Welcome to the 2013-2014 NBA fantasy basketball season. Last year we gave you close to 30 sleepers for Fantasy Couch’s third year. This year we’ll give you a nice handful of players (and situations) to keep an eye on come draft day. We’ll also speak on our fantasy gems, or what we would consider our top overall draft picks to give you some conviction for your pick heading in or something to think about if you’re on the fence.
2013-2014 Fantasy Basketball Gems
Derrick Rose, Chi PG
Knowing D-Rose and his work ethic, now 18 months removed from game action you would have to assume the rumors of an improved vertical and jump shot are true. And if that were the case, Rose with even more hops and a more respectable jumper would make the former MVP the most impossible player to stop next to LeBron James. LeBron may be Rose’s kryptonite, so we will hopefully see how that plays out this postseason.
Stephen Curry, GS PG
Dude just shattered the all-time three-point record and he’s only 25 years young. Curry has the chance to break his own record at some point in his career if health proves to be his ally. His free throw percentage, assists and steals are also spectacular. Can’t be mad for nabbing him anywhere after LeBron and Durant a.k.a. The Big 2. A nice kicker is that he’s PG/SG eligible in most leagues.
Chris Paul, LAC PG
He’s a triple double threat and double double machine, also the favorite to lead the league in assists and finish top three overall in steals. CP3 has really come into his own, a true nightly contributor with incredible efficiency going 48.1% from the field and 87.5% from the charity stripe since he’s arrived in the City of Angels.
James Harden, Hou SG/SF
The addition of Dwight Howard will help Harden as defenses can’t clog the lane with double and sometimes triple teams to cover The Beard. He should also get a slight uptick in assists. Harden has just been ridiculous since going unleashed in a full-time starting role. Last year he averaged close to 26 points, 5 boards, almost 6 dimes 2 steals and over 2 three’s made per game. Get outta here. The icing on the cake is he averaged the most free throws per game while shooting at an 85.1% clip.
LeBron James, Mia SF/PF
Duh. Walking triple double. Could arguably be the number one pick in fantasy for a decade. And he still has room to improve. Can’t argue taking him first overall. While the Heat did bring in some names in Beasley and Oden, I don’t really see that as an improvement. With Wade already nursing his knees James will have to pick up the slack. That will be good for LeBron owners.
Kevin Durant, OKC SF
Probably the most unnoticeable, overlooked statistic to why K.D. is and should be ranked over LeBron as fantasy king: blocks. While James seems to do a flashy highlight block just about every other night, Durant has averaged more blocks per game for the past four years with 342 to 244 over that span–Durantula.
2013-2014 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers
If you’re going to wonder where some (obvious) sleepers are, I try to shy away from the “in-crowd” and give you some real value. But real quick, here’s the “Starting 5” most popular picks, so make sure you go out of your way for the likes of Eric Bledsoe, Wilson Chandler, Jeff Green, Derrick Favors and JaVale McGee. No doubt, these guys are primed for a big season. But I’m pretty sure you aren’t sleepin’ that much.
Onto the rest…
Reggie Jackson, PG; Russell Westbrook, PG; Jeremy Lamb, SG/SF OKC
In real life, at the end of the season Jackson could prove to be fool’s gold. But early in the season he has some huge shoes to fill. Much like Darren Collison when backing up Chris Paul in New Orleans, Jackson hopes to prove he can be a starting point guard in the NBA during Westbrook’s absence. But Westbrook will be back, and a 4-6 week delay is not all that bad. You have to factor a few games to shake the rust and get back into rhythm with the team, but he will undoubtedly be key down the stretch. I’d grab Westbrook in the second round and call it a night.
At the 2 spot for Oklahoma it is time for Jeremy Lamb’s number to be called. He was a key piece in the Harden trade, and with OKC letting Kevin Martin’s contract lapse, there’s plenty of need for a two guard. Time for the Thunder to see what Lamb can do.
O.J. Mayo, Mil SG
Did you see the amount of shots Jennings was allowed to put up over the last 3 years? A large part of those shots will be available for Mayo, and OJ shoots at a much more respectable clip than Jennings. Expect some big nights, but teams might hone in on him as the Bucks are for the most part, offensively-challenged.
Tyreke Evans, NO SF
Once Rookie of the Year, Reke may very well be in the running for another award: 6th Man of the Year. Coming off the bench could help with his efficiency while not taking much away in the counting stats and possibly limiting turnovers as well. Let’s hope his injury sustained during preseason doesn’t linger into the regular season.
J.J. Redick, LAC SG
J.J. can play along side CP3 as well as fill in at point to give Paul a breather. He has excellent efficiency with range and usually makes the safe play. I suspect that 33-year-old Crawford will cede mop up duty to Redick in what could be a good handful of games this season. Keep in mind those frustrating nights for Blake Griffin owners last year as he sat due to blow outs.
Nick Young, SG/SF; Xavier Henry, SG/SF LAL
Young will be an intriguing pick as owners have to know Kobe will return at some point in the season. But until then, Young will have the green light, and he can light it up with the best of them. He’ll probably still hold fair value as the first player off the bench or sliding over to the 3 when Bryant does return. With Metta World Peace jettisoned to New York, the Lakers also have a vacancy at starting SF. Needing to come up with some solid production, they brought in Xavier Henry to help fill the void. Henry will have the chance to compete for the starting gig with Young possibly sliding over to keep the 2 spot warm until Kobe comes back. This is probably the worst Lakers team we’ve seen since they missed the playoffs in the ’04-’05 season. At least that team had a healthy Kobe.
Carl Landry, PF and Jason Thompson, PF/C Sac
Note: Carl Landry out 3-4 months. Landry will be playing in pretty much the same capacity as last year, only about an hour North from last year’s Golden State Warriors team. I expect Landry to be a sneaky source of boards and field goal percentage, as per his status quo. Thompson will play both the 4 and 5 again this year and projected to start alongside newly paid franchise center Demarcus Cousins. Should big Cus have any issues staying on the court, both Landry and Thompson’s values go up.
Enes Kanter, Uta C
He is a big reason why Utah was so willing to let Al Jefferson and Millsap walk. While starting, Kanter had averages of 20.5 points, 10.5 boards and a block while going 60.7% from the field and 77.8% from the stripe. Granted, while that’s a small sample size, and the points probably won’t be there like that on a nightly basis, this could be somewhat of a benchmark for expectations.
Kelly Olynyk, C and Jared Sullinger, PF Bos
As the season plays out, we’ll see if Sullinger and Olynyk can prove to be the right big men for Boston to build around. Both are a little soft on the defensive end, and are not defensive “stoppers” by any means, but they can crash boards and move their feet well for bigs. Sullinger in particular is interesting to me, as he looked to be on the verge of breaking out, as a starter, before getting shut down with season ending back surgery during his rookie campaign. Olynyk may be more of a waiver wire watch-list guy unless you’re in a deep or keeper league. But he looks to possess the skill set of a successful NBA player as long as he continues to develop and get more acclimated with NBA-level competition.
Nene Hilario, PF/C Was
Injuries the past two seasons led to subpar production. Washington needs him to be the Nene of old to make a postseason push. With a strong backcourt, and a serviceable group to fill the SF position, the Wizards badly need some frontcourt help. Health will be key, but I’d take a flyer with Nene.