2018-19 Fantasy Basketball Top Sleepers
Justin Fensterman helps you find those sleeper NBA players you want to go after in this year's fantasy basketball drafts.
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- Jarrett Allen -C-Brooklyn Nets: With limited Center depth, the Nets will be relying heavily on Allen this season to start and play deep into games. He only played 20 minutes per game last season and he averaged over a block per game. Expect his scoring to reach double figures and he’ll grab around eight rebounds per game. He’s very aggressive in the paint and he uses the pump fake inside effectively to draw contact. He shot over 77 percent from the free-throw line and he’ll help balance out shooting percentages because of the amount of high-percentage shots he will take in the paint. He’s also been working on his long-range game to add more to his overall game. Expect him to shoot three-pointers when open. With no other competition at the position besides Ed Davis , expect growth from a production standpoint between this year and last year.
- Josh Jackson -F-Phoenix Suns: Even though the Suns added Trevor Ariza thus making it harder for Jackson to get minutes at the SF spot, he’ll get a good amount of playing time at the PF spot. Once he had a good PG in Elfrid Payton giving him good leading passes, he was able to utilize his speed and explosiveness and get in the lane. Jackson will score a ton of points off of transition. Jackson is also a good defender. He’s excellent at staying in front of his defender and avoid screens. He’ll grab boards and steals and score around 15 points per game. There is also a chance the Suns can trade for a veteran PG before the start of the season and that will benefit Jackson even more. He’ll be the third scoring option in the Suns lineup entering the season.
- De’Aaron Fox-G-Sacramento Kings: Fox is in a great situation being that he can rotate to both guard spots and Bogdan Bogdanovic will likely have to miss the first few weeks of the season. Fox will play a ton of minutes and he’ll score in double figures consistently and help with assists and steals. Fox showed last season that he will fight for long rebounds. Fox was also an effective driver and could become the Kings top-scoring weapon quickly. Fox will produce more assists this season with 2018 2nd overall draft pick Marvin Bagley III in town. Having Harry Giles back will also give Fox another big man to feed.
- Marcin Gortat -C-Los Angeles Clippers: Towards the end of your drafts, Gortat, who is expected to start, will still be around. He still grabbed over seven boards per game and fantasy owners can expect his minutes to rise to the 30’s for the majority of games being that there isn’t too much depth behind Gortat. There are plenty of minutes to go around for both Gortat and teammate Montrezl Harrell . Gortat utilizes his one-handed moves very effectively and even though he’s not as quick as he was, he’ll still be able to hold his own in the paint. Gortat owners will mainly get points and boards and he should be able to lift his scoring average back to double figures.
- DeMarre Carroll -F-Brooklyn Nets: Carroll is a very disciplined defender and he was able to pull down a lot of boards. He was good at rotating from the perimeter to the paint and gain position against the opposition. His 6.6 rebounds per game were a testament to his aggressiveness. He hit a ton of shots from mid and long-range. He hit two three-pointers per game and scored 13.5 points per game. He’ll also have his games in which he grabs a couple of steals. He is a very smart player and doesn’t force up stupid shots and won’t hurt your shooting percentages. He shot over 76 percent from the free-throw line and he’s not afraid to take advantage of open lanes.
- Kent Bazemore -G-Atlanta Hawks: With Dennis Schroder off the team, there will be more shots to go around. The Hawks guards will produce a lot of their offense. Trae Young will be on a shorter leash early and will look to feed Bazemore a lot more early until his shot gets going. Bazemore should be looked at as the Hawks current second scoring option behind John Collins . Bazemore takes a lot of jumpers from the elbow. Expect consistent double-digit scoring games and he’ll even help a bit with assists. He was very beneficial defensively, grabbing nearly four boards per game last season. He also swiped 1.5 balls per game last season. He’s a very physical defender and will stay in the game longer because of his strong perimeter defense. He doesn’t have much competition for minutes.
- Taj Gibson -F/C-Minnesota Timberwolves: Gibson made such a strong impact last year that Gorgui Dieng has become forgotten about and a trade chip for Minnesota. After grabbing over seven boards per game, Gibson showed that he can still control the low block. He’ll be there towards the end of drafts and will occasionally help with steals and blocks. Gibson has a few effective post moves. He is another big man who uses his baby hook shot effectively. He scored 12.2 points per game last year and played 33 minutes per game last year. Being that Karl-Anthony Towns plays a lot on the perimeter, Gibson is a great complimentary piece who sticks to the paint and he’ll continue to play over 30 minutes per game.
- Mario Hezonja -G/F-New York Knicks: Hezonja could find himself in a starting role from the get-go. Hezonja is a hustler who will fight in the lane versus bigger defenders. He scored just under 10 points per game while playing 22 minutes per game. Expect Hezonja to score 12-15 points per game. The Knicks don’t have many reliable scoring options and Hezonja will not only score from long-range, but he’ll drive and get to the line. He shot nearly 82 percent from the free-throw line. He’ll grab around five boards per game and his hustle and efforts on defense will keep him in the game during critical moments. If he doesn’t start, he’ll be the primary scoring option off the bench and will still play 25-28 minutes per game. If Hezonja starts he’ll reach 30 minutes per game. He’ll also compile steals and the Knicks won’t have to rely as much on Courtney Lee .
- Jordan Clarkson -G-Cleveland Cavaliers: It doesn’t matter if he starts or comes off the bench, Jordan Clarkson will have a scoring role on his team. If you’re at the end of your drafts and need a scorer, Clarkson is an excellent option. He scored just under 14 points per game and with LeBron James off the team, he will see more time with the ball. He can play both guard spots effectively and he’s an 80 percent free-throw shooter. The Cavs don’t have a lot of established scorers and Clarkson will hit outside jumpers. Expect him to play between 27-30 minutes per game and he’ll run the floor effectively. He’ll thrive in transition. His defense needs to improve a bit, but with not too many other consistent scorers and no LeBron factor, he should get a longer leash and his rebound, steals and assist numbers should all grow from last season.
- Rudy Gay -F-San Antonio Spurs: Gay has been hampered by injuries over the last couple of seasons, but being that you can grab him as a bench option, it’s low-risk. Gay is not looking at too much competition for minutes and whether he starts or comes off the bench won’t impact his stats. Gay can play at both forward spots and being that LaMarcus Aldridge will rotate to Center for portions of the game, that will open things up further for Gay in the rotation. Gay is more of an elbow shooter these days, but don’t be surprised if he steps back and shoots open three’s. He should still be able to score in double figures consistently and he’ll grab rebounds. Expect him to help out with steals and blocks at times. Gay will also help grab rebounds. He grabbed over five last season. Don’t forget, he could start!
- Patrick Beverley -G-Los Angeles Clippers: Pat-Bev was out most of last season, but he is 100 percent healthy entering training camp. Beverley walks right back into a starting role and he can play effectively at both guard spots. Beverley is aggressive on defense and he’ll reward fantasy owners with boards and steals. He’s also aggressive on the offensive side of the ball and has the ability to turn up the pace on offense at any given point. He grabbed 1.7 steals per game and being that he’s not limited heading into camp, expect him to play over 30 minutes per game. He has been in trade rumors as well and could potentially end up in a better situation. Expects his assists to improve a bit and he’ll score 12-15 points per game. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan being off the team give the Clippers more shots to go around and Beverley will be taking a good chunk of shots as the team’s third scoring option.
- Cody Zeller -C-Charlotte Hornets: Zeller was dealing with knee injuries last season and only played in 33 games. Zeller should be the starting Center to start the season and if he can stay healthy, expect to see stats similar to a couple of seasons ago in which he should be able to average 10 points and around seven to eight rebounds per game. He’ll score from mainly inside and he’s a better defender than Willy Hernangomez and better on offense than Bismack Biyombo . Expect Zeller to play 25-28 minutes per game. He’s the most complete big man of any option on the Hornets and a low-risk end of the draft pick. The playing time will be there and even if he hurts himself again, it’s a bench replacement.
- Al-Farouq Aminu -F-Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers didn’t address big-man depth and that will once again benefit Aminu. Aminu showed his shooting range last season and was a tenacious defender at the elbow and in the paint. He grabbed over a steal per game last season and is looking once again at 30 minutes per game. Aminu can rotate to both forward spots and he grabbed 7.6 boards per game last season. Aminu should be able to score 10-12 points per game. The one downside was his shooting percentage last season being under 40, but being that he helps consistently in three categories and plays good defense, he’s a good final round target.
- Josh Richardson -G-Miami Heat: The Heat clearly prioritize Josh Richardson over Tyler Johnson and even with Dion Waiters eventually returning, Richardson brings a good combination of explosiveness and good shooting. He’s good at running the floor and scored nearly 13 points per game last season. He improved his defense last year and will grab steals consistently. Expect Richardson to start and serve as the Heat’s third scoring option. Expect his three-point shooting percentage to rise. Richardson will be able to rotate to both the SG and SF spots and with Dwayne Wade aging, Richardson will have a long leash when on the floor.
- D.J. Augustin -G-Orlando Magic: Augustin is a good final PG to have on a fantasy team because he’s a starter and Jerian Grant is his competition rather than Shelvin Mack . Augustin should be able to play 25-30 minutes per game and he’ll provide scoring, long-range shooting and he’ll help with assists. Expect him to dish five to seven assists per game while scoring in double figures. Augustin is efficient when off the ball and can also serve as the team’s main spot-up shooter if teammate Aaron Gordon gets double-teamed. Augustin will sporadically grab boards, but it’s mainly the scoring and dimes that fantasy owners will get from him.
- Kyle Anderson -G/F-Memphis Grizzlies: Anderson is in a new situation and expect his minutes to improve. He should be able to hit the 30-minute mark in the majority of his games. He’ll play minutes at both SF and SG and he’ll even have time with the ball to set plays up. Anderson shot over 52 percent from the field last season and will be taking a lot more shots this season His defense is also strong as he grabbed 5.4 boards and 1.6 steals per game. Expect him to score in double figures consistently being the third scoring option on the Grizzlies. He’ll start and with the Grizzlies not as deep of a team as the Spurs, Anderson will benefit by having a much larger scoring role.
- Marcus Morris -F-Boston Celtics: Even though Morris was a bit banged up last season and the Celtics have good depth, Morris still has an enforcer role on this team. He brings a ton of toughness and pushes defenders out of the lane. He’s a good complimentary frontcourt player to Al Horford (who tends to play more at the arc on offense). Morris is a reliable shooter who can hit shots from the elbow and outside. He scored 13.6 points per game. Morris should be the primary scoring big-man off the bench. Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving being healthy takes shots away from players, but when Morris is in, he’ll see less coverage defensively and should be able to score in double-digits consistently. He grabbed more rebounds last season than in past seasons and he should be able to pull down six to seven boards per game while seeing at least 20 minutes per game.
- Rodney Hood -G-Cleveland Cavaliers: Hood can find himself in a starting role because of his defense. He’s a solid perimeter defender and he’ll grab steals. He plays at the arc on both sides of the ball and is the King of the top of the key three-pointer. He loves setting up at the top of the key and just like with Jordan Clarkson , Hood benefits from LeBron James being off of the team. Hood should be able to score in double figures while playing close to 30 minutes per game. He is good at reading screens and will serve as a good final bench option. With limited established scorers, Hood should see a good amount of shots from mid and long-range. Expect scoring and steals from Hood.
- Jonathan Isaac -F-Orlando Magic: Isaac was hurt a lot his rookie season and played behind other players. With the Magic lacking mid-court depth, Isaac could also end up starting at the beginning of the season. He is very good at running the floor and can play both forward positions. He’s 6’10 and will be a match up nightmare. He can ball-handle and serve as the third scoring option because Evan Fournier is more of a jump shooter than a driver. Isaac can do both and he attacks the rim with force. Even if he doesn’t start and gets limited minutes (for some reason) early, his role and stats will grow throughout the season if he can stay on the court. If Isaac doesn’t start, he could become the main scorer and change of pace player off the bench. He’s very intriguing entering the season and his explosiveness on the drive will make him standout.
- Caris LeVert -G/F-Brooklyn Nets: LeVert showed his improved durability last season and was a four-category producer producing points, boards, assists and steals consistently. He can rotate to three positions, but expect to him to mainly play at SG and SF. He could find himself starting at SG with Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris being his main competition for minutes. LeVert’s defense is better than both of them and he’ll be relied on. He was aggressive on the perimeter on defense. On offense he shot over 43 percent while scoring 12.1 points per game. He’ll hit shots from long-range and follow his shot to keep plays alive. Even if LeVert is the first player to come in off the bench, he’ll still play at least 25 minutes per game and get plenty of opportunities with the Nets second unit.
Player AlarmsView All
M. Wagner - SF
Wagner (knee) has been participating in some non-contact drills and some controlled contact post work in practice, Mike Trudell of the Lakers' official site reports.
Wagner was forced to miss the whole preseason due to a knee contusion, although it's good to see that he's been getting some work in during practice. His status for the season opener Thursday against Portland has yet to be revealed, but he's expected to be reevaluated in the next few days to determine his availability moving forward.
Added Yesterday 7:31 pm (EST)
R. Gay - SF
Gay (heel) is expected to play in Wednesday's season opener against the Timberwolves, Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News reports.
Gay sat out the team's preseason finale over the weekend with a heel injury, though he's on track to play in the regular season opener after fully participating in Monday's practice. The veteran averaged 10.5 points and 5.0 rebounds across 21.2 minutes per game last season.
Added Yesterday 6:31 pm (EST)
B. Simmons - PG
Simmons (neck) returned to practice Monday after sitting out Saturday's session with stiffness in his neck, Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philly reports.
Simmons' absence Saturday was more precautionary than anything else, and all indications are that he'll be fine for Tuesday's season-opener against the Celtics. The 22-year-old is among the best young talents in the league and is coming off of a monster rookie season in which he averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks in 81 starts.
Added Yesterday 5:56 pm (EST)
M. Harkless - SF
Harkless (knee) went through most of Monday's practice but remains questionable for Thursday's season opener against the Lakers, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports.
Harkless was held out of all five preseason games due to a sore left knee, but his participation in Monday's session is a major step in the right direction. Nonetheless, coach Terry Stotts didn't provide much insight into Harkless' status for the opener. "He doesn't have a status right now," Stotts told the media. For the time being, consider Harkless optimistically questionable, but he appears to be trending in the right direction.
Added Yesterday 5:49 pm (EST)
D. Arthur - PF
Arthur was waived by the Suns on Monday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.
This was the expectation all along when the Suns acquired Arthur back in July, but the team decided to keep him around through training camp and the preseason. The veteran will now become a free agent and look to catch on with another team in need of frontcourt depth.
Added Yesterday 5:30 pm (EST)
S. Harrison - SG
Harrison was waived by the Suns on Monday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.
Harrison was thought to be in competition for minutes at point guard for the Suns, who don't have a reliable veteran at the position, but the two sides will part ways and Harrison will become a free agent. With Harrison out of the picture, Devin Booker will likely slot in as the immediate starter, with rookies Elie Okobo and De'Anthony Melton battling veterans Isaiah Canaan and Jamal Crawford for reserve minutes.
Added Yesterday 5:28 pm (EST)
L. Nance Jr. - SF
Nance (ankle) signed a four-year, $45 million extension with the Cavaliers on Monday, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports.
Nance joined the Cavaliers at the trade deadline last season, and following some impressive showings in the second half of the season and playoffs, the 25-year-old has solidified his second NBA contract. Nance is expected to serve as the first backcourt player to come off the bench for the Cavaliers this season, and while his offensive game is still somewhat limited, he's shown plenty of promise with his versatility on defense. Nance, however, is currently questionable to play in Wednesday's season opener in Toronto due to a right ankle sprain.
Added Yesterday 5:08 pm (EST)
K. Caldwell-Pope - SG
Caldwell-Pope (knee) took part in practice Monday and worked with the starting group, Bill Oram of The Athletic reports.
Caldwell-Pope was held out of the preseason finale Friday due to tendinitis in his knee, but the issue doesn't appear to be anything of great concern, even though he was held out of the final scrimmage Monday as a precaution. "In my medical opinion I think he's going to be just fine," head coach Luke Walton said after the session. Perhaps the more relevant news is that Caldwell-Pope worked as a starter alongside Rajon Rondo in the backcourt, which could be an indication of how Walton is leaning in advance of the regular season opener Thursday in Portland. Caldwell-Pope has been in competition, primarily, with Josh Hart for the starting shooting guard job, and Walton said Monday that he'll continue to evaluate the position on a daily basis.
Added Yesterday 5:04 pm (EST)