Preseason has ended, and I’ve already participated in three CBS prize league (for cashish) fantasy drafts. I now have a few more players to add to my original sleepers and busts post:
Monta Ellis: I’ve always viewed Ellis as having underrated point guard skills, and they may finally be realized this year. Ellis has averaged 2 more assists than Calderon in the preseason, and I’ve heard Dallas announcers rave about his pick and roll chemistry with Nowitzki and Brandan Wright. He also already has chemistry with Sam Dalembert, whom he played with in Milwaukee.
And yet I see Ellis forecast to have less assists than last year, down to 4.9/gm from 6. That makes no sense to me, particularly considering how much better Ellis’ Dallas teammates shoot the ball compared to last year’s Bucks.
I think it’s very likely that Ellis exceeds 6 assists a game this season, and also that his shooting % improves considerably because of how well Dallas spreads the floor. Triple teaming Ellis, which was a nightly occurence for him while on the Warriors and Bucks, will not be an option on a team with Nowitzki and Calderon.
Ellis is projected 28th, and has been available in the mid-20s in every draft I’ve participated in. He could be worth a lot more.
Dirk Nowitzki: If Ellis is great this season, might not Nowitzki be better? He’s currently projected 38th in my rankings, exactly how he finished last season. I really don’t get that ranking for several reasons. Starting with the fact that he’s going to start this season far more healthy than he was last year. But also because Dallas had a severe point guard problem last year. Darren Collison and Mike James? P.U.
Isn’t it possible that the additions of Calderon, Ellis and Devin Harris will help Dirk get great shots?
No one likes old guys in fantasy drafts. In my last draft, I picked up Dirk with my 51st pick! It will take a major injury for that pick not to pay dividends, and I think there is room for upside surprise above his projection at 38th.
Don’t sleep on the old guys.
Sam Dalembert: While we’re talking old fart Dallas guys, I just drafted Dalembert with my last pick (145th). I show him projected for 108th, and if you’re in need of a backup center who can block shots, I don’t think you can find a safer candidate.
Is there another center on Dallas this season? There is not. Is he playing with point guards willing to dish the rock to a big guy? He is. Two in the same backcourt in fact.
Mike Conley: I show Conley ranked 16th, and I mention him primarily because he has always been available to me at 22. Not so much a sleeper as great value, that others are sleeping on.
But maybe he is a sleeper. The Grizzlies are attempting to remake their offense this season. Fast-breaking more often. And transitioning from the old-school static post-up offense of Lionel Hollins, to a Spurs-style pick and roll, perpetual motion offense.
Is it possible this radical change in philosophy could have a major effect on Conley’s points and assists totals?
Amir Johnson: I’m not sure whether Johnson will exceed his projected ranking of 70th, but I have noticed that he is being virtually ignored by fantasy owners. Perhaps they fear that his minutes are under threat from Valanciunas and Rudy Gay.
If he gets his minutes, Johnson is a guy who can really help you in blocked shots (1.5/gm), rebounds and FG% late in the draft.
Kyle Korver: Owners have also really been sleeping on this guy. They seem completely unaware that he’s projected at 81.
That’s also 6 places below where he ranked last season, when he only got 8 shots a game. Isn’t it possible he winds up getting quite a few more shots this season? Gunner Josh Smith is gone. Lou Williams is still rehabbing from injury. He’s one of the most efficient scorers in the league. He’s got a new coach — Mike Budenholzer of the Spurs — who’s very cognizant of that fact, and is installing the Spurs system. And with Millsap joining Horford down low, the Hawks are desperate for his floor spreading.
Seems to me there are a lot of reasons to like Mr. Korver this season.
Isaiah Thomas: Am I repeating myself about this little dude? I am. Draft this guy! After watching the preseason, I’m convinced he will be the Kings’ sixth man, and he will frequently share the backcourt with Vasquez.
It’s a reality. Thomas is the Kings’ Manu Ginobili.
Jarret Jack: I’m a little worried by his knee, and he’s being drafted right around where he was ranked after his great season last year: 98th.
There are a couple of reasons why scooping up Jack in the low 100’s might pay dividends, though: 1) It’s possible that old-school coach Mike Brown prefers him to Dion Waiters in the 4th quarter. He was great in that role for the Warriors. 2) Is Kyrie Irving injury prone? Just asking.
Goran Dragic: I might be wrong about this, but it’s hard to see how the Suns give-away of pick and roll partner Marcin Gortat will help Dragic’s assists. Who is he going to pass to on this Suns team?
It’s also hard to see how the Suns’ emphasis on tanking, and the trade rumors that are already swirling around Dragic, will help his production this season.
Having said that, I keep winding up with him on my teams, because he’s a terrific fantasy player projected at 33, and he’s always been available to me drafting at 46.
Maybe his point totals will go up, playing for a wretched team? I won’t mind a bit if I’m wrong about Dragic.
Patrick Beverly: It seems likely that he’ll wind up with the starting point guard job in Houston, particularly since Jeremy Lin makes so much more sense off the bench, as a sixth man. A lot of owners are gambling on this possibility, and they may be right.
On the other hand, I think it’s highly likely that Beverly and Lin wind up sharing time, which will hurt both of their fantasy values. The Houston backcourt situation is too dominated by James Harden, and too crowded in general, to ever see both of these players on the court together. And I think it’s highly unlikely that Lin is traded this season — Beverley is too untested.
This looks a lot like a Kenny Smith — Sam Cassell situation to me.
(See also: my original 2013-14 Sleepers and Busts list.)