Fantasy Basketball Deep Sleepers 2022-23 - 9 Late-Round Breakouts

Fantasy Basketball Deep Sleepers 2022-23 - 9 Late-Round Breakouts

This article is part of our NBA Draft Kit series.

The most exciting part of draft season is identifying fantasy basketball sleepers. However, at this point in the year, with NBA Opening Night on Tuesday, much of the early-season value is gone. But, that's opened up new options late in drafts. Below are some players who may experience a breakout campaign and qualify as deep sleepers.

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Kelly Oubre, Hornets

The LaMelo Ball injury -- a Grade 2 ankle sprain -- put Oubre into the starting lineup late in the preseason. It won't be surprising if Ball sits out a week or two, so Oubre should immediately be a valuable fantasy asset.

Even when Ball returns, there's a massive void in minutes and usage created by the absence of Miles Bridges -- Charlotte's second-best player last year. If there's one person that thinks it's Kelly Oubre Time, it's Kelly Oubre.

In four preseason games, Oubre has averaged 20.8 points on 19.0 shots per 36 minutes. His 24.9 USG% will be the highest of his career if it carries into the regular season. During Oubre's best season (2019-20 in Phoenix), he ranked 58th in per-game fantasy value. Is a return to form coming?

Cameron Johnson, Suns

I don't understand why Johnson is being drafted outside of the Top 100. He ranked 126th in per-game value last year. Why would he get worse with another year of development, more usage and more minutes? The Jae Crowder trade demand moves Johnson into a starting five for a team that's starting to look thin at forward.

In 19 starts last year, Johnson averaged 15.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.9 threes in 32.5 minutes. If he reaches those marks again, he'll rank around 75. That should be considered his rough floor for this season.

De'Andre Hunter, Hawks

Hunter has already had a couple of false starts in his career, brought on by injury problems. It's easy to forget he was the No. 4 pick in the 2019 Draft. While his usage rate will only be so high playing alongside Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, the organization would love for Hunter to be the team's No. 3 scoring option, in addition to its best perimeter defender.

Two years ago, he ranked 110th in per-game value behind 15.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 combined steals-plus-blocks in 29.5 minutes. Those are attainable numbers again this season, and he's been hot in preseason with 50 points and 13 boards in 73 minutes. When he saw 30+ minutes last season, he averaged 17.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Fantasy managers in dynasty leagues, especially, should take notice.

Tari Eason, Rockets

Eason has created a shockwave in exhibition games since being drafted, dating back to dominant Summer League performances. He's impressively carried that into preseason, where he's averaged 30.4 points, 14.7 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 2.0 threes and 1.5 assists per 36 minutes.

With those numbers, he won't need to see more than 20-24 minutes per game to be worth rostering in fantasy. Things could get really interesting if he can take minutes away from Jae'Sean Tate and other forwards. And maybe he sees time at backup center behind Alperen Sengun, who's dealt with foul trouble in the past. He's strong, can hit threes, play defense, and tries hard as hell. What's not to like?

Santi Aldama, Grizzlies

Like Tari Eason, Aldama has carried his excellent Summer League performances into preseason. While it initially appeared Brandon Clarke or rookie Jake LaRavia would get the nod at power forward while Jaren Jackson (foot) recovers, Aldama seems to have claimed the starting gig. And he may spend time as Steven Adams' backup at center, giving him a high floor for minutes even when JJJ returns.

In five preseason games, Aldama has averaged 17.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.7 threes and 1.7 blocks per 36 minutes. At that rate, he'll be useful in fantasy if he sees around 25 minutes. He's at least worth drafting for the upside until Jackson is back. If Aldama's role decreases too much after that, drop him. You probably selected him after pick 100 anyway.

Ayo Dosunmu, Bulls

Dosunmu was named Chicago's starting point guard due to Lonzo Ball's knee surgery, which will likely keep him out until January or later. Dosunmu started 41 games last year and averaged 10.8 points, 5.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 34.5 minutes while shooting an impressive 51.6 percent from the floor.

Even if Dosunmu improves minimally, there aren't many guys left after pick 100 that have upside for 5+ assists per game, especially on 50 percent shooting with defensive potential. Guards often have breakout sophomore campaigns, so it's at least taking a shot on that chance with Dosunmu.

Kelly Olynyk, Jazz

I guess Olynyk is Utah's starting center? Any other typical tanking team would have just thrown Walker Kessler and Udoka Azubuike into the crucible, but Danny Ainge clearly can't quit the Gonzaga product, who spent four years in Boston.

I truly have no idea what to expect here. Olynyk ranked 64th two seasons ago in just 28.5 minutes per game between Miami and Houston. He ranked 95th in 2017-18 in 23.4 minutes. Could he reach those heights again? Will he get too many rest days for it to matter? What we know is that he can be a meaningful fantasy player if given the minutes, and as long as he's the starter, he has a good chance of being relevant.

Bennedict Mathurin, Pacers

Mathurin is a dark horse candidate for Rookie of the Year. I think he'll bully his way into Indiana's starting lineup relatively quickly. He's been tearing it up since Summer League and has averaged over 30 points per 36 minutes in both summer play and preseason action.

He's a professional scorer already. He's taken 21 free throws in 67 preseason minutes. That's after taking 17 free throws in 67 Summer League minutes. Don't expect him to rack up assists or too many steals, but he can rebound a bit, and he's fearless in his pursuit of a bucket.

Malik Beasley, Jazz

With the rebuilding Jazz, Beasley has an opportunity to replicate his production from two seasons ago with the Wolves, where he averaged 19.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 32.8 minutes. The emergence of Anthony Edwards and relatively high usage rates of Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell made it more challenging for Beasley to carve out a role.

Utah should be dedicated to Beasley's development. The 25-year-old is launching 19.4 shots per 36 minutes in preseason. During the 2020-21 campaign, he ranked 91st in per-game value. That's a realistic ceiling for him to hit again.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's Chief NBA Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, VSiN and other platforms. He firmly believes Robert Covington is the most underrated fantasy player of the past decade.
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