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Do or die: 9 Fantasy basketball players on the verge of being ‘expendable’ (poll)

by on Aug.19, 2010, under Other

Yao Ming

What does Yaouch Ming have to do with Dolph Lundgren? Probably nothing, but whatever. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

With every new season there’s a fresh list of fantasy basketball players that are on the verge of being given up on. Some of these players are walking DNPs that have one more shot to prove that they can play a full season, or something close to it; others are players who have coyly toed the line between fantasy goodness and fantasy greatness for a few seasons and are testing our collective patience; others have failed to fulfill past “sleeper” labels; still others are former studs who have regressed into duds in recent seasons and have one last shot at a redemptive comeback season before they’re permanently locked in the cellar.

Here’s a list of nine such players teetering on the edge of utter hopelessness this season (from a nine-category perspective), along with a rating of how close they are to being lost causes. We’ll use an uber-macho scale of Dolph Lundgrens (1 = not that close from final doom, 5 = direly close). Why nine, and why Dolphs? Look no further than here for a visual explanation.

It’s go time.

Gilbert Arenas: He’s played a combined 47 games in the past three seasons, partly due to injuries and partly due to stupidity. With John Wall in town, Arenas’ days of being a top dog are over. After burning so many owners in recent years, if Arenas either can’t stay healthy, adjust to his role as a shooting guard or share the court with the Wizards’ No. 1 priority, his days as a fantasy stud are over.

Dolph-o-meter:

Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren

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Yao Ming: Yao’s story is easy: he’s missed 173 regular-season games in the past five seasons. That’s an average of 34.6 DNPs per season. This, along with his pessimistic recent mentions of retirement and his feet o’ glass, makes Yao the ultimate make-or-break player this season. If he misses a good chunk of the season again, let alone endures another foot injury, it’s curtains for his fantasy value — and maybe even his NBA career.

Dolph-o-meter:

Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren

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Elton Brand: It’s been three seasons since Brand has been a lock for 20/10 and 2+ blocks, and the majority of fantasy owners have already given up on him. But with new coach Doug Collins vocalizing his desire to resurrect Brand’s “love of the game,” and with Brand about 10 pounds lighter heading into this season, it seems likely that 2010-11 will be his last stand. He won’t put up stats like the good ol’ days, but if he can muster around 16/9 and 1+ steals and 1.5+ blocks, Brand should be able to crowbar his way back into fantasy favor. If he can’t, he’ll remain in the latter rounds of fantasy drafts.

Dolph-o-meter:

Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren

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Greg Oden: Like Yao, Oden’s case is straightforward. At this point, I’m of the mind that he should just wear cast-iron knee braces and run up and down the court like Forrest Gump for the rest of his career. Oden’s awesome when he’s on the court — he averaged 17 rebounds per 48 minutes (eighth in the league) and 4.59 blocks per 48 minutes (fourth in the league) last season. The problem, as we’re all too painfully aware of, is that he’s on the court as often as Jennifer Aniston is on the wedding altar. OK, he’s on the court more than that, but you get the idea. He could be a fantasy beast, but if another limb self-destructs this season I’m not sure Oden’s appeal and trustworthiness will ever recover.

Dolph-o-meter:

Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren

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Anthony Randolph: He was such a big “sleeper” last summer that he essentially lost that status. After being a complete bust last year, Randolph finds himself in a familiar position this summer. He’s got sky-high potential, a coach who’s enthralled with what he can offer and an offense that can only help his chances at notching eye-popping lines every night, not to mention a starting gig in a frontcourt that isn’t exactly deep. His frail frame could fail him (and his fantasy owners), or his immaturity could do him in, or he just might not be as good as many think he could be. Whatever the case, expectations were so high last season and the returns were so low that if he turns in another clunker, we may have to be content viewing him as the second coming of Jared Jeffries, and not Jared Jeffries 2.0.

Dolph-o-meter:

Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren

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Roy Hibbert: He was supposed to break out in 2009-10, but kind of didn’t. Up until now, Hibbert looks like a decent center who fouls a lot and doesn’t hit the boards as hard as he should. But with Troy Murphy out of town, the real estate around the basket should be all Hibbert’s this season. With more minutes in store, and after a summer under the tutelage of the great Bill Walton, the third-year Pacers center could finally show us what a breakout season looks like — either that, or he’ll show us what a low ceiling looks like.

Dolph-o-meter:

Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren

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Jose Calderon: Just typing his name makes me shiver with disgust. He was supposed to make serious progress when T.J. Ford left Toronto, leaving Calderon with full command of the PG spot for the Raptors. Then injuries, Jarrett Jack and a mystical free-throw disease happened. After two consecutive letdown seasons, each of which saw him miss 14 games, it’s now or never for Calderon, who has already bowed out of the good graces of many fantasy owners. If he stays healthy and takes more control of the offense with Chris Bosh out of town, this could be something of a bounce-back year for the Spaniard. If not, he’s a perennial ninth-round player for the foreseeable future.

Dolph-o-meter:

Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren

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• Derrick Rose: First thing’s first: Rose is a stud in real life and one of the most enjoyable players to watch in the NBA today. Second thing’s second: he gets a total of one steal/three — that’s combined — a game. Not only is this a bit sub-par for what you’d want from your starting fantasy point guard, it weighs down his overall value and prevents him from being the top-30 fantasy asset he should be. The good news is that he’s working on his three-point shooting and defense. But we hear promising stuff like this all the time about other young players (see: Dwight Howard) that never bears any fruit. If Rose can pull it all together, this season seems as good a time as any for him to finally ripen for fantasy stardom and match his fantasy value with his real-life worth.

Dolph-o-meter:

Dolph Lundgren

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Paul Millsap: Whenever fantasy owners used to talk about Millsap, the first sentence always began with something like, “Well, if Carlos Boozer is traded…” With the Booze finally out of the picture, Millsap finds himself in the situation that fantasy owners have been longing for. As the starting PF, it would appear that he’ll finally stop teasing us all with brief appearances in that slot. Millsap was always a monster whenever he filled in for Boozer and now that that job is all his, he’s finally going to make good on those always-high expectations, right? Maybe not. The new guy in town, Al Jefferson, isn’t exactly a slouch on the glass and takes up a lot more space down low than Mehmet Okur ever did. This poses a challenge for Millsap, who will also have to face starting defenses for a full season. If he fails to capitalize on this long-withheld starting job, fantasy owners might discover that his dreamy potential was just that — a dream.

Dolph-o-meter:

Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren

What do you think? Which of these players is the closest to being permanently locked in your fantasy basketball dog house? Vote in the poll below and let us hear your thoughts in the comments section.

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