Sleepers to Target (2021 Fantasy Basketball)
The season is now less than two weeks away. Fantasy basketball managers all around the world have begun their prep with hopes of winning their league’s title. Nailing a few of your sleeper picks is one of the best ways to become a title contender early on, but it’s so difficult to discern which late-round picks have the highest chance of vastly outproducing their draft capital. That’s why we’ve got our featured analysts here today. Read on below to see who their favorite sleepers are for the upcoming season.
Q. What one player outside the top 120 is your favorite sleeper target and why?
Scottie Barnes (SF/PF – TOR): Consensus Rank – 250th Overall
“I’m tempted to say Mo Bamba, but I’ll go with another guy who’s gaining a lot of traction and whose draft capital is sure to rise in the days leading up to the opening tip. Scottie Barnes, the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft, should have ample opportunities right out of the gate with Pascal Siakam (shoulder) out for a couple of weeks to start the season and Chris Boucher (finger) likely out for a similar period of time. The FSU product looked hot in his preseason debut, going for 13 points, nine boards, six dimes, and four stocks. Barnes isn’t a prolific scorer, but he makes his bones as a hounding defender and smart playmaker, two skills that should serve him well in Toronto. I love Barnes as a late-round pick in fantasy drafts this season and have him ranked just inside the top 150.”
– Zachary Hanshew (FantasyPros)
“Scottie Barnes flashed as a freshman at Florida State. He apparently looked so good that the Toronto Raptors were willing to take him with the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, bypassing Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs. Barnes drew the start in his first-ever NBA preseason game and did not disappoint. He went for 13 points on six-of-10 shooting, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks in 24 minutes. He finished with a team-high +19 on the night. With Pascal Siakam and Chris Boucher likely out until November, there should be an opportunity for Barnes to contribute right out of the gates.”
– Adam Koffler (FantasyPros)
Mo Bamba (C – ORL): Consensus Rank – 144th Overall
“Entering his fourth NBA season, 2021-22 feels like a make-or-break campaign for Bamba in regards to his tenure in Orlando. Finally given 20+ minutes of playing time down the stretch last year, Bamba put up some eye-popping stat lines, including a three-game stretch with 15, 15, and 18 rebounds to go along with nine blocks in that span. In seven games in May, he averaged 11.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG, and 2.0 BPG while shooting an uncharacteristically low 40.6% from the field (suggesting the numbers could have been better) and a decent 73.9% from the free-throw line in just 25 minutes of action. At this point in the draft outside the top 120, you should be swinging for home runs. While Bamba still has to share the center spot with Wendell Carter, the 23-year-old has shown he can be plenty effective in fantasy leagues as long as he is getting 20+ minutes per game. And if something were to happen to WCJ, then prepare the runway for takeoff.”
– Lucas Spence (Pitcher List)
Khem Birch (PF/C – TOR): Consensus Rank – 146th Overall
“What a year it’s been for Birch! He went from being waived by the Magic in April to signing a three-year, $20 million deal with the Raptors in a mere five-month span. His averages of 13.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.9 combined blocks and steals in just under 33 minutes over the final 13 games impressed the Raptors, who chose not to bring in another center in the offseason (depending on how you view 6’8” big man Precious Achiuwa). With Chris Boucher set to miss three to four weeks to begin the season, Birch should see the lion’s share of playing time in the frontcourt and is always a double-double threat every time he steps on the floor. He’s also proven that he can co-exist with Boucher in the lineup, as he posted 11.1 points and 6.6 rebounds in 28 minutes across 10 games with Boucher last season. Birch will be a consistent source of rebounds and blocks while shooting a high field-goal percentage. Draft him with confidence in the later rounds.”
– Alex Burns (FantasyPros)
Kyle Kuzma (SF/PF – WAS): Consensus Rank – 130th Overall
“Now that Kuzma is no longer under the thumb of LeBron James in Los Angeles, I’m targeting the 26-year-old in all my fantasy drafts this season. In 122 career games without LeBron James, Kuzma averaged 16.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. The former Utah Ute faces early competition for minutes from Deni Avdija and Davis Bertans, but I fully expect the sharpshooter to outplay them both and earn the starting forward job right out of the gate. Playing alongside three-time All-Star Bradley Beal on a Washington Wizards team lacking quality depth, Kuzma is a low-risk investment in the mid-to-late rounds that could pay off dividends for your fantasy team this year.”
– Jacob W. Dunne (New Life Fantasy)
Tyrese Maxey (PG/SG – PHI): Consensus Rank – 163rd Overall
“When you’re hunting for upside in the later rounds of your draft, look no further than Maxey. At his current ECR, he poses virtually no risk and offers undeniable upside. For as long as Simmons holds out in Philly, and perhaps longer if a PG doesn’t come back in a potential Simmons trade, he is a starting PG — no, not Shake Milton — with clear top-90 upside. Doc Rivers has even committed to a big role for Maxey no matter what happens with Simmons, so enjoy the 15+ points, 5+ assists, and solid percentages with one of your final picks. Get some shares of Maxey.”
– Michael Grant (The Fantasy Unicorns)
Aleksej Pokusevski (SF/PF – OKC): Consensus Rank – 158th Overall
“One of my favorite deep sleepers right now is second-year OKC big man Aleksej Pokusevski. His unique skill set is set up for the future of the NBA and I could see him starting over Darius Bazley at some point this season. If he can get the playing time, Poku could be one of the best stretch fours in the league. He is a late-round high-upside pick that I think could pay off massively.”
– Ethan Masel (The Fantasy Bulletin)
Thank you to the experts for naming their sleepers for the 2021-2022 NBA season. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more advice all year long.