Fantasy Basketball sleepers, breakouts and busts NBA 2022-23

To put together an amazing fantasy basketball roster, you need to make the most of your draft.

So which players will top their average draft position this season? Who will take their game to a new level? And which players are most at risk of regressing?

Our Fantasy Basketball Experts — Andre’ Snellings, Eric Moody, Eric Karabell and Jim McCormick — offer their top sleepers, breakouts and busts for the 2022-23 season.


sleeper

Sleeper: A player who will far exceed his average draft position (ADP) in standard ESPN leagues.

Andre’ Snellings – Alperen Sengun, Houston Rockets: Sengun started jumping on the fantasy radar after flashing right after his Las Vegas Summer League selection. He’s a jack of all trades on offense, and his numbers per 36 minutes from his rookie season bear that out: 16.7 PP36, 9.5 RP36, 4.5 AP36, 1.6 BP36, 1.4 SP36 and 0.7 3P36. The biggest problem on the fantasy front was that as a rookie he was only playing 20.7mpg behind Christian Wood. Well, Wood was traded to the Mavericks in the offseason, paving the way for Sengun to get starting minutes. His game should be better in his sophomore year and with the extra minutes he has the potential to put up strong numbers this season.

Eric Moody – Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic: Suggs had a rookie season for the Orlando Magic full of ups and downs, including injuries and roster disagreements. As a freshman trying to adjust to the NBA, he averaged 11.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 4.4 APG, but his 36.1% field goal percentage needs improvement. Suggs isn’t the first heavily drafted NBA player to struggle early in his career, and he won’t be the last. Suggs is a better role player than a star, and with Magic picking Paolo Banchero #1 overall, he’ll have an opportunity to really shine at that. Suggs is heavily used along with Franz Wagner and will continue to play an important role for Orlando.

Eric Karabell-Tre Jones, San Antonio Spurs: Jones, who is now entering his third season of Duke, didn’t see many minutes for Gregg Popovich in the first two years. Now, however, star Dejounte Murray has gone to the Hawks and Jones should start and see vital minutes. Jones started 11 times last season and averaged 13.5 PPG and 7.5 APG, and he shot well from the field and the line. Jones can’t do what Murray does, but he’s worthy of a top 100 pick just for the minutes and assist potential.

Jim McCormick – Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs: Only Jokic, James Harden and Luka Doncic touched the ball more than Dejounte Murray’s 87.5 times per game for Spurs last season. Murray passed all players under 6’7 in rebound chances per game while also finishing in the top 10 passes and drives per game. Vassell is a young two-way winger ready to capitalize on the ocean of opportunities presented by Murray’s departure. In just over 400 minutes with Murray and Derrick White off the floor last season, Vassell at the age of 21 had 17.1 points, 2.8 3-pointers, 5.9 boards, 3.7 assists, 2.4 combined Blocks and steals (per 36 minutes). Spurs’ pursuit of lottery odds, there’s a lot to like about Vassell’s trajectory.


outbreaks

Breakout: A player who advances into or nears the top tier of players at their position for the first time due to a dramatic increase in production compared to their previous seasons.

Andre’ Snellings – Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks: Brunson showed he could produce next season while playing alongside use vacuum Luka Doncic, but when Doncic was out Brunson really showed his potential. During a 10-game absence from Doncic in December, Brunson averaged 21.0 PPG (51.3 FG%, 37.5 3P%, 77.5 FT%), 7.4 APG, 3.5 RPG and 1, 5 3PG in 34.7MPG. But the more enticing stretch came when Doncic missed the first three games of the playoffs. Brunson responded with an average of 32.0 PPG (50.7 FG%, 41.2 3P%, 85.0 FT%), 5.3 APG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.3 3PG in 39.4 MPG during this period . This offseason, Brunson signed as the new point guard for the Knicks, meaning he’s now getting the much-used keys to a franchise. He has realizable potential to join the fantasy elite this season.

Eric Moody—Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder: I’m a huge Giddey fan, as those who read my columns last year will know. He received the Rookie of the Month award four times last year for his outstanding performance. There was no other player in the 2021 class to earn the award more than twice. Giddey averaged 12.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 6.4 APG, and 1.0 SPG with a 22.2% usage rate. In all of these statistical areas, he’s well positioned to see an increase. The statistical leap Giddey could make in his sophomore season could be similar to LaMelo Ball’s. Aside from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey, the Thunder don’t have many playmakers.

Eric Karabell-Alperen Sengun, Houston Rockets: The Rockets couldn’t wait to part ways with Wood, and crucial minutes open up for Sengun, who averaged 12.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG in 13 starts as a rookie. Those might not be stats worth mentioning for many centers, but the 20-year-old Sengun is also a sneaky strong provider of assists, averaging 3.6 APG on his starts. He can also block shots. Give Sengun enough minutes and he could easily become a top 50 fantasy option.

Jim McCormick – Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic: As a rookie for the Magic, he was low key and great. Wagner finished 50th overall on ESPN’s Player Rater as a 20-year-old in a team plagued by brutal backcourt injuries and an overall lack of point guard play. With the sales skills of Markelle Fultz and the passing skills of Paolo Banchero joining the roster, Wagner could finally get some “easy” catch-and-shoot work this season. The Michigan product was an absolute boss for Germany at this summer’s EuroBasket, displaying a series of effective pull-ups and step-back three-pointers from a live dribble. Given what should play a big role as a building block alongside Banchero, Wagner could be in the works to become an imaginative starting force on either forward.


busts

Broke: A player expected to be a solid starter in standard ESPN leagues but failing to live up to those expectations this season.

Andre’ Snellings – Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns: In the three seasons from 2016-17 to 2018-19, Paul missed an average of 23 games per season through injury. He was relatively healthy for the next two seasons, both of which were cut short due to COVID, but then he missed 18 games again last season, in his 17th in the NBA. He was still strong during the season, but in the playoffs, immediately after his 37th birthday, he shot some of the worst games of his career. During the last five games of his playoffs, Paul averaged just 9.4 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.4 RPG, and 3.6 TO/G in 32.3 MPG. His poor performance played a big part in upsetting the Suns in the playoffs. This season, the risk of injury and the risk of age-related decline overlap in such a way that Paul is too likely to fall below his typical level and/or be absent during important parts of the season.

Eric Moody-Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings: Barnes was outstanding for the Sacramento Kings last season with 16.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.4 APG and an 18.2% usage rate. Fantasy managers will expect him to replicate those numbers. Given the influx of talent the Kings have had this offseason, including Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk and Keegan Murray, Barnes will find it difficult to do so.

Eric Karabell – Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans: Zion was my pick last season as well as it was easy to wonder how soon he would return from foot surgery. He ended up missing the entire season. Adding to the major concerns about durability, Williamson’s stats are a bit deceiving and may not justify its high ADP. While the unstoppable Williamson can score at will, he’s just a modest rebounder, not a factor in 3-point shooting, and he can do major damage to a fantasy team’s free throw percentage. Oh, and did we mention that it’s anything but durable?

Jim McCormick-Clint Capela, Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu is the center of the future for the Hawks. The third-year center claims to have some great advanced metrics that often align with team success, and both his contract and age are a much better fit for the team’s superstar backcourt. In terms of Capela’s fantasy value, last season’s 11.1 points and 11.9 moves of 1.3 blocks in 27.6 minutes per night represents the likely ceiling for this season, in which Okongwu’s competition for opportunities will increase . That said, he could be quite good, but there’s really no chance of being anything special. One of the only viable ways to re-fill Atlanta’s steering team position (prior to a big new signing to Murray) is to move Capela, adding more uncertainty to an old-school center with a relatively expensive draft position.

https://www.espn.com/fantasy/basketball/story/_/id/34626095/2022-23-fantasy-nba-basketball-sleepers-breakouts-busts Fantasy Basketball sleepers, breakouts and busts NBA 2022-23

Emma Bowman

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