NBA Fantasy Busts: Guards

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Every fantasy season in the NBA, there are guys that we expect to build off of solid previous seasons, and inevitably, some of them do, and some of them don’t. We just finished up a series where we highlighted players who should be in for breakout years, so you know what is coming now. That’s right, the players who you should probably temper your expectations for.

Now, this is not to necessarily say that these players will have bad seasons but I think for the players on the lists over the next few weeks, you should expect to see a drop in the production that you saw last season.

The injury bug will also surely bite some players, and you will have situations like John Wall, who announced on Tuesday that he will not be playing in any regular-season games with the Rockets this year, as the two teams work out a trade. It is unclear how long this saga will drag out due to the $91 million that he is owed over the next two seasons, but until a trade partner is found, managers that decide to take a swing on Wall will just be stashing him on their bench until he finds a new home.

Nonetheless, over the next few weeks, we will be breaking down players who could be fantasy busts, starting with guards and then moving on to wings, and finally big men. So without further ado, here are five guards who you should be wary of come draft day.

Coby White- Chicago Bulls

White had a fine second season, building on his all-rookie campaign from the 2019-2020 season. In 69 games, White averaged 15.1 points on 41.6% shooting from the floor (35.9% from three) with 2.4 made triples, 4.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.3 turnovers per game. He increased in every major statistical category except steals, but the main point of emphasis was an increase from 25.8 minutes per game as a rookie to 31.2 minutes per game in his second season. This is also the main reason why White is on this list.

The Bulls made major upgrades at the guard position this offseason, bringing in veterans Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso, while they will return Zach LaVine. This will make for an extremely crowded backcourt in Chicago, and will also move White from a starting role to a reserve role as Ball, DeRozan and LaVine will occupy the starting spots barring injury.

As a result, White’s minutes, shot attempts, and his general role on the team will all be diminished this season, meaning his numbers will surely take a hit. Now, how much of a hit will they take? That will be completely up to Bulls head coach Billy Donovan and how he manages White’s minutes. The Bulls are not necessarily a title contender, meaning they might still want to take some time to develop their younger players like White and Patrick Williams, but they clearly are trying to win now, and even if a championship isn’t their goal, they might be willing to sacrifice White’s development for some relevance this season.

Kendrick Nunn- Los Angeles Lakers

Kendrick Nunn has had a remarkable first two NBA seasons after going undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft. In two seasons in Miami, Nunn has averaged 15.0 points per game on 45.8% shooting from the floor (36.4% from three) with 2.1 made triples, 3.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.6 turnovers per game in 29.4 minutes. He also earned a spot on the All-Rookie team, and after the Heat made a run to the NBA Finals in the bubble last summer, Nunn played meaningful minutes and contributed after Miami got bit by the injury bug.

All things considered, Nunn’s two seasons in Miami could not have gone much better. Unfortunately, though, Nunn is no longer in Miami after the Heat added Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker, and re-signed Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo, and Duncan Robinson this offseason. Nunn will now be suiting up for the Lakers after signing a 2-year $10 million contract with a player option for the second season.

Los Angeles though also was very busy this offseason as they also added veterans Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington, and DeAndre Jordan. The guard spot will be extremely crowded with Westbrook, Rondo, Nunn, Ellington, as well as Malik Monk, who the Lakers also added this offseason. And we still haven’t even mentioned LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who will undoubtedly be huge parts of the offense.

To put it plainly, there will just not be many shots to go around in Los Angeles, and the margin for error for Nunn will be extremely small given the number of bodies that the Lakers possess, so do not expect Nunn to be anywhere near the production that we have grown accustomed to seeing over the last two seasons.

Jordan Poole- Golden State Warriors

Poole is coming off of a breakout second season, where he saw fewer minutes, but still managed to increase his scoring output by more than three points, and was able to end the season on an absolute tear, pouring in 20.5 points on 53.4% shooting (39.1% from three) from the floor over the last six regular-season games. Poole ended the season as the Warriors' fourth-leading scorer behind only Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, and Kelly Oubre, and Oubre of course has departed for greener pastures in Charlotte.

You would think this would play into Poole’s favor, and it would if Klay Thompson was not expected to be back healthy by Christmas. Or if the Warriors hadn’t drafted Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga in the lottery of this year’s NBA Draft. Or if the Warriors hadn’t signed Otto Porter in free agency. The depth chart will simply be a lot more crowded in Golden State this season therefore Poole could see his minutes decrease yet again. I wouldn’t expect this to be the case early in the season just because Klay Thompson likely won’t be back until Christmas, but once we enter 2022, and the Warriors begin to integrate him back into the fold, Poole’s minutes and most importantly his shot attempts will likely lessen significantly.

The additions of Porter, Moody, and Kuminga will also lessen the margin for error for Poole should he go into a slump where he doesn’t make shots. Porter is a proven veteran and Moody and Kuminga both impressed in Summer League and should compete for spots in the rotation on the wing. Though Poole might be ahead of them on the depth chart now, his position there is far from cemented. All in all, it is highly unlikely that Poole will see the same success that he did a season ago.

Immanuel Quickley- New York Knicks

Quickley turned a lot of heads in his rookie season as he ended the season as the Knicks' fifth-leading scorer behind Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Derrick Rose, and Alec Burks. Quickley’s 11.4 points per game with 2.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists earned him a spot on the All-Rookie team, which would have seemed like a long shot after the Knicks selected Quickley with the 25th pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

But this season, the Knicks, similar to the Bulls, made some additions that will knock Quickley down on the depth chart and will dip into his minutes and his shot attempts. New York signed Kemba Walker and re-signed Derrick Rose, which will make Quickley the third point guard on the roster behind the two veterans. On the wing, the Knicks added Evan Fournier, who averaged 17.1 points per game last season between Orlando and Boston, and also added Dwayne Bacon, who finally seemed to find his footing last season in Orlando. The Knicks also re-signed Alec Burks, who will see time on the wing as well.

All in all, similarly to White, and Poole, who will be returning to their same teams from a year ago, Quickley will have a ton of new faces to compete with, all of which will likely chip into his minutes and his shots, meaning we will likely see a decrease in his overall production in year two.

Cedi Osman- Cleveland Cavaliers

Osman has seen his scoring numbers decrease in each of the last three seasons going from 13.0 points per game in 2018-2019, to 11.0, down to 10.4 last season. Osman also has seen his minutes decrease in each of these seasons and it is probably a safe bet to assume that this will be the case again this upcoming season.

Cleveland has prioritized the development of their two young guards in Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, as both have seen their production increase each season they have been in the NBA. The Cavaliers also acquired Ricky Rubio this offseason, and they will likely explore some three-guard lineups with Rubio, Sexton, and Garland at times this season. Cleveland also will likely be hoping that Isaac Okoro takes a leap in year two, similar to the one that Darius Garland and Collin Sexton did in their second seasons.

Lastly, the cavaliers acquired Lauri Markkanen from Chicago and drafted Evan Mobley third overall out of USC, and though both are big men, they will surely be higher on the totem pole than Osman when it comes to shot priority. All in all, it is a safe bet to assume that Osman’s numbers will continue to decrease this season, and probably in a bigger way than it has over the past three years.