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.
Oklahoma City Thunder (F)
Bazley's impressive play in the NBA bubble two seasons ago led to many fantasy managers taking a gamble on him with a late pick last season. That didn't pay off. Bazley saw plenty of action (31.2 minutes per game) but he struggled with his shot and was woefully inefficient. He averaged 13.7 points but shot 39.6 percent from the field, 29.0 percent from three and 70.2 percent from the free-throw line. That led to 0.98 points per shot attempt -- in just the ninth percentile for players classified as forwards. However, on a positive note, his free-throw rate (3.2 attempts per game) was nice for someone who often relied on jumpshooting, and his rebounding (7.2 boards per game) was also productive. Despite his struggles, the 21-year-old's role isn't in too much jeopardy, as the Thunder remain committed to tanking and didn't add any frontcourt depth. Bazley will only really be competing with Isaiah Roby and Aleksej Pokusevski for minutes, and he should remain the starter at power forward. He'll need to take massive leaps in efficiency to be worth a roster spot in fantasy, however.
Toronto Raptors (C)
After three-and-a-half mostly unremarkable seasons in Orlando, Birch was waived in April 2021 by the Magic. Two days later, the center-deprived Raptors signed the Canadian-born Birch, who then started 17 of Toronto's final 19 games. In those 19 contests, Birch delivered a useful 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks over 30.4 minutes per game. That production led to a three-year agreement from the Raptors in August. Also in August, the Raptors released center Aron Baynes, leaving Birch and Chris Boucher to battle for the bulk of minutes at the five. Granted, Toronto did acquire the 6-foot-8 Precious Achiuwa in the sign-and-trade deal that sent Kyle Lowry to Miami. But Achiuwa will probably spend more time fighting Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes for minutes at the four. On the whole, Birch delivers consistent, if not spectacular, results. Over his final 17 games (all starts), he averaged 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 blocks while shooting nearly 55 percent from the floor. Chances are, Birch won't walk into a 30-minute-per-game role again, so he's best targeted as a late-round flier for managers in two-center leagues.
San Antonio Spurs (C)
Injuries have plagued Collins' career and have stunted his development. Since being drafted 10th overall in 2017, he's appeared in only 154 games (12 starts). He missed all of last season with an ankle injury, and he re-fractured his surgically repaired left foot this June. Despite the issues, the Spurs signed the 23-year-old to a three-year, $22 million contract. It doesn't seem likely Collins will be ready for the start of this season due to his foot, and an official timetable for his return has yet to be established. Once he's ready to play, he could be the first center off the bench and may have opportunities to play power forward. While Collins hasn't been able to live up to expectations, he projects as a modern three-and-D center. He can be safely avoided in redraft leagues this season given his unclear health status and role, but Collins still makes for a decent flier in dynasty leagues since it's clear at least one team has belief in him.