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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.