Fantasy Basketball: 11 early sleepers for the 2019-20 season include Buddy Hield, Jeff Teague
Alex Barutha considers some players who might fly under the radar in drafts, naming 11 early sleepers for the 2019-20 season.
Every season, a number of players are selected too late in Fantasy drafts. Usually, it's due to lack of name recognition, an injury the previous year, or stats that just don't jump off the page. Usually, by the time the inefficiency is recognized, it's too late.
Identifying those players heading into a draft can give you a leg up on the competition. If you know who they are, you can likely get a discount on them. Don't wait too long though, or they'll get snatched up.
Here are 11 players who could be under-drafted this Fantasy season to keep an eye on.
1. Buddy Hield, Kings
Hardcore NBA fans and Fantasy owners understand who Hield is, but it doesn't feel like his accomplishments have sunk into the general NBA sphere yet. He quietly averaged 20.7 points last season, drilling 3.4 threes per contest. Combine that with a quality field-goal percentage (45.8), solid rebounding (5.0) and acceptable passing (2.5), and you've got a really strong Fantasy asset.
Covington, one of the league's elite three-and-D role players, is perennially slept on. He missed much of last season due to injury, but once he was traded to Minnesota, he averaged 14.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 threes, 2.3 steals, 1.5 assists and 1.1 blocks in 34.7 minutes. Back healthy, Covington figures to secure a similar role in 2019-20.
3. Jeff Teague, Timberwolves
With Jimmy Butler out of Minnesota after 10 games last season, Teague was given more ball-handling responsibilities. That resulted in him averaging a career-high 8.2 assists. The Wolves didn't add any high-usage players in the offseason, so Teague figures to continue serving as the primary initiator of Minnesota's offense.
4. Gary Harris, Nuggets
Harris continues to battle injury issues, which inherently brings his Fantasy stock down. But in 2017-18, he averaged 17.5 points in 34.4 minutes, plus 2.3 threes and 1.8 steals. Harris missed a large chunk of last season, appearing in only 57 games. With Torrey Craig and Malik Beasley stepping up in his absence, Harris didn't need to see a ton of action once he returned. He was eased back into the rotation during the regular season, but still ended up garnering 36.9 minutes per game in the playoffs. Heading into next season, there's no reason not to view Harris as the Nuggets' No. 3 option on offense. Denver might be the deepest team in the league, but if Harris can stay healthy and get back to his numbers from two years ago, there could be a big payoff for Fantasy owners.
5. Nicolas Batum, Hornets
After Batum took just 7.5 shots per game last season, it seemed like we might be able to write him off coming into 2019-20. But all bets are off with Kemba Walker leaving. Is Batum suddenly the Hornets… best player? Even if the answer is "no," the fact that we can even ask that question means Batum might be in for a bounceback season. His first three seasons in Charlotte saw him average 14.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.0 steal in 33.4 minutes.
6. Dejounte Murray, Spurs
Murray missed all of last season with a torn ACL, but he was en route to becoming the Spurs' starting point guard. He took the job from Tony Parker in 2017-18 and went on to average 10.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists 1.6 steals in 48 games as a starter. Now that Derrick White has emerged as a quality option, it's not clear what Murray's role will be, but San Antonio will likely give him every opportunity to reclaim the starting spot. The Washington product will have to prove he's actually revamped his jumper, but the real intrigue lies in his rebounds/assists/steals potential.
7. Dario Saric, Suns
Saric saw his role reduced once dealt to Minnesota last season, but there's a good chance he'll start at power forward in Phoenix. The 25-year-old is in a contract year and has career averages of 14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 150 games as a starter.
8. Taurean Prince, Nets
Prince is a classic case of a player who was "supposed to" break out last season and didn't, so now his stock is deflated. But Prince is only 25 years old and should still see around 30 minutes per game in Brooklyn, giving him an opportunity to improve. Over the past two seasons, he's averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 steal in 29.3 minutes.
Relegated to a backup role for most of his career, Smith is walking into an opportunity to be a full-time starter for the Wizards next to Bradley Beal. Given his age, the 31-year-old is unlikely to make significant improvements to his game, but the extra playing time should boost his production by default. In 142 career starts, Smith has averaged 13.0 points, 6.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals.
10. Michael Porter Jr., Nuggets
The Porter hype train left the station a few weeks ago, but it quickly fell off the tracks when Porter tweaked his knee in the lead-up to summer league. We're still yet to see Porter in anything resembling an NBA game setting, but given his status as an elite-of-the-elite recruit in the class of 2017, there's plenty of reason to believe in the No. 14 pick in last year's draft. If -- and it's a major if -- he's able to stay healthy, Porter could force his way into a deep Nuggets' rotation and be of use in deeper formats.
11. Malik Monk, Hornets
Monk isn't afraid to shoot the ball, and the Hornets will need someone to put the ball in the bucket now that Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb are gone. A big-time scorer at the high school and college levels, Monk is yet to shoot 40 percent from the field in a single season, but he's only 21 years old and should walk into a significantly larger workload for what could be the worst team in the league next season. The same goes for Monk's teammate, Miles Bridges, who Charlotte grabbed with the 12th pick in 2018.
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