Fantasy Basketball 2019: Top NBA Player Rankings and Underrated Sleepers

Theo SalaunContributor IIIOctober 22, 2019

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Nickeil Alexander-Walker #0 of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball against the New York Knicks during a pre-season game on October 18, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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At long last, NBA basketball is back. And, with it, the return of fantasy hoops.

For those of you who have been knee-deep in fantasy football until now or distracted by other matters, it's time to load up your plate and digest the top NBA player rankings and some underrated sleepers.

For those of you who have been preparing for the advent of 2019's fantasy basketball season all summer, feel free to send us your excel sheets and data. 

To start, we'll list the top 75 players (courtesy of FantasyPros) for category leagues as a picture of the rankings to start the season. Then, we'll list a range of underrated, deep sleepers who are owned in less than 25 percent of Yahoo leagues and break down a few of their upsides.


Top 75 Rankings

1. Anthony Davis, PF/C, Los Angeles Lakers

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2. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Golden State Warriors

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks

4. James Harden, PG/SG, Houston Rockets

5. Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Vikings

6. Nikola Jokic, PF/C, Denver Nuggets

7. Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers

8. Joel Embiid, PF/C, Philadelphia 76ers

9. LeBron James, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers

10. Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards

11. Kawhi Leonard, SG/SF, Los Angeles Clippers

12. Kyrie Irving, PG/SG, Brooklyn Nets

13. Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, Miami Heat

14. Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, New Orleans Pelicans

15. Andre Drummond, PF/C, Detroit Pistons

16. Paul George, SF/PF, Los Angeles Clippers

17. Kemba Walker, PG, Boston Celtics

18. Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz

19. Nikola Vucevic, PF/C, Orlando Magic

20. Trae Young, PG, Atlanta Hawks

21. Devin Booker, PG/SG, Phoenix Suns

22. Russell Westbrook, PG, Houston Rockets

23. Deandre Ayton, C, Phoenix Suns

24. Luka Doncic, PG/SG/PF, Dallas Mavericks

25. Ben Simmons, PG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers

26. John Collins, PF/C, Atlanta Hawks

27. Donovan Mitchell, PG/SG, Utah Jazz

28. Myles Turner, PF/C, Indiana Pacers

29. De'Aaron Fox, PG, Sacramento Kings

30. Draymond Green, PF/C, Golden State Warriors

31. Mike Conley, PG, Utah Jazz

32. D'Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Golden State Warriors

33. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs

34. Pascal Siakam, PF, Toronto Raptors

35. Chris Paul, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

36. Buddy Hield, SG, Sacramento Kings

37. Mitchell Robinson, C, New York Knicks

38. Zion Williamson, PF, New Orleans Pelicans

39. Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C, Dallas Mavericks

40. Tobias Harris, SF/PF, Philadelphia 76ers

41. Clint Capela, PF/C, Houston Rockets

42. Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto Raptors

43. Khris Middleton, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks

44. DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs

45. Lauri Markkanen, PF, Chicago Bulls

46. Zach LaVine, PG/SG, Chicago Bulls

47. Blake Griffin, PF/C, Detroit Pistons

48. Bam Adebayo, PF/C, Miami Heat

49. Jayson Tatum, SF/PF, Boston Celtics

50. CJ McCollum, PG/SG, Portland Trail Blazers

51. Eric Bledsoe, PG/SG, Milwaukee Bucks

52. Robert Covington, SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves

53. Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Memphis Grizzles

54. Otto Porter Jr., SF/PF, Chicago Bulls

55. Jamal Murray, PG/SG, Denver Nuggets

56. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder

57. Jonas Valanciunas, C, Memphis Grizzlies

58. Kevin Love, PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers

59. Thomas Bryant, C, Washington Wizards

60. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG/SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

61. Derrick Favors, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans

62. Brook Lopez, C, Milwaukee Bucks

63. Malcolm Brogdon, PG/SG, Indiana Pacers

64. Al Horford, PF/C, Philadelphia 76ers

65. Julius Randle, PF/C, New York Knicks

66. Josh Richardson, SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers

67. Marvin Bagley III, PF, Sacramento Kings

68. Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Orlando Magic

69. Hassan Whiteside, C, Portland Trail Blazers

70. Ja Morant, PG, Memphis Grizzles

71. Caris LeVert, SG/SF, Brooklyn Nets

72. Lonzo Ball, PG, New Orleans Pelicans

73. Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, Indiana Pacers

74. Steven Adams, C, Oklahoma City Thunder

75. Victor Oladipo, PG/SG, Indiana Pacers


Underrated Sleepers

Guys like Dario Saric (PF/C, Phoenix Suns, 49 percent owned) and Derrius Garland (PG, Cleveland Cavaliers, 40 percent owned) are underrated but still obvious fringe players with upside and minutes.

This list is for players with similar upside in shaky situations who need to be watched over as the season progresses, trades get going and the waiver starts thinning.

We examined Markelle Fultz, Luke Kennard and Kevin Knox in Monday's piece, so we'll focus on Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Jakob Poeltl and Robert Williams here. 

  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, New Orleans Pelicans (19 percent owned)

  • Dwayne Bacon, SG, Charlotte Hornets (19 percent owned)

  • Terrance Ferguson, SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder (1 percent owned)

  • Markelle Fultz, PG/SG, Orlando Magic (20 percent owned)

  • Harry Giles, PF/C, Sacramento Kings(3 percent owned)

  • Luke Kennard, SG, Detroit Pistons (9 percent owned)

  • Kevin Knox, SF/PF, New York Knicks (13 percent owned)

  • Jahlil Okafor, C, New Orleans Pelicans(5 percent owned)

  • Jakob Poeltl, C, San Antonio Spurs(21 percent owned)

  • Michael Porter Jr., SF, Denver Nuggets (22 percent owned)

  • Cam Reddish, PG/SG/SF, (17 percent owned)

  • Matisse Thybulle, SF, Philadelphia 76ers (16 percent owned)

  • Robert Williams, PF, Boston Celtics (7 percent owned)


Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, New Orleans Pelicans (19 percent owned)

Minutes may be hard to come by for Alexander-Walker.

E'Twaun Moore, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and J.J. Redick are also competing for minutes at the two, and Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson will get time at the three.

Alexander-Walker is somewhere among that assortment of talent, but his impact on the court seems undeniable, which should mean more opportunity as the season develops.

When you watch the Virginia Tech product play, you immediately glean a sense that the kid is a versatile veteran in a 21-year-old's body.

His cousin is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Alexander-Walker shares a similar patience and awareness of tempo, as he is happy to pull the offense back or quick to make decisions based on the defense's positioning.

He also has the talent for those decisions to include a dangerous pull-up jumper (from range, too); acrobatic, finesse finishes; and a handle that is reactive enough to deliver on his savvy.

On defense, Alexander-Walker's hands are quick and instinctive—as proved by his steal on Julius Randle's attempted game-winning layup in their final preseason game. 


Jakob Poeltl, C, San Antonio Spurs (21 percent owned)

Unlike Alexander-Walker, Jakob Poeltl's path to minutes is obvious.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles are the team's only other true bigs, and Poeltl has shown enough ability to earn more than the 16.5 minutes per game he averaged last season. 

Per 36 minutes, the 24-year-old would have averaged 12.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 blocks in 2018-19. The 7-footer has delivered flashes of touch around the rim and ferocity when attacking or defending it, which could mean a lot if he gets big minutes for the Spurs. 


Cam Reddish, PG/SG/SF, (17 percent owned)

Back to speculative, talented players. Cam Reddish is 6'8” but has a pretty stroke and enough talent to have played 29.7 minutes per game for Duke in his lone college season.

At 20 years old, he is raw and may struggle to improve upon his college inconsistency as much as we might hope.

However, Reddish's frame and the depths of his skill make him a premier sleeper if he's able to work his way into regular minutes on a burgeoning Hawks roster that has yet to determine its rotations.


Robert Williams, PF, Boston Celtics (7 percent owned)

Who sounds better to pair with Kemba Walker's ability to break a defense down: Enes Kanter, Vincent Poirier or Mitchell Robinson? Robert Williams is not Robinson, but his upside is similar.

There's a reason Robinson is owned in 98 percent of leagues. Last season, per 36 minutes, he averaged 12.8 points,  11.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks. Timelord, while a rarer player with unpolished play and Al Horford's presence, averaged 10.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per 36. 

Walker has never really played with a big man who possesses Williams' abrasion to gravity. Timelord is an overpowered villain above the basket who can, on the defensive end, bounce high enough and swing hard enough to punch attempted shots into the willing laps of fans in the cheaper seats.

If he earns regular minutes this season, we may see him drafted by fantasy teams in 2020-21 where Robinson was drafted this season.


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