I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. This is the best time of the year.
You’ve got playoff baseball, NFL action, the return of hockey, and very soon, basketball joins the party as well. And with that comes the arrival of fantasy hoops, a very underrated game, in my opinion. It may not have the appeal of fantasy football, but basketball is a very fun game as well. It’s just fun to draft players from all of the major sports, and considering the NBA has some of the top athletes in all of sports, fantasy hoops is no exception.
Of course, you can’t land all of the superstars.
That’s right. The early picks are great and all, as you load up on big name guys. However, it’s an old adage that you win your league with your later picks, and I couldn’t agree more. Towards the end of the draft, whoever lands some of the higher upside guys will have the best chance to come out on top. So, without further ado, here are some sleepers for the upcoming fantasy hoops season.
Jeff Green, Boston Celtics: Hey, someone has to score for Boston this year, right? Both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are off to Brooklyn, and star point guard Rajon Rondo (knee) will likely be sidelined until December, so Green will have to play a major role on this ball club. After undergoing heart surgery two seasons ago, Green came back strong last year, missing just one contest. While he averaged just 12.3 points per contest, Green did much more than score. He was a big time performer for Boston, and his return to the lineup paid dividends. He logged nearly 28 minutes per game, and everyone remebers his 43-point outburst against LeBron James and the Heat in March. We saw the massive potential of Green, and considering the Celtics are a depleted group, Green could very well lead this team in points. He’ll see a major uptick in shots, and when Rondo does come back, his value will even increase, as he’ll get much easier looks on the offensive end. During the Conference Quarterfinals, Green averaged 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists, and in all honesty, that may not be anywhere close to his ceiling. According to ESPN, Green is coming off the board around 50.8, and I think I would target him even before that. Just entering his prime at age 27-years old, we could be looking at a breakout year from Green.
Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers: Syracuse is my favorite college, so this may be a homer pick. Oh, and the Cavs are my favorite pro team, so yeah. Anyway, Waiters reminds me so much of Dwyane Wade. A quick, powerful player who can put the ball on the floor and drive to the hole at any time. During his rookie year, Waiters averaged a respectable 14.7 points, 3.0 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. The Cavaliers have added a ton of talent to their roster this offseason, which should only help the sophomore. I think Waiters is a guy who can average around 18 points per game, and considering he is currently coming off the board as the 30th shooting guard, that may be a steal. I’d much rather take the upside of Waiters over some of the guys going ahead of him such as Ray Allen or Manu Ginobili. If he stays healthy, and the Cavs take that next step like many are expecting, Waiters will easily outperform his ADP. Easily.
Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets: With Danilo Gallinari expected to be sidelined with a serious injury until January or February, Chandler will have the opportunity to not only take the starting job for the short-term, but for the long haul as well. Two years removed from posting a strong 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.7 three-pointers with the Knicks, Chandler has the talent to be a top-50 fantasy option. He has a very versatile game, and can provide fantasy owners with a presence in multiple categories. If he plays well, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him earn the starting small forward job, but even if Gallinari does get his job back, with a pedestrian shooting guard corp, perhaps Chandler slides into that role. He only started eight games last season, but was very productive, averaging 19 points, six rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.3 threes during that span. He has that type of skill and upside, and needs to be targeted heavily.
Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls: We saw the outstanding potential out of Butler last season, especially during the playoffs. In that time, Butler averaged an impressive 13.3 PPG, 2.7 APG, 5.2 RPG, 1.3 three-pointers per game and 1.3 steals. He also shot 81.8 percent from the line and 43.5 percent from the field. Those numbers are definitely possible this season, and perhaps more. With both Richard Hamilton and Marco Belinelli no longer with Chicago, the starting shooting guard role is all Butler’s, so a massive breakout season should be looming. He can drive to the hole, shot from beyond the arc, force steals, and the scary part is that he is only 24-years old. The other scary part? All-Star point guard Derrick Rose will (finally) make his return to basketball, raising Butler’s value in the process.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.