In the world of fantasy sports, a "sleeper" is a player that exceeds expectations and goes above and beyond his average draft pick (ADP) or comes out the radar. Often times, sleepers make the difference between winning and losing for fantasy owners, so here are five NBA players that I believe are going to make noise this season.
1. Dennis Smith Jr.
There is a lot of hype surrounding this year's rookie class players such as last year's number one overall pick Ben Simmons coming back from injury last season and Lonzo Ball following a tantalizing Summer League performance. However, nobody is really talking about the ninth overall pick in Smith. It is arguable that Smith was the best player in Summer League averaging 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in about 26 minutes of play per contest.
Expect Smith to get all the minutes he can handle because he seems to be the guard for the future given where the Mavericks drafted him. There will be plenty of opportunities to succeed for Smith given the Mavs's depth chart isn't very stacked. Future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki has openly said that the organization is hoping that Smith will become the cornerstone of the franchise, so there is little reason to believe that he will be primed to have a solid season.
2. Victor Oladipo
Oladipo had an extremely disappointing stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. Many speculated that the 5-year guard would make noise playing alongside Russell Westbrook, but he struggled to be the player that he was in Orlando.
In Orlando, Dipo was as good as it came in fantasy basketball. Many his struggles may be because he didn't have to play alongside a stat stuffer like Russ and was depended on to handle the ball. Well, if that's the case, he's in a similar situation in Indiana now. Dipo should be looked upon to be one of, if not the main focal point in Pacers' offensive scheme, so he could be looking at a ton of minutes. Don't sleep on Dipo, because last season's numbers are not indicative of the fantasy stud that he is.
3. Kyle Kuzma
If you told me that you knew who Kyle Kuzma was prior to this year's draft, I'd say you're lying unless you followed Utah college basketball last year. Kuzma opened a lot of eyes during the Summer League this year, but in the preseason, he has many crowning him the steal of the draft.
Kuz has been outperforming his competitors for his position in Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., and Brandon Ingram. The organization had not anticipated on Kuzma's game to be so developed this early, but his play has essentially forced him into the rotation. Head coach Luke Walton stated that he hasn't ruled out the possibility of starting the rookie, so minutes aren't out of the question, even if they're off the bench. It may take some time for Kuz to get rolling, but he's worth a mid to late flier if you're looking for someone with real potential this season.
4. Jonathan Simmons
Simmons was an integral part of the San Antonio Spurs's success last season. He played spectacularly off the bench and was called upon to solely be a defensive stopper. In the playoffs, we saw a solid offensive game from him when he was called into a bigger role when Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker fell to injuries.
Now that Simmons is with the Magic, he may have the opportunity to make some noise in the fantasy world. He's a very good defender and his offense has looked solid thus far in the preseason. Granted Simmons behind Evan Fourier and Terrence Ross on the depth chart, he's not worth picking up until the later rounds. However, his play in the preseason has impressed and it wouldn't be a surprise if we see him make his way up the chart.
5. Clint Capela
Although my fondest memory of Capela is him getting dunked on by Kobe Bryant during his retirement tour, he has become a solid center for the Houston Rockets. Last year Capela averaged 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds on 64.3 percent shooting from the field on 24 minutes per game. Those numbers have a real chance of going up with the acquisition of Chris Paul, which could mean more easy buckets for the young fella.
CP3 has a canny ability to make everyone around him better, which a somewhat evident with DeAndre Jordan being a legitimate threat despite his game not being what fits the modern NBA. The Rockets are one of the fastest paced teams in the NBA, which means more possessions, so Capela should have a lot of run to be a contributor to your fantasy team. Just be wary of poor free throw percentages.