Commentary

2010-11 Sleepers/Busts

Who the experts like and dislike compared to the public sentiment

Updated: September 30, 2010, 12:42 PM ET
By ESPN Fantasy staff

Heading into your drafts, you're going to be putting together all sorts of player lists and cheat sheets, but perhaps none so important as that section in which you've jotted down your sleepers and busts.

We recommend making an extensive sleepers/busts list as a way of steadying your draft strategy once the heat of a draft starts to get the better of less-levelheaded owners. Because once the adrenaline rush gets going, it's sometimes easy to forget which players you've singled out as must-have targets or prospective lemons.

Taking a beat to remind yourself that you -- when your head was in a quieter place -- decided Martell Webster was a good endgame grab or Channing Frye was better left to another owner is a simple yet essential part of a solid draft-day routine.

It's wise to compile a tiered sleepers/busts list, broken down by round, with a little parenthetical reason for why you tabbed each player. For example, if you have Samuel Dalembert (offensively challenged, inconsistent) down as an seventh- to eighth-round bust and he's still available in the 10th round, you might be willing to grab him after all, hoping there's value to be gained. Conversely, if you sense there's about to be a run at center, you might snare 10th-round sleeper JaVale McGee (blocks, new starter) in the ninth round.

As a draft drifts into its latter stages and your other lists begin to be picked clean, you might find yourself referring almost exclusively to your sleepers/busts cheat sheet. Putting together a detailed list like this might seem overly exhaustive, but trust us, it's well worth it.

If you'd like a little guidance putting together your list, look no further. Our fantasy experts are here and want to help you win. And yes, while we know you don't necessarily need a ton of our help to make your personal sleepers/busts guide, it's always helpful to take the temperature of ESPN.com's collective fantasy brain trust heading into a new season. Because in life, and fantasy sports, perspective is always key.

In parentheses below is the round the analyst would take that player in an ESPN standard draft.

Sleeper explanations

Ranked within the position in order of when you can expect to get them, from earliest to latest.

Point guard

Darren Collison, Indiana Pacers (from Keith Lipscomb): Collison was a fantasy monster filling in for Chris Paul as a rookie. He might not average 19 points and nine assists (or 40 minutes) like he did as a starter last season, but he certainly should go earlier than the seventh round, where he is going in early ESPN drafts.

Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers (from Neil Tardy): In March and April, Holiday averaged more than 12 points, six assists and 1.5 steals while shooting nearly 50 percent.

Beno Udrih, Sacramento Kings (from Brian McKitish): Udrih thrived alongside Tyreke Evans once Kevin Martin departed, averaging 14.2 points, 6.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.8 3-pointers per game. Fantasy owners still don't view him as a reliable option, but he's always produced when given minutes.

Shaun Livingston, Charlotte Bobcats (from Tom Carpenter): A little slower but still talented -- and just 25 years old -- the former fourth overall pick makes for the perfect bench flier. All upside.

More on Livingston (from John Cregan): Livingston shone briefly in a late-season starting stint in Washington (15.5 points, 6.3 assists) and could make for a cheap source of assists.

Shooting guard

Eric Gordon, Los Angeles Clippers (from Seth Landman): He'll be healthier this season, and his combination of making 3s and getting to the line is perfect for fantasy.

More on Gordon (from Tardy): Team USA's youngest member didn't hesitate to take (and typically make) open shots in the 2010 FIBA World Championship. He should ride his newfound confidence into 20 points per game this season.

Marcus Thornton, New Orleans Hornets (from Carpenter): Expect him to pick up where he left off last season (19-20 points, 2-plus triples), which means he should go in the first six rounds.

Anthony Morrow, New Jersey Nets (from Lipscomb): The Nets finished last in scoring and field goal percentage last season, so Morrow's perimeter prowess will complement Devin Harris' penetration quite well. In the later rounds, when you're looking for someone to fill out those 3s and steals without hurting your percentages, grab Morrow.

Leandro Barbosa, Toronto Raptors (from McKitish): The "Brazilian Blur" joins a Toronto team devoid of offensive talent and will have an opportunity to become a go-to player on the offensive end. Barbosa has the talent to score 15-16 points per game while adding 1.5 3-pointers and at least a steal per game for the Raptors.

Small forward

Trevor Ariza, Hornets (from Tardy): A return to the 3 spot along with the chance to convert Chris Paul's perfect passes should make Ariza more efficient.

Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers (from Cregan): I'm not quite as high on Batum after the Blazers went and acquired Wesley Matthews, but Batum is the favorite to enter the season as the team's top small forward. The Frenchman has drool-worthy athleticism, defensive ferocity and a killer 3-point shot (.409 shooting in 2009-10).

Terrence Williams, Nets (from McKitish): Not only did Williams average 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists in April last season, but he'll get an opportunity for increased minutes after Courtney Lee's departure.

Dorell Wright, Golden State Warriors (from Lipscomb): Hey, the Warriors had not one, but two D-Leaguers emerge as fantasy-relevant players last season, so why not take a final-round flier on the athletic Wright, who always has had the ability to contribute in multiple categories but hasn't received a legit shot to do so?

Power forward

Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves (from Josh Whitling): Love will produce 14 points and 11 boards with sneaky 3s, steals, blocks and great free throws. He's no trade secret, but I'll take him in the sixth round and pray for 82 games of those averages.

Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz (from Lipscomb): Millsap has averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and more than a steal and a block in his career as a starter. With Mehmet Okur out for the first month or two of the season, Millsap will take advantage of the opportunity once again and might remain a starter this time.

Tyrus Thomas, Bobcats (from Carpenter): Larry Brown seems to like Thomas, which means we might finally see the kid bust loose. He's a fantasy stud in the making, given he wrestles enough minutes from Boris Diaw to crack the 30-minute mark.

J.J. Hickson, Cleveland Cavaliers (from McKitish): As the Cavs look to rebuild in the post-LeBron James era, expect them to lean heavily on Hickson, who has posted some nice per-minute numbers in his young career. Increased minutes and opportunity for a player as talented as this typically lead to a breakout season.

Center

Samuel Dalembert, Kings (from Landman): Dalembert always plays 82 games, and his rebounding and shot-blocking rates can make him a top-50 player, even without a ton of minutes.

Roy Hibbert, Pacers (from Tardy): The rapidly improving Hibbert has a new point guard (Darren Collison) and the post all to himself (with Troy Murphy traded to New Jersey). He's a solid breakout candidate.

JaVale McGee, Washington Wizards (from Cregan): The uber-athletic McGee has steadily developed his low-post game while adding muscle; he impressed in both summer league and Team USA workouts. Throw in his high blocks ceiling (2.5-3.0 per game), and you have the makings of a breakout season (coincidentally, this is his third season, the "leap year" for many young big men).

Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder (from McKitish): Sure, he's a raw talent, but Ibaka has the potential to be one of the more dynamic shot-blockers in the league. He played admirably at the end of last season through the playoffs and will see his minutes increase as he continues to develop.

Busts explanations

Ranked within the position in order of when they're expected to be taken, earliest to latest.

Point guard

Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks (from Josh Whitling): Too many years of 80-plus games and 35-plus minutes per night have to catch up to the future Hall of Famer at some point. I'm betting this is the season Kidd's advanced age and heavy mileage finally take a bite out of his numbers.

Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets (from Keith Lipscomb): While I expect him to improve upon his worst assist total since '02-03, I think there's no way he will repeat his career-high 19.5 points per game average, especially with Al Harrington in town. He might still crack the top 10 point guards, but I don't love him as much as others do.

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (from Brian McKitish): Until Rose starts hitting 3-pointers (0.2 per game), creating steals (0.7) and knocking down his free throws at a more consistent rate (76.6 percent), he will remain just outside of elite fantasy point guard status. Unfortunately, fantasy owners will draft him much higher than they should, as Rose is a much better player in real life than he is in fantasy.

Raymond Felton, New York Knicks (from Neil Tardy): He shot a career-best 45.9 percent in 2009-10, but that came on a career-low 10.6 attempts per game. Playing for Mike D'Antoni, it's inevitable Felton will take -- and clank -- more shots.

Shooting guard

Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics (from Keith Lipscomb): Pierce is still a solid fantasy player, but he's seen his rebounds and assists drop considerably in recent years. As Rajon Rondo continues to mature, Pierce isn't guaranteed to improve upon any of his '09-10 numbers, which landed him outside of the top 30 on the Player Rater.

Evan Turner, 76ers (from John Cregan): Turner underwhelmed in summer league play, and while one should never put too much stock into such things, he was disappointing to the extent that you'll need to monitor his training camp performance closely before rolling the dice. He's blaming conditioning for his poor showing, but this has shades of James Harden written all over it.

Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons (from Tom Carpenter): He is 32, hasn't topped 72 games in three seasons and might get traded out of Motown. He offers nothing but downside.

John Salmons, Bucks (from Josh Whitling): It'll be hard for him to replicate last season's 19.9 points in nearly 38 minutes per game now that Corey Maggette is around.

Small forward

Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks (from Seth Landman): He's 29 now, and he's not getting to the line as much. He's fourth- or fifth-round production that will get drafted in the third.

Stephen Jackson, Bobcats (from Josh Whitling): I don't want to draft a streaky 10-year veteran coming off a career season and three consecutive seasons of 39-plus minutes per game.

Andre Iguodala, 76ers (from Tom Carpenter): Iggy once was a fantasy stud because he was the man in Philly. Now he's just one good player among many. He's going too early in drafts.

Luol Deng, Bulls (from Brian McKitish): The Bulls added a bunch of offensive weapons in the offseason with Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver. Someone in Chicago is going to see his stats suffer a little, and I'm betting that someone will be Deng.

Power forward

Gerald Wallace, Bobcats (from Keith Lipscomb): I love "Crash" as much as anyone, but if you want him in drafts this season, you might have to take him earlier than you ever have. Last season was the first time in his nine-year career he didn't miss double-digit games. I simply prefer more durability from a potential second-round pick.

Blake Griffin, Clippers (from Brian McKitish): Call me skeptical, but Griffin's injury history scares me. He'll be a great scorer and rebounder when on the court, but he didn't block too many shots in college and shot sub-60 percent from the free throw line.

Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies (from Tom Carpenter): Z-Bo was a late-round steal last year but is basically an unfocused, injury-prone guy who had the perfect season. Randolph's history dictates he won't stay focused or healthy for long.

Carl Landry, Kings (from John Cregan): Landry is great for the percentage categories, but he just doesn't provide the statistical grit (boards and blocks) I look for in a power forward. And don't discount the minutes suck DeMarcus Cousins is about to perform on the Kings' frountcourt.

Center

Chris Bosh, Miami Heat (from Seth Landman): I'd be less worried about his not being the top option on offense anymore if he were a shot-blocker.

Yao Ming, Houston Rockets (from John Cregan): It's heartening that Yao is healthier than he's been in a long time, but that can't cancel out the fact that the Rockets will be required to strictly monitor his minutes. He won't be allowed to play like it's 2007 all over again (when he averaged 37.8 minutes per game).

Samuel Dalembert, Kings (from Brian McKitish): Fantasy owners are high on Dalembert in Sacramento, but this is a guy who has been plagued by inconsistency throughout his career. Even with the change in scenery, I can't see Dalembert suddenly putting it all together.

Channing Frye, Phoenix Suns (from Keith Lipscomb): He was a major surprise last season, providing atypical 3-point production as a big man, but he does little else and I don't see any reason to believe that will change.