Hey Razzball Nation!  Adam Miller here!  I’ll be on board for the rest of the season writing the weekly waiver wire article as well as some other fun stuff.  I’m currently a Junior at USF getting a degree in IT to work towards a career in sports analytics.  Basketball and stats in general have always been a love of mine, so this career seemed like a perfect marriage of the two.  Anyway, this is my first article so I’d love some feedback on what to improve, or what I did well, before the kick-off of the regular season.  Enough about me, lets get into some early round sleepers and busts!

The Good:

Anthony Davis

Now this might not seem like much of a sleeper pick, but it would be a crime if Davis was not the #1 pick in every draft this season.  Aside from his continued growth as a player, Gentry said that Davis would be much more involved in the offense this season.  With his good passing ability and high percentages, you’re talking about a guy who is going to put up some legendary stat lines.  This alone should make him the undisputed top pick without even having to mention his rumored 3 point range.

Damian Lillard

With the mass exodus of starters from Portland, it’s Lillard’s time to shine.  Lamarcus Aldridge was 14th in overall usage rate last year, and Lillard is going to have to pick up a lot of the slack.  A player of Dames caliber on a team almost completely devoid of offensive options means great things for his fantasy value.  The Trail Blazers may not do well, but Damian should easily launch into the top 10 in all fantasy leagues.  I would be slightly more cautious in 9 cat leagues, because his turnover rate will likely rise some due to the higher usage, but he’s hardly a liability in that area.  Draft him in the first round in all leagues and you won’t be sorry.  Oh, one more thing! If you need a little more incentive, just remember that in 3 seasons of play, Lillard has never missed a game.

Rudy Gobert 

The legend of the Stifle Tower grew to epic proportions by the end of last season.  This past year was only Rudy’s 2nd season in the league, so the scary part is that there’s a ton of room for growth here.  After starting only 37 games last season, Rudy is poised for a massive year this season.  Per 36 minutes last season he averaged 11 points 3 blocks and 13 boards, with 60% shooting and 62% from the charity stripe.  Stat domination like this, with a free throw percentage that won’t kill you (I’m looking at you Deandre and Drummond!) is hard to find.  Plus the FT% is trending upward in a major way, after only shooting 48% from the stripe in his first season.  Don’t sleep on him in the 2nd to early 3rd round area.  A combination of Davis or DeMarcus Cousins and Gobert could lock down big man stats.

Andre Drummond

Andre is a Sleeper with a major caveat… Atrocious free throw percentage.  This problem will always keep him out of the elite mix, but even so, there is a lot to look forward to here, if you’re willing to swallow the free throws.  So what’s the good news? Greg Monroe and Josh Smith are gone, Stan Van Gundy is the Pistons coach, he’s only going to be 22 years old, and the entire Pistons roster is built around him now.  Stan Van Gundy loves his big men, and he has made roster moves to put Andre in the perfect situation to succeed.  With the acquisition of a stretch 4 in Ersan Ilyasova (will be mentioned in a future sleeper article), the paint is completely clear for Drummond to operate.  Van Gundy loves his inside out basketball, and because of this, Drummond’s usage rate will skyrocket from the measly 20% it currently sits at.  Drummond also only attempts about 4.5 FTs a game.  This makes the rough percentage a lot easier to see around.  The beautiful thing about Drummond is that even with the low usage, his current per 36 minute stats are stellar with 16 points, 16 boards, and almost 2.5 blocks per game.  Given the new structure of the Pistons, his assist rate should rise dramatically as well.  Drummond could be a bargain in the early third round, and possibly the late second round if you’re feeling lucky.

 

The Bad:

Ty Lawson 

A somewhat mystifying move by the Rockets, although they did have depth trouble at the point last year. The problem with Lawson is that he’s used to playing with the ball in his hands, and that simply will not happen as much playing with a great playmaker like James Harden.  Kevin McHale places a huge emphasis on defense with Beverley a far superior defender, plus Beverley is also a very solid 3 point shooter as well.  I’m seeing a timeshare where Lawson possibly even comes off the bench as a spark plug.  He will definitely be a role player on the squad, and while this will likely help the Rockets as a team, it definitely hurts his fantasy value.

Greg Monroe

This is more of a gut call than a statistical one.  Most would assume that getting away from Drummond, and the crowded pistons front court would be good for Monroe.  However, I disagree.  The signing by Milwaukee was very surprising, since their team setup doesn’t really fit a slower isolation player like Monroe.  On top of that, Monroe is a terrible shot blocker.  This caps his value in fantasy and reality.  There is no fantasy upside here, unless he falls a few rounds, so it’s a pretty safe call to stay away from him on draft day.

 

 

  1. UltraKzilla says:
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    Interesting read. I’m surprised you think Monroe is going to bust. I think the opposite after seeing what Zaza Pachulia was able to do I’m the pivot for the Bucks last year – a career year across the board. If anything, I’m moving up on him now that he is the man again in Milwaukee.

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @UltraKzilla: Well, my problem is not so much with him as a player, since he may very well help their team. However, the bucks are built for transition, not spotting up off isolation. Zaza was built more for running the floor and quickly getting on the offensive boards with his agility. Plus, as I said, Monroe does not block shots and he doesn’t really steal (1 per game). I actually really like Monroe in real life, but in fantasy I would rather have a guy that can do more than score and board that early in a draft. To fill boards, I’d look at a guy like Zaza late in the draft who can block some shots and will board a lot, next to the rebounding liability of Dirk. To summarize, I just think his name is bigger in real life than his fantasy value. Hopefully that clarifies where I’m coming from. Thanks for the feedback!

      • MAC says:
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        @Adam:
        he has a point, with what zaza did last season, its reasonable monroe can duplicate that, meaning monroe can have a career year across the board. popcorn stats that is. but defensively, i doubt it. so it depends on where monroe lands in the rankings.regarding zaza, if your counting on him blocking SOME shots, well, gudluck man. 0.3 blk per game last season in 24 min. the season before, the same avg at 25 min per game. and a career 0.4 blk per game at 21 min. i like zaza as well late, but not for his blks. he is a perfect punt blk target.

        • Adam

          Adam says:
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          @MAC: My bad on the blocks with Zaza, didn’t bother to check my stats on that one. Just remembered an outlier game when he had a few. It all comes down to what your fantasy philosophy. Personally, I don’t pay purely for points and boards. I’d rather take guys that block and steal with less boards early and fill up the board stats late. Per 36 minutes last year, Zaza averaged 12 and 10 with 1.7 steals compared to Monroes 18 and 11 with 1.4 steals… With such a major price difference between them, would you really pay that big of a difference for 6 points a game? Neither one blocks at all, and Zaza actually has a pretty decent assist rate for a big man.

          • MAC says:
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            @Adam:
            no biggie man. Yup, depends on your build. If your punting blks, then monroe is a target midrounds and zaza late. But if not, i wouldnt like monroe on my teams with his price. same here, id rather have bigs that blk shots. Unless your punting.

            • Chris says:
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              @MAC:

              I’d like to chime in a bit on Monroe. I owned him last year, and looking back, his steal stats in the early months were down while splitting time with Josh Smith playing about 30 min per game. But once Josh Smith got traded, and Monroe started avging min in the 33-35 range, he CARRIED my team in steals. Looking at his stats in Feb, March, and April, he avged 1.6, 1.9, and 2.2 steals respectively, while playing 34, 34, and 29 minutes, and post all star stats of 1.9 steals per game. I don’t know about you, but from a big man, those are huge steal stats. Don’t let the time spent splitting minutes with Josh Smith early on in the year fool you. If Monroe continues to see minutes close to the 33-35 min range without competition from the bench, I see Monroe as a big man who can get you pts, rebs, 0.7 blks, and steals in the high 1s. Draft him as a steal big man, not as a blocker.

              • Adam

                Adam says:
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                @Chris: That’s a very good point, but the interesting thing is, the steal boost was far more significant than the slight minutes bump. I would contend that the boost was more from playing primarily at PF instead of getting most of his minutes at C. Most centers in today’s NBA don’t get the ball a lot. There are a few exceptions, but it seems like the current ideal at the center position is trending towards a shot blocking/rebounding type. I don’t know if the numbers are available to prove it, but that would be my guess, because the boost in minutes simply doesn’t correlate completely with the steals boost.

                On a side note, sleepers/busts are very hard to determine before an ADP is established. My opinion of his bust status is determined by my assumption that his ADP will go up because of an assumed higher value after the trade. So he will have value, but I think he will be taken over guys like Jabari, Faried, and Favors, so that’s what my prediction comes from. (FTR ESPN has him projected over those examples)

  2. Dante Green says:
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    With Monroe in the Bucks’ lineup, and Jabari coming back this year, I ain’t touchin one of them till pick 60! Hah. I wish my leaguemates make the mistake of drafting them early, lol. Anyway, good read man! Welcome to razzball nation

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Dante Green: Thanks! Khris Middleton has come a long way and Giannis is always intriguing, but it really seems like there aren’t going to be enough touches to go around with MCW’s high usage rate. Plus, throw in OJ mayo, Vasquez, and Copeland… It’s just a situation I’m not going to mess with in terms of fantasy.

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