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Thursday’s NBA Sleeper Picks Player Predictions: Lauri Markkanen, Paolo Banchero, Scottie Barnes (2/22)

Thursday’s NBA Sleeper Picks Player Predictions: Lauri Markkanen, Paolo Banchero, Scottie Barnes (2/22)

Welcome to Sleeper Picks. Sleeper’s newest offering promised plenty of entertainment and action, and they delivered. We will break down our top three picks for tonight’s NBA action. Sleeper is quickly becoming one of the most popular season-long fantasy platforms, and they are expanding into other areas based on demand. Each week in this space, we’ll talk about some strategy for the new platform while providing our favorite NBA more/less picks.

NBA Sleeper Picks Player Predictions (2/22)

Paolo Banchero (F – ORL): 5.5 assists

Paolo Banchero has been excellent this season, making his first all-star game on the strength of averages of 23.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game on a vastly improved .462 shooting from the field (he was abysmal last season at .427, which was especially concerning considering he is 6’10”). Banchero was playing some of his best playmaking basketball of the season prior to the break, recording six or more assists in 11 of his last 12 games played and recording five or more assists in each of his last 14 (including in an 18-minute outing during the all-star game). This is, of course, a better value at 4.5 and is a hard pass at the 6.5 Sleeper Picks tried to stick us with against the Knicks but is back at 5.5 and should hold steady for at least a few more games. Ride with the More on Banchero until he cools down.

Pick: More

Lauri Markkanen (F – UTA): 1.5 steals + blocks

Markkanen is the best value on the board at 1.5 StOcks. Lauri has failed to hit two StOcks in 20 of his last 23. He is a threat for about a swipe every other night but rarely uses his 7’0 frame to block shots. Markkanen remains one of the league’s more potent scorers, but defensive impact is never going to be his calling card. With one StOck in seven of his last 10 games, Lauri will continue to be listed at 1.5 for at least another week. Ride against him until he gives us a reason not to. Light up the Less on Lauri for Thursday night.

Pick: Less

Scottie Barnes (G/F – TOR): 7.5 rebounds

Scottie got the all-star nod as an injury replacement, though many feel that Paolo Banchero only made it over him initially due to team records. Barnes was named a replacement for the injured Julius Randle. Barnes has been excellent this season but has struggled with consistency. He has a switch but often doesn’t turn it on until the fourth quarter and has endured his share of poor shooting nights from the field. With that said, he is one of the premier two-way players in the NBA and is putting up stellar averages of 20.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks on .473 shooting. Barnes has hauled in eight or more rebounds in each of his last five games (including the all-star game) and should be good for at least eight against a Brooklyn Nets team he grabbed 11 against earlier this season. The Nets allow 10.51 rebounds per game to the power forward position. Bump the More on Barnes for Thursday night.

Pick: More

Writers note: The lines are constantly changing on Sleeper (and sometimes expiring), so there is a high probability that one or all of the numbers may no longer be the same when you open your app. There are excellent values when they are first posted, with the only catch being that they are not all released at the same time. Vigilance could provide a solid return on investment this season, literally.


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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his profile and follow him @FantasyContext.

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