NBA Fantasy Draft Busts: Wings

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Happy Tuesday everyone, you know what today is, time to dive into the second portion of the trilogy of players who you might want to avoid come draft day. Last week, we hit the guards, and today we will be diving into wings who probably will see their production decrease this season. In case you were wondering, J.J. Reddick will not be included on the list today, as he announced this morning that he will be retiring from the NBA after 15 seasons.

Reddick likely wouldn’t have been a fantasy target on draft day anyways due to his injury struggles last season and the fact that for obvious reasons, he had not agreed to a contract with any of the NBA’s thirty teams as he was pondering his future in basketball. Reddick also likely could be classified as a guard, even though he plays the majority of his reps off the ball.

But that is neither here nor there, it is time to dive into the wings and dissect why I think that these five players could potentially be fantasy busts this season, so without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Davis Bertans- Washington Wizards

Bertans has been among the best catch-and-shoot threats in the league over the past few seasons but his numbers did take a dip last season in both scoring, and accuracy from distance as The Latvian Laser dropped from 15.4 points per game in 2019-2020 to 11.5 points per game in 2020-2021. He also went from 3.7 made triples per game on 42.4% shooting, to 3.0 made triples per game on 39.5% shooting from deep.

The addition of Russell Westbrook might have had some to do with the drops in points just due to there being fewer shots to go around, but this season the Wizards have a host of new pieces, and many of them play the same position as Bertans. This offseason, the Wizards acquired Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell from the Lakers in exchange for Westbrook. They also acquired point guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Aaron Holiday in separate transactions to bolster the backcourt. Lastly, Washington used their first-round pick to select Corey Kispert out of Gonzaga with the 15th pick in this year’s draft. Not to mention the fact that they will return forwards Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija, who should make a full recovery after suffering a hairline fracture in his right leg on April 21.

To put it plainly, the Wizards will be loaded at the forward spot this year, meaning Bertans will likely see his minutes drop even more this season. He will surely be in a reserve role, but depending on how new head coach Wes Unseld Jr decides to set the rotation, Bertans could end up towards the end of the rotation on more nights than not. All in all, be wary of where you select Bertans on draft day this season because he could very well end up on a waiver wire sooner rather than later.

Dwayne Bacon- New York Knicks

Bacon finally found his stride in Orlando last season after struggling to carve out a niche in Charlotte in his first three seasons. Bacon also managed to play all 72 games last season, making 50 starts for Orlando, both were clearly career marks for the Lakeland, Florida native. Bacon also set career marks in points with 10.9, rebounds with 2.7, and minutes per game with 25.7. Unfortunately, the odds of Bacon building on these numbers this season are slim.

In the offseason, Bacon signed a one-year non-guaranteed contract with the Knicks, despite having the best year of his career. Essentially, Bacon will be invited to the Knicks training camp and will have a chance to make the roster, but he could also find himself in Westchester with the Knicks' G-League team for stints. If he completely blows it out of the water and can earn a spot in the Knicks rotation, he could be worth a look, but a lot has to go right for that to happen.

The Knicks signed Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier this offseason while re-signing Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel, and extending Julius Randle. They also drafted Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride in the NBA Draft and will get RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley back as well. At best, Bacon will likely start the season amongst the third unit, meaning his opportunities will be few and far between. With that being said, do not expect him to come close to the production that we saw from him last season.

Josh Jackson- Detroit Pistons

Jackson, similar to Bacon, is coming off of a solid season with a new team. After spending two seasons with Phoenix and then being traded to Memphis, where he spent time in the Grizzlies' G-League system, Jackson made the most of his second chance with the Pistons last season. In 62 games, Jackson made 25 starts averaging 13.4 points on 41.9% shooting from the floor and 30.0% from three on 1.2 makes per game with 4.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game.

In the offseason, Detroit selected Cade Cunningham with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft, and they also selected Kalamazoo native Isaiah Livers with the 42nd overall pick. Cunningham will see time at the point guard, while Livers will see the majority of his minutes on the wing. Detroit also re-signed Hamidou Diallo to a two-year deal this offseason and will return Saddiq Bey and Jerami Grant as well. Though Jackson is technically the team's second-highest returning scorer behind only Grant, he will likely be reduced to a reserve role backing up Bey on the wing. Cunningham, Grant, and Bey will likely be the focal points of the offense with Isaiah Stewart and Kelly Olynyk both holding down the paint down low. Jackson, Hamidou Diallo, and Isaiah Livers will all vie for reserve minutes on the wing, but with Jackson being the worst three-point shooter of the three, he could get the short end of the stick given that Detroit will likely want to put as much perimeter shooting around Cade Cunningham as possible.

Diallo has improved his three-point shooting in each of his seasons in the NBA, and last season shot a career-high 39.0% from three on 2.1 attempts per game, which also was the most of his career. Livers was a 41.2% three-point shooter for his career at the University of Michigan and is reportedly on track to be fully cleared in October or November at the latest after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot.

Jackson will have his opportunities, but based on how I see the Pistons depth chart and potential lineups shaking out, I would be cautious about Josh Jackson’s production this season.

Justin Holiday- Indiana Pacers

Holiday has managed to have a pretty long NBA career that includes an NBA title with the Golden State Warriors in 2015, but it has been far from steady. Holiday seems to have finally found some stability in Indiana as he will enter his third consecutive season with a franchise for the first time in his NBA journey. Last season was among the best of Holiday’s career as he averaged 10.5 points, which was tied for the second-highest mark of his career, on 41.3% shooting from the floor (38.2% from three) with 3.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.0 steals in 30.3 minutes per game.

Now, much of this had to do with the fact that the Pacers were decimated by injuries all season long to players such as Caris LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon, and T.J. Warren, who all see minutes on the perimeter. All three are expected to be healthy entering this upcoming season, and if this happens, along with the frontcourt duo of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner the Pacers should be in contention for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference without a doubt. Once you then get to the bench and you factor in guards like Oshae Brissett and Jeremy Lamb, who both averaged double figures last season, as well as T.J. McConnell, who will certainly see minutes as the backup point guard, you all of a sudden have a pretty crowded rotation.

This of course all depends on the health of Indiana’s core pieces, but if they all can manage to remain healthy, Holidays minutes will surely take a dip, as will his usage, thus, he will likely not be as valuable as he was last season in the fantasy world.

Talen Horton-Tucker- Los Angeles Lakers

Horton-Tucker, like many of the names on this list, had his best season in 2020-2021, though for the former Iowa State guard this was just his second season in the NBA. Horton-Tucker saw increases in nearly every statistical category as he averaged 9.0 points on 45.8% shooting with 2.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.0 steals per game in 20.1 minutes per game. His jump in production, coupled with a few huge performances during the regular season while the Lakers were without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, caused many people to wonder why he wasn’t seeing more time even with Davis and James on the floor.

The main reason for that is because he is a career 28.5% three-point shooter, which makes it hard to play major minutes alongside James and Davis, not to mention the fact that the Lakers often played The Brow at the four meaning that the center, whether it be Andre Drummond or Montrezl Harrell at times, was not a threat to stretch the floor. In other words, you can only have so many suspect three-point shooters on the court at one time, and with the addition of Russell Westbrook, that will be even more true this season.

The Lakers added Westbrook as well as a slew of other veterans including Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, and Wayne Ellington, all of which, except Anthony, have had stints with the Lakers before. They also signed young guards Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk to add some youthfulness and athleticism to a roster that will be the oldest in basketball this season. All in all, the bench will be very crowded and there will be a lot of established NBA veterans who will be in the mix for some playing time, as well as guys like Nunn and Monk, who are young and talented, and though Horton-Tucker should find his way into some minutes, it likely will be a lot less than last season, meaning that you should not expect to see his numbers continue to rise next season.