I've been writing so many Fantasy Basketball articles the last few weeks, I feel like I know these guys intimately.
That sounded awkward.
I've written about these 7 guys in various iterations the last little while, but I believe they will all outperform their draft position(s).
In some cases a sleeper is a retread, in others a resurrection.
None of these guys are breakouts. (Some broke out last year, others missed most of last year.)
In all cases though, these guys are quality players. And they are underrated.
Like all my rankings, I used a combination of advanced statistical analysis, traditional numbers and personal instincts.
Most of these guys can be had pretty late, but they are all known commodities. So you can wait on them, just don't wait too long... Don't reach for them ahead of more proven players, but don't let them slip through your fingers either: Championships are won/lost in the late rounds of your draft.
So delete Austin Rivers' name from your sleeper list, and commit these 7 names to memory.
There will be a quiz afterward. (There won't be a quiz afterwards.)
1. Terrence Jones, HOU, SF/PF
My love for Terrence Jones is well-documented. Check out his advanced stats: #11 effective FG % (.564), #16 block % (3.5), #8 turnover % (8.2), #12 offensive rating (118.8). You’re talking about a kid who basically wasn’t in the rotation his rookie year, then became ONE OF THE MOST EFFICIENT PLAYERS IN BASKETBALL his sophomore campaign. Now throw in his biggest competition on the roster (Chandler Parsons) signing with the Mavs… Could be a truly monster year for Terrence. There’s lots of usage available, and this 22-year old is only getting started. Lock and load, baby.
2. Andre Drummond, DET, PF/C
You might wonder why I have Drummond listed as a sleeper? Check out his advanced stats: #13 PER (22.6), #2 effective FG % (.623), #1 offensive reb % (17.5), #10 block % (4.0), #4 offensive rating (121.2). Those are SOME OF THE BEST NUMBERS IN THE NBA. This dude’s got first-round potential next year. I’m not joking. And guess what? He’s 21 years old. His new coach is Stan Van Gundy. That’s the guy that turned Dwight Howard into D-12. The offense is going to be built around Drummond. Bold and underline this name.
3. Jonas Valanciunas, TOR, C
Yet another college age rising NBA superstar. 22 years old, and solidly in the starting 5 for one of the NBA’s most promising teams. While he doesn’t have the upside of the first 2 guys on this list, you’re talking about one of the best rebounders in the NBA. [#14 total reb % (18.2)] After a strong FIBA, JV has proven he belongs in the conversation as one of the best Cs in the Eastern Conference. While his April stats last season were pretty badass, I think his 2nd half stats are more realistic (and still impressive for a 2nd year player): 28:41 MPG, 58.6 FG%, 79.8 FT%, 12.5 PPG, 8.8 RPG. I’d like to see more in the steals/blocks cats, but you can’t argue with everything else…
4. Nikola Pekovic, MIN, C
While Wiggins is getting all the attention (and rightly so) in Minnesota, Pekovic is flying under the radar. Pekovic missed about 30 games last season, and for that reason, he’s not getting a lot of pub. But the dude’s numbers have gone up every year. Check out last year’s advanced stats: #19 PER (20.7), #6 offensive reb % (13.1), #17 offensive rating (117.4). The real question is: How will this guy operate without K-Love around? I think he’s gonna go into beast mode. Love sucked up an awful lot of USG % (28.8), and that could mean more points/boards for Pek this season. There’s always risk in a rebuilding situation, but where’s the competition on this roster in the frontcourt? I predict Nikola’s most productive season yet…
5. Larry Sanders, MIL, PF/C
This is my sleepiest of my sleepers. Most risk, but probably the most upside (relative to draft position). Larry is a 25-year old shot blocking superstar who basically missed all of last year. He led the NBA in block % 2 seasons ago (6.7), and finished with traditional stats in 12/13 that were pretty staggering for a 23-year old: 27:17 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 50.6 FG%, 9.5 RPG, 2.8 BPG (2nd in NBA). He’s been putting up solid numbers this preseason, and he’s a good bet to rebound (pardon the pun). There’s risk here, but Larry has the potential to put up a career year.
6. Jrue Holiday, NO, PG
Jrue missed about 50 games last season – which is why he’s undervalued right now. A 5-year veteran of the league, Holiday is still only 24 years old. For all his health problems, Jrue‘s assist % was 38.9 (top 5 in the NBA). On an emerging Hornets team, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday could be a deadly 1-2 punch. Check out his stats from 2 years ago (when he played a full season): 17.7 PPG, 1.2 3PM, 4.2 RPG, 8 APG, 1.6 SPG. With better teammates on NO, I expect Jrue to put up his best efficiency stats in his career this year – and last year’s counting stats were very close to his 12/13 year. There is All-Star potential here, and he’s still so young…
7. Patrick Beverley, HOU, PG/SG
My final 2014/15 sleeper is also a guy you should be able to snag with a late pick (in a standard 12-team, 1-year league). To be honest, I find Beverley somewhat enigmatic, but I like what his advanced stats told me last year: offensive rating of 115 and steal % of 2.2 (just outside the top 20 in both cats). This is a 26-year old PG, entering his 3rd year in the NBA. While his upside isn’t immense, the counting stat potential is intriguing. His stellar defense is gonna keep him in the games, and check out his counting stats last year: 10.2 PPG, 1.6 3PM, 3.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.4 SPG. He’s also a career 81.8 FT% shooter. He’s not James Harden (Houston’s already got one of those), but he could provide sneaky value in the PG slot as the last pick in your draft. Worth a look…
So those are my ‘sleepers’.
If you scour the internet, you’ll likely find lots of info on EVERY SINGLE PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE. It’s information overload, and I could bet that you’ll find over 100 players that some dudes in their basement are calling ‘sleepers’.
Well, don’t listen to those basement-dwelling dudes. Listen to me.
I live in a condo. So there’s credibility for you.