With the '12/'13 NBA regular season fast approaching, Yahoo! fantasy basketball pundits (Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, Brandon Funston) offer up their favorite sleepers and issue a warning as to which players are being drafted much too high based on where they are being taken, on average, in Yahoo! drafts (ADP).
Sleeper Guard (ADP outside top 50)
Andy — Damian Lillard, Por - The kid just went 21-8 in the preseason win over Utah, and national NBA writers are already profiling him. In another week or so, he won't be available outside the top-90, where he's going right now.
Dalton — Klay Thompson, GSW — He averaged 18.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.1 spg and 2.1 3pt while shooting 90.6 percent from the line over 29 starts as a rookie last year. He'll be a key to the offense with Monta Ellis gone and would be the team's centerpiece if Stephen Curry goes down again. Thompson looks like a steal at his current ADP (75.1) in Y! leagues.
Brandon — Isaiah Thomas, Sac — If you take Thomas' averages in 37 games as a starter last season, they match up pretty darn well with that of rookie of the year, Kyrie Irving - a few more points for Irving, noticeably less turnovers for Thomas. I'm not saying that Thomas belongs in Irving's fantasy draft tier, but Irving was No. 28 in last year's Yahoo! game in per game fantasy value. Which is to say that Thomas has considerably more upside than his current No. 89 ADP value would suggest.
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Deep sleeper Guard (ADP outside top 100)
Andy — George Hill, Ind - As a starter last season, he averaged 13.9 points, 5.3 assists and 0.9 turnovers per game. He's locked in as starting guard now, eligible at both PG and SG, and available at Pick No. 122.
Dalton — Luke Ridnour, Min - I'm going to go ugly here and try to dig real deep with Ridnour, who according to Basketball Monster, was actually more valuable than Rajon Rondo last year in 9-cat leagues. Ridnour contributes in all categories and will be available in the final rounds of drafts despite a clear starting role to open the year. There's no guarantee with Ricky Rubio's health at any point this season.
Brandon — George Hill, Ind — Hill is the clear floor leader for the Pacers now that Darren Collison has moved on to Dallas. As a starter last season, Hill averaged 14 points, 5 assists, nearly 4 rebounds, 1.4 three-pointers and less than a turnover per game. With the expectations that he'll easily surpass his career high in minutes per game, Hill is someone that needs to be bumped up on draft lists.
Overvalued Guard (ADP inside top 50)
Andy — John Wall, Was - He's not a special shooter (42.3 percent), he turns the ball over four times a game, he's dealing with a knee injury, and yet we're still paying a top-45 price. No thanks.
Dalton — John Wall, Was - I'm a big fan of Wall, but I can't see taking him in the top-50 picks with his current injury. Even when healthy he's been a bit overvalued in fantasy terms, since he doesn't hit threes and commits too many turnovers.
[More Fantasy basketball: Top 100 draft picks]
Brandon — Kyle Lowry, Tor — Point guard is a fairly deep position, and using one of my first three picks on Lowry, who is switching teams after coming off a career year in Houston, is a little too rich for my blood. He's not that durable, his shooting percentages have typically been abysmal, and one of Lowry's positives last season was a FT% mark (86.4) that was well above his career average (78.3). And let's not forget, Toronto has a pretty good backup PG in Jose Calderon. Lowry's hound dog defensive mentality is endearing, but it doesn't completely cover up the blemishes here.
Sleeper forward (ADP outside top 50)
Andy — Kenneth Faried, Den - As a rookie, his per-40 averages were 18.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. He'll beast in the defensive stats, too. The Manimal is a filthy steal at his current ADP (86.2).
Dalton — J.R. Smith, NYK - Over the final month of last season, Smith averaged 16.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.0 spg and 2.7 3pt while shooting 88.2 percent from the line in a modest 32:47 mpg. He's likely to continue to be the Knicks' sixth man and has to contend with Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony for shots, but New York tied for fourth in PACE. Smith is one of only four players who averaged at least 1.9 3pt and 1.5 spg.
Brandon — Ersan Ilyasova, Mil — Ilyasova was a revelation for the Bucks, exploding after the All-Star break for averages of 16 points, 9 boards and 55 percent shooting. He also pushed the vaunted 1/1/1 club in the second half, draining more than a three-pointer per game while falling just short in steals and blocks (0.8). His efficient, well-rounded game has top 30 fantasy upside.
Deep sleeper Forward (ADP outside top 100)
Andy — Gordon Hayward, Uta - After the break in 2011-12, he hit a three per game, he averaged 14.1 points per night, shot excellent percentages (48.2, 86.3) and contributed in both assists and boards (3.1, 4.2). Hayward gives you SG/SF eligibility, and you can snag him outside the top-120.
Dalton — Andrei Kirilenko, Min - Kirilenko has an ADP of 117.0, likely in part because he didn't play in the NBA last season, but he won league MVP in Russia and followed that up by playing well in the Olympics. He'll be joining a Minnesota team in which he should become a major contributor and don't forget he's averaged 2.0 bpg and 1.4 spg throughout his career.
Brandon — Andrei Kirilenko, Min — Kirilenko played in the Euroleague last year while the NBA dealt with their labor issues. He wound up as the league's MVP and then went on to average 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2 steals and nearly 2 blocks in eight Olympic games for Russia, who surprised with a bronze-medal finish. Kirilenko's defensive prowess has always translated well to the fantasy game, and Minnesota is going to lean on him for that as its starting small forward.
Overvalued forward (ADP inside top 50)
Andy — Danny Granger, Ind - He's battling knee trouble, coming off yet another year of declining stats. We're drafting Granger in the third round, near Pick No. 27, but he'll have a very tough time justifying that ADP. I'll take Paul George a round later, if I absolutely have to draft a Pacer.
Dalton — Paul Millsap, Uta - He was the seventh most valuable player last year, and some regression is getting priced into his Y! ADP (17.3), but I'm not sure it's enough, as he may eventually lose his starting role to Derrick Favors.
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Brandon — Serge Ibaka, OKC — Plain and simple, Ibaka is a block-shot specialist. And the potential to win just one of the nine fantasy categories just isn't worth a second round pick, where he's going on average, when you consider that none of his other stat contributions stand out, and a majority of them are actually negatively-impacting (PTS, AST, 3FG, STL, FT%).
Sleeper Center (ADP outside top 50)
Andy — Joakim Noah, Chi - There's basically zero doubt in my mind that he'll average a double-double this season, assuming he remains healthy (which obviously is not guaranteed). Derrick Rose's absence leaves plenty of shots to go around, and they can't all go to Nate Robinson.
Dalton — Andrew Bogut, GSW — He's missed an average of 32.5 games over the past four seasons and has a career 57.4 FT percentage, so he's not without risk, but that's why his price tag remains reasonable. His per-game value in 9-cat leagues last year was equal to Dwight Howard's, and the two seasons before that Bogut averaged 14.0 ppg, 10.6 rpg and 2.6 bpg.
Brandon — Anderson Varejao, Cle — Cleveland's hustle board king finished No. 48 in per game fantasy value in the Yahoo! game last season, averaging 11.5 boards, shooting above 50 percent and, as usual, contributing a combined 2 blocks-steals per game. Head coach Byron Scott loves his hard-hat approach, and it's very unlikely his playing time decreases this season. So if the production expectations remain similar to last season, then it doesn't make much sense for him to be going off the board, on average in Yahoo! drafts, around pick No. 80.
[More Fantasy basketball: Riskiest and safest bets]
Deep sleeper Center (ADP outside top 100)
Andy — Nikola Pekovic, Min - Just please check out the big man's stats last season, from February to April. You can't use that? He's available well outside the top-100 selections, so there's little risk associated with the pick.
Dalton — J.J. Hickson, Por - He was a major disappointment in Sacramento last season, but after getting shipped to Portland and given a real opportunity, he responded with 15.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 0.6 spg and 0.9 bpg while shooting 54.3 percent from the field. He's set to start and see a career high in minutes in 2012/13.
Brandon — Nikola Pekovic, Min — Perhaps Kevin Love's gaudy numbers have overshadowed what Pekovic did for the T-Wolves in the middle of last season. Whatever it is, Pekovic, with an ADP of (119.5), isn't getting nearly the "love" he deserves from the fantasy masses. Pekovic is entrenched as the Minnesota starter, where he averaged 15 points, 8.5 rebounds and shot nearly 55 percent from the field with the first unit last season.
Overvalued Center (ADP inside top 50)
Andy — Andrew Bynum, Phi - His current Yahoo! ADP is 12.3, which is just about the dumbest thing ever, in the history of fantasy sports. He's not practicing, he can't be in game shape, and his knees are a disaster. AND YOU'RE TAKING HIM 12TH. Not good, gamers.
Dalton — Dwight Howard, LAL - He might be a top-three player in the NBA, and there's a way to build around him in H2H formats, but in 9-cat fantasy leagues, he ranked 61st last year, and his current Y! ADP is 12.1. He's also coming off fairly serious back surgery.
Brandon — Andrew Bynum, Phi — I don't hate the player, but I sure hate the durability. Bynum has yet to practice for his new squad (Philly) after offseason knee surgery, and he's still experiencing knee soreness. Bynum is only 25 years old, yet already has a long history of knee issues. It's something that sure seems more likely to get worse than get better as he gets older. It's purely for health reasons that I won't come close to paying market value for this big.
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