It’s time for more sleepers and busts people! I want to make a small clarification before we dive into this though: sleepers at this point in the preseason are subject to a lot of interpretation, since we have no average draft position to base the prediction on. Therefore, take these projections with a grain of salt. These players are simply likely to improve on last year’s overall stats, and thus, their value should exceed their ADP. At any rate, here is part two!
Hassan put up some fantastic stat lines last year, and was an amazing story at the end of the season. It gets even scarier when you realize he may not have even hit his peak yet! Hassan is an absolute athletic freak for a 7 footer, plus he has the anticipation to have record breaking blocks numbers. I hate to make the comparison, but he reminds me a bit of Bill Russell. Now before anyone gets their panties in a twist, let me explain! Both players are defense oriented players with extraordinary rebounding and shot blocking ability. The thing that stands out the most with Hassan though, is his old-school style. Unlike most centers today, who spike the ball out of bounds on a block, Hassan simply tries to get a hand on the ball and tip it to a teammate. He runs the floor every possession, and works extremely hard, as evidenced by his breakout from obscurity. The hardest question is where to take him. If he is available in the third round, then he is a must own. Especially since his ft% won’t hurt as much as certain centers who will not be named… While I’m not going to endorse it, I wouldn’t blame anyone for taking him over Ibaka and his dropping block rate. Hassan should carry an easy 3+ block rate per game.
Noel is a stat machine! Last season post all-star break, he averaged 13 and 10 along with 2.1 steals, 2.3 blocks and almost 2 assists a game. To top it all off, he also shot 65% at the stripe! While the addition of Jahlil Okafor may hurt his upside a little bit, Nerlens is not a guy that needs the ball in his hands. Therefore, the awesome peripherals should still be there. I’m not sure if he’s going to be a sleeper, since we don’t have an ADP to base it on, but if you don’t have to reach for him, he’s definitely a great guy to have on your team.
One of the most obvious break-out candidates of the season, Terrence Jones is a must own guy. Last year was supposed to be his year, but an early injury – and the acquisition of Josh Smith – capped his value. When playing full minutes, Jones should easily be able to put up 5th or 6th round value with upside to spare, given his contributions in blocks, 3s, points, boards, and percentages. With ESPN currently projecting him outside the top 100, he should be a steal on draft day.
IT has been a known commodity in the league for a while now, but the move to Boston has given him a fantasy boost. With a solid 30 minutes playing time likely – and a good chance of starting at the point – Thomas should be able to replicate the 20 point 6.3 assist average he held while starting for the Kings. The Celtics are built to play a fairly fast paced offense, and this plays in to IT’s strength as well. Plus, IT ranked 6th in overall usage rate last year, and the majority of that average certainly didn’t come from the crowded back court in Phoenix. Don’t reach too far on draft day, but I would take him over guys like Ty Lawson, Reggie Jackson, Monta Ellis and Kyle Lowry, although some of those are contingent upon him landing the starting job.
I really hope I’m wrong, but this one is just too obvious to overlook. Kobe has had season ending injuries the past two seasons, and when he has been on the court, his percentages have been pretty bad. I love the Mamba, but he really needs to retire. It’s painful to watch great players falling apart due to age and mileage. Kobe is an incredible competitor, so I’m not going to totally write him off. However, if you do want to take a shot on him, don’t do it in the first five rounds… After that, you can afford to take a risk.
Rondo is coming off a very rough season, and there’s little hope of a turn-around in Sacramento. Darren Collison is the better option of the two guards so a timeshare is likely, unless Rajon can pull off some kind of miracle. This is just another case of name being far stronger than fantasy value. Between his injury risks, inconsistent play, and deplorable percentages, he just isn’t worth a pick anymore in many standard leagues.