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NBA Fantasy Draft: 5 Sleepers and 5 Busts

Ryan BothmannSenior Analyst IIDecember 11, 2011

NBA Fantasy Draft: 5 Sleepers and 5 Busts

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    With the NBA season starting on Christmas Day this year, many people are starting up their fantasy basketball leagues for the new season. As with all fantasy sports, if you want to win, you need to do your research. 

    Every person wants to find that proverbial diamond in the rough, and everyone also wants to stay away from that overhyped player who can crush your entire season with his miserable performance.

    Here now are my five biggest sleepers and busts for the upcoming fantasy basketball season.

Sleeper: Kyrie Irving

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    Every year in fantasy sports, I think it is important to find the Rookie of the Year. You can usually get this player later on in the draft, and they usually make a big impact on your team.

    I like Kyrie Irving to win Rookie of the Year in 2012.

    Irving will run the offense for the Cleveland Cavaliers this year, as they continue to try and rebuild from the loss of LeBron James. Irving should help the Cavaliers out a lot this season, and I expect him to help your fantasy team out by scoring points and racking up assists. 

    Look for Irving to go in the sixth or seventh round of your draft.

Bust: Chris Paul

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    Stay away from CP3 this season.

    Chris Paul is one of the best players in the NBA, and he will have a great year, but when it comes time for your fantasy draft and you are trying to find a player to build your team around do not pick Paul. With all the drama surrounding Chris Paul wanting to be traded this season, it is impossible to predict how he will perform.

    There are plenty of other players to build your team around in the first round. Take a forward and then grab another one of the many talented guards in the NBA in a later round. There are plenty of great guards in the NBA, and there is no reason to waste such a high pick on Chris Paul.

Sleeper: Blake Griffin

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    OK, it may be stupid to say that one of the best players in the NBA is a sleeper, but I think he may be.

    Griffin is ranked the seventh-best power forward by ESPN and the 20th player overall. I think Griffin should be ranked way higher. The Clippers superstar averaged a double-double last season and will only get better this year.

    If you have a late first-round pick or an early second-round pick, do not hesitate to take Griffin. Do not worry about what the fantasy rankings say. Go with your gut and take Blake Griffin. You certainly will not regret it.

Bust: Pau Gasol

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    Just like with Chris Paul, it is anyone's guess as to what will happen with Gasol this year.

    The Lakers just traded away Lamar Odom, and that leaves them with Gasol and Andrew Bynum down low. Gasol may struggle without Odom to complement him on the blocks, and it is too risky to pick him. 

    Gasol is ranked as the third-best power forward in the NBA by ESPN, but I can spot numerous players on the list below Gasol who I would rather have. Look for Dirk Nowitzki, Blake Griffin or Chris Bosh in this spot, but do not take Pau Gasol.

Sleeper: J.J. Hickson

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    Hickson made the move from Cleveland to Sacramento this offseason, and I expect big things from him. 

    In Cleveland, Hickson never quite filled up to his full potential, but he showed spurts of greatness last season. Hickson will be on the blocks in Sacramento this year with second-year star DeMarcus Cousins. The guard play in Sacramento is also good, so these guys should both be fed the ball.

    I like Hickson to have a big year, both scoring and rebounding. He will be a great guy to bring in off your bench or fill in for an injured player.

Bust: Ricky Rubio

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    Many people may think that Ricky Rubio is a great sleeper to pick up in this draft, but that could not be further from the truth.

    Rubio will only bring you pain this season. Last year in Barcelona, Rubio averaged 4.8 points per game, and things will only get worse in the NBA.

    There are many people who think Rubio could be a star in the NBA someday, and there are many people like me who think Rubio will never be a star. If I were you, I would not take a chance on Ricky Rubio this season.

Sleeper: Kemba Walker

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    If Michael Jordan decides Kemba can be the future leader of his franchise, then he is probably a player you should watch out for this season.

    Kemba led the Connecticut Huskies to a magical run last season, which ultimately ended up with them winning the national championship. I think Kemba will have a great rookie season with the Bobcats this year, and could contend for Rookie of the Year.

    Walker could be a great addition to come off your bench and help your team while some of your top guards have an off day. Look to pick Walker up late in your draft.

Bust: J.R. Smith

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    J.R. Smith has always been a disappointment for fantasy owners, but if you draft him this year you will be extremely disappointed.

    Smith is the biggest-name player who is still playing overseas. He cannot option out of his contract, and thus will be playing overseas for the first half of the season.

    Smith is a player you definitely want to stay away from in the draft. Although I am telling you to stay away from him in the draft, you may want to pick up Smith during the season. If you have a key injury on your team, you may be able to pick up Smith during the middle of the season to give your team a lift.

Sleeper: Raymond Felton

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    With the retirement of Brandon Roy, I expect Raymond Felton to get the keys to the offense for Portland this season.

    Felton should have a very good season for the Blazers this year, and will help your team out a lot with assists. The only problem is that Felton may be ranked a little too high by ESPN, and could go early in many drafts. It may not be bad to take a chance on Felton though, and he could be a great utility player for your team.

    Do not look at Felton to be a starter on your team, but draft him as a utility player who can give you some quality points and a large number of assists.

Bust: Andrew Bynum

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    I have a feeling that Andrew Bynum is going to get injured this season.

    You should not really be shocked by this prediction though. Bynum played in every game in his second season in the NBA, but since then he has been crushed with injuries. Bynum has only played in 184 games over the past four seasons, and has missed 144 games.

    The Lakers center will get a lot more opportunities this year with Lamar Odom gone, but the injuries may come back. If injuries were not a factor I would tell you to take a chance on Bynum, but you cannot draft a player who has missed 44 percent of his games over the past four seasons.

    Taking Andrew Bynum is just way too risky for any fantasy owner, and even if he does not experience a major injury this season, there will probably be some minor ones that cause him to miss games along the way.

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