This is the first installment of the season of what I hope will be a weekly feature: “Buying Low and Selling High”, in which I’ll discuss a player who is playing above their head and a player whose best games are ahead.
It’s hard to find a pair of young big men with futures brighter than Al Jefferson and Andrew Bynum, but thusfar it seems they are on a teeter–totter, with one soaring his value while the other plummets and has owners concerned.
Bynum has exceeded all expectations thusfar. The preseason projections forecasted averages of 14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. His projection of just 64 games played dropped him to an 11th-round draft pick.
Two weeks into the season, Bynum has been a Top 20 player, posting 20 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks in 40 minutes per game. He has missed two games with an elbow injury but is expected to return tonight and play well over 30 minutes.
The primary reason for Bynum emergence has been the absence of Pau Gasol, who has yet to play this season due to a hamstring injury. Bynum has had the post to himself and has made the most of it. But it also makes him a perfect sell-high candidate, because it’s a risky proposition to expect this to continue.
Firstly, the return of Gasol – whenever that will be (LINK) – will eliminate some of Bynum’s chances. But more worrisome is that Bynum has missed 81 regular season games since the start of the 2007-08 season and has never averaged more than 29 minutes per game.
There is just no reason to believe Bynum can handle this workload for a full NBA season and remain healthy. His minutes will drop, his opportunities will diminish and his numbers will drop – and he’ll probably get hurt, too.
If it’s possible to trade Bynum for a legitimate second or third-rounder (Deron Williams, Andre Iguodala, Joe Johnson, etc.), that’s a trade I would make in a heartbeat.
As for Jefferson, offseason knee surgery has manifested itself in a slow start for the 24-year-old, who is averaging just 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds – roughly a 10th round value for a player who was likely a Top 25 pick.
In fact, Jefferson’s ADP in Yahoo! leagues was 14.8, which is ludicrous. Coming off such a surgery, my projections for Jefferson had him as a fourth-rounder, averaging 23.7 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while missing 10 games.
Jefferson’s poor FT% for a player who takes nearly five attempts per game really hurt his rankings. He’s got all the ability to be one of the Top 30 players in fantasy basketball.
Jefferson has looked slow and a bit wobbly through nine games and owners may be getting a little nervous, which makes him a great buy-low option. Of course, there is the risk that the knee won’t come around and Jefferson may be on the verge of a lost season.
But that’s why it’s “buy-low” and not “buy-in-exchange-for-your-third-best-player.”