Let’s get right down to it and look at a few fantasy basketball sleepers and bold predictions for the 2014 / 2015 season.
The fantasy basketball season is upon us, and rankings are everywhere. I’ve already taken part in a number of fantasy basketball mock drafts and things are looking a little out of whack in the early going. In this piece, I’m going to walk you through 3 guys who aren’t getting enough love so far… who have effectively earned the “fantasy basketball sleeper” tag at this point of the preseason.
Prediction #1: Isaiah Thomas is a top 15 fantasy basketball point guard
Everyone seems to be down on him this year, but I can’t put myself in that group. ESPN currently has him at 32nd overall amongst point guards. He was fantastic last year and is moving to a team that likes to run and up-and-go offense that puts a ton of balls in the basket. Sure, they have Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in the 1/2 spots on the floor… but that doesn’t mean they won’t find a way for him to get on the floor and be productive. They wouldn’t have dished out the cash they did in the offseason if he wasn’t a key cog in their plans.
Even if he goes back to being a 6th man for the Suns, he’ll still get 30 minutes a game and be a serious difference-maker. He basically went from a top 20 producer (overall) last year to almost an afterthought in this year’s drafts (at least so far)… when really all he’s had is a forecast of about 5 less minutes on the floor. He’s still going to hit 3s and put up very good percentages at a position that usually doesn’t give you both a good FG% and FT% outside of the elite guys. Moving to Phoenix won’t make him disappear into mediocrity. In fact, he’s now a value pick.
My projection for Isaiah Thomas for the 2014 / 2015 season: 15.8 PPG / 3.4 REB / 5.7 APG / 1.1 SPG / 1.4 3PG / .453 FG% / .834 FT%[alert type=”info” close=”false” heading=”Have you bookmarked Moxyball yet?”] Make sure you bookmark Moxyball and check back daily for our expert fantasy advice and DFS picks. Sign up to receive all new posts by email at the top of the article – absolutely FREE! [/alert]
Prediction #2: Jared Sullinger is a top 15 fantasy basketball power forward
A late first round pick in 2012, Sullinger burst onto the scene last year for the Celtics and proved to be a serious asset in fantasy leagues. He had his ups and downs, as any young player does – but when he was on, he was nearly unstoppable on the floor.
As a Toronto Raptors fan, I’ve watched my fair share of Boston / Toronto matchups over the years. Last season I watched in awe as Sullinger bullied the Raps on January 15, 2014 for 25 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a 3 in 39 minutes to lead his team to a win. He followed that up in March with another gem – 26 points, 8 rebounds, 4 threes and 2 blocks in 31 minutes. Even more important in all this is how dominant Sullinger looked when he was on the floor. He completely took over the offense and was a nightmare matchup for whoever the Raptors tried to throw at him.
He has range and can hit the long-ball, in addition to a smooth ability to drive the hoop. Yes, those are only 2 games over a full year… but the point I’m trying to make is the guy can play. Heading into his 3rd year as a pro, and the first of which where he’s going to have a significant role carved out for him, he’s going to provide a ton of fantasy value for those lucky enough to grab him. ESPN currently has him ranked as their 23rd power forward for the 2014 season, but he’s going to vastly out-produce that spot. I like him more than Nene Hilario, Jordan Hill, Greg Monroe and Terrence Jones in particular… all who are currently going ahead of him in drafts.
My projection for Jared Sullinger for the 2014 / 2015 season: 17.5 PPG / 10.2 REB / 2.4 APG / 1.1 SPG / 1.5 3PG / 0.8 BLK / .433 FG% / .754 FT%
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Prediction #3: Roy Hibbert is a top 12 fantasy basketball center
Hibbert has been a very frustrating fantasy basketball player for owners the last few years. Coming into his 7th season as a pro, and at 27 years of age, he’s getting treated like “old man time” in the eyes of most fantasy managers this year. It’s hard to believe that he’s still in the prime years of his career, even though he’s been around for quite some time.
What I like about Hibbert this year from an opportunity standpoint is just how much the Pacers are going to need him to perform. In order to be successful, they need their 7’2″ center to score, rebound and block shots like he’s capable doing. With Paul George out for what should be most of the season – and the loss of Lance Stephenson on the free agent market – it’s basically going to be the Roy Hibbert and David West show.
I’m expecting the Pacers to feed him the ball like they did in 2010 / 2011 when he averaged 11 shots a game, for example. He’s a more experienced player than he was back then, which will help him make smarter decisions around the basket. This should help him bring his FG% back up near 50% like it was only 2 short years ago. He’s also nice to own in your center spot because of a non-killer free throw percentage. His career average sits at 73.7% right now, which is hardly going to hurt your overall number in rotisserie leagues (like Dwight Howard does for his owners).
You may not get 15 points a game out of Roy, but he has a chance at approaching 13-14 per contest if I’m right about seeing his shots go up. What you’re going to get are lots of rebounds and blocks – which is really what you’re hoping to see from your big men in fantasy basketball. He’s currently sitting at the 18th ranked C in ESPN’s early rankings, which for me is far too low. I’m drafting him ahead of Robin Lopez, Nikola Pekovic and even Nerlens Noel. You should be able to get him at a great value for your fantasy basketball draft.
My projection for Roy Hibbert for the 2014 / 2015 season: 13.3 PPG / 10.2 REB / 1.7 APG / 0.3 SPG / 2.5 BLK / .472 FG% / .762 FT%[share title=”Share this with your friends!” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true” reddit=”true” email=”true”]