Fantasy Basketball: Ten NBA Sleepers to Add to your Watch List
Fantasy Basketball: Ten NBA Sleepers to Add to your Watch List
So you waited all summer and into the fall for your fantasy basketball draft, and while the first couple of rounds went well, you're looking around wondering what went wrong. Don't worry, we have a list of guys to either add to your "Watch List" or grab off of waivers immediately if you wound up drafting Kyle Korver, Kevin Seraphin or Alonzo Gee towards the end of the draft.
Most of these guys won't give you top of the draft results, and unfortunately, Jonas Valanciunas is no longer available in most leagues, but they're all low-risk, high-reward type players, who have given reason to believe that they can contribute in some facet to your fantasy basketball team.
Some of the players we focus on might already be taken in your league, but there's always a chance that they've been overlooked for some reason unbeknownst to me or any other basketball minds. For instance, Jarrett Jack is only on 29.5% of ESPN fantasy basketball teams, and lasted until the second to last pick in my 12-team, 14-player draft. Jack will be the backup point guard behind Stephen Curry on the Warriors this season, and considering Curry missed the majority of last season with an ankle injury that's still hampering him coming into this season, it's worth taking a flier on a guy who averaged 15.6 points, 6.3 assists, and nearly a steal and a three-pointer per game as a starter last season.
Let's take a look at some other sleepers worth your attention with the season just days away from tipping off.
Byron Mullens, Charlotte Bobcats
As limited as quality center play in fantasy hoops seems to be, there are still some guys available in case you drafted Anderson Varejao or Brook Lopez and are just waiting for them to get hurt. The top target at this position has to be Bobcats' big Byron Mullens. Owned in just 15.2% of ESPN leagues, Mullens muddled through his first couple of seasons in the NBA before posting averages of 14.9 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per 36-minutes last season. Mullens also provides something not many centers provide, stellar free-throw shooting, as he shot nearly 83% from the charity-stripe.
It shouldn't be a goal to own many Bobcats this season, but the team's going to need to find scoring from somewhere, and considering neither Bismack Biyombo or Brendan Haywood are the least bit viable when it comes to scoring options, Mullens should get plenty of playing-time, and plenty of looks.
Thomas Robinson, Sacramento Kings
I don't think anyone is really sure where Thomas Robinson fits into the crowded Kings frontcourt plans, but the team didn't draft him fifth overall to not get any production from him. Robinson is currently owned in just 18.2% of ESPN leagues, and for a guy who averaged over 18 points and 11 rebounds for Kansas last season based mainly on hustle, there's reason to believe he can be productive and emerge out of that stagnant group of teammates.
Even if Robinson doesn't end up starting, if history repeats itself Sacramento will find themselves with a ton of garbage time, and seeing rookies like Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins have great seasons in the past, there's hope that Robinson can follow in their footsteps.
Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets
Speaking of rookies, how is Austin Rivers only owned in 16.6% of ESPN leagues? Eric Gordon seems to be injured more often than he's healthy, and the only real scoring threat in that backcourt other than Gordon is Greivis Vasquez (who's the favorite to win the starting point guard job if he's still available in your league). Rivers showed in his one season at Duke that he can score with the best of them, from anywhere on the court, and may even get lucky enough to pile up some assists.
Although he's still recovering from a right ankle injury - he's reported to be fine for the season opener - Rivers will be amongst the top rookie scorer's in the league this year, and should be a great option if you need help in the three-point category. Just try to balance the rest of your team out with higher percentage shooters.
Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves
The second overall pick from the 2011 draft had a pretty slow rookie season for the up-and-coming Timberwolves. The epitome of a tweener, Derrick Williams was a stud playing the power forward in college, and struggled to transition to the small forward position in the NBA. With a skill-set that makes him a viable option at either forward spot, Williams strength isn't hanging around the perimeter, and he may be granted the opportunity to see big minutes at the four with Kevin Love sidelined with a hand injury for the first month of the season.
Williams is owned in only 4.5% of ESPN leagues, and had averages of 14.8 points, and nearly 8 rebounds and a three made per 36-minutes as a lackluster freshman. If he sees big minutes he has a chance of really coming into his own, and being a real fantasy weapon.
Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets
The last full season that Wilson Chandler played in the NBA, he posted averages of 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 1.6 threes per game! As great as he was in the 2010-11 season, Chandler's production dropped off a bit when he was traded from the Knicks to the Nuggets, and he didn't quite find his groove when he returned to the team towards the end of last season after his stint in China.
Well a new season and a hip injury later, and it's time to give Chandler another chance. Chandler is sitting behind Danilo Gallinari, who's missed considerable games due to injury in all but one of the four seasons of his career. Chandler is a well-rounded three, undersized four, and has always produced when given ample playing time.
Mike Dunleavy, Milwaukee Bucks
Speaking of tweeners who have seen better days, I don't quite understand how Mike Dunleavy isn't even owned in 1% of ESPN fantasy leagues. Yes, I know it's looking like second-year player Tobias Harris will get the nod at the small forward spot for the Bucks this season, but being fairly unproven, he'll be looking over his shoulder, especially in the beginning of the season, watching out for a player who was better off the bench than he was as a starter last season!
Dunleavy averaged over 2 more points per game as a reserve last season , and that was in an average of 4 minutes less per game! Dunleavy has great value as a three-point shooter, and with Doron Lamb being the backup shooting guard, it wouldn't be surprising to see Dunleavy not only chew into Harris's minutes, but some of Monta Ellis's as well. Either way, he should still have a role on a roster filled with young uncertainties.
Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls
Kirk Hinrich hasn't exactly been a fantasy stud for several years now, if ever, but with Derrick Rose missing significant time this season, the starting point guard job in Chicago is Hinrich's to lose. As much of a spark plug as Nate Robinson can be at times, and Marquis Teague presents a threat to Hinrich's playing time considering the Bulls may just want to get their rookie point guard some solid experience, but seeing what the team did without Rose last season (18-9), you know they're out to compete this season, and Hinrich gives them the best chance of doing so.
Hinrich is owned in less than 10% of ESPN leagues, and if he plays the way he's capable of playing, should provide double-digit scoring, near 1.5 three's per game, and a solid assist/turnover ratio. He's the perfect fourth guard for those teams with minimal depth.
Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets
I have no idea what to think of Chandler Parsons this season, but if his body of work in the NBA is worth anything, then he's worth taking a flier on if you have a spot to fill. The Rockets have a ton of young players fighting for the same positions, but considering Parsons started 57 games last season, there's reason to believe he could be a part of the teams plans. Don't look for him to be a double-double threat, but Parsons provided steals and three's last season, being a jack of all trades on a team that stunk.
He'll be playing with some playmakers this season in Jeremy Lin and the newly acquired James Harden, and as a guy who thrives on team chemistry, Parsons could really benefit from playing on a pass happy team. He's owned in only 1.4 percent of ESPN leagues, and is absolutely worth being added to your "Watch List."
Jae Crowder, Dallas Mavericks
I don't think that I've ever started a fantasy season with an undrafted rookie on my team, but I'm leaning towards ending that trend for this season. Owned in just 0.9% of ESPN leagues, Mavericks forward Jae Crowder has been as impressive as anyone during the preseason, and is already one of coach Rick Carlisle's favorites. He most likely won't be in the running for rookie of the year, but with Dirk Nowitzki sidelined to start the season, Crowder could see some legit run at the power forward position.
The reigning Big East Player of the Year is as intriguing as anyone owned by less than 1% of fantasy owners, mainly because he's capable of averaging a double-double, as well as a block, a steal, and a three. There's no guarantee that he'll see the court when Nowitzki returns from his knee injury, but he's been impressive to this point of his professional basketball career, and is the type of player that gives his all every possession.
Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic
Speaking of under-the-radar rookies, don't sleep on Magic big Andrew Nicholson. I know some of you out there reached on guys like Glen Davis and Gustavo Ayon thinking "someone's gotta replace Dwight Howard's production in Orlando," but it may not be either of them. Nicholson has averaged 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in just about 20 minutes a game this preseason, and as the team's first pick AD (After Dwight), he has to be in the mix for some big minutes in what will certainly be a rebuilding year in Disneytown.