Fantasy Basketball Super Sleepers: Late-Round lottery tickets to consider drafting

By Alex RikleenRotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

You’ve read all of the sleeper articles, yet you want more. You’re feeling particularly reckless, or maybe your league is just really, really deep. Well, that’s what we’re here for.

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“Super sleepers” are players going undrafted in 12-team leagues — and, sometimes, undrafted in leagues much deeper than that.

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Players are listed in the order I’d recommend drafting them. Since readers of this article will come from leagues of a wide variety of sizes, I’ve made sure to include descriptions of some very deep options. As a result, the “other suggestions” are inserted throughout the article to make it clear how I would rank them.

Landry Shamet, Los Angeles Clippers

Why does Shamet even qualify for this list? An ADP of 191? What are we doing here, people? As of my last update, I have him ranked 133 on my big board — that’s draftable in a 10-team league. Yet he’s going undrafted in some 14-team leagues. Shamet is expected to start for the Clippers. They have a strong backcourt, so he may not see a full 30 minutes per game, but he doesn’t need 30 minutes to be rosterable.

After getting traded to the Clippers in February, he averaged 10.7 points, 2.7 threes, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists with just 0.8 turnovers. That was in 27.8 minutes per game, and I expect Shamet to play more this year. He’s only 22 years old, showed steady improvement through his rookie season, and the Clippers’ staff and players have gone out of their way to rave about his offseason development.

Landry Shamet isn't getting the draft attention he deserves. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Landry Shamet isn't getting the draft attention he deserves. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Monte Morris, Denver Nuggets

Morris is another player who I’m surprised qualifies for this list. Morris is going so late in drafts that Yahoo doesn’t even display his ADP. I know the Nuggets depth chart is absolutely packed, but Morris finished inside the top 140 last year. He was second in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio and he’s one of the most efficient shooters in the league, putting up a 49-41-80 line last season.

He was basically a rookie — technically he played three games in 2017-18, so he was officially a sophomore — yet he played well enough to steal minutes from Gary Harris and was a frequent participant in crunch time., Sure, the depth chart is a major concern. The Nuggets have too many good players for everyone to get the minutes they deserve. But that was also true last season, and it didn’t stop him then. Morris also has the possibility, albeit an unlikely one, of taking another leap and emerging as a cornerstone player for the Nuggets. He seems like a lock for a top-150 finish, with an outside chance to charge into the top-90.

Other suggestions: Coby White, Bulls; Michael Porter Jr., Nuggets; Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Pelicans

Harry Giles, Sacramento Kings

For years, Giles was considered the top prospect in the 2017 NBA draft, until a series of knee injuries got in the way. His draft stock fell, and he sat out what would have been his rookie season. But when he finally did debut in 2018-19, he showed that the talent was still there.

Though he played only 58 games, most of his missed games were precautionary. The Kings took it slow with him, limiting him to roughly 10 minutes a game before the New Year. They then went to roughly 15 minutes for two months before letting him get up to 18.6 minutes in March. And Giles’ per-36 production was the stuff of fantasy dreams: 17.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.0 blocks. That compares favorably with DeMarcus Cousins’ per-36 numbers his rookie year (17.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocks).

The Kings are likely to remain somewhat cautious with Giles, but it’s fair to expect a significant boost in his workload. He’s so productive that he probably only needs 22-25 minutes to get himself into the top-150. The question is whether the offseason additions of Dewayne Dedmon and Richaun Holmes will get in the way.

Other suggestions: Tyler Herro, Heat; Wesley Matthews, Bucks; Carsen Edwards, Celtics

Juancho Hernangomez, Denver Nuggets

Ok, so now we’re getting really deep. Hernangomez went undrafted in a recent 20-team league that I’m in, to give you an idea (though I thought I was going to take him with my second-to-last pick until Meyers Leonard unexpectedly fell to me; I already had the 76ers’ Matisse Thybulle, so I used my last pick on Zhaire Smith as a sort of handcuff).

It’s not clear what the Nuggets are going to do with their small forward spot. It’s available for Michael Porter Jr if he can earn it and stay healthy, but those are big “if”s. Porter has played exactly three regulation games in the last two years, as a series of injuries shortened his college career and forced him to skip what would have been his rookie season.

Will Barton is capable and ahead of Hernangomez on the depth chart, but even when he was a starter Barton only averaged 28.4 minutes last season, leaving plenty of opportunity behind him if Porter gets hurt again. Then, Hernangomez would still have to beat out Torrey Craig – achievable, but by no means guaranteed.

But the Nuggets have kept Hernangomez in the rotation throughout his career, even when he’s fallen to the back end of it. He has a floor that other players picked in the mid-200s can’t offer. He’s a decent shooter, and his best contributions will probably be in threes. A bunch of things have to fall in his favor for him to stick on rosters, but he should provide at least a little production over the first few games of the season while you wait for waiver pickups to emerge.

Other suggestions: Daniel Theis, Celtics; Jahlil Okafor, Pelicans; Isaiah Thomas, Wizards

Zhaire Smith, Philadelphia 76ers

If I were writing this two weeks ago, I would have written about Matisse Thybulle and listed him ahead of Harry Giles. But Thybulle has been so good during the preseason that he’s getting added in many 12-team leagues and probably doesn’t qualify for this article anymore. So, instead, let’s talk about Smith, another young bench option for the 76ers.

Smith is a 20 year old “sophomore," though injuries limited him to just six games as a rookie. I’m much more optimistic about Thybulle, but both players are top bench options for one of the shallowest teams in the league. Additionally, the 76ers will need to rely on their bench heavily, as they are likely to engage in regular “load management” for most of their starters. While their starting five is obvious, there is zero clarity about their bench rotation.

If Smith can emerge as the sixth or seventh man — seventh, behind Thybulle, seems most likely — he could be looking at roughly 20 minutes per game, plus occasional starts when the regulars are resting. Smith profiles as a good three-point shooter, a decent scorer, and an OK rebounder and defender for his position.

Other suggestions: Noah Vonleh, Timberwolves; Dante Exum, Jazz

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