Feltbot’s 2012 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers

Apologies for this year’s abbreviated sleepers list.  With the limited time in the preseason and the ongoing free-agent frenzy, this is the best I could do. So right off the top of my head:          

Jrue Holiday:  A great player who has the confidence of his coach and is taking his team over. Took the game-winning shot in the last preseason game. May make a bigger than expected jump in production.

Darren Collison:  Collison struggled at times last year, after being ridiculously good the year before. The difference? David West, with whom Collison worked the pick and pop in New Orleans, and now has reunited. How can this not work? Indiana’s offense will benefit greatly from the growth of Paul George and the addition of West, and I expect Collison (and the guy below) to be beneficiaries. Collison could be a real steal this season because many expect George Hill to potentially take away his starting job. Trust me, that will never happen.

Roy Hibbert:  Hibbert has struggled against the double teams and packed lanes created by Indiana’s non-shooting power forwards.  That’s gone now with the addition of David West.  Indiana’s high-low action should be impressive, and this could be Hibbert’s breakout year.

Mike Conley: Did anyone surprise more in last year’s playoffs than Conley and Marc Gasol? They earned a lot of respect, which means Conley will be free to call their number more often.  A very efficient scorer, I look for Conley to make jumps in points and assists.

Ricky Rubio and Jimmer Fredette:  I put these guys together because I think they may both be undervalued for the same reason:  they face logjams at their position, but will get more playing time than people realize. The reason is this:  Both the TWolves and the Kings are desperate to sell tickets and jerseys, and Ricky and Jimmer sell tickets and jerseys.  And they both can play.  I think I like Jimmer more, because Ricky will bring down your points and shooting percentage.  But count on ridiculous assists from him in Adelman’s offense.

Paul George: Remember that 6-8 rookie? Well he’s a 6-10′ sophomore. The Pacers have discarded Mike Dunleavy and Brandon Rush, and George is set to get starters minutes.  Worked out all summer with Granger, who loves his game. Should go up from his 1 steal a game, and may also become a sneaky source of blocked shots. He blocked 10 shots in his last 5 games last season! Hmm….

Nic Batum:  Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez are gone.  I expect Batum to own his SF position.  Something else that is little understood about Portland: With the loss of Roy, and the additions at the point of Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford, the once slowest team in the league is set to push the tempo! Hard to believe, under coach Nate McMillan, but I saw it with my own eyes in the preseason.  Batum is a gazelle in the open court.  I look for his production to increase across the board.

Marcus Thornton:  Despite his impressive showing for Sac at the end of last season, Thornton may still be underrated simply because his season averages were terrible.  This guy can really light it up, and the big contract he got shows that Westphal is going to take the ball out of Tyreke Evans’ hands more often than people expect.

Aaron Afflalo:  Big contract, no J.R. Smith, no Wilson Chandler, no Raymond Felton.  I’m guessing Afflalo gets more shots. What do  you think?

Josh McRoberts:  Strictly a flyer, but when Bynum and Gasol get traded for Dwight Howard, who is left standing?  You also get the first 5 days of the season, while Bynum sits out his suspension, as a bonus.

Ekpe Udoh:  A deep sleeper only, recommended for your last pick if you need blocks. I’m a little hesitant to name Udoh, because although he projects to improve in the points and rebounds categories, how much remains unclear.  What makes The Nightmare interesting is one single category: blocks.  If he manages to get his minutes up to 25 (quite possible), he could average over 2 blocks a game.  Potentially this year’s Serge Ibaka.

For those interested in my general approach to finding sleepers, check out last year’s preview.  And something to bear in mind as the NBA attempts this crazy compressed schedule, full of back to back to backs: When you’re facing a close call between two players, say goodbye to the vet and hello! to the young fella.

Happy fantasizing!

12 Responses to Feltbot’s 2012 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers

  1. Not a “fantasy guy” but very much a “Curry guy”.

    Looks like he has a chance to play Sunday night, http://www.csnbayarea.com/blog/warriors-talk/post/Curry-optimistic-hell-play-Sunday?blockID=617670&feedID=2799 and frankly I’d be more than disappointed if he didn’t. This kid needs to get tougher and learn how to deal with the more normal “aches and pains” that come with putting your body through the grind of a pro athlete’s season of games. And yes, that does include occasionally turning your ankle when running and jumping.

    He gets a mulligan from me for the other night considering the pain he felt was the result of post-surgical stretching of his repaired ligaments, similar to tearing surgical scar tissue. Maybe more scared than in actual pain? Let’s hope so, otherwise his need to essentially be carried off the court and back to the locker room given the very slight turning of his right foot would raise legitimate questions concerning both his mental and physical toughness.

    I’ve sprained my ankle numerous times and the initial discomfort is a SOB, but a sprain is something you can play through, and certainly something which shouldn’t require other teammates carrying you off the court. Monta last year turned his “bad ankle” a few times to where he limped to the bench before eventually returning to the game. And the other night at Candlestick Dark we saw the ultimate example of pain tolerence with Ben Roethlisberger playing on an ankle that was as close to being broken as it gets (severe high ankle sprain). From what I’ve seen thus far from Steph, and this goes back to his ankle sprains from last season, Curry would be hospitalized for weeks with Roethlisberger’s injury.

    Is it fair to criticize an athlete’s toughness when injured? From the standpoint of being unable to experience whatever pain and discomfort the player is feeling, probably not. But after watching situations such as Biedrins spraining his ankle last season and never returning to action despite the fact he seemingly had more than enough time to rehab and get back before the season ended, I’ve frankly lost my patience watching a lot of players whom I perceive to be lacking in the mental and physical toughness it takes to build championship teams (I will say David Lee doesn’t belong in this conversation given the seriousness of his injury last season. Then again, maybe he does belong, seeing as how he came back and played probably before he should have, and with obvious significant discomfort).

    I absolutely love Stephen Curry. Great young talent, and from all accounts even a better young man away from the game. But strictly coming from the perspective of a sports fanatic who loves watching the teams and players from all sports who lay it all on the line (heart, toughness) every game, and again, no better example than Roethlisberger the other night, I want in the worst way to have Curry and his teammates be a part of that group, fair or otherwise.

    • Agree with every word, Steve. Speaking of what we’d like from athletes, I’d also add the idea of “off-court focus,” by which I euphemistically mean what Monta didn’t have, but hopefully now has.

  2. “Mark Jackson brings dose of faith to Warriors”

    http://www.mercurynews.com/warriors/ci_19603152

  3. @1, Steve,

    Looks like he has a chance to play Sunday night, and frankly I’d be more than disappointed if he didn’t.

    Agreed. But probably not for the same reasons. My guess is he will start and play limited minutes Sunday. That would be great considering when he went down I was thinking he’s out a few weeks minimum. I guess I just overreact sometimes.

  4. Back in the pleistocene, my HS football coach explained to us all that football is not a contact sport but an impact sport. Injury is not an accident, it is the whole point of the game. To win, hurt the other guys more. Pro football players epitomize that mindset. There is no other way to play football.

    Personally, I’m a little uncomfortable with someone sacrificing their health for my entertainment dollar. I don’t enjoy seeing people lose their teeth or their marbles or their ability to walk a mile at the age of 30. Thankfully, in basketball it’s not necessary.

    A repeated serious ankle sprain like Curry’s ain’t nothin’. Left untreated – or under-treated – it could circumscribe not just Curry’s season but his whole pro ball career, and his whole life.

    I’d like to see Stephen Curry sit out as long as it takes to ensure that he can run and jump and play ball to a ripe old age, because I’d like to see him play that long. He should stay out until his own doctors, not the team’s doctors, give him 100% clearance to play. For my own selfish reasons, I want him to be very selfish about his injury.

    My 2¢.

    • I’m curious about your opinion, WH, I’ve not heard this about how serious repeated sprains can be. I think I heard Jim Barnett talk about how Jerry West used to sprain his ankle all the time, and the problem and pain got less severe over time…?

      • Feltso,

        Here’s a good reference on sprains:

        http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00150

        If you don’t feel like reading all the boring stuff I just did, here’s the synopsis:

        A sprain is usually only an overstretched ligament. That’s called a Class 1 sprain. Sometimes it includes partial tears (class 2) or a complete separation (class 3) of a ligament. The usual treatment is the same in all cases – rest and anti-inflammatories (ice and NSAIDs).

        Surgery is rarely recommended for sprains. Stretched or torn ligaments will recover (become less painful and inflamed) and rejoin on their own unless they become completely separated and start to retract. That’s the only case where surgery is required for healing. Even a Class 3 sprain will usually heal on its own in a couple of weeks if the area is immobilized.

        Every new sprain reduces the stability and strength of an area, because every sprain has at the very least further stretched and re-inflamed the ligament. Repeatedly re-spraining an area can eventually necessitate surgery to shorten ligaments that have become too long to function effectively. That’s probably the surgery Curry had last summer. After just 2 years in the league.

        In theory, Curry’s surgery should have stabilized his ankle enough to almost eliminate the risk of new sprains. But I saw him collapse after a move that looked less difficult than Beyonce dancing in spike heels. I think Curry has a big problem.

    • I don’t know zip about the medical issues, though assume Curry and the team have gotten opinions–which we’ll probably never hear.

      Big Ben didn’t have to run around very fast or very far last Monday, and didn’t. And it didn’t look like Curry could run at all when he went out.

      When I said Curry needs to contain himself, I’m thinking about all the times he runs about in the front court where the big guys are and ends up stepping on someone’s foot. That puts serious leverage on the ankle. Stepping on another player’s foot is a fairly rare event–but not for Curry.

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