The 2020-21 NBA season is set to begin this month and that means it’s time to start prepping for fantasy basketball. The best small forwards stuff the stat sheet but some players are being propped up more than they should be from a fantasy perspective. Let’s take a look at four bust candidates who could fail to meet the expectations set by their ESPN ADP.
Note: Average Draft Position on ESPN can be found via FantasyPros.
T.J. Warren, Indiana Pacers
ESPN ADP: 48
Warren was one of the NBA’s brightest stars in the bubble and averaged a career-high 19.8 points per game last season while shooting 53.6 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from deep. I expect him to take a step back on offense now that Victor Oladipo is back healthy and ready to form a big three alongside Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis. Warren is banged up this time around and is set to miss the start of the season with plantar fasciitis. I expect his performance to drop off with two All-Star talents back in the mix consistently. Especially if he’s not at 100 percent and has to work his way back to being healthy when the year begins.
Robert Covington, Portland Trail Blazers
ESPN ADP: 60
Portland has all the offense it needs with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic healthy. Gary Trent Jr. and Carmelo Anthony appear are likely to serve as the primary bench scorers so Covington will provide 3-and-D support for the most part. He was an important member of the Houston Rockets and averaged 11.6 points and 8 rebounds per game in 22 appearances but his offensive role should shrink on a team with plenty of spot-on shooting. Covington will be a valuable player but his impact often isn’t reflected in box scores.
Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns
ESPN ADP: 122
Bridges was a phenomenal 3-and-D player for the Suns last season but averaged only 9 points and 4 rebounds per game while logging 28 minutes per contest. Phoenix added Chris Paul to the mix over the offseason. While Paul can unlock the offensive potential for the suns with his playmaking there’s plenty of other wings capable of switching who will be competing for minutes with Bridges. Jae Crowder will spend some time at the three and was a quality player for the Miami Heat throughout their title run last season and Cam Johnson won’t be phased out after shooting 39 percent from three as a rookie on 4.8 attempts per game. Bridges is a very good, young role player but isn’t a top 30 small forward like ESPN suggests.
Otto Porter Jr., Chicago Bulls
ESPN ADP: 110
Porter has career averages of 11 points and 4.9 rebounds per game and is far from a priority for the Bulls. Chicago is rebuilding around young players like Zach Lavine, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. Porter can serve as a defensive leader but his 11.9 points on 10 shots per game last season make me think he won’t be much of an offensive threat. Billy Donovan is known for developing young players so I wouldn’t be surprised if Porter was phased out in the final year of the contract as the Bulls look to build for the future. Maybe more team to recover from the foot injury that left him sidelined for most of last season will help Porter bounce back. I’m skeptical about that happening though.