Fantasy Basketball: 10 Sleepers Who Will Save Your Draft
The only thing that can be expected of a fantasy basketball draft is that it won’t go as expected. You could have a star unexpectedly slip to you or your sleepers get taken before you’re ready to take them off the board.
They’re your sleepers, after all—what right does some other drafter have to take your sleepers?
As it turns out, if your opponents have their eye on Ricky Rubio in the 10th round and you take him in the ninth, they could have the same gripe as you might.
So let’s add some names to the sleeper pool: Guys who, on average, are drafted after the top 100 players on ESPN.com are likely taken to be bench players on a fantasy basketball team in a 10-team league.
The following 10 players fit that description but could be starter-worthy candidates in 2013. They’re ranked in reverse order of their respective draft positions, meaning the highest-ranked guy should be available at the latest point in your draft.
10. Michael Beasley, SF/PF, Phoenix Suns
Average Draft Position (ADP): 104.2
Preseason Per-36: 40% FG, 75% FT, 1.6 3PM, 4.4 REB, 4.5 AST, 1.6 STL, .5 BLK, 3.2 TO, 16.1 PTS
When he finds his shot in Phoenix, Beasley has the ability to be the primary scorer at small forward for the Suns. The Suns have Goran Dragic running the point, a player who is capable of finding guys to hit open shots.
You shouldn't expect a game-breaking FG percentage from Beasley if he's going to continue to take so many threes; but if he attacks the rim more, his percentage should go up while his 3-pointers made might suffer.
Phoenix wants him to do the latter.
Beasley will look better in leagues that don't count turnovers as he has never been hyper-efficient when his usage rate was high.
If he can keep his assist number in the 4-5 range, he'll be a fantastically sneaky contributor to the bottom of your fantasy lineup.
9. Glen Davis, PF/C, Orlando Magic
Average Draft Position (ADP): 105.3
Preseason Per-36: 52% FG, 80% FT, 0 3PM, 7.8 REB, 1.3 AST, 1.3 STL, .9 BLK, 1.6 TO, 23.8 PTS
He can start by continuing his stellar preseason play, which is more than worthy of glue-guy status in fantasy basketball leagues.
Davis could be the Magic’s first option on offense this year as the starting power forward. What remains to be seen is how he’ll handle starter’s minutes for an extended time—and how long the NBA will take to react to his production.
If he continues this preseason statistical trend into the first few weeks of the regular season, Davis might be an intriguing sell-high target since we haven’t seen it before from the big man.
8. Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Average Draft Position (ADP): 106.1
Preseason Per-36: N/A
The Timberwolves will bring their star point guard along slowly, but Rubio could be a serious fantasy impact player after the All-Star break—and during the fantasy playoffs.
In his rookie season, he averaged 8.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game in 34.2 minutes.
7. Jameer Nelson, PG, Orlando Magic
Average Draft Position (ADP): 107.8
Preseason Per-36: 44% FG, 78% FT, 1.7 3PM, 3.9 REB, 7.0 AST, 1.1 STL, .3 BLK, 2.5 TO, 13.5 PTS
Jameer Nelson is listed as Orlando’s starting point guard. The veteran’s health is usually the main concern with his fantasy value, but Nelson has missed 15 total games in the last two years.
According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
Vaughn will give Nelson freedom to run the offense. Although it's dangerous to draw too many conclusions from a preseason opener, Nelson noted that Vaughn didn't call a single play in [October seventh’s] exhibition in Mexico City.
A scoring floor general like Nelson should be a nice late addition to your fantasy team.
His field-goal percentage might be problematic, but it should come with a helpful number of deep buckets to offset that issue.
6. Samuel Dalembert, C, Milwaukee Bucks
Average Draft Position (ADP): 108.4
Preseason Per-36: 49% FG, 64% FT, 0 3PM, 11.3 REB, 1.3 AST, .5 STL, 3.7 BLK, 1.8 TO, 11.9 PTS
Dalembert will be a fine fantasy asset at center for those who choose to wait to address the position. His preseason free-throw numbers don’t adequately represent his recent success from the line: 72.9, 73.0 and a career-high 79.6 percent in the last three seasons.
Dalembert remains relatively consistent on the boards on a per-minute basis. As the Bucks’ starting center, he should get enough playing time to make an impact in fantasy basketball.
He’s also been able to swat shots and stay on the floor—Dalembert has missed just three games in the last six seasons.
5. Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto Raptors
Average Draft Position (ADP): 110.1
Preseason Per-36: 50% FG, 77% FT, 0 3PM, 10.2 REB, .6 AST, .9 STL, 3.0 BLK, 3.6 TO, 10.6 PTS
Entering his rookie season, Valanciunas’ fantasy weakness looks to be too many turnovers and not enough dimes to speak of from the center position.
He should start his career off with decent percentages (including free-throws) and getting the typical center stats without too many buckets.
As the season wears on, he could increase his scoring average and decrease the number of times he gives the ball to the defense while he acclimates to the NBA.
He’ll get his blocks and boards from the start, though.
Valanciunas likes to rebound and dunk—a quality that his fantasy owners will surely appreciate if he does that on the NBA level.
4. Brandon Roy, SG/SF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Average Draft Position (ADP): 111.2
Preseason Per-36: 44% FG, 79% FT, .8 3PM, 4.4 REB, 3.2 AST, 1.9 STL, .3 BLK, 1.9 TO, 17.0 PTS
Roy started every game for the Timberwolves this preseason and played an encouraging 22.2 minutes per game—a number which makes it seem like he’s ready to go for the regular season.
Those per-36 numbers aren’t too far off his career average stat line: 46% FG, 80% FT, 4.3 REB, 4.7 AST, 1.0 STL, .2 BLK, 1.8 TO and 19 PTS.
Roy’s average minutes played? 35.6.
Now, we won’t know definitively whether he’s back for at least a couple of weeks. The preseason can only tell us so much.
But if this is the Brandon Roy, wouldn’t you love to have him on your fantasy team with a 10th round pick?
3. Dion Waiters, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Average Draft Position (ADP): 111.4
Preseason Per-36: 34% FG, 75% FT, 1.6 3PM, 3.2 REB, 3.4 AST, 1.0 STL, 0 BLK, 2.7 TO, 13.9 PTS
Waiters might start attacking the rim more if this 34 percent from the floor number persists for too long. He’s getting buckets from deep, which is nice, but hard to make use of with such a poor field-goal percentage to stomach.
Look for the rookie to start at the 2-guard position in Cleveland, where somebody has to score points. Kyrie Irving can’t be the only one to put the ball in the basket.
Waiters should begin the season with an awful field goal percentage if his preseason numbers are any indication, but he’s expected to improve as the season—and his young career—progresses.
2. Steve Novak, SF/PF, New York Knicks
Average Draft Position (ADP): 112.8
Preseason Per-36: 48% FG, 100% FT, 4.0 3PM, 4.4 REB, .6 AST, .6 STL, .4 BLK, .3 TO, 13.9 PTS
Novak’s role for your fantasy team is to do one thing and one thing only: hit 3-balls at an efficient rate.
Anything else he provides for your team is gravy.
Novak gets buckets in bunches and he doesn’t need too many shots to do so. He knocked down 47.2 percent of his three-point attempts in 2011-12.
If you’re building around historically non-scoring threats like Serge Ibaka and Rajon Rondo, Novak would be a terrific late-round compliment to your team. He’s not going to get 20 points every night, but when he does it might be 21—by way of seven 3-pointers.
1. Omer Asik, C, Houston Rockets
Average Draft Position (ADP): 116.6
Preseason Per-36: 45% FG, 67% FT, 0 3PM, 16.2 REB, 3.1 AST, 1.4 STL, 1.1 BLK, 3.1 TO, 11.2 PTS
Omer Asik enters his third NBA season as a bit of an ironman: He’s never missed a game.
Of course, he’s only had 148 regular-season opportunities to do so, but as a legit starting seven-footer that can bang boards and swat shots, he’s a very nice last-minute addition to your fantasy lineup.
The caveat with Asik, as with most centers that have his skills, is that he doesn’t shoot free-throws particularly well. That could be problematic if teams decide to assault an Asik in the paint to keep him from cleaning up the Rockets’ offensive messes.
Otherwise, he should use his 52.9 career field goal percentage to be a slight positive influence on your fantasy lineup if he continues to play his game.
Asik is renowned for his defense. Houston doesn’t have to run offense for him to get his shots off the boards—he averaged 1.9 offensive rebounds in just 14.7 minutes per game in reserve duty last year.