NBA fantasy basketball sleepers for the 2021-22 season
FantasyPros gives you an inside look at who could be the biggest fantasy sleepers this NBA season.
Everyone loves a good value, right? A “buy one, get one free” deal at the grocery store, a sale on those new shoes you wanted, or… a late-round fantasy basketball sleeper. We’ll skip the discourse on grocery or retail bargains and highlight nine players who can be had outside the first 10 rounds of a 12-team draft and offer plenty of value relative to their discounted draft capital.
Jonathan Isaac (SF, PF – ORL): Yahoo ADP 126.8
Isaac is a sleeper for now, but it’s very possible his ADP rises significantly heading into the season. If he can show up healthy to training camp, hype around him could build rapidly, so you’re best to take advantage of the favorable draft capital now.
Isaac is a unique two-way player with the ability to rack up valuable defensive stats in bunches. The last time we saw him on the court (2019-20), Isaac averaged 14.8 points, 8.5 boards, 2.9 blocks, 1.9 steals, 1.8 dimes, and 1.2 triples per-36-minutes while shooting 47% from the field and 77.9% from the charity stripe. That was a small sample size (34 games), but Isaac has the potential to shatter his current ADP.
Malik Beasley (PG, SG – MIN): Yahoo ADP 134.2
The forgotten man in Minnesota ranked No. 90 on a per-game basis in 2020-21, posting averages of 19.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 dimes, and 3.5 triples while shooting 44/39/85 splits across 32.8 minutes. All of those numbers were career-highs for Beasley, who took a huge step forward as a scorer, thanks to attempting a career-high 16.2 shots per game – nearly double his previous career mark.
Despite the heavy increase in usage, Beasley’s efficiency didn’t falter, and he committed just 1.6 turnovers per contest. Due to a 12-game suspension and lingering hamstring injury, Beasley played only four games after Feb 27. He’s expected to be fully healthy this season, and after completing his jail sentence over the summer, he’s free of any potential suspensions.
Assuming healthy seasons from D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns and continued strong play from Anthony Edwards, Beasley’s usage will almost certainly take a hit. He’s still expected to start at SG for the Timberwolves, and his efficient shooting plus an expected 30-plus minutes a night offer a sturdy floor and high ceiling should any of Minnesota’s starters be forced to miss time.
Nicolas Batum (SF, PF – LAC): Yahoo ADP 135.5
Selecting Batum at the end of your fantasy draft won’t provide a release of dopamine, and he certainly won’t look sexy sitting on your fantasy bench. But, who cares? Ranked 122 last season on a per-game basis, Batum could have an even more productive campaign in 2021-22.
Last season, Batum averaged 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.6 triples, 1.0 steals, and 0.8 TOs, while shooting 46.3% from the floor and 82.8% from the charity stripe. He didn’t knock any socks off with those numbers, but he’s a reliable shooter and rebounder with low turnovers who should start for a team that will be missing its top superstar. That’s value, baby!
Mason Plumlee (PF, C – CHA): Yahoo ADP 137.1
Plumlee has been an effective per-minute producer throughout his career with the Nets, Blazers, Nuggets, and most recently the Pistons. The big man showed what he could do with a full workload in his only season with Detroit, unleashing 10.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists over just 26.8 minutes per contest. He shot 61.4 FG%, marking the fourth time in eight seasons he shot better than 60%.
Plumlee’s breakout ended as soon as it began, as he was traded to the Hornets to clear cap and begin to build around Detroit’s promising young core. Not to fret, fantasy managers. Charlotte’s weakness in recent seasons has been at center, getting unspectacular production from the likes of Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo.
A starting role is almost certainly assured, and Plumlee makes a fine sleeper if he can carry over his success in Detroit to his new team.
De’Anthony Melton (PG, SG – MEM): Yahoo ADP 139.3
Melton has provided massive per-36 numbers over his career (13.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 2.3 steals), though his career-high in minutes is a paltry 20.1 logged in 2020-21.
It will be tough to do in Memphis’ crowded backcourt, but if he can earn additional playing time this season, Melton could be a huge steal at current ADP.
Larry Nance Jr. (PF, C – POR): Yahoo ADP 139.3
The man has been a steady 8th-9th round value over the last three years, but his ADP has never reflected as much. Nance ranked 98 on a per-game basis last season behind 9.3 points, 6.7 boards, 3.1 dimes, 1.7 steals, 1.2 triples, and just 1.6 TOs.
A 3-and-D big, he should be able to carve out a 25-30 min per game role in 2021-22 thanks to his skillset and versatility to play multiple positions. Nance can play either forward position or center, giving him immediate upside for a team lacking depth.
Nance can return the value of someone taken three or four rounds ahead of him, and he can be had for next to nothing. He’s an obvious sleeper for the 21-22 season.
Reggie Jackson (PG, SG – LAC): Yahoo ADP 139.4
I highlighted Nic Batum earlier in the article, but his teammate Reggie Jackson has got so much more upside. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why his ADP is nearly 140.
Across his 60 starts in 2020-21 (regular season and playoffs), R-Jax averaged 14.4 points, 3.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.4 triples while shooting 46/42/85 splits and committing just 1.4 TOs. Those numbers are nothing to scoff at, especially as his usage could increase with Kawhi Leonard out of action indefinitely.
Khem Birch (PF, C – TOR): Yahoo ADP 141.5
Yeah, I know. Chris Boucher is about as hot as Hansel in Zoolander right now, and he currently sports a fifth-round ADP.
Birch isn’t the Toronto big that you want, but he’s the one you need. After his trade to Toronto from Orlando, his role increased dramatically. Birch averaged 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 blocks across 30.4 minutes in 19 games (17 starts).
After signing a three-year extension in the offseason, his minutes should be fairly secure, and it’s possible he and Boucher split minutes fairly evenly, especially with Pascal Siakam out to start the season. Birch can be had nearly eight rounds after his frontcourt counterpart, and though the upside favors Boucher, the value highly favors Birch.
Facundo Campazzo (PG – DEN): Yahoo ADP Undrafted
It’s never too late in life to pursue your passion, right? JK Rowling was 32 when the first Harry Potter book was released, Samuel Jackson was 46 when he filmed his breakout role in Pulp Fiction, and Facu Campazzo first appeared in the NBA as a 29-year-old rookie.
Over the final 20 games (17 starts) of the 2020-21 season, Campazzo averaged 9.3 points, 5.3 assists, 3.5 boards, 1.7 steals, and 1.6 triples. Those numbers were good enough to rank him in the top-85 during that span. Jamal Murray has a chance to return as soon as January after tearing his ACL in April, but that’s an optimistic timeline.
Until he’s healthy, Campazzo and Monte Morris should split minutes at PG, but it’s the former who should have the leg up based on his 3-and-D skillset and last season’s strong performance.