The Sandman's Jewels: Top sleeper candidates for 2014/15 NBA season
What is the hardest thing about fantasy basketball? Ask yourself that question, roll it around in your mind and what have you come up with?
How about: “How do I get a leg up on my competition and find players that can help lead my team to a championship”?
Let’s face it, as much fun as it is to play in a fantasy league with your friends and talk smack to each other, we all only ever really want to be the league champion and bask in the 12 months of glory that it brings!
There are two things you really need to do to win your league:
1. Plan the categories you want to go after in your draft. It’s always fun to draft your favourite players or when you’re in the heat of the moment, take a name instead of a need. We are all guilty of it and let’s face it, how many of your fantasy drafts have actually ever gone as planned? For me, I’d say less than 10 percent over all of these years. I still walk away disappointed with something I’d done. No matter the scoring type, be it head to head, points, or roto you have a stringent number of things you need to target to ensure you have a strong squad.
Let’s take a basic eight category head to head league for example. You have eight categories, and every week you need to beat your opponent in at least 5 of these, sound simple? It could be, if you committed the the time to do research.
There are plenty of tools that us analysts use on a daily basis to determine the value of certain players. On a basic scale, you have your player raters built-in to your fantasy platform and a growing number of fantasy writers willing to provide you with their articles and top “whatever number” lists they publish. These lists are invaluable to you, because someone has already gone to the trouble of filtering out the pure mathematical anomalies, and given you a “best of” numerical collection of players to target.
What these lists get you, are again just names, not explained strengths and weaknesses. Before your draft day, take ten minutes and check over the areas where certain players are strongest and try to pair them with other players of a different position that will complement them. In head to head leagues, I usually aim for players that are efficient (that can win you 3 categories straight away) and that have a certain group of strengths (target the hardest categories steals and blocks). Before you know, it you are winning 5 of 8 cats every week and sitting high atop the standings.
2. Beat your opponents to the hot free agents on the waiver wire. Leagues are won and lost on the wire! I promise you that. Sometimes you get lucky and pick up a player just before something happens that no one can foresee but, 99 times out of 100 something will happen like an injury, trade or coaching change that requires some quick action on your behalf to simply beat everyone else to the punch and pick up that player before they do! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scored a hot free agent and traded him when his value is at it’s peak for an established talent. These players are called sleepers and that my friends, is why we are here right now!
BEHOLD, THE SANDMAN’S JEWELS. Here are the top sleepers for the 2014/15 NBA season.
Evan Turner, SGSF
The mail out of Boston has the Celtics keen to free up minutes for Evan Turner. He has had his supporters this offseason, with 76ers coach Brett Brown giving Turner a glowing recommendation and saying that he just needs to get a fresh start and minutes to prove he is a special talent. Take a flier on him at the end of your draft, you’ve got nothing to lose.
Marcus Smart, PG
Smart will get minutes in Boston, but it isn’t going to be pretty. Either the Celtics go all in and rebuild now, or flail at the bottom of the East standings for years to come. Rondo should be dealt and Smart will eventually get the starting gig. If you work on that assumption, roll the dice on Smart toward the later stages of your draft.
Draft Target: Both late rounds.
Doug McDermott, SF
Mr Doug McBuckets! That’s a catchy nickname. The Bulls are going to be serious contenders this season, if the form Derrick Rose has flashed for team USA is anything to go by. McDermott will be the starting small forward for Chicago at some point this season. Whether he wins it in camp or a few months into the season, he has the chance to post Kyle Korver-type numbers for your squad.
Draft Target: Later rounds
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
KC-P set summer league on fire and left as the leading scorer. The Pistons bought in a lot of competition to crowd the wings this offseason but Caldwell-Pope should have done enough to earn a place in the rotation. Take a look at him in the last round, or at the least keep an eye on him as the first few weeks of the season progresses.
Draft Target: Last round, Waiver add
Golden State Warriors
Brandon Rush, SG
There’s no need to jump on Rush just yet, but in his last outing with Golden State he posted some pretty helpful numbers. If he can snag the backup shooting guard minutes you will find yourself a nice little nest egg.
Draft Target: Waiver add.
George Hill, PG
A large number of players in the Indiana system struggled when the offence was run through Paul George and none were affected more than the other George. In a recent statement, coach Vogel mentioned that Hill is in for a “Big Year”! If you want him, you will have to look for him in the mid to late portion of your draft.
Draft Target: Mid to later rounds
Rodney Stuckey, PGSG
Stuckey has put up average stats over the years, and owners often hold in to him as his trade value isn’t that high. With a depleted roster this season, Stuckey has the opportunity to once again offer you some late draft value for both guard positions.
Draft Target: Later rounds
Solomon Hill, SF
Hill has received praise from coach Vogel and will be the biggest benefactor of the PG-13 injury. The fact that Frank Vogel recently said “If he would have been playing 25 minutes a game last year, everyone would be talking about how good Solomon Hill is” has to bode well for a little bit of extra production this season.
Draft Target: Later rounds
Zach LaVine, SG, Gorgui Dieng, C
I will combine these guys in the write up because their value is directly tied to the future of the Timberwolves franchise. If Minnesota continues down the path of forever the 8-10 seed, they’ll stay the course and keep the veterans. If they smarten up and try a quick rebuild, the future of both LaVine and Dieng is as bright as any young player in the league. I expect Minnesota to trade Kevin Martin and Pekovic to free up time for the young guys.
Draft Target: Late rounds
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG
Giannis, along with the Bucks new marquee rookie Jabari Parker will be the future leaders of this team. Throughout summer league, new Bucks coach Jason Kidd mentioned that he would play Antetokounmpo as the point guard at times, a position that not only will help fantasy owners but the real life Bucks too! A 6″10 point guard is a mismatch from hell. You will need to jump early on him as the hype machine is just about to fly off the radar.
Draft Target: Mid draft
Oklahoma City Thunder
Mitch McGary, PFC
McGary played exceptionally well during summer league and looks like he will have a decent place in the rotation. He is exactly what the Thunder were lacking last season: an energy big man off the bench that can actually play! If he proves himself enough he will have earned his place as a starter but Skiles likes to bring his rookies along slowly so get ready for some frustrating times.
Draft Target: Last rounds, Waiver add
KJ McDaniels, SGSF
Personally, McDaniels is my favourite rookie sleeper! The 76ers were searching all year for a suitable shooting guard, playing Tony Wroten out of position was ok from a fantasy standpoint but not the future. McDaniels can shoot, and on a lottery-focused outfit like Philly, will get all of the minutes he can handle right off the bat. You will definitely need to draft him by at least your last round, if not sooner.
Draft Target: Last rounds
Ray McCallum, PGSG
McCallum has game, he has showed flashes of said game and, he only has Darren Collison ahead of him on the depth chart. In 10 games as a starter last season he posted 13.8 points, 7.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game, the rough end of those numbers are his .365 FG% and .636 FT%. He did shoot an adequate .357% from deep however. One could forecast a minimum 20 minutes per game for him and he will be worth a look at the end of your draft.
Draft Target: Late rounds.
Nik Stauskas, SG
Stauskas has only one minor road block in his way this season, and that is second-year guard Ben McLemore. McLemore hasn’t shown that he is capable of being a starter and I fully expect Stauskas to overtake him, and win the starting shooting guard spot.
Draft Target: Late rounds
Terrence Ross, SGSF
I jumped on Ross from mid to late last season and floated him in and out of my lineup. This season you will want to try and land him during your draft rather than waiting for the waiver wire and miss him. His numbers weren’t team leading by any stretch of the imagination but, he provided .402 shooting from downtown and .850 from the stripe. Add in 12.2 points, 3 rebounds and a steal per game, suddenly you have a solid option on those days you don’t have anyone else to roster.
Draft Target: Last few rounds.
Lou Williams, PGSG
Willaims hasn’t had any fantasy value for a few years now, in Toronto however he could finally crack some late draft value. The Raptors have the freshly re-signed duo of Kyle Lowry and Grievis Vasquez to man the point guard position but they really missed any scoring punch off the bench last season. Terrence Ross will hold the starting gig at shooting guard but Williams could provide some handy, end of draft value in scoring.
Draft Target: Last round.
Rodney Hood, SF
Hood showed some promise during Summer League. We can’t get too excited about summer league stats but he had great poise at times and should have a straight run to the starting small forward spot.
Draft Target: Later rounds.
Is there anyone out there you think I’ve missed? Why not tell me about it! Find me on twitter @wwfantasyteam.
Thank you for loving Aussie hoops! From Kein, Damian and #TeamPnR