Fantasy Basketball Sleepers 2012: Perimeter Players Primed for Breakout Season

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2012

April 16, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward (20) dribbles up court with Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Jason Terry (31) in pursuit during the second half at Energy Solutions Arena. The Jazz defeated the Mavericks 123-121 in triple overtime. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

The arrival of the NBA season doesn't just mean players take the court; it also means fantasy basketball owners break out their cheat sheets and prepare for this year's sweepstakes.

It's easy to pick guys like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Chris Paul, but what about the other guys? Filling out your roster with a few underrated sleepers can make or break your team as the season moves along.

When the draft arrives you want to be ready. Here are three perimeter players that are ready for a breakout season.


Kawhi Leonard

Leonard averaged 7.9 points, 1.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game last season, providing 24 key minutes per game along the way. Because of his improved three-point shooting, he became a better offensive rookie than anticipated.

Expect bigger things from Leonard this year. His defensive prowess will keep him on the court in most situations, allowing owners to maximize his value.

According to ESPN, Leonard holds eligibility at multiple positions. Again, this allows you to slot him in at anywhere except for point guard or center, giving you ample opportunity to benefit from his all-around skills.

San Antonio will be looking for a player to take over its offense, and Leonard could be that guy. He's a jack-of-all-trades, fitting Gregg Popovich's system flawlessly.

If he's available anywhere between the seventh and ninth round in your draft, scoop him up.


Gordon Hayward

Hayward is slowly, but surely, improving his game for the Utah Jazz. Utah's formidable frontcourt will give Hayward room to work on the outside, and the team's only outside option is worth considering in the middle rounds of your draft.

Averaging 11.8 points, 3.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds isn't bad at all, and he improved as the year went along. April was his strongest month, lending hope that this year will be his best season to date.

He's shown improved aggression on the floor, and that has helped his production the most. He's no longer the timid player who came to Utah as a rookie, seeking to create his own shot much more often now. This will serve fantasy owners well.

Scooping up Hayward is smart because of the value. His numbers could go up a few ticks in each category, making him a steal anywhere after the sixth round.


George Hill

With Darren Collison in Dallas, Indiana's full-time point guard will be Hill. Despite his shoot-first mentality, expect his production to increase this season.

On an Eastern Conference contender, Hill will thrive. He's got weapons around him, and his passing prowess will improve as he becomes more familiar with full-time minutes at the point guard spot. Before, he was switching between shooting guard and point guard, which didn't allow him to mature as a floor general.

Hill shot nearly 37 percent from three-point land last season. He averaged nearly 10 points per game, while playing just under 26 minutes a night. With an increase in minutes, expect his points per game to spike accordingly.

Don't mistake Hill for an elite point guard, but he's a sneaky scorer. Taking him in the ninth or 10th round is a wise idea.