Sep 25, 2012 Blog
Training camps will open up next week which means fantasy basketball drafts are right around the corner. I’ve been looking at some of the the ESPN and Yahoo rankings and there are some really good sleeper picks out there that both sites seem to have mis-ranked. I’m going to break down my sleeper picks by position over the next week so that you guys can keep an eye on them when camp starts. Most of these guys will probably fluctuate in ranking depending on how their roles are defined in camp. I’ll be updating the sleepers in future daily articles as things develop in camp.
Point Guard Sleepers
Damian Lillard (POR) - ESPN Rank: 124, Yahoo Rank: 96 - Lillard probably won’t be much of a sleeper once camps open and everyone figures out that he’ll be the starting PG for the Blazers, but you can definitely get the jump on other owners with Lillard if your league drafts before camp opens. Many owners simply won’t believe the rookie is for real and many just won’t draft a rookie no matter what. Lillard played great during the NBA Summer league and was named co-MVP putting up 26.5 points per game. He really doesn’t have much competition for minutes in Portland after the Blazers let Raymond Felton walk. He should be able to post something around 17 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
Brandon Knight (DET) – ESPN Rank: 106, Yahoo Rank: 94 – Knight had a solid rookie season and should step up his production in 2012. He posted 13 points and 4 assists per game and could bump that to 16 and 6 this year. He has no real competion for his starting spot and should be a safe pick with some credible upside potential.
Jeff Teague (ATL) – ESPN Rank: 121, Yahoo Rank: 62 – Teague is a much better sleeper in ESPN leagues, as the guys at Yahoo probably have him ranked more correctly. The Hawks lost Joe Johnson and will now look to Teague to step up his game and takeover the backcourt pairing with Lou Williams. Somebody has to replace Johnson’s scoring and playmaking ability, and a good portion of that duty will fall to Teague. Teague really improved his shooting last season posting a 47.7 FG% and a 34.2 3PT%. He posted 13 points and 5 assists and could bump that to 16 and 7 this year.
George Hill (IND) - ESPN Rank: 92, Yahoo Rank: 116 - Hill is a combo type guard and both sites have him qualifying at both point guard and shooting guard. The Pacers recently brought in D.J. Augustin at the point guard position and there should be a pretty good battle in camp to determine the starter. Even if Hill doesn’t start, he’s going to be a very valuable sixth man, getting backup minutes at point guard and shooting guard. Paul George will be the starting shooting guard, but Hill’s scoring ability could make a backcourt pairing with Augustin a very attractive option.
DJ Augustin (IND) - ESPN Rank: 171, Yahoo Rank: 184 – Augustin is the other half of the PG postion battle with George Hill in Indiana. If Augustin doesn’t win the starting job, then he’s probably not worth drafting since he only has potential at PG, as compared to Hill who has the ability to play PG and SG. Augustin’s 12 points, 6 assist type numbers from last season are probably what you could expect from him if he wins the job in Indiana. Hill has the better upside potential.
Kirk Hinrich (CHI) - ESPN Rank: 184, Yahoo Rank: 138 – Derrick Rose is going to be out for quite some time with his ACL injury and Hinrich should find himself as the starting PG for the Bulls. The only other option for Chicago is Nate Robinson, so keep an eye on this position battle. Hinrich has evolved into pretty much just a spot up jumpshooter, but his shot is decent and he has good three point abilility, as well as the potential to feed Deng, Boozer and Noah for about 7-8 assists per game. He’ll also grab you a steal per game on the defensive side of the ball.
Greivis Vasquez (NOR) – ESPN Rank: 140, Yahoo Rank: 123 – All the hype in New Orleans has been for Austin Rivers, but Vasquez was solid last season filling in for Jarrett Jack. Rivers is more of a combo type guard who might be better suited for shooting guard and learning how to play point guard might take some time for him. If he can’t make the adjustment, then Vasquez has the ability to take the starting job. If you examine Vasquez` shot charts, he spread his shots equally around the floor, which makes defending him very difficult. The biggest factor that could get him on the floor for major minutes is his defense. His Synergy points-per-play defensive rating was .79 ppp. The only player with a better number was Jrue Holiday. By comparison, Chris Paul was rated at .80.
Aaron Brooks (SAC) – ESPN Rank: 248, Yahoo Rank: 368 – Brooks is a high risk, high reward player this season after playing overseas last year. Brooks would have been in the NBA in 2012 but he decided to play in China due to the lockout and got stuck in that contract and couldn’t return until the Chinese season was over. He was quietly picked up by the Kings over the summer and could challenge Isaiah Smith for the starting spot. If he somehow wins the positon battle, then he has the ability to post some good fantasy stats feeding Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins. As recently as the 2009-2010 season, he posted 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game while playing for the Rockets.
Sleeper Possibilities That Need an Impressive Training Camp:
Raymond Felton (NYK) – Felton and Jason Kidd will battle it out for the starting PG spot in New York and Felton could win this one. The only problem with drafting Felton is that we just don’t know how many minutes Kidd will get, so it’s a situation that will have to become more clear in camp before I could recommend Felton.
Ramon Sessions (CHA) – I’m sure the Bobcats would love to just hand Kemba Walker the PG spot and run with him, but his 36.6 FG% and 4.4 assists per game just weren’t that impressive. If Walker doesn’t improve his shooting and playmaking, Sessions could sneak in and steal the starting PG spot, or at worst earn himself 30 MPG in a timeshare situation.
Luke Ridnour (MIN) – Ricky Rubio is still out rehabbing his knee and might not return for the first couple of months of the season, which leaves Ridnour as the likely starting PG. Ridnour can do a decent job, but just don’t plan on depending on him past Christmas in deeper leagues.
Austin Rivers (NOR) – The Hornets are going nowhere this season and should probably throw Rivers on the court with Anthony Davis and just let them start playing together. If they decide to do this, then Rivers could be a huge sleeper. We’ll find out in training camp if Rivers is cut out to handle the point guard position and just how aggressive New Orleans will be in developing him.
Jose Calderon (TOR) – The Raptors signed Kyle Lowry to play PG which leaves Caleron on the bench. It might be a really high reward gamble to draft Calderon and hope that he gets a trade into a starting job before the season opens, especially if there is any unexpected injury to a starter in the NBA. Calderon is an assist machine with good shooting percentages.
Jarrett Jack (GSW) – Check Stephen Curry’s ankle health in camp and if it looks like he’s still having problems, then Jack becomes worth a late round flier. Jack put up some nice stats last season going for 16 points and 6 assists while starting for New Orleans.
Eric Bledsoe (LAC) – This is a keeper league sleeper suggestion since Chris Paul could be on the move next summer. Billups is also aging and Crawford might simply be a one year rental. Bledsoe has some talent but didn’t get to show it last season because of an injury. With Chauncey Billups still hobbled with an injury, Bledsoe could get an opportunity for significant minutes and if he shows the ability to handle them he could keep his rotation spot even when Billups returns.