Fantasy Basketball Sleepers and Busts (2020-21)
Every year, fantasy managers mine for those hidden gems in the later rounds of drafts and unwittingly select players in early rounds who fail to meet expectations. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. We asked the experts for their top sleepers and busts of the 2020-21 season so you know who to target late and who to avoid early in your fantasy basketball drafts.
Who is your top Fantasy Basketball Sleeper?
Seth Curry (PHI – PG,SG): ECR 119
Josh Richardson may have been the headline of the draft day trade between the Mavericks and 76ers, but Seth Curry could be the individual player that benefits the most. He averaged 24.6 minutes per game in a supporting role in Dallas last season and now steps into the starting lineup at the position that gave both Richardson and J.J. Reddick over 30 minutes per game in recent years. Curry has an impressive 44.3% career three-point shooting percentage and he was even better last season at 45.2%. He should get plenty of opportunities to rack up threes while spacing the court alongside Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris, but don’t sleep on his underrated ability to drive the lane when the opportunity presents itself. He’s the perfect player to help boost your fantasy roster’s shooting percentages all around. -Aaron Larson (FantasyPros)
Chris Boucher (TOR – PF,C): ECR 156
It was an encouraging season for the 27-year-old PF/C, as Boucher nearly doubled his averages in practically every major stat category from the previous year. Now with Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol signing elsewhere in free agency, there seems to be a path for him to earn some more playing time for the Raptors this season. While Aron Baynes‘ presence does limit some of his upside, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Boucher earn north of 20 MPG in 2020-21. Boucher’s per-36 numbers last season were 18.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, so he is a near-lock to produce value as long as he is on the court. -Alex Burns (FantasyPros)
Maxi Kleber (DAL – PF,C): ECR 187
We already know that Kristaps Porzingis is out for the first month of the season, and I believe that the Mavs will limit his minutes and ease him back in after that. In 21 games without KP last year, Kleber’s stats went up across the board, and he will even have the added benefit of Dwight Powell coming off of a large injury, likely limiting his minutes as well. Kleber is worth a late-round flier and is a must-have insurance policy if you draft KP. –Ethan Masel (TheFantasyBulletin)
Marquese Chriss (GSW – PF,C): ECR 134
Sure, the Warriors drafted Memphis C James Wiseman with the 2nd overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, but head coach Steve Kerr is already cautioning everybody not to expect too much early on from the big man. He hasn’t played in a game in over a year, and only played in three total college games at Memphis, so he’s got a ton to learn. The transition to the NBA becomes even tougher in a compressed season with no Summer League to allow for development. That brings us to Chriss, who looked fantastic when given the opportunity a season ago. He took over for Willie Cauley-Stein as the starting center on January 24 and averaged 13.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 0.8 steals in 26.4 minutes per game across 18 games. He also shot 54.5 percent from the field and 76.9 percent from the free throw line for the season. Another bright spot for Chriss is that he doesn’t turn the ball over, averaging just 1.3 turnovers per game in 59 games played in 2019-20. The Warriors didn’t add a big man in free agency, and recently guaranteed Chriss’ contract for 2020-21, making him a very intriguing prospect on a hungry Warriors team this season. -Adam Koffler (FantasyPros)
Coby White (CHI – PG): ECR 80
Prior to the NBA shutdown in March, Coby White was on absolute fire in his last nine games. He averaged 26.1 points, 4.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 3.0 turnovers and 3.9 triples while shooting 90 percent from the charity stripe across 34.2 minutes. Kris Dunn signed with the Hawks this offseason, leaving the door open for White to be the Bulls’ starting point guard. The 20-year-old figures to be one of Chicago’s primary scoring threats along with Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. White can grow into a well-rounded player and he should smash his current ADP. The No. 7 pick of the 2019 NBA Draft is worth selecting in the top 100 and could provide top-75 value at a later-round price. -Brad Camara (FantasyPros)
Darius Bazley (OKC – SF,PF): ECR 195
Thunder F/C Darius Bazley is the sleeper I’m targeting late in fantasy drafts this season. With Danilo Gallinari signing with the Hawks via free agency, the second-year pro is set to become the starting PF for a rebuilding team that lacks offensive talent outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. At only 20-years old, the 23rd overall pick of the 2019 draft was one of the most improved players in the NBA Bubble, averaging 13.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.8 blocks per game while shooting 46.3% from beyond the arc across eight games. Despite the limited sample size, he earned valuable minutes in the first-round of the 2020 NBA playoffs and even led all rookies with 6.7 rebounds per game. At 6-8, Bazley is set to be a disruptive wing who can guard multiple positions and if he’s presumably getting minutes into 30’s, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to display his offensive repertoire. Look for him to outperform his current ECR of 195 and become a fantasy asset this season. -Dan Titus (FantasyPros)
Jakob Poeltl (SAS – C): ECR 152
Poeltl returned for his fourth NBA season (second with the Spurs) and enjoyed career highs in a couple of important categories for a big man. Poeltl averaged 5.6 points to go with a career-high 5.7 boards and a career-high 1.4 blocks across 17.7 minutes per contest, and while those per-game averages weren’t anything to get worked up over, his per-36 averages were tremendous – 11.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.0 combined blocks/steals, and 3.6 assists. His new 3-year/$27M deal hints at a possible increase in usage moving forward, and if he can see minutes in the low-to-mid 20’s, the efficient big man could be quite the value this season. -Zak Hanshew (FantasyPros)
Who is your biggest Fantasy Basketball bust?
Kyle Lowry (TOR – PG): ECR 39
Lowry has been a staple of fantasy basketball rosters for over a decade now and continued to put up solid numbers last season, but we may be seeing a changing of the guard in Toronto. Don’t get me wrong, Lowry isn’t completely going away, but he is fading behind up and coming stars Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. Both Siakam and VanVleet saw massive increases in playing time and production last season and are the focal point of the Raptors. The 34-year-old veteran point guard may still be a vital piece of his NBA basketball team but will be a disappointment for fantasy teams this season. -Aaron Larson (FantasyPros)
Kyrie Irving (BKN – PG,SG): ECR 22
Don’t get me wrong, I think Irving is one of the most talented players in the NBA, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’d feel comfortable spending a second round pick on him this season. We’re talking about a guy who has missed over 27% of regular season games throughout his 9-year career in a league where “DNP-rest” nights are becoming more and more prevalent for the league’s top players. Now add Kevin Durant to the mix in Brooklyn, a player who will command 16-20 shots per game, and I just can’t fathom spending up on Irving. I’d much rather take a chance on an ascending player like Fred VanVleet a whole two rounds later. -Adam Koffler (FantasyPros)
Kevin Durant (BKN – SF,PF): ECR 15
Durant will be an elite scorer every time he is on the floor, but with the way this season’s schedule is likely to be played, I don’t believe KD will be playing in more then 50 games. As we’ve seen with Klay (and others before) Achilles injuries have a super high re-injury rate and the Nets need to focus on keeping KD healthy to have any chance at a deep playoff run. KD is one of the greatest players of all time, but this season I would stay away. –Ethan Masel (TheFantasyBulletin)
LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS – PF,C): ECR 40
LaMarcus Aldridge underwent surgery to address a right rotator cuff injury in June, and he missed 18 games last season dealing with multiple injuries. The 35-year-old averaged 18.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 triples over 53 games in 2019-20. It was a three-year low in points and rebounds for the veteran big man. The Spurs signed C Jakob Poeltl to a three-year, $27 million contract this offseason, who is highly efficient on a per-game basis. Aldridge has an ADP of 45, and I feel it will be tough to replicate his numbers pre-2019. I would rather take a chance on Mitchell Robinson (46), Domantas Sabonis (48) and Clint Capela (58), all centers who are currently being drafted around that range. Aldridge is a solid player and should produce top-75 value if healthy, but I would pass on him at his current ADP and look to draft him outside the top 70. -Brad Camara (FantasyPros)
Buddy Hield (SAC – SG): ECR 67
Discord was evident between Hield and the Kings organization last season, as the fourth-year man lost his starting gig in January and came off the bench for the final 28 games of the season. He proved effective off the bench, though his role is certainly in question for the 2020-21 season. Head coach Luke Walton hasn’t committed to Hield as the Kings’ starting two guard, and even with Bogdan Bogdanovic out of town, Hield may still come off the bench. Sacramento selected Tyrese Haliburton with the No. 12 pick in this year’s draft, and the rookie could certainly cut into Hield’s playing time and usage. A healthy Marvin Bagley should take away some of Hield’s offensive chances, too. Hield has been the subject of trade rumors, but if he remains with Sacramento, it’s hard to envision him living up to his top-70 draft capital, even given his elite three-point prowess. -Zak Hanshew (FantasyPros)
Thanks to all of the experts who contributed! Be sure to check out their other work, and give them a follow on Twitter.