The questions are starting to roll in. “When is the Rotoworld NBA Draft Guide coming out?” We’ll know the answer to that question once we know when the season might start. Talks this weekend appeared to be going well, until phrases like “miles apart” and “setting the table” were thrown out there. But whether it happens in two days, two weeks or two months, it does feel like there will be some kind of NBA season this year. And while I’d hate to write a draft guide for a season that might never happen, I’m also not ready to just crank one out prior to free agency taking place, which will have major impacts on many teams. That would be a disservice to our users and I’d much rather put out a high-quality and accurate guide a few days late as opposed to winning the speed race with an inferior product.
The season should start about a month after a deal is reached. And as soon as word comes that they will play, it will be all hands on deck at Rotoworld. We’ll probably roll the guide out in segments as we complete them. I’d imagine player outlooks, projections, rankings and tiers will all be part of Phase 1, and as soon as we have a target date, I’ll pass it along.
But for now, as we all hope and pray that the end of this lockout truly is right around the corner (it may not be), here are some fantasy sleepers for you to chew on.
Jeff Teague PG Hawks
Teague looked good in the playoffs last season, Mike Bibby is out of the way, Jamal Crawford may be on his way out, and Kirk Hinrich probably isn’t the answer to any question regarding a starting NBA point guard. I think Teague takes the reins this year and comes into his own.
Joe Johnson SG Hawks
Johnson has lost about every fantasy fan he had over the last two years, especially after last season’s disaster when he became just another Johnson. However, my guess is he can still play at a high level and might get a chance to shine again this year with Jamal Crawford possibly on his way out. Crawford is an unrestricted free agent and it’s no coincidence that Joe’s game took a turn for the worse once Crawford arrived in his backcourt. If Crawford doesn’t return to the Hawks, look for Johnson to bounce back.
Jeff Green F Celtics
I’m not completely sold on the fact that Green will have a good season in Boston. He looked like a solid player in Oklahoma City, but hasn’t really turned any heads since the day he left – including when he’s played in some of these pro-am exhibitions. But with Glen Davis likely gone as an unrestricted free agent, and with everyone on the team getting a year older, Green simply has to log heavy minutes this season. Look for him as a late-round flier at your draft.
Gerald Henderson SG Bobcats
As of now, it appears that Henderson’s only competition at shooting guard is Matt Carroll. Need I say more?
Arron Afflalo SG Nuggets
With Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith both in China (where they’ll stay regardless of when the NBA starts), Afflalo looks like the only option at shooting guard in Denver. He was very solid at times last season, and should become an everyday fantasy starter as long as he stays healthy. And while I’m not ready to call forward Gary Forbes a bona fide sleeper yet, if Danilo Gallinari struggles again for the Nuggets, Forbes is ready to take the job and run with it.
Austin Daye F Pistons
It looks rather unlikely that Tracy McGrady or Tayshaun Prince will return to Detroit, while Richard “on the trading block” Hamilton may finally be moved this year. If all of these guys go, Daye is going to become a force for the Pistons. He’s long, can shoot threes, rebound, score and block shots. But as we saw last year, unless he gets an opportunity to play 35 minutes a game, it doesn’t matter. Regardless of what happens with the rest of his team, a big boost in minutes should be coming either way.
Al-Farouq Aminu F Clippers
Aminu is entering his second season and I suspect he’ll beat out Ryan Gomes and rookie Travis Leslie for the starting small forward job. His potential takes a hit due to the fact he has to share the rock with Blake Griffin, Mo Williams, Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman/DeAndre Jordan, but he should have somewhat of a breakout season. Consider him a deep-league sleeper.
DeAndre Jordan C Clippers
I’ve made it no secret that I love this kid and his shot-blocking ability, but as long as he has to share the paint with Chris Kaman, as well as Blake Griffin, we probably need to curb our enthusiasm. His free throw shooting is atrocious, but the bottom line is that Jordan should and will be owned in almost all fantasy hoops leagues this season as a primary shot blocker. And if Kaman goes down or gets traded, Jordan will truly breakout.
Wes Johnson F Timberwolves
Johnson showed some flashes in his rookie season and will now play for new coach Rick Adelman in Minnesota. It all depends on what Adelman thinks of WJ, but it would appear that all he has to do is beat out Martell Webster for the starting small forward job. But even if that happens I won’t fully trust Johnson until we see what direction David Kahn and Adelman plan on taking the team in. But don’t forget that Johnson was the No. 4 overall pick last season, meaning the Wolves will be forced to give him every chance to succeed. Target him in the final round of your draft.
Carlos Delfino G/F Bucks
Delfino was knocking down a ton of threes and playing very well before going down with a concussion last year that basically ruined his season. He should be back and healthy this time around and should team with Stephen Jackson to give the Bucks a potent 1-2 combo on the wing. Delfino and S-Jax can flip flop at shooting guard and small forward, but with guys like Tobias Harris and Darrington Hobson also fighting for playing time, you can expect Delfino and Jackson to get a bulk of the minutes this season. Delfino should be classified as a super-sleeper, based on how well he was playing last year before getting hurt.
Anthony Morrow G/F Nets
Morrow dealt with a nasty hamstring injury, left knee soreness, a head injury, a finger injury and the death of his grandmother last season. He played in just 58 games and was a model of inconsistency when he was in there. Part of that was due to constantly being banged up, which made it tough for him to get into a groove. He averaged just 13 points and two 3-pointers per game, but what I like about him is that he scored 19 or more points 15 times last season, and hit between 25 and 30 points five times. If he can stay healthy, the starting SG job should be his, and he should become a much more consistent scorer (and source of threes) for the Nets.