Grabbing a sleeper pick during your draft and watching it pay off for you every game during the season is an amazing feeling. In fact, there may be nothing more satisfying in fantasy sports than hitting the jackpot on a sleeper pick.
To aid you in your quest for the elusive fantasy basketball sleeper, we've put together a list of potential breakout or bounce-back characters to help you win this season.
This list is in alphabetical order and the degree to which these players qualify as sleepers obviously depends on your specific league. We've included each player's projected stats for the upcoming season so that you can properly evaluate them.
Charlotte Hornets (C)
Williams put together an encouraging rookie season, with most of his production coming toward the back of the year. The Hornets began the campaign with Mason Plumlee as their starting center, eventually moving on from him via a trade to the Clippers. From that point, Williams assumed the starting role most nights, doing what many had hoped since he was taken with the 15th overall pick in the 2022 draft. In just 19.3 minutes per game, Williams ended as the 128th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 9.0 points on 63.7 percent shooting from the floor, adding 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 blocks. Should he land the starting role for his sophomore season, his playing time should increase appropriately, meaning the top 120 should be considered his floor. He doesn't have the block upside of someone like Walker Kessler, but he should be able to flirt with 1.5 swats per game while rolling out consistent double-doubles. The lack of name recognition should work in his favor regarding ADP, likely placing him outside the top 100 in many spots. Anyone who misses out on an elite big man earlier in the draft should certainly consider Williams anywhere in this range.
Portland Trail Blazers (G)
Boston was able to acquire Brogdon cheaply in the summer of 2022 based on the veteran's propensity to suffer injuries. He started the first half of his initial Celtic season red-hot. Over those first 41 games, Brogdon averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 boards, 2.0 triples and 3.7 dimes per game over 24 minutes per contest. During that span, he occasionally led the league in three-point shooting percentage, while shooting a fantastic 48 percent from the field and 88 percent from the line. Boston did their best to load manage the crafty guard, yet he was clearly tired come playoff time, where he shot only 41.8 percent from the field and scored a lower 11.8 per contest. The biggest concern for 2022-23, though, is the arm injury he suffered during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The issue was serious enough that the Clippers reportedly declined a rumored off-season trade for Brogdon due to medical concerns. Boston quickly shifted and dispatched fellow guard Marcus Smart to acquire frontcourt help, but the Celtics didn't stop there, as they dealt Brogdon and Robert Williams to Portland in exchange for Jrue Holiday right before training camp. The 30-year-old Brogdon doesn't fit Portland's current timeline, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him traded again at some point. Wherever he plays, Brogdon figures to continue to deliver efficient scoring. The main question is his health. Since his ROY season, the veteran has averaged 54 games played per season. Whether that number goes up or down in 2023-24 is anyone's guess.
Detroit Pistons (C)
The eye test is always dangerous when evaluating players, but Duren was a beast in the final months of his rookie season. The big man took on a much bigger workload when Bojan Bogdanovic and Isaiah Stewart went down, averaging 10.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 0.7 steals and 0.9 blocks on 66 percent shooting over the final 44 games. Seeing a rookie grab double-digit boards is ridiculous, but it was evident that Duren doesn't play like a 19-year-old. All of that should theoretically make Duren a fantasy darling this year, but the context of this roster is a concern for fantasy managers. Not only are Bogdanovic and Stewart expected to be fully healthy, but James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley were thrown into the mix as well. Having that many young big men on a roster makes projecting minutes difficult. It's clear as day that Duren is the one worth building around, but this team has shown us that all three guys will get minutes. That means Duren could be capped at 25 minutes for most of the season, but he's already shown us he can be productive in that role. That's why he'll likely fall outside the Top 100 in most drafts, even though he's one of the most promising big men in the league.