Fantasy Basketball Sleepers: Finding the Blocks in 2019-20
Adam King continues his series focusing on identifying fantasy basketball sleepers for the various categories used in typical fantasy leagues. Today he’s on the lookout for hidden sources of blocked shots.
Blocks are arguably the hardest category to fill late in drafts, meaning fantasy basketball sleepers in this category are few and far between. As the game moves progressively away from the basket, the importance of protecting the rim has been lost on a number of ‘big men.’ Outside of the elite shot-blockers, who could you target late in your draft? Last season Mitchell Robinson would have basically won the blocks category single-handedly for a number of fantasy teams. Is there anyone else who could emerge as a potential difference-maker in this category?
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Fantasy Basketball Sleepers for Blocks
Robert Williams – Boston Celtics
Williams presents as an elite shot-blocker, should he be able to carve out a sizeable enough role. Enes Kanter does put a cap on Williams’ upside, meaning he is likely to fall across all formats. On a per-36 basis, Williams ended his rookie season as the third-ranked player. He put up over five blocks per 36 minutes, a rate that is mouth-watering, to say the least. He played in just 31 games, averaging just nine minutes and was unable to establish himself as a regular rotational piece.
With both Al Horford and Aron Baynes moving on, the opportunity could be there for Williams to become the primary backup. Kanter is certainly not known for his defensive prowess and has never really been a regular 30-minute player. Williams is likely to be available at the backend of many drafts and could play his way to an 18-minute role. It is not unrealistic to think that he could average at least two blocks per game while shooting in excess of 70 percent from the field. Those numbers alone could see him drastically outperform his current ADP, making him a nice steal in standard formats.
JaVale McGee – Los Angeles Lakers
McGee put together his best season as a professional during the 2018-19 campaign. Aside from an illness that hampered him for an extended period, McGee was one of the surprise performers of the season. He ended just outside the top-50 on a per-game basis despite playing just 22 minutes each night. His numbers were far from mind-blowing but the combination he formed with LeBron James was note-worthy.
The arrival of DeMarcus Cousins is sure to see McGee’s playing time take a hit. That being said, Cousins exact role remains unclear and he is still working his way back from injury. McGee is a superior rim protector and his pick-and-roll game is vital to the Lakers’ success. Managers are likely going to have to monitor his ADP as more information is available pertaining to the Lakers’ rotations. Despite an expected reduction, McGee is one of the better shot blockers in the league and should still have significant value in that category.
Jordan Bell – Minnesota Timberwolves
After a couple of disappointing seasons with the Warriors, Bell now finds himself with the Timberwolves. It could be a great opportunity for Bell, playing on a team that is going to struggle to make the playoffs once again. He possesses elite athleticism with the potential to put up excellent defensive numbers. Bell averaged 2.4 blocks per-36 minutes, putting him inside the top-20 for that category.
Playing time has been the ongoing issue and there is no guarantee that changes this season. Robert Covington is likely to begin the season as the starting power-forward, next to Karl-Anthony Towns. Behind those two players, it remains unclear as to who will fill the minutes. He will be battling Gorgui Dieng and Noah Vonleh, both of whom are far from elite options. Of all three players, it is fair to assume Bell has the most upside. Should he be able to carve out a consistent 18-minute role, he could certainly be viewed as a low-end shot-blocking specialist.
Jakob Poeltl – San Antonio Spurs
Poeltl has flashed moments of fantasy upside but is yet to establish himself across any format. Despite starting a number of games last season, Poeltl averaged just 16.5 minutes per game. He has a demonstrated ability to block shots and typically scores with amazing efficiency. However, LaMarcus Aldridge is coming off a season where he ended as the 25th ranked player. Despite being listed as a power-forward, Aldridge saw plenty of playing time at the center position. This fact is not lost on fantasy managers and does cap the upside of Poeltl.
There has been no indication things will change in San Antonio and so there is an element of risk with drafting Poeltl. He did have a strong finish last season, playing at least 20 minutes in all but three games across the month of April. Aldridge is not getting any younger and it appears as though Poeltl is at least penciled in as the starter. If he can find consistency, Poeltl could be a nice late-round target, especially in category leagues.
Fantasy Basketball Sleepers by Position: PG | SG | SF | PF | C
Adam King joined FantraxHQ in 2018. He also currently writes for Rotowire and has previously written for Locked on Fantasy Basketball and Locked on Timberwolves. He has played sports his entire life with fantasy basketball becoming a passion over the past six years. By day, Adam is the service coordinator at the Autism Centre in Canberra, Australia. Adam was born and raised in Queanbeyan, Australia and currently resides in Bungendore, Australia with his wife and two children.
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