A strong draft class and a boat load of free agency moves have shaken up the fantasy basketball world for 2019-20. With so much movement and rookies jumping into a bigger role, it has created some sleeper potential. With the NBA season starting up in a few months, it is never to early to dive into some season long fantasy action. Stay tuned for a deeper dive into sleepers for each position, but here are the top ten heading into the new year.
1. Dario Saric, PF, Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns ended up trading their pick to Minnesota, which also gave them Dario Saric in return. Saric has played with Minnesota and Philadelphia over the last few seasons. When the minutes are there, Saric has returned plenty of fantasy value. When starting, Saric has averaged 14-6-2, shooting 44% from the field and 37% from three. The Suns cleared house in terms of power forwards, which had been a bad logjam the last few years. With no more T.J. Warren, and prior draft picks holding them down, Saric should step into solid minutes here. Those who play in the daily fantasy world know all about Saric, so he is not quite the sleeper, but someone you can get later in drafts with plenty of upside.
2. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG/SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Coming over in the Paul George deal, this is an excellent spot for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to get steady minutes and have no pressure to work on his game and grow. SGA is just 21 years old, and was a Kentucky product. He was traded in the draft, but taken 11th overall. He played 26 minutes per game in his first year, averaging 10-2-3 with 1.2 steals per game. SGA was also incredibly efficient from the field, shooting 47.6%. The Oklahoma City Thunder needed to get younger and have a rebuild plan. While Chris Paul is likely to start the season there, there is a good chance he will be moved at some point. Either way, SGA is going to get starter’s minutes, and his sophomore season should see a rise in numbers.
3. Derrick Favors, C, New Orleans Pelicans
Another middle round prospect that changed teams is Derrick Favors. He has played most of his career in Utah and now is part of the exciting times with the New Orleans Pelicans. Health has always been the biggest issue for Favors, but playing 76 and 77 games in the last two seasons is encouraging. The veteran big man is an efficient scorer and strong rebounder. He also averaged 1.4 blocks per game last season. Favors averaged 11 and 7 in 23.2 minutes, and his success came with Rudy Gobert off the court. The Pelicans have already encouraged a solid role for him and he is a part of this team’s offensive plans. As long as he stays healthy, Favors will bring a lot of value at center.
4. Tyler Herro, SG, Miami Heat
At first I was surprised by this pick, as the Miami Heat selected Tyler Herro 13th overall. Miami was keen on landing Russell Westbrook, but they did not want to part ways with Herro and other young talent. There is still a question mark around playing time and what his role will ultimately be, but Herro is a flat out scorer. He shot 46% from the field and 35% from three in his freshman year at Kentucky. While we won’t put a ton of stock into Summer League play, his ability to shoot on and off the ball was noticeable. Miami isn’t the most lucrative scoring team in the league, and I do believe Miami needs a shooter like Herro on the court for at least 20+ minutes a game. He is worth a late round pick.
5. Gordon Hayward, SF, Boston Celtics
Yes, I am aware that you know who Gordon Hayward is, but he is a solid value heading into the new season. He is now a year removed from that horrific injury, and the Boston Celtics come in with a somewhat new roster and clearer air. Hayward flashed his old ways at times last year, but his consistency was off. We have to remember that it was going to take him some time to get back at playing full speed. Hard to compare with Paul George’s injury, but it took him over a year to get back to his usual self. While Boston landed Enes Kanter and Kemba Walker, Hayward should be able to get a bump in usage. Hayward has potential to get back into that 18-19 points per game with solid peripheral stat range again.
6. Dillon Brooks, SG/SF, Memphis Grizzlies
It was a disappointing injury year for Dillon Brooks, but the third year player has a bright future in this league. The Memphis Grizzlies are not a strong suit on offense, and it is hard to find true shooters on this team. Brooks is just that. He shot 44% from the field in his rookie season and 36% from three. After playing 82 games in his rookie year, Brooks played just 18 due to injury. People will overlook Brooks in drafts, and this is a guy who can average 15 points per game this season on above average shooting numbers. I am also excited to see him play next to Ja Morant at times. Memphis acquired Josh Jackson who can play 2-4, I don’t expect Brooks to be pushed behind these guys.
7. Thomas Bryant, C, Washington Wizards
Thomas Bryant is a third year center out of Indiana. He played in Los Angeles his rookie year, but only saw five minutes per game. He played 20 minutes per game last season, averaging 10 and 6. Bryant is more geared for offensive production, but he should be able to notch a block or two per game this year. There isn’t much stopping Bryant from getting minutes in Washington, and this team is overall a big mess. However, there is plenty of value. Washington ranked 9th in pace last season, which bodes well for some of these names not named Bradley Beal. The Washington Wizards as an organization seem high on Bryant as a future piece, and the 2019-20 season is where he could really breakout.
8. Ish Smith, PG, Washington Wizards
The nine-year journeyman, Ish Smith, has landed in Washington for a bigger role than expected. He split time with Reggie Jackson the last few seasons in Detroit, and has bounced around the league quite a bit. Smith has had fantasy potential when called upon to fill in for injuries, and now he is going to do that in a larger sense. Washington is not expecting John Wall back, and right now it is Smith and Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. Thomas is another late round flyer to take a shot on. Injuries have hindered his play over the last few seasons, but a fresh start and being 100% help could bring back some fantasy value. Remember these two names if you are looking late in drafts.
9. Kevin Huerter, SG, Atlanta Hawks
There are a lot of headlines about Kevin Huerter putting on some weight this offseason and working on finishing at the rim. Both would be a step in the right direction given he is a strong shooter. I am buying in on this Atlanta Hawks team this year, and also for fantasy. The Hawks have had a lot of depth at the wing and SG position, which will be the case again. However, Huerter is expected to make a jump in minutes. Atlanta finished first in pace last season, and the second half of the season was a massive jump in offensive efficiency. This young team is going to be in a lot of shootout games, and Huerter is an excellent spacing shooter to put alongside Trae Young. He is a great target for those waiting on the position or looking for depth.
10. Darius Garland, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
There is some speculation on how the Cleveland Cavaliers will manage playing two point guards in the same starting lineup, at least traditionally that is what they are. Collin Sexton was their top pick last season, and Darius Garland was this year. John Beilein has already come out stating that they will play together, but the dominant ball-handler is going to have more fantasy value. Garland is the one I expect to take that role. We will see a lot of lineup changes, but Garland is going to see strong minutes in year one. Sexton averaged 16.7 points per game last season, but the rest of his game wasn’t pretty. His efficiency also struggled at times. While there isn’t a big sample in college for Garland, Cleveland is relying on the highly touted prospect to perform in the NBA.
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