Drafting solid core players in the early rounds paired with the ability to pick players that will outperform their draft position in the later rounds is the formula for any successful 2012-2013 fantasy basketball draft. While the definition of a sleeper is open to debate and opinion, for the sake of this article we’ll define a sleeper simply as a player that will outperform their draft position.

J.J. Hickson POR | PF

I have always been a Hickson fan, and I am really excited to see what he does for the Trail Blazers this year. When he was traded to Portland mid season last year he blew up and put up amazing numbers. He should play a lot of minutes for them this year, and he will be a big part of that offense.

Isaiah Thomas SAC | PG

Thomas does have Aaron Brooks to worry about, but I think he will win that job. He took over as the starting PG for the Kings around midseason, and he made an instant impact. He shot a great FG%, solid from 3 point land, and also decent rebound totals for a player that is only 5’9″. I really like this kids upside, and I will be certainly trying to draft him in the middle rounds.

Michael Beasley PHO | PF

Beasley was one of the biggest disappointments last year, but he has a new home with the Suns and he should get plenty of chances to score. Phoenix has a lot of new faces on their squad, and Beasley should be one of the cornerstones of the new look Suns. He doesn’t do much more than score, but he should slip late enough in most drafts to offer solid bang for the buck.

Lou Williams ATL | SG

Williams has proven during his career that he knows how to get the ball into the hoop. I am curious to see what he can do if he plays well over 30 minutes per game. There is no guarantee that he will see those type of minutes, but it’s possible his new team the Hawks will give him extended playing time. They do have a rookie SG John Jenkins that could steal some minutes, but I expect Williams to be given every chance to start.

Klay Thompson GS | SG

What a finish this guy had at the end of last year. In 16 games played in April Thompson averaged over 18 points, and over 2 three pointers made per game. He didn’t do much more than score, but this youngster certainly has a big upside. Other than Curry and Lee the Warriors don’t have many scorers on that team. This youngster has all the upside in the world, and I think he could flirt with being a 20 point scorer this year.

Ersan Ilyasova MIL | PF

I like Ilyasova for so many different reasons. He is a big man that can score, he can rebound, and did I mention he hits 3s as well? He got off to a bit of a slow start last year, but he finished on fire and I expect him to pick up right where he left off. You are going to have to use a decent draft pick if you want to own this guy, but I think he is worth the gamble.

Goran Dragic PHO | PG

This might sound crazy, but Dragic has the potential of being a top 5 point guard this year. He has always impressed when given a chance to start, and he has a great opportunity with the Suns this year. Dragic has big shoes to fill as he takes over for Nash, but I think he could put up big numbers.

Damian Lillard POR | PG

Every year there are a couple rookies that start from day one and have an instant impact. I think Lillard could be one of those rookies this year. The starting point guard position is all his, and he is going to be surrounded by talented players. He is going to have a lot of hype around him coming into the season, but I think he will still go late enough in most drafts to still over solid value.

Arron Afflalo ORL | SG

Afflalo has been in the league 5 years, and his numbers have gone up every year. If that trend continues he could be a great fantasy player this season. The Magic are going to have to look at other players to score with Howard gone, and with Afflalo locked in as the starting SG he could be one of their top scorers.

Glen Davis ORL | PF

When Davis was given minutes for the Magic last year he put up amazing numbers. Now that Howard is gone this should leave a lot of points and rebounds for the remaining Magic players. I don’t think it’s out of the question to expect numbers this year similar to what he did last April, which was 16 points and 9 boards.