2018–19 NBA Fantasy Sleepers — Indiana Pacers
Our annual fantasy basketball drafts are fast approaching. Before the season starts I thought it would be a good idea to look at some of the ‘sleeper picks’ that might be around in later rounds where you could find value. If these picks are available in the later rounds, somewhere past pick 50 to 150, you should consider picking them up. I’ll be doing semi daily breakdowns of teams throughout the NBA \ until drafts get started. Starting with the Eastern Conference. There is a significant talent deficit in the East so I think this could help us get some real value on underrated players who will be forced to have higher usage rates than similarly ranked Western Conference players. The first team up is the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers outperformed everyone’s expectations last year however I believe many people will still undervalue them. They finished 10th in effective field goal percentage last year at 52.8%. This was mainly due to some extremely high percentage shooting from beyond the arc, specifically in the corner. I expect this trend of quality outside shooting by the pacers to continue. Specifically with Miles Turner continuing to stretch the floor (his 3pt attempts have increased every year). Victor Oladipo will also continue to dominate by slashing inside and demanding coverage from the outside. The combination of these two players will likely leave outside shoot open for two players: Bojan Bogdanovic and Tryeke Evans.
Preseason Rank: 134 Value at: 120–150
One player who should have significant value later in the draft is Bojan Bogdanovic, who attempted 4.8 3pt shots last year and connected at a rate of 40.2%. Yahoo currently ranks him at 134th in fantasy rankings, so in larger leagues Bojan offers significant 3pt value extremely late in the draft. A 14.0 PPG scorer in the 2017–18 season, I think he is undervalued as a scorer on this team specifically with Lance Stephenson leaving for Los Angeles, an uncharacteristically high usage player.
In 14–20 person leagues, he could come up as a steal past pick 120. Players like Jerian Grant, JeVale McGee, and Kyle Anderson are all ranked ahead of him, all of which I expect to regress this season due to coaching changes (McGee & Anderson) or low usage rates (Grant via the Westbrook Effect).
Preseason Rank: 106, Value at: 75
Another player who has been undervalued is Tyreke Evans. The largest critique of Evans from fantasy owners is his injury risk. Evans has only played 132 games in the past 4 seasons due to knee issues stemming from 2015–16. However much of the missed time in 2017–18 was due to the manager holdout and tankathon tactics by the Memphis Grizzlies rather than significant injury. He played in 3 of the last 22 games, in an attempt by the Grizzlies to gain better draft position. In the games he did play, Tyreke Evans was a 19.4 PPG scorer with no signs of injury risk. Without knowing this, many owners could look at his GP and expect low number again, but I would be surprised if he doesn’t play at least 60 games this year. Evans is good as both a spot up shooter and is manageable off the dribble. With the Pacers a near lock for a playoff spot, there is little reason to worry about him unless he reinjures his knee.
Both Bojan and Tyreke should be taken in larger leagues. Look for Tyreke anywhere after pick 110, and Bojan as a potential post 150 player or early waiver wire pickup to add significant 3pt numbers. The fact that both players will be in a smaller market will add to the amount they are undervalued, and while I think they should be ranked higher, you likely can wait past where they are ranked and get even better value for them. Neither will add significant REB or AST numbers, but both will be a great bump to scoring.
All rankings are based on Yahoo’s projections.