By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Injuries continue to pile up across the NBA, making it important to have at least one fluid roster spot to be able to add players off the fantasy basketball waiver wire. In order to free up a roster spot, making a tough drop decision might be necessary. Let’s try to help ease that decision by highlighting five players it’s time to cut bait on in most leagues.
Dillon Brooks, Houston Rockets (54% rostered on Yahoo)
The Rockets brought in Brooks to add a veteran presence to their young roster. His big contract came with a starting job and the potential for a lot of playing time. Over their first five games, he averaged 17.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 2.4 three-pointers over 35 minutes per game. It seemed unsustainable, though, given that he shot 60.4% from the field.
Over the last four games, Brooks has averaged only 8.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 1.0 three-pointers over 26 minutes per game. The Rockets were involved in a few blowouts, but he shot just 44.0% from the field. He has never shot higher than 44.0% in a season, so that’s more the norm for him. His lack of rebounds, assists, blocks and his poor efficiency make him difficult to roster in some formats. Unless you’re desperate for three-pointers, it’s not a bad idea to move on from Brooks.
Kelly Oubre Jr., Philadelphia 76ers (56% rostered)
Oubre is not on this list because of his performance. In fact, he had become a key scoring option for the 76ers because of the James Harden trade. Through his first eight games, he averaged 16.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.8 three-pointers. He even shot 50.0% from the field over 29 minutes per game.
The reason to consider dropping Oubre is that he was struck by a car last weekend. He suffered rib, hip and leg injuries and is reportedly expected to miss significant time. The 76ers do expect to get him back at some point this season, but a multi-week absence, at the very least, appears to be in the cards.
For those who need immediate help and don’t have any IL spots available on their roster, it makes sense to drop Oubre.
Josh Hart, New York Knicks (47% rostered)
The Knicks value Hart highly, given his ability to rebound and his defensive versatility. The problem is, he doesn’t have much of a role within their offense. After being traded to the team last season, he had a 12.6% usage rate over 25 games. This season has been no different, given his 12.5% usage rate through 10 games. With him getting so few shot attempts, he is averaging only 7.1 points per game this season.
In addition to his muted scoring contributions, Hart has provided a mediocre 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He has also shot just 38.9% from the field and 71.4% from the free-throw line. Minutes shouldn’t be difficult for Hart to come by, but while his skill set is valuable to the Knicks, it doesn’t translate well to fantasy.
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings (40% rostered)
Barnes began the season with a 33-point performance against the Jazz. He shot 11-for-16 from the field in that game, draining five three-pointers. Since then, he has averaged just 8.5 points and 1.3 three-pointers. It’s not because of a lack of playing time. He averaged 30 minutes per game during that span, which isn’t far off from the 33 minutes per game that he logged last season. The Kings just haven’t been asking him to shoot much, which has resulted in him attempting just 7.9 shots per game. That is on pace to be his lowest average since his rookie season.
One of the reasons why Barnes has seen his shot attempts decline has been the emergence of Keegan Murray. After recording a 15.8% usage rate during his rookie campaign, Murray has a 19.9% usage rate this season. Add that to the leading roles for De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, and Barnes’ usage rate isn’t likely to improve anytime soon.
Al Horford, Boston Celtics (39% rostered)
It’s surprising to see Horford rostered in this many leagues. After logging at least 29 minutes per game in both of his last two seasons, Horford has seen a steep drop to 24 minutes per game this season. The Celtics have done that by design as Horford has looked exhausted by the time the playoffs roll around. He will turn 38 years old in June, so limiting his time on the floor is a wise decision to make, especially given their championship aspirations.
With Horford spending more time on the bench, he has provided only 4.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.7 three-pointers per game. The reason why Horford may still be on this many rosters is that fantasy managers believe that Kristaps Porziņģis will eventually go down with another injury, which would likely force the Celtics to play Horford more. However, there are so many injuries in the NBA right now that holding onto someone who currently isn’t contributing much is a luxury that few fantasy managers have. Don’t hesitate to move on from Horford and add someone who is providing more immediate contributions.