Diminishing Returns

7 min read

As a fellow old guy, I take no joy in watching the decline of NBA studs. In dynasty leagues it can be a tricky thing to manage and balance, wanting to win, but also to field an exciting team. The inevitable slow down due to injuries, mileage, and father time can be tough to watch, but don’t let the negative components keep you from completely avoiding players that are on the wrong side of 30. Just keep that in perspective when planning your dynasty roadmap and factor that in. These guys are pushed and pulled in value. Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you don’t have value, but also acknowledge that name recognition can boost a player’s price.

NBA senior citizens will always be valued less in Dynasty Leagues. Let’s examine players that are heading into their golden years, whether they’re still worth drafting, what type of decline we might expect, and what their value might be in a dynasty league. As you’ll see, it almost entirely depends on your strategy, but it’s important to consider where you are catching these guys as they decline.

Serge Ibaka – Toronto Power Forward (Reported Age 29, Actual Age ???)

A season after averaging a staggering 3.7 blocks in only 27 minutes a game during the 2011-12 season, Ibaka put it all together with 13.2 points, 7.7 boards, 3 blocks, and shooting 57/75. He continued to refine his offensive game but his blocks, along with his athleticism have been on the steady decline since then.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers

Now potentially the starting center for Toronto, his minutes will follow his block decline as Valaciunis and Siakim flex their young muscles.

Ibaka’s Blocks

11-1212-1313-1414-1515-1616-1717-1818-19
3.73.02.41.91.61.41.3?

That’s a steady and depressing decline. The idea that he wants us to believe he is only 29 is a ridiculous one. His minutes and role will follow his blocks/athleticism and decline to be a role player sooner than later.

His value in dynasty is low. A combination of major dropoff from his best category (blocks), along with reducing role make him an ok late pick in deep drafts for teams that need a center and plan to win this season, but otherwise he should be left on the waivers in dynasty.

Chris Paul – Houston Point Guard (Age 33)

One of the best point guards of all time, Paul constantly seems to have a chip on his shoulder due to size, but plays with a ferociousness and amazing all around game. Excelling at assists, 3’s, and steals, the only real hole in his game is blocks.

Currently Paul is the #2 to James Harden on a high-powered offense. He continues to display top 15 abilities but has been hampered by injuries the last few seasons.

He hasn’t shown it yet, but a slow down is inevitable, especially for a player that has the kind of mileage and wear & tear that CP3 has endured. He still has a few seasons of top 20-25 production, but injuries may force enough down time where its not worth the risk unless he slides in dynasty drafts. Beginning the 20-21 season, a steady decline wouldn’t be surprising.

When healthy, he’s top 15. In a win now strategy picking CP3 up after pick 36 could put your team over the top. Obviously, if you are taking the long route, he’s not worth drafting where you’re going to have to take him unless you can move him to a competitive team for future assets.

Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas PF (Age 40)

He was the greatest shooting 7 footer of all time, perfected the unblockable jump shot with leg kick to pick up fouls, hilarious. Now a clear bench role player who will play limited minutes, grab a few boards, hit a few 3’s, and play zero defense

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It’s possible Dirk may be feeling energized by the prospect of playing next to rookie savant and fellow euro, Luka Doncic. The drop-off has already occurred, you don’t need to wait for it. At this point, Dirk has established some sort of sustainable low end playing ability due to his height and shooting touch which seems to never leave elite players.

More of a fun guy to own (not a Kawhi or mushroom reference), it feels like he can provide 10 points, 5 boards and 1.5 3’s forever if that’s useful…probably only in super deep leagues. Pick him up with your last pick as a nostalgia pick that has zero upside, but a definite funside.

Al Horford – Boston Center (Age 32)

Al is one of the best passing big men of all time, and he can step out and hit the 3, play good defense, and do all of the little things needed to win.
He’s still the same guy as his game never relied too heavily on athleticism. He’s unselfish to a fault, which is good for a stacked Boston squad, but not great from a fantasy perspective.

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There’s been no real decline in effectiveness, but with Kyrie and Hayward back, and Tatum taking the next step, a decline in production is inevitable. Last season he averaged the fewest shots in a non inury season since his second season back in 2008-09. That usage will continue to dip.

Age is a factor, but not as much for Horf’s game as others. His crafty play should keep him relevant for a while. He would be best served (in a fantasy perspective) going to another team via trade or free agency, but he has a real shot at chips staying in Boston. He’ll go in the top 60 in dynasty drafts and that seems about right, giving you solid contributions in percentages, but lackluster results in counting stats unless something changes.

Lou Williams – Los Angeles Shooting Guard (Age 31)

Seemingly a perennial 6th man of the year, Sweet Lou finally started some games last season and finished with his best statistical season at age 31 averaging 22.6 points and 5.3 assists. He’s instant offense, lightning quick, and just fun to watch. For those GMs that failed to secure points in the early rounds, Lou was always a points oasis that you could rely on to produce.

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Following his best season, Father Time hasn’t shown up yet, but it could hit like a ton of bricks without warning. Add in the fact that even with moving Austin Rivers to Washington, they added potential star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, along with fellow rookie Jerome Robinson, as well as retaining Teodisic and Wallace, there are still a ton of mouths to feed. He should start, but he may start ceding minutes and usage as soon as this season.

He should still get plenty of buckets, but those assists should take a hit. Turning 32 in a few weeks also does not bode well for a guard that relies heavily on his quickness. I could see a big dropoff after this season as he hands the reigns over to SGA.
Take him when you get close to pick 80, but don’t expect the scoring to last too many seasons. He’s only on your radar for winning now.

Goran Dragic – Miami Point Guard (Age 32)

It’s hard to believe that 5 seasons ago, the Dragon was a legit MVP candidate. He brought a unique speed and craftiness to the point position that bewildered defenses and let him get to the hole with ease.

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Still an effective starter for Miami, but his game never evolved to the elite level that was teased back in the 2013-14 season. As he’s aged, his effectiveness has gone down slightly, and now he steps aside to be the #2 to Josh Gordon heading into the season.

He should remain steady, providing top 80 level production, but at 32, that’s only going to get worse each season.

Just because he’s top 80, doesn’t mean he should be drafted there. If you can get an age discount and grab him after the 100th pick, he’s a solid 2nd pg to roster for the next couple of seasons.

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