The NBA will be tipping off in about two weeks. And with that, comes fantasy basketball.
Regardless if you’re a fantasy veteran, or a rookie, everyone and their grandma knows about LeBron, Durant, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, and Dwight Howard. But it takes more than a few fantasy superstars to win your league title.
So, we present to you our Top 10 “sleeper” picks (guys who are under the radar that you should be able to draft in the later rounds that have some upside) for your upcoming draft.
The following advice is based on a standard 10 team league.
10. Patrick Beverley (PG-Houston) With an NBA Finals or bust on the line in Houston, PG Jeremy Lin will be on the hot seat to deliver at Point Guard. Otherwise, Patrick Beverly will be itching to take his starting spot. If he starts, he’ll provide you a good amount of assists, along with some points, and steals. You should be able to get him in the 10th round or later.
9. Victor Oladipo (PG – Orlando) Our only rookie on the list. It’s always hard to decide how much of an impact rookies will make in fantasy sports. But, the committee of one has faith that while Oladipo will have no trouble with playing time in Orlando, he will also provide the scoring punch the Magic are lacking. Expect lines of 15/3/4.
8. Jeff Green (SF/PF – Boston) Now that KG, Pierce, and Jason Terry are not donning the Celtic green anymore, this leaves a big opening for Green to carry the scoring load. Besides, who else is supposed to score? A washed up Gerald Wallace? Sorry. It’s Jeff Green’s team while Rondo is still out from injury. He should be available in the 5th round at the earliest. He’ll give you good all around game: points, rebounds, assists, steals, & 3PM.
7. Kawhi Leonard (SG/SF – San Antonio) His performance in last year’s NBA Finals should say it all. He plays both ends of the floor, and he’s only in his third year in the league. Oh and by the way - Duncan, Parker & Ginobili can’t carry the minutes load anymore. So Leonard should provide you with rebounds, 3PM, and points, as he will carry a lot of the load when the Big 3 are getting DNPs. Grab him in the 5th or 6th rounds. A lot of upside stemming from The Finals…and he should deliver.
6. Tobias Harris (SF/PF – Orlando) Prior to a mid-season trade to Orlando, Harris had played 70 games total in the NBA. In his first season and a half with the Bucks, Harris was averaging just 4.9 points per game, and didn’t look too promising. However, the Bucks had never really gave him a chance, something the Magic did following the trade, with fantastic fantasy results. Over the final 20 games of the season, Harris was in the starting lineup, averaging 17.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Expect the same kind of lines, with a possible increase in scoring. Don’t let him slip past rounds 5 or 6.
5. Thaddeus Young (SF/PF – Philadelphia) With the 76ers in full ‘tank’ mode, the trade of Andre Iguodala 2 years ago, the trade of Jrue Holiday at last year’s NBA Draft, there really isn’t anyone else worth drafting from the 76ers. Thad Young averaged 14.8/7.5/1.6 last season. Expect those numbers to take a big jump from a year ago. Take him as early as round 3 or 4.
4. Andre Drummond (C – Detroit) Dre is one of the most intriguing fantasy sleepers out there. He has more talent (Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith) around him now that he doesn’t have to worry about impressing anyone anymore. He can do his thing of wiping the glass, and blocking shots behind Monroe & Smith. Last year, his 18.3 (yes, 18.3) rebounds per 48 minutes were the most by a rookie since 1985-86. He only played 20 minutes/game last year. New coach Maurice Cheeks has already said he’ll see significantly more minutes this season. A lot of expectations from him this year. The committee of one expects him to put up lines of 10 points / 10 boards / 2 blocks. He should be there in rounds 9 or 10, after all the top tier Centers are gone (Howard, Cousins, Love, Aldridge, Gasol, Jefferson, Ibaka, Gasols, Noah). Good fantasy Centers are hard to come by. Beware of his free throws, though. He shot 37% last year. It could hurt you, if you want to win that category.
3. Kobe Bryant (SG – Lakers) Yes, I said Kobe Bean Bryant. Kobe is year in/year out a top 5 fantasy pick. But, not this year. And nobody knows when he’ll make his debut this year….this alone will slide him down everyone’s draft board. A lot happened over the last year. Dwight Howard signed with Houston, Kobe tore his Achilles, and other than Pau Gasol, there is nobody else who can socre. So, Kobe in his 18th (18th!) season will be carrying the load yet again. And since this team won’t be contending for a title (barring a huge Lakers trade), Kobe will be more focused on getting closer to Kareem’s scoring record – which means more shots, which means more points for him. The guy is one of the best shooting guards of all time, if you haven’t already noticed. Even at his age.
2. Danny Granger (SG/SF – Indiana) It is the committee’s (of 1) understanding that if the Pacers had him at their disposal last year against the Heat, they actually might have knocked them out. He’s a proven 3 point threat that would’ve been one more guy to cover for the Heat. They had a very tough time covering Paul George and handling Hibbert down low. Had they had Granger hanging out beyond the arc, who knows…..Anyways, he’s a sharp shooter that can give you points, 3PM, FT % and assists. He only played 5 games last year with the Pacers. So, most people will forget he’s even there. Grab him in the 8th round or later…but not much later. He’ll be gone. There’s always another manager in your league who has guys like this on their radar too. You’re not the only one.
1. Andrew Bynum (C – Cleveland) There is little risk of drafting Bynum, and his hair. Nobody in your league is going to take him early. So, you have to time this one right. He played 0 minutes for the 76ers last year due to injury and coming up with creative new hair styles on a monthly basis. But when healthy (healthy is the key word here), he has the potential of putting up lines of 18/12/1.5/2, as he did in 2011 with the Lakers. He also has a really good point guard named Kyrie Irving who can get him the ball. He also has a contract contingent upon how much he plays for the Cavs the next two years. A lot to prove and HUGE upside here. He’s a top 10 fantasy player when he’s healthy. And that’s why he’s our #1 sleeper pick.