With the NBA preseason in full swing, the fantasy basketball season is now less than a week away. Unfortunately for me, it will not come quickly enough as my fantasy football team is slowly imploding with each passing week. For struggling owners, fantasy basketball may be the life from the turbulent waters of fantasy football, representing an opportunity to return to the shores of fantasy success. This means I’m turning my full attention towards fantasy basketball draft prep in order to numb the pain of my football failures.
With a majority of fantasy basketball leagues carrying a shallow bench (usually three players), it is pivotal for owners to nail their late-round picks. These selections carry added weight since these players will contribute toward the final outcome every week. In order to win, every rostered play must be in the lineup and hold enough value to warrant their spot. Backend production may seem marginal compared to a team’s aggregated weekly totals, but selecting solid backups with upside late in the draft raises the ceiling of your team.
While there are a plethora of high-upside, low investment players to consider this season, Boston Celtics forward Amir Johnson is currently one of the more undervalued fantasy sleepers heading into the regular season.
The former Toronto Raptor signed in Boston this offseason two a two-year $12 Million deal in an effort to provide added rim protection to one of the worst defensive frontcourts in the league last season. Surrounded by Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, and David Lee, Johnson immediately became best defensive big on the team the second he signed. Johnson saved 4.4 points per game while reregistering roughly a block per game last season in Toronto which many considered to be a down season.
Even after a disappointing year in the 6ix, Johnson, at the very least, will carve out a role as a strong rotational big to protect the paint. With so much competition in the frontcourt, the most important thing for fantasy owners to remember is that Johnson will see the court.
Owners should ensure that their sleepers have an opportunity to be successful immediately, and Johnson is currently in a battle to win the starting center job. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Celtics rotation, Johnson is unsurprisingly ranked 169 on Razzball’s current top 200 fantasy rankings.
However, Johnson has emerged on the fantasy radar after a strong showing through his performance in the first two preseason games. Averaging 12.5 points on 64.7 percent shooting, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks, Johnson appears to be a stat-stuffing center in Boston.
While his production dipped in his fifth preseason game (8 points, 1 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block), Johnson still has a high ceiling if he is able to break into the starting five for good. As the preseason continues to unfold, owners should continue to monitor his usage and role in Boston. It is rare enough to find a center capable of augmenting team’s output in multiple categories (especially steals and assists), let alone finding that player in the 14th or 15th round of the draft.
If he continues to contribute in multiple categories, Johnson will be a legitimate fantasy option this year.