The 2013-14 NBA season is rapidly approaching, and with it comes another season of fantasy basketball.
For those of you who aren’t in dynasty leagues, the impending draft represents a chance to wipe the slate clean and draft a whole new team. Whether you were the league’s champion or you were embarrassed as the loser, you will need to be prepared going into this always-exciting event.
One way to get a leg up on your opponents is to identify a handful of sleepers and target them in the latter rounds of the draft. While your foes are selecting aging veterans with limited upside, you should be gunning for young studs with immense potential.
Here’s a look at a few players that could end up helping you secure the trophy in your league.
Trey Burke, G, Utah Jazz
Burke is a prized rookie who should be thrust right into the fire for the Jazz, as the former Michigan standout wasn’t drafted at No. 9 overall to not see the court for a significant amount of time.
He’s the top point guard on the team’s depth chart and should see a ton of minutes, with only career backup John Lucas III behind him at this juncture.
In terms of what he will provide, expect plenty of assists, points, three-pointers, steals and free throws from the youngster. He’s a gifted scorer with range all over the court, although he will need to bulk up a bit to become more consistent in the paint.
His field-goal percentage may suffer for that reason, but it’s certainly not a reason to turn your back on Burke. He’s a bona fide star in the making, and he should be one of the top guards in fantasy by the end of the year.
Anthony Davis, C, New Orleans Pelicans
If Davis can stay healthy, he should be a top-five big man in 2013-14.
The Brow finished an excellent rookie campaign with averages of 13.5 points on 51.6 percent field-goal shooting, plus 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals per contest. He has the athleticism and upside to improve in all categories this year, and it would almost be surprising if he failed to live up to the expectations.
As the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, there is no doubt that Davis is going to be expected to take the Pelicans to new heights this season—especially with the newly signed Tyreke Evans around to lend a hand by taking some pressure off the big man with his perimeter game.
If he’s able to avoid double-teams down low—Davis still needs to bulk up and is only listed at 220 pounds to match his 6’10” frame—he could absolutely wreck an opponent in the points column.
Rebounds and shot-blocking come naturally for someone with his physical gifts, so make sure you stand behind this New Orleans superstar and take him a bit earlier than projected.
You won’t be disappointed when he exceeds expectations by a mile.
Tobias Harris, F, Orlando Magic
Harris developed into a legitimate weapon after being traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline last season. He finished his sophomore year with averages of 11.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 blocks and 0.6 steals per game.
But those numbers still don’t even tell the whole story.
In the 27 games he played down in the Magic Kingdom, Harris averaged a whopping 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 0.9 steals per game. You should expect something extremely close to that again when he takes the floor for this up-and-coming Orlando squad in 2013-14.
Those figures aren’t inflated either, and Harris should easily be able to withstand the test of a full year as a starter. He’s a quality forward with a first-round pedigree that was finally given a chance to excel last season, and he took that opportunity without looking back.
Harris is a stat-sheet stuffer that will definitely make a big impact in fantasy. He’s a do-it-all dynamo on the court and should be one for your fantasy team as well during this upcoming campaign.
Don’t sleep on the 21-year-old kid out of Tennessee, as he’s going to make other owners quite jealous that you had the foresight to nab him in the draft.