoyed this season was most three-point field goals in the first three games of the season with 19. Kemba Walker has been on a tear this season, I can’t wait to see him get better as the season goes on.
3rd Biggest Letdown: John Wall
John Wall was having a solid season before his injuries. But the Wizards were not, in fact, they are having one of their worst seasons in the past five years. They are most likely not going to the playoffs this season and are going to finish with a record with more losses than wins for the first time in five seasons. If we take a look at John Wall’s stats, he had some solid numbers, he was averaging 20.7 points per game, on 44% shooting from the field and 8.7 assists a game. These are good numbers, but he only was able to play for 32 games this season, the least in his career. He also fell in his house to rupture his achilles. For an explosive guard, this is a terrible injury. Players like Dominique Wilkins have come back and he was one of the bounciest players of his era. But it will take a lot for him to come back, it will be very difficult to even see him coming back as the same player.
John Wall has been a letdown this season because of his durability. Over the last two seasons, he has played a total of 73 games (41 last season, 32 this season). This is troubling for the Wizards because he just signed a very lucrative contract that will pay him over $40 million in a single season eventually. John Wall is 28 and a half, the four years left on the deal will have him playing in Washington as a Wizard till he is 32. But let’s get back to his durability, Wall has continuously struggled with this. He just hasn’t been the same player that he was back in Washington’s Eastern Conference Semi-finals run, where they eventually lost to the Boston Celtics in a rugged seven-game series. Wall hasn’t been the same since that season, maybe when he is finally healthy he will be back to normal. But that is a big if.
2nd Biggest Surprise: Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings have enjoyed a very successful season by their terms. They are four games over five-hundred this season so far. This is their best season in eleven seasons. They are 30-26 so far this season. Over the past eleven seasons, their best record was 33-49. That is a terrible season of course. But this season has been so much different. The culture has changed, and their young core is coming together nicely. We will mainly focus on Buddy Hield and De’Arron Fox for this section of the article.
First off, Buddy Love has taken the leap this year. Last year he averaged 13.5 points a game with 43% from three. A solid season for a second-year player. This year though, he has taken his game to another level. He is averaging 20.4 points a game and a smoldering 45% from three, and he is making 3.4 threes a game. Buddy is also enjoying career highs in rebounds (5.1 per game) and assists (2.3 per game). It does help that Buddy is playing more minutes per game this season, but Buddy has turned into a fringe all-star. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was an all-star next season.
De’Arron Fox has also taken his game to another level as well. Fox has seen career highs in literally every stat this season. One huge knock to his game during the draft was his lack of a jump shot. Well in just one off-season he was able to really improve it. In his first season, he averaged 0.6 threes a game on 30.7% from three. This season he is hitting 1.1 threes a game on 36% from three. This is a huge improvement. I would expect Fox to keep improve upon his shooting. He is averaging 17.2 points per game on 46% from the field along with 7.1 assists a game. A very solid sophomore campaign for the Young Fox.
The Sacramento Kings are in good hands with these two young gunners if they keep it up. I fully expect these two to be cornerstones for this franchise for years to come. If you selected them for your team, you’re in very good hands as they are consistent fantasy players as well.
2nd Biggest Letdown: Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker has been a pretty big letdown this season. Maybe we can throw this bad season up to the lack of trust that the Chicago Bulls had with Parker, or maybe the poor situation. But let’s get one thing straight when we talk about this letdown, he didn’t really get a solid chance. When Parker signed with the Bulls, I thought it was a solid move. A one year $20 million deal with a team option as well. A team option gives the team the ability to decline and make him a free agent or accept it and give him another year with the team. But I had felt like this was a solid move for the Bulls. It adds youth to a rebuilding team and some scoring to help Zach LaVine.
Then the season starts and Jabari is looking solid. He is moving well and scoring the ball at a decent rate. But he is still shaking off the rust from the past season as he had only 31 games under his belt for the Milwaukee Bucks. Then the season went on and reports came out that he was going to be dropped from the rotation as Jim Boylen became the new head coach because Fred Hoidberg was fired. Just like that, his time in Chicago was done. His homecoming was spoiled and it wasn’t till near the trade deadline he would start to play again. This was them basically showcasing his abilities to other teams.
Then on February sixth, Jabari’s homecoming came to an end and he was dealt to the Washington Wizards along with Bobby Portis and a 2023 second-round pick for Otto Porter Jr. I believe Jabari was a letdown because of the situation and less his play. It could have been the coaching change, or it may have really been his attitude with the team as a whole. But one thing we do know for sure, Jabari has a lot of work to do if he wants to get back on track for his career.
1st Biggest Surprise: Paul George
Paul George has been incredible for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has come a long way since the horrific team USA injury. With his play this season, George has really forced himself into the MVP consideration with his play this season. George is first on this list because he has really shown every NBA team and fan that he is one of the best, if not the best, two-way player in the NBA.
Paul George has improved almost every aspect of his game. His ball handling is tighter, it’s almost as if he has the ball on a string. PG looks much more comfortable now, he looks like a different player overall. George is more aggressive and he is able to take his defender one on one and score with ease. I would argue that Paul George has become the front runner for the MVP award because of his teams play as well as his. It also helps that he is defending the opposing teams best player as well as dominating the offensive side as well.
Every MVP winner has a game or moment where you say, that was when we realized they were the MVP. Stephen Curry had his near half-court game winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder, James Harden had his disrespectful ankle breaker on Wesely Johnson and Russell Westbrook had a 50 point triple-double. The point is, Paul George had his MVP moment. He led his Thunder team to a 117-112 victory over the Houston Rockets and scored 45 points with 11 rebounds. They also trailed as much as 26 in this game as well. Then the very next game, he would drop a 47 point triple-double with 12 rebounds and 10 assists. We may be witnessing the MVP for this season as we speak.
1st Biggest Letdown: Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins was a five-star recruit out of high school, he was one of the top players in the country. He had future all-star written all over him. But what happened to Andrew Wiggins? Why has he turned into an afterthought on the offensive end? What happened to his defense that he showed flashes of in college?
Wiggins is what I like to refer as an “empty scorer”. He may put up a lot of points, but it doesn’t do anything to the win column. Basically, these are points that just don’t translate because they are on bad teams and these stats are fluffed up, or they are just black holes on offense. Wiggins has been digressing every season since 2016. He looked great that season, scoring 23.6 points per game on 45.2% from the field. But then the next season, he dropped down to 17.7 points per game and shooting 43.8% from the field. Wiggins saw a huge drop in points per game and a slight drop in field goal percentage. But let’s chalk up that dud of a season to Jimmy Butler and him taking control of the offense.
But this season, he has been scoring almost the same amount of points per game with 17.9. But he has seen a drastic drop in his field goal percentage to 39.6. Butler only played ten games with the Timberwolves, so this drop is peculiar. As the former number one overall pick from the 2014 class, I think myself and many others just expected more. He still is young and has a chance to turn things around, but he is losing time and if I were the Timberwolves, he would be trying my patience if he continues to digress further.
Categories: NBA News Blog