2023-24 Fantasy Basketball: New Buck Damian Lillard leads overrated draft picks

By Alex Barutha, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

As the NBA season looms, fantasy basketball managers are gearing up for their annual ritual. Selecting stars who will lead your team to glory is exciting, but it's equally critical to avoid potential busts. While some players may carry a reputation that resonates with fans, their fantasy production might not match the hype.

Let's uncover those overrated fantasy options that should be sidestepped at their current average draft position.

Round 1: Damian Lillard, Milwaukee Bucks (ADP: 11.3)

For the first round, I wanted to highlight a player who could not be considered overrated due simply to injury concerns, like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant or Joel Embiid. While Lillard can return first-round value, he's no longer the clear No. 1 option on his team. I'd prefer not to invest a first-rounder into a 33-year-old set for a declining role. Lillard averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists in 36.3 minutes last season. I won't be surprised if he's closer to 26 points and 6 assists playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, especially since I'm banking on the guard seeing fewer minutes. He's never played fewer than 35.5 minutes per game in any season, so it's worth noting that Antetokounmpo has averaged 32.3 minutes over the past five seasons. Milwaukee is focused on keeping players fresh for a Finals run.

Round 2: Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets (ADP: 19.4)

Who doesn't love what Bridges put together last season after being dealt to Brooklyn? He averaged 27.2 points on 48/38/89 shooting, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 combined steals-plus-blocks in 35.5 minutes. But he's a little one-dimensional to be taken in the second round. We know he's a great defender, but his numbers on that side of the ball have never reflected his skill. And he's set to score an efficient 25-plus points, but he doesn't hit that many threes and much of his scoring value is tied up in free-throw percentage — a category many drafters punt. He's also a fairly underwhelming rebounder and passer.

Round 3: Fred VanVleet, Houston Rockets (ADP: 28.3)

Over the past four seasons, VanVleet has been a Top-30 player in per-game value with averages of 19.2 points, 6.7 assists, 3.1 and 1.8 steals in 36.7 minutes. So why am I fading him? While I still think FVV will be his team's primary playmaker, the Rockets can be a more balanced offense than Toronto was — primarily through better floor spacing — and I doubt VanVleet will need to take as many bail-out shots. Plus, I'm banking on a minutes decrease. The 29-year-old has averaged an absurd 37.1 MPG across the past three seasons. Bring that down to a more typical 30-34 minutes, and there's less upside.

Round 4: Jrue Holiday, Boston Celtics (ADP: 41.1)

I also considered Kristaps Porziņģis (ADP: 43.4) for this spot, and he's equally overrated as Holiday in this spot if you play in a one-center league. However, Yahoo's default is two centers, giving Porzingis (PF/C) added value. Holiday acted as Milwaukee's clear No. 2 option last season while Khris Middleton battled injuries. Now, he's essentially sharing third-option duties with Porzingis. Holiday has been returning third-round value regularly for a half-decade, but the trade to Boston should represent more of a downgrade than one round. I expect the 33-year-old to focus more on defense this year, and I won't be surprised if he jumps back up to 1.5-plus steals per game. But the offensive volume will take a meaningful step backward, and his age is a moderate concern.

Round 5: Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers (ADP: 55.7)

No one is hyping Allen up, so calling him overrated feels a bit forced. But this is where you can start shooting for upside in drafts, and Allen has none. He's a relatively safe, high-floor center. Great! But you could also draft Zion Williamson (ADP: 55.6), Tyrese Maxey (57.3), Paolo Banchero (57.8) or Josh Giddey (59.3) here — all guys who will have the ball in their hands and have higher ceilings than Allen. I often advocate for getting centers early, especially in two-center leagues, but I'd rather turn elsewhere in this round.

Round 6: Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (ADP: 68.4)

Lopez has perceived upside in Round 6 because of what he put together last season — 15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 1.3 assists in 30.4 minutes. But he was asked to score more in the absence of Khris Middleton — who will be back this season — and Lopez is now 35 years old. Scaling him back down to the 27.5 minutes (if not lower!) he saw during his first three years in Milwaukee makes sense, and adding Damian Lillard will take shots away from the big man. And Mike Budenholzer's drop defensive coverage was essentially scheming Lopez into blocks. If Adrian Griffin modifies things even slightly, it cuts into the center's shot-blocking potential.

Round 7: Buddy Hield, Indiana Pacers (ADP: 81.6)

The front office and Hield stalled on contract negotiations, and it appears the veteran will come off the bench behind Bennedict Mathurin and Bruce Brown. That caps Hield's potential, and he's a one-dimensional fantasy player, providing value in the three-point category. That's useless in points leagues. Even if you're in a category league, every team in the NBA has a sharpshooter you can grab off the waiver wire to stream in on a four-game week if you're desperate.

Round 8: Derrick White, Boston Celtics (ADP: 85.0)

White is being drafted on the 7th/8th-round turn, but I don't think you should select him at any point in the 8th round. His upside is far too capped with Jrue Holiday now in town, not to mention Kristaps Porziņģis sucking up usage too. White was a fringe fantasy starter last year, and I doubt that changes this year. The guard should be taken outside of the top 100, which is the kind of value he returned in 2022-23.

Round 9: Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings (ADP: 106.4)

Murray gained most of his fantasy value last season from three-pointers and free-throw percentage, the latter of which practically meant nothing since he took 80 total free throws. In real life, Murray is an excellent piece for Sacramento. But he's also capped as a third option as long as De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis are healthy. And even if those two miss time, Malik Monk and Harrison Barnes have play styles more conducive to increased usage. Streaming threes off the waiver wire is also easy if you need them.

Round 10: Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks (ADP: 111.4)

I also considered Aaron Gordon (ADP: 118.1) for this spot, but Denver's lack of frontcourt depth means Gordon has a much higher minutes and usage floor. Meanwhile, the Bucks have Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt. While I won't be surprised to see rest days for those two and reduced minutes for Lopez, Portis still has capped potential due to his status as a backup behind that pair. If one of the two were to get injured, Portis would cook, but I'd rather not bank on that with my Round 10 selection.