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By definition, a fantasy sleeper is a previously unknown or unwanted player who is developing into a star without much fanfare. He should come at a relatively cheap price, because his name has yet to become identified by the "masses" as a star in the making.
Therefore, a sleeper can't be Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or even Joe Johnson. For our evaluations, we will arbitrarily determine that his ADP (average draft position) can't be higher than 60, meaning he wouldn't be selected in the first five rounds of a 12-team fantasy draft.
Below, you will find 10 "sleepers" for 2010.
Devin Harris, New Jersey, ADP 62 -- In 2008-09, Harris was on the way to becoming and elite point guard, averaging 21.3 ppg, and 6.9 apg. But 2009-10 was a disappointment as fantasy owners drafted him at his perceived new level of production and he failed horribly. Injuries and the team's lack of an outside shooting threat were the main culprits. While nothing can be done about keeping him healthy, the team did bring in some three-point shooters to open up the lane for his driving ability. As an early sixth-round Harris should be a huge bargain.
Gilbert Arenas, Washington, ADP 67 -- When the season gets underway in November, it will be about four years since Arenas was a dominant force in the league. He's been through injuries and well-publicized off-court issues. In the preseason, he has looked healthy and focused on the job at hand -- playing basketball -- something he does very well. He's not the 28.4 ppg do-everything scorer he was in 2006-07, but he doesn't have to be. With rookie John Wall manning the point, Arenas can be a pure shooting guard. He can still score 20 ppg and as a sixth rounder, Arenas is a sleeper.
Luis Scola, Houston, ADP 80 -- In Yao Ming's absence, Scola stepped up his game to 16.2 ppg and 8.6 rpg in 2009-10. Although the "big man" is back, Scola should still get the opportunity to produce solid numbers. The Rockets will protect Yao for the playoffs and Scola should still maintain his scoring and rebounding statistics throughout the regular season.
Roy Hibbert, Indiana, ADP 83 -- Hibbert developed nicely last season into a borderline starter (11.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.6 bpg) and with Troy Murphy now in New Jersey, Hibbert is the only inside threat the Pacers have. I'm expecting a significant rise in his scoring and rebounding which should make him a solid fantasy starter.
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland, ADP 104 -- The loss of centers Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas leaves the Cavaliers without many frontcourt options. Varejao will pick up much of the slack on the boards and if he can average 12 ppg on offense will be worthy of a ninth-round selection as a consistent double-double guy.
Rodney Stuckey, Detroit, ADP 112 -- The Pistons were an ugly group last year, but Stuckey was the best player they had on the floor. Perhaps that's why he's getting no respect in fantasy drafts. He averaged 16.6 ppg, 4.8 apg and 1.4 spg, yet he'll still be sitting on the draftboard in the 10th round. And the best news is that he has improved his numbers in each of his first three NBA seasons. The trend will continue.
Leandro Barbosa, Toronto, ADP 116 -- Barbosa was buried on the Phoenix bench the past two seasons, but he has the ability to put up 20 points on any given night. In Toronto, he should get the playing time to do just that. He'll also contribute to your steals total and is an excellent free-throw shooter.
J.J. Hickson, Cleveland, ADP 119 -- When "King James" fled Cleveland for the winter warmth of Miami, he left a lot of shots and points on the table for those he left behind. Hickson should be one of the biggest beneficiaries and should at least average 15 points a night.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento, ADP 128 -- Cousins will have a huge opportunity to star right away in Sacramento with center Samuel Dalembert going down for up to six weeks with an strained abductor muscle injury. Can you say Wally Pipp?
D.J. Augustin, Charlotte, ADP 130 -- With Raymond Felton gone, the point guard job falls to Augustin. He had a solid rookie season, but fell out of favor with coach Larry Brown last season and his minutes dropped significantly. That should change this season, and Augustin is a prime candidate to double his scoring and assist numbers from the previous campaign.
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