2012 – 2013 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers: Small Forward
Small Forward Sleepers
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – ESPN Rank: 85, Yahoo Rank: 82 – I’m not sure how much of a sleeper Kidd-Gilchrist is with his ESPN and Yahoo Ranking, but if you are in offline leagues he might slip a little further down the board. I did a preseason writeup on MKG here. The Bobcats traded away Corey Maggette and the spot is Kidd-Gilchrist’s to lose. His offensive game will need a little work, but he should get all the minutes he can handle in his rookie year and that makes him a pretty good play due to the thinness of the small forward draft board.
Thaddeus Young (PHI) – ESPN Rank: 114, Yahoo Rank: 87 – Young was slated to get most of his playing time at small forward this year, but the current plan has Evan Turner moving to small forward and Young coming off the bench at SF and PF. I’m not completely sold on Turner being able to handle the small forward position and I think Young could sneak in and win the spot outright. The guy has skills, he just needs minutes. It’s a position battle to keep an eye on.
Mike Dunleavy (IND) – ESPN Rank: 144, Yahoo Rank: 146 – Dunleavy quietly had a pretty solid season in 2011-2012 posting 12 points/4 rebounds and 1.5 threes per game. The Bucks are a little thin at small forward, so Dunleavy should get first shot at the starting job. Tobias Harris might steal a few minutes, but Dunleavy makes a great late round grab to fill a hole at the SF position.
Wilson Chandler (DEN) – ESPN Rank 130, Yahoo Rank: 107 – Chandler got stuck overseas last season and didn’t have much NBA impact. That should change this season and he finds himself back with the fast paced Nuggets offense. Denver has Iguodala at SG and Gallinari at SF, but Chandler has the ability to back them both up and could work into starter type minutes doing so.
Harrison Barnes (GSW) – ESPN Rank: 110, Yahoo Rank: 120 – Barnes finds himself in a decent position for a rookie by having a clear path to playing time if he can make a good showing in camp. The Warriors only have the aging Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush as competition at small forward, so Barnes has a real shot at significant minutes. Barnes makes an even better draft sleeper if you are playing in a keeper league.
Andrei Kirilenko (MIN) – ESPN Rank: 87 , Yahoo Rank: 119 – Kirilenko might not be a sleeper because of his name, but if some owners in your league pass on him thinking he is washed up, then they are missing out. Don’t be scared to take a chance on him, but don’t expect the big block and steal numbers of previous years.
Kawhi Leonard (SAS) – ESPN Rank: 139, Yahoo Rank: 140 – I’m not sure why Leonard is ranked so low after putting up 8 points, 5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and .6 threes per game in only 24 minutes of action. He also shot 49.3% from the field. He’s penciled in as the starting small forward for the Spurs and should make solid improvement in his stats over his rookie season.
Michael Beasley (PHO) – ESPN Rank: 146, Yahoo Rank: 86 - There seems to be a huge difference in opinion on Beasley given his ESPN and Yahoo ranking. I’m leaning toward the Yahoo ranking being more correct over the ESPN ranking. Yes, Beasley is a headcase, but he’s got a chance at being the starting small forward for a Suns team that desperately needs scoring, which is just what Beasley can provide. He’s a bit two dimensional with just scoring and rebounding as strengths, but he’s really good at those two things and sometimes that’s all you can ask for in the late rounds of a fantasy draft.
Gordon Hayward (UTA) – ESPN Rank: 73, Yahoo Rank: 130 – Another big difference of opinion between ESPN and Yahoo. I’m going to have to side with ESPN on this one. Hayward seems to be in prime position to secure the starting small forward spot for the Jazz and build on his 30 MPG from 2011-2012. Hayward has a very well rounded game and doesn’t hurt you in any category. He’s in his third season and should be able to put it all together this year.
Tyreke Evans (SAC) – ESPN Rank: 53, Yahoo Rank: 73 – Evans isn’t much of a sleeper based on his past performance, but I just wanted to give him a mention here since so many people seem to be really down on him this season. The guy can play, and if you take a look at his stats and how they compare to the rest of the small forward board, then I think he’s a steal at number 73, especially if you are going a little unconventional and looking for assists and steals from your SF. 16 points, 4 assissts, 5 rebounds and 1.3 steals from my SF, yeah I’ll take that.
Tobias Harris (MIL) – ESPN Rank: 509, Yahoo Rank: 331 – This one is strictly for the keeper league guys, but if you have a spot on your bench then Harris is definitely a guy I’d take a chance on for next season or later this season. He’s coming off the bench behind Mike Dunleavy, but we all know Dunleavy isn’t the most durable guy in the world, especially at age 32.
Sleepers Who Need An Impressive Camp
Alonzo Gee (CLE) – Gee, Omri Casspi and C.J. Miles are all fighting for the starting small forward spot in Cleveland and I think Gee has the best shot at winning it. I’d wait to draft him though until we get a few weeks of training camp to define the position battle.
Corey Maggette (DET) – Tayshaun Prince should return as the starting SF for the Pistons, but Maggette will get some good run this year as sixth man, the question is just how many minutes he’ll get. The picture should clear as camp progresses.
Dorell Wright (PHI) – Wright is in a logjam with Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young for minutes at the SF spot, but the important camp question is who gets the starting spot and how the second team minutes are distributed. Wright still has the opportunity to work into 25-30 minutes a night.
Landry Fields/Linas Kleiza (TOR) – Good position battle in Toronto for the starting SF spot. This one could go either way, but I’m guessing the spot goes to Fields. The important takeaway from camp is the distribution of minutes between the two players.
Derrick Williams/Chase Budinger (MIN) – One of these guys could actually nab the starting small forward position for the Wolves. I think Williams has the better upside, but I wouldn’t mind taking a flier on Budinger late in the draft for his three point potential.
Lamar Odom (LAC) – I was really hoping Odom was going to bounce back this season, but he showed up for camp out of shape again, which doesn’t bode well for his future. Still, the guy has talent and if he can get his head right he could work his way into 25-28 MPG and maybe even steal the job from Caron Butler.