It’s finally that time of the year my fellow basketball junkies –- it’s time to get ready for draft day by getting to know who the top fantasy basketball sleepers for the 2016-2017 NBA season are. The first two to three rounds of drafts are always easy, but getting great value in players you draft later while other owners are sleeping, is where you are able to create a championship team.
Top 15 NBA Fantasy Basketball Sleepers
Elfrid Payton – Orl PG
If Payton can get his shooting efficiency up to snuff, he should quickly jump up the (deep) point guard rankings. With Victor Oladipo traded out of town for some frontline depth, the backcourt is now officially all Payton’s. Look for him to hit career highs in points and assists, coming close to averaging a double-double, with good assists and relatively low turnovers for someone with high usage.
George Hill – Uta PG/SG
Hill is virtually stepping into a starting role for the Jazz, with Dante Exum recovering from a knee injury that kept him out all last season. Even if Exum eventually takes over the starting gig, Hill should still be quite serviceable. Utah is looking for Hill to provide veteran leadership to this young, up-and-coming squad. He will give you decent across-the-board stats without hurting you, and chip in some nice 3’s and steals.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – Bkn SG/SF
RHJ is on the radar for a few reasons, probably the most obvious is opportunity on a Nets team, that on paper, is looking to compete for the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft. This kid also has talent, and should get good steals and rebounds. With usage up for grabs in Brooklyn, Hollis-Jefferson could emerge as a cornerstone for the Nets whenever they eventually decide to “rebuild”.
Ish Smith – Det PG
With starting point guard Reggie Jackson slated to miss a good chunk of time to start the season, look for Ish to step up and produce for a Pistons team looking to build on their playoff appearance last year. Smith has always been a solid plug-in starter when needed, averaging 14.6 points, 4.3 boards and 7 dimes with the Pelicans and Sixers last year.
Andrew Wiggins – Min SG/SF
No one’s exactly sleeping on Wiggins, but I think he takes another leap forward this season. He could come close to the elite 1/1/1 (1 three-pointer, 1 steal, 1 block) club, while scoring 20+ a night and pulling in 5-6 boards. Incoming coach Tom Thibodeau will make this young and hungry Wolves team a contender in the rugged West, and Wiggins along with second year big man Karl-Anthony Towns will be leading the way.
JaMychal Green – Mem PF
Now the full-time starter on a newly made over Memphis team, Green will look to improve upon his 12 points and 7 boards he averaged when starting last season. He does have veteran Zack Randolph backing him up off the bench, and would have no problem stepping in should Green falter. But the Grizzlies need Green’s toughness upfront competing in the big Western Conference, as he’s more athletic and defensive that Randolph, especially at this stage of Z.Bo’s career.
Justise Winslow – Mia SF/PF
It will definitely be different seeing a Miami Heat team suit up for a season sans Dwayne Wade. Big man Hassan Whiteside is currently the new face of the franchise, but are looking for a young core to build around. Winslow steps into a starting role this season, and while he may struggle at times, should give owners good value and depth. He should produce solid defensive stats, and use his athleticism to create opportunities on offense. Remember he was considered a steal when he slipped to Miami at 10 in the 2015 draft.
Harrison Barnes – Dal SF
A lot of people want to rag on Barnes because of his lack of participation on the Warriors last year, saying he didn’t step up when the team needed. This may be true, but I give him a pass as he’s more of a rhythm player needing the ball more frequently and predictably as with a lot of players. The 2013 playoffs in Barnes’ rookie year was no fluke. When David Lee went down, Barnes stepped up big time, averaging 16 points 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 three pointers in the two playoff series against the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs. I’m looking for Harrison to earn his respect this year, and to lead the Mavericks in scoring.
Nikola Mirotic – Chi PF
With all the attention on the new duo of Wade & Rajon Rondo joining Bulls franchise player Jimmy Butler, Mirotic should prove to benefit the most. He is Chicago’s best three-point threat, and they will need him to stretch the floor while his teammates are driving and slashing. I see Mirotic going for a career high in several categories this season, going for possibly 15 points, 6 boards, 2.4 three’s and a steal and block per game. Not bad for an early 7th round pick.
Chandler Parsons – Mem SF
Parsons hasn’t played a full 82 game season his whole NBA career, but he can produce nicely across the board. Somewhat of a risk, but certainly a reward if Parsons bounces back from knee surgery to repair his right knee. He could put up a career high in 3-pointers, as Memphis has struggled in this department for quite some time. The new look Grizzlies will rely on Parsons as a facilitator as well as a scorer.
Myles Turner – Ind PF/C
Turner is going to go nuts this year and is well worth a 4th round investment, but you can probably steal him in the 5th or maybe 6th depending on your league. Watch Turner take his game to another level, as he finds his footing in the NBA. He should get around 14 points, 8 boards and 2 blocks with solid percents.
Enes Kanter – OKC C
The other ‘stache’ bro should provide an offensive boost for a Thunder team still looking to find an identity (other than iso Westbrook) after Kevin Durant left for Golden State. He should average close to a double-double, starting or not, while helping your percentages. Kanter is capable of averaging 15+ a game, and OKC may need at least that to stay competitive with the top teams in the league.
Taj Gibson – Chi PF/C
Wade is in Chicago, but Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are out, leaving just a few gaps to fill. Gibson has shown ability to be serviceable given the opportunity, currently slated with a starting role. Whether or not he can fend off Mirotic permanently largely relies on scheme, as the Bulls may need a shooter on the floor. Gibson is a great fit for this team, he’ll hustle his way to a double-double and chip in some nice blocks.
Roy Hibbert – Cha C
He may be on the downslide of his career, but Hibbert should be a good option for blocks and boards late in the draft. If he can get into shape and prove he can provide a high level of defense full time, he might earn the starting spot over Cody Zeller. Look for Hibbert to bounce back from last season, his worst since his rookie year.
Andrew Bogut – Dal C
Don’t sleep on Andrew Bogut, just make sure you have depth. He’s going to be a great later round addition, as Bogut will have more room to operate freely on a Mavericks team that also features his former Warriors teammate, Harrison Barnes. Bogut’s always been a great passing big man, and the Mavs surely understood this when they signed him. He’ll be a real nice shot in the arm in rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage and the occasional offensive outburst.