Sunday, October 19, 2014

Deep fantasy basketball sleepers

Oddly Prophetic, Really
Quick and dirty, the way you like it.

Point Guards

Patrick Beverly, Houston. Jeremy Lin is gone, and Chandler Parsons has been replaced by Trevor Ariza, aka a catch and shoot 3 kind of guy. Beverly is never going to be a monster provider, as he just plays too hard on defense to conserve his energy and fouls, but he's clearly got the capability to get up to a 12/7 kind of guy, with solid threes and steals to boot.

Evan Turner, Boston. Is he a point guard? Hell no, he's a terrible basketball player. But he's a terrible basketball player who seems to have the confidence of his coach, and he might get playing time for a half of a season or more while his team tanks. Marcus Smart is the long-term play here, and Rajon Rondo is the real point guards, but you might be able to ride ET for a few months.

Trey Burke, Utah. Last year's can't shoot at all guy is this year's team leader, mostly because Utah is just so young and bereft of leadership. Burke and the Jazz have looked surprisingly frisky in pre-season, and while Dante Exum is also looking useful, he won't poach enough minutes to harm. Look for Utah to compete harder this year, and Burke to minute his way to fantasy relevance.

Shooting Guards

Jimmy Butler, Chicago. A classic case of less is more, Butler's failed move to prominence last year comes true this year. He's not good enough to create on his own, but with Derrick Rose back amongst the living, he'll have some more free space, and rookie Doug McDermott will also keep him fresh. I'm looking for his percentages to improve, and his defensive counting numbers to go up despite less burn.

Rodney Stuckey, Indiana. Someone's got to lead the Pacers in scoring this season without Paul George or Lance Stephenson, and Stuckey's one of the few guys on the roster that thinks he's better than he is. That confidence will lead to gunning, and fantasy hoop is all about opportunity, more than talent. He'll try enough on defense to help there, too.

Danny Green, San Antonio. Is this the year that Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili just gate-check the entire NBA regular season? Very possible, and that time off for the greybeards leads to minutes for the sharp-shooting Green, who also benefits from a Paddy Mills injury to get a little more PT. The fact that he's not really a SG helps as well, since it means you get assists that your average 2 does not provide.

Small Forward

K.J. McDaniels, Philadelphia. He should have been a first round pick and knows it, having rejected the Sixers offer to extend his deal already. He's got elite level defensive abilities on the wing, unlike every Sixer since Andre Iguodala, and will get as many minutes as he can stand due to that. Offensively, he's not hopeless, and not hopeless is all you need when you get 35+ minutes a game.

Draymond Green, Golden State. New coach Steve Kerr has to know that the reason why his team loses despite breakthrough offensive talent is that, well, David Lee might be the worst 4 in the NBA on defense, right? That should translate into the minutes -- and it's only the minutes -- that Green needs to drive real benefit. Remember, he dominated in the second half of the season last year, and also showed well in the playoffs. On the rise.

Danilo Gallinari, Denver. The closest thing on the roster to a closer, recovering nicely from a knee problem. He does enough of everything to help, will have a clear path to minutes, and could perform at an All-Star level, especially later in the year.

Power Forward

Josh McRoberts, Miami. Now on his third pro team and a winner of no beauty prizes, McBob is a sneaky-good source of assists from the power forward, and with the paucity of production from the meh platter of Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier, I think he's got a shot to keep kicking out numbers. He's also fighting for minutes with guys who should not be in the league any more. That helps.

DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta. As under the radar as it gets, Carroll is an NBA vagabond who put it all together for last year's surprising Hawks squad. This year, he's supposed to lose touches to the returning Al Horford, but they really don't do the same things, and Carroll has startling utility as a steals magnet. It helps that he plays for an NBA team that is as anonymous as it gets, too.

Carlos Boozer, Los Angeles Lakers. Oh, yes, he's terrible; a defensive sieve and offensive black hole who does not give you numbers beyond points, boards, and a superficially tolerable shooting percentage. You should never, ever, watch him play ball, and Kobe Bryant is going to snarl at him more than, say, LeBron James snarled at Chalmers. But he's the best they have, Julius Randle isn't ready for the NBA, Jordan Hill is flighty and flaky, and his coach is dumb enough to just go with counting stats. Draft Boozer, then shower.

Centers

Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota. Think that Minny is going to want to slow things down with Nikola Pekovic, after they've swapped out Kevin Love to get flying young guys? Hells and no; this will be a run and fun team that smiles their way to 35 defense-free wins, which means Peko is going to develop some very convenient injuries and/or a trade out of town. Dieng will swoop up the athletic defensive numbers, and slam home enough garbage to not kill you in points, either.

Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn. Kevin Garnett was too old five years ago, and he's positively embarrassing now. Brook Lopez can't stay healthy, and the other Net bigs are either head cases on on the decline. Plumlee is going to get all of the minutes he can handle, and do good things with them. He's an especially nice target for keeper leagues.

Jared Sullinger, Boston. It's either him or Kelly Olynyk, and I just don't think Olnyk is an NBA player. Sullinger isn't going to be an All-Star, but he is going to have a career, and play 30 minutes a game for a team that spreads the ball. You could do a lot worse.

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