Devin Booker G, PHX
The young star guard signed a max extension this off season, but it hasn’t been all good news for the Suns’ lead man heading into the 2018-2019 season. Booker underwent surgery to repair a broken right hand in early September, which has his status for the season opener in doubt. The team gave out a 6 week timeline for his return, but that seems highly optimistic, as the Inside Injuries suggests he won’t be fully healthy until December, and that he is a High Injury Risk with a Below Average Health Performance Factor. He seems optimistic that he’ll be ready for the opener, but even if he does, expect the injury to cause some issues for him shooting the ball. Booker is a bright young talent, but given the injury concerns, you may not get the return on your investment you’re looking for given where he’s being drafted, especially early on in the season.
Dwight Howard C, WAS
Dwight is in the best situation he’s been in from a fantasy perspective in a couple years after signing with the Wizards this past off season, but, as is always the case, things have seemed off from the start in training camp. He’s dealing with another back complication, which is reportedly minor, but has kept him sidelined for most training camp and pre season work. He’s a High Injury Risk, and, at this point, seems tough to trust. He’s being drafted as a borderline top-12 center, and it’s just hard to see a situation where he’s on the court consistently enough to pay those sorts of dividends. And that’s not even taking into consideration what a personality like his might do to an already shaky locker room in Washington.
DeMarcus Cousins C, GSW
While Cousins still doesn’t have a timetable for his return, it’s easy to see why taking a risk on him in your fantasy draft might be appealing. Playing as a part of a loaded Golden State team should lead to a lot of easy buckets and sky high efficiency numbers for Boogie when he returns, and might help unlock some of the play-making skill that he has only shown flashes of in his career. However, Achilles tears are notoriously tough on big guys, and given how stacked the Warriors are even without their new shiny piece at center, they won’t be in any rush to bring him back. They’ll also limit his minutes throughout the season and rest him plenty on back to backs. Cousins also has been more of a volume scorer in his career, which may lead to a bit of an adjustment period when he returns, given the rapid pace and ball movement the Warriors play with. The risk with Boogie going into the year are just too great to trust him heavily in fantasy going into the season.
Lonzo Ball G, LAL
Ball made his pre season debut Thursday night after undergoing off season surgery to repair a (likely) partially torn meniscus. He should start the season close to fully healthy, as he has a Peak Health Performance Factor, but there are still reasons to be cautious. Ball was in and out of the lineup during his rookie year, and is a High Injury Risk. That, combined with the volatility that comes with a young player playing alongside LeBron James should give you pause when considering him in your draft. Sure, the idea of the Lakers playing fast and Ball dropping dimes to LeBron is an appealing one, but Ball’s lack of a jump shot and experience may cause him to not spend as much time on the floor with James as originally planned. There may be some flashy moments in La La Land this season, but just don’t count on there being enough for consistent fantasy numbers.
Dirk Nowitzki F/C, DAL
Nowitzki had a setback in late September after he underwent left ankle surgery, and is not expected to be ready for the season opener. He’s a High Injury Risk, and at this point, it’s unclear whether he’ll even be used enough when healthy to be a useful fantasy asset. He will come off the bench behind DeAndre Jordan when he returns, and there won’t be a whole lot of shots of minutes to go around with this new look Mavericks squad. He may provide enough 3’s at the center position to be relevant in deeper leagues depending on format, but for the most part, stay away from the future Hall of Famer, no matter how beloved he still is.