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 fantasy basketball draft. For the purposes of this article, a “sleeper” is any player whose value over the course of the season is likely to be higher than his cost on draft day. Below is our list of 2010-2011 fantasy basketball sleepers. If you have any fantasy basketball questions about a sleepers, busts, or who to draft, feel free to post them in our Fantasy Sports Forum.
McGee has been working on his low-post game and was very impressive in the Las Vegas summer league averaging 19.5 points and 9.3 rebounds. With little competition at the center position for the Wizards, he’ll likely be in line for some decent minutes, but even in limited playing time, he can give your fantasy team a nice boost in blocks. In 60 appearances last season, he averaged nearly two blocks a game in just 16 minutes.
Holiday finished strong last year, averaging 12.5 points, 6.1 assists, 1.3 threes, and 1.7 steals per game over the season’s final month and a half. He will be the starting PG for the 76ers and is in line to get a ton of minutes this season. He is definitely a popular sleeper pick this season and we really like his upside, but with that being said we caution that you don’t let the hype influence you to draft him too early.
Bargnani averaged career highs of 17.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.5 3-pointers last season. With Chris Bosh gone, Bargnani remains as the team’s only real low-post presence and should become the team’s go-to scorer. Keep in mind that he is not your typical big man because he won’t be a great source for rebounds, but he will give your team a boost in 3-pointers.
Augustin has been effective when given the chance averaging 17.1 points, 5.9 assists, 2.5 threes, and 1.1 steals in 14 career starts. With Raymond Felton now in New York, and Shaun Livingston still battling knee issues, Augustin has a great shot at winning the starting point guard job in Charlotte. If Augustin can stay out of Larry Brown’s doghouse, he has nice upside and is a great target in the middle rounds of your draft.
Johnson’s overall numbers from last season are far from impressive with only 6.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in just 17.7 minutes per game. He’ll finally get an opportunity to earn a starting job, thanks to the departure of Chris Bosh. Without Bosh in the lineup during the final two weeks of the 2009-10 regular season, Johnson averaged 15.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists while seeing 30-plus minutes a game. We don’t expect those late-season numbers over the entire season, but Johnson is in a great situation for a significant boost in value and is a solid late-round sleeper pick.
Lopez was a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners last season averaging 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 31 starts last season. He primarily played a defensive role last year, but with Amar’e Stoudemire gone, and the limited depth in the Suns frontcourt, Lopez will be relied on for more offensive production. Lopez could easily see 30-plus minutes a game and is a great mid-to-late round sleeper pick.
Millsap has proven to be a solid fantasy player when given the minutes. For his career, he has averaged 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks in 49 starts. With Carlos Boozer now in Chicago, Millsap will likely take over the starting PF position and newly acquired Al Jefferson will start at center. Mehmet Okur is expected to be sidelined until some time in November because on an achilles injury. If Millsap plays well to start the season, he should retain the starting role even when Okur returns to the lineup.
Batum missed much of the first half of last season with a shoulder injury, but returned to post 10.1 points, 1.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game while playing just 24 minutes a contest. While those stats are not overwhelming, he can give fantasy owners help in other categories with nearly a block and a steal per game, with 1.5 threes and a good free-throw percentage. With Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster no longer in the picture, Batum should be in line for a solid 30-plus minutes per game.
Cousins, selected with the fifth overall pick by the Kings, had an impressive summer league averaging 18 points and 11.5 boards and a block in four games. He will get an opportunity to have an immediate impact on the Kings frontcourt to start the season as Samuel Dalembert will likely miss the first month with a strained abductor muscle in his hip. Jason Thompson and Carl Landry will also be be in the mix, but Cousins has a ton of upside and is definitely worth a mid-to-late round pick.
Collison was great while filling in for Chris Paul last season, and in 37 games as a starter, he averaged 18.8 points, 9.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds. He’ll get a chance to prove those numbers were no fluke as an offseason trade sent him to the Pacers where he’ll take over as the starting PG. Collison looks primed for a breakout season in his second year in the league.
If you have any fantasy basketball questions about a sleepers, busts, or who to draft, feel free to post them in our Fantasy Sports Forum.