2023-24 Fantasy Basketball: 2 guard sleepers to target in drafts this NBA season

Last week, I wrote about all the players I'm fading (guards, forwards and centers) in fantasy basketball drafts ahead of the 2023-24 NBA season. This week, I'm going deeper into the bag to find the sleepers — players outside the top 100 in average draft position that will help your fantasy team win immediately. The first installment features the guards I'm highest on, so I'm D.I.T.C. (Diggin' in the Crates — shouts to Cam'Ron and Mase) for the underrated fantasy gems that'll emerge from the back ends of drafts.

Two players I'm bullish on who fell just outside my criteria for sleepers are Tyus Jones and Markelle Fultz. Both guys are strong candidates to exceed their ADPs this season.

Coby White, PG/SG, Chicago Bulls (ADP: 144.4)

The Bulls have a noticeable void in their backcourt heading into the season. Lonzo Ball will miss the entire season, and former Bulls starting point guard Patrick Beverley is in Philly. Those absences have a few players vying for starting point guard duties in CHI-town, and based on what I've seen, Coby White is the frontrunner for the job. The competition is definitely close, with Ayo Dosunmu playing well and Jevon Carter right there. However, White's combination of playmaking, shooting and on-ball defense makes him an intriguing sleeper late in drafts. Also, following the money, the Bulls gave White a three-year extension worth $40M this offseason, which is a more significant financial commitment to any guard outside of Zach LaVine beyond this season.

White's started in all three contests for the Bulls this preseason, with two starts at point guard. He's been solid, too, averaging 14.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.7 steals and 1.7 threes with 57/39/71 shooting splits in 22 minutes per night. On a per-36 basis, that extrapolates out to 22.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.7 threes and 1.1 steals. I don't expect White to average 23 points, but based on his career numbers when playing at least 30 minutes per night, 16 points with four rebounds and five assists are undoubtedly attainable. Also, don't worry about his low free-throw marks in the preseason because he's an 85% shooter from the charity stripe through his first four seasons in the NBA.

As we inch closer to the start of the season, it's essential to listen to the coaching staff and players to get their views on the situation. Bulls head coach Billy Donovan detailed White's development this offseason, specifically mentioning how the game has slowed down for him, how he's made strides as a ball-handler and how he's improved at initiating the offense.

And, here's LaVine mentioning his rapport with White more than his counterparts. While there's some risk of Donovan throwing a wrench into White's plans as a starter to open the season, it's becoming clear that he'll still be a fixture of the rotation and is poised to see a minutes and usage boost this season, which will likely be his best as a pro.

Bennedict Mathurin, SG/SF, Indiana Pacers (ADP: 125.5)

The Pacers are an exciting young team with a lot of talent, and one of those players who I'm projecting to emerge is Mathurin. He came off the bench last season and averaged 16.9 points per game, which ranked second in the NBA for players who came off the bench in at least 30 games. The most impressive part of Mathurin's game was his ability to get to the free-throw line as a rookie. He and Paolo Banchero were the only rookies to get to the line more than five times per game, and with Mathurin slated for more minutes, I expect those numbers to rise. Pacers HC Rick Carlisle said that Mathurin would get the opportunity to start at shooting guard in the preseason, and so far, that's held true. Mathurin's been excellent (replacing Buddy Hield) in his first two contests — leading the Pacers in points per game (16.0) and averaging the third-most rebounds (6.0) in only 20.1 minutes.

Mathurin's growth as a rebounder is important to his fantasy value because last season, he was just a bucket-getter who offered little in other categories. He finished 245th in per-game value and 180th in total value (which was aided by playing in 78 games). Assuming he remains with the starters, we could be looking at a player who can jump to at least 18 points per game with five-plus rebounds and a couple of assists. Upside-wise, Mathurin's second campaign could look like Jaylen Brown's fourth season in the NBA, where he transitioned from a player well outside of the top 150 to inside the top 70.

They have similar styles of play in terms of fantasy — natural scorers who can use their athleticism to get five to six rebounds. Considering that Mathurin is going in the 10th round of drafts, this is a late-round flier you won't want to miss.