Each season there are a number of players who either exceed or fall short of preseason expectations. While the All-Star break may not be the halfway point in the NBA season, it's a natural juncture to take a look at who's rewarded Fantasy managers and who's considerably under-delivered relative to their draft position.

Here's a look at five of the biggest surprises and disappointments, as well a handful of players who could finish strong down the stretch.

Biggest surprises

Desmond Bane, Grizzlies

Bane did come into the league last season with plenty of pedigree after an impressive, four-year college career at TCU, and he immediately showed the NBA game wasn't too big for him during a rookie campaign in which he shot 43.2 percent from 3-point range. Nevertheless, with an average of just 22.3 minutes per game, Bane's overall contributions were capped to averages of 9.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists. A full-time starting role and corresponding boost to 30.2 minutes has led to an even better-than-expected improvement across the stat sheet, particularly on the offensive end. 

Bane entered the All-Star break putting up 17.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals over his first 56 games, shooting a solid 46.0 percent, including 41.9 percent from behind the arc. He's also up to 90.7 percent at the line (81.6% FT as a rookie), and given his versatility, he should continue to serve as a key contributor even when factoring in the eventual return of Dillon Brooks (ankle). At the break, Bane ranks 25th in total value in 8-cat leagues – not bad for a player who went undrafted in nearly 80 percent of CBS leagues this season.

Josh Giddey, Thunder 

The Thunder have unsurprisingly been one of the league's poorest teams again this season after winning only 22 games in 2021-22. But Giddey has been an undeniable bright spot, particularly in the recent absence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (ankle). The rookie went into the All-Star break with three straight triple-doubles, and he's averaged 16.2 points (on 46.0 percent shooting), 9.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists over the 10 games SGA has missed thus far.

Just as was the case during his time in Australia's NBL, Giddey still has a long way to go with his efficiency, particularly from 3-point range and the free-throw line. His ball-handling duties will take a hit once Gilgeous-Alexander returns, but his ability to check off multiple boxes on the stat sheet has already led to a rookie campaign that's exceeded expectations. Even with his teammate close to returning – at least that's what we're told – Giddey should continue to serve as a vital component on both ends of the floor. His recent strong stretch has propelled Giddey into the top 75 in 8-cat total value.

Jakob Poeltl, Spurs

Poeltl has had some impressive stretches in the past, but he's come into his own this season, averaging career highs in points (13.1), rebounds (9.2) and assists (2.4) and tying his career best in blocks (1.8). The veteran hasn't really seen an appreciable increase in playing time (28.8 minutes, compared to 26.7 last season), but he's upped his shot attempts per game from 6.2 to 9.6. 

San Antonio continues to navigate a third straight transitional season that includes a 23-36 record at the All-Star break. However, even with Dejounte Murray putting together his own career-best season, and Keldon Johnson also seemingly taking the next step in his development, Poeltl has elevated his offensive game. Poeltl is well on his way to eclipsing his ADP of 115.6.

Anfernee Simons, Trail Blazers

While it may have taken an extended absence from Damian Lillard for Simons to finally get an extended opportunity as the Blazers' primary ball handler, he's taken full advantage of the opportunity. The fourth-year guard has averaged 23.6 points (46.4 percent shooting, including 41.8 percent from 3-point range), 6.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds in the 23 starts he's drawn during Lillard's absence. 

Simons put on a particularly convincing Dame impression over the last four games before the All-Star break, churning out 30.3 points on 51.1 percent shooting to go with 6.3 assists and 2.5 rebounds across 36.0minutes. Lillard isn't slated to return until late March at the earliest – at this point, it wouldn't be surprising if we don't see him again this season – and with CJ McCollum now in New Orleans, Simons should be locked into a high-minute role the rest of the way.

Tyrese Maxey, 76ers

The Ben Simmons Problem was very prevalent coming into the regular season, but that doesn't make Maxey's rise any less of a surprise. After all, the second-year guard was no lock to open the season as a starter irrespective of Simmons' absence, as Shake Milton was a much more proven commodity coming into the year. However, Milton's ankle injury cost him the first four games of the season, and Maxey (134.6 ADP) parlayed that opportunity into 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists across 33.5 minutes per outing. 

It was enough to keep the second-year pro on the first unit, and he's gone on to put a death grip on that spot, putting up 16.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds across 51 games while shooting 46.9 percent (39% 3Pt). The arrival of James Harden will likely put a dent into Maxey's value the rest of the way, but he'll still start next to the one-time MVP and be locked into a high-minute role. Coming out of the break, Maxey ranks as the 69th-best player in 8-cat total value.


Clint Capela, Hawks

Capela is still an elite Fantasy asset on the boards, averaging 12.1 rebounds per game. He's also providing 1.4 blocks per outing, but on the whole Capela has fallen well short of expectations for those who drafted him expecting a repeat of the career-high 14.3 boards and 2.0 rejections per game he averaged last season. 

The big man has been less-involved offensively (8.2 FGA/G – lowest since 2015-16), and lately the Hawks have been willing to give 2020 lottery pick Onyeka Okongwu more opportunities off the bench. Capela's free throw shooting has also taken a major step back. He was never anywhere close to a positive contributor in that category, but Capela is down to 46.7 percent after sitting between 53 and 63 percent over the previous five seasons. Coming out of the break, Capela is hovering around the fringes of the top 100 in total value – well below his CBS ADP of 39.4.

Kemba Walker, Knicks

Expectations for Walker were admittedly mixed coming into the season, but based on his prior body of work, there were plenty who felt he'd thrive while playing in his native New York, as evidenced by an ADP figure (67.7) that's almost laughable in retrospect.

Suffice it to say Walker's homecoming has not gone to plan. He was booted from the rotation entirely in November, and since returning to the mix in late-December, the knee issues that plagued him in recent years have begun to resurface. Walker started 13 of the Knicks' final 15 games entering the break, but in that span he averaged just 8.1 points, 3.4 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.2 3s. As of Tuesday, Walker is rostered in only 57 percent of CBS leagues.

Russell Westbrook, Lakers

Westbrook's name is the epitome of basketball disappointment this season, despite the fact that his numbers would be considered well above average for most players. The former perennial All-Star is averaging 18.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.0 steals across his first 57 games, but that scoring figure is his lowest since the 2009-10 season.

Westbrook simply hasn't been able to consistently find his stride when LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been on the floor, although he's often risen to the occasion when one or both have been sidelined. However, context is everything when evaluating Fantasy performance, and at the end of the day, the Westbrook-in-LA experiment has been one of the single worst personnel moves in recent NBA history. Numbers-wise, Westbrook has still been a solid contributor for managers in points leagues, but he hasn't come close to living up to his 15.2 ADP.

Kelly Olynyk, Pistons

Olynyk finished his brief Rockets tenure last season by averaging 19.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals over his last 27 games, a sample during which he also shot 54.5 percent, including 39.2 percent from 3-point range. What was arguably the best stretch of Olynyk's career helped earn the 2013 first-round pick a three-year, $37 million deal from the Pistons this offseason.

Those who nabbed Olynyk hoping for a successful encore on another bad team have been in for a rude awakening. The floor-spacing big has played in just 21 games due to a knee injury, and he's shooting a career-worst 40.3 percent, including 29.7 percent from deep. The emergence of young big Isaiah Stewart, and the deadline acquisition of Marvin Bagley, will likely prevent Olynyk from embarking on another late-season surge.

Richaun Holmes, Kings

Holmes actually looked like many expected over the first 20 games, averaging 15.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 block across 28 minutes. However, the big man hasn't been anywhere near the same since, putting up 7.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 assist while logging just 21.6 minutes per game in his last 21 appearances. 

He's also missed 16 games since Dec. 10 with a combination of an eye injury, COVID-19 and personal reasons. However, the biggest damper on Holmes' production, both recently and likely for the rest of the season, is the acquisition of Domantas Sabonis, who immediately usurped Holmes for the starting center role. With Maurice Harkless and Chimezie Metu holding down the power forward spot, Holmes no longer has a path to 25-to-30 minutes on most nights. In the four games since Sabonis arrived, Holmes is averaging just 15.3 minutes off the bench.

Players to Watch

Ayo Dosunmu, Bulls

Lonzo Ball's absence has been the primary reason for his opportunities, but Dosunmu has been so effective on both ends that it'll be hard for the Bulls' coaching staff to dramatically pull back on his workload. Either way, Ball will likely miss another month – and Alex Caruso is still sidelined – so Dosunmu should remain a strong Fantasy contributor for a good chunk of March.

Rui Hachimura, Wizards 

After finally making his season debut Jan. 9, Hachimura has started to click, averaging 9.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists across his last 14 games while shooting 48.2 percent, including 51.5 percent from 3-point range. Hachimura could be working his way back to a starting role, with Kyle Kuzma able to shift to small forward, if necessary. 

Terance Mann, Clippers

Paul George (elbow) looks like he'll return at some point this season, but Kawhi Leonard (knee) does appear increasingly likely to remain sidelined, and Norman Powell (foot) is also out indefinitely. The end result is likely an extended role the rest of the way for Mann, who went into the All-Star break averaging 15.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals across 31.8 minutes over his last six games.