Every Wednesday, I will bring the top sleeper picks that can potentially make a difference in your lineup along with the players that you should avoid picking up despite the temptation. NBA All-Star festivities begin this Friday, so expect teams to finish the week strong.
Last week, I whiffed on the Dion Waiters pick as he suffered an ankle injury which kept him out of play. Hopefully this week, I can regain accuracy with my picks heading into the All-Star break.
Malcolm Brogdon (Shooting Guard, Milwaukee Bucks) – Even though he was just recently on my players to avoid list, Malcolm Brogdon seems poised to break out again due to Jabari Parker’s unfortunate ACL tear and Kris Middleton returning from an injury himself. In the first two games since Jabari Parker’s ACL tear, Brogdon scored 17 and 18 points respectively. Hopefully that’s a sign of more things to come.
Dario Saric (Power Forward, Philadelphia 76ers) – With Joel Embiid out with a minor Meniscus tear, Saric has picked up the slack. Over the last five games, Saric averaged 18.8 points, 6.4 rebounds while shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc. Look for Saric’s hot play to continue with Embiid out.
Will Barton (Shooting Guard, Denver Nuggets) – Barton is as streaky as they come but recently he has been playing exceptionally well. With the Nuggets dealing with multiple injuries, Barton has been making the most of his opportunities. Over the past four games, Barton has averaged 18.8 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists which included a 31-point outburst in a win over the Dallas Mavericks. He should be a short-term pickup.
Matt Barnes (Small Forward, Sacramento Kings) – Barnes has bounced around a lot, playing for nine teams during his career and has developed a bad reputation. But his recent play in wake of Rudy Gay’s absence has warranted picking him up. In the month of February, he has nearly doubled his points while averaging close to 32 minutes per game and shooting over 40 percent from three-point range.
Jusuf Nurkic (Center, Portland TrailBlazers) – Before being traded from Denver, Jusuf was in a logjam playing behind Kenneth Faried and Nikla Jokic. Now given an opportunity in Portland, Jusuf should assume the starting center position. His per 36 minute averages are 15.3 points, 12 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.2 blocks. Now playing alongside All-NBA player Damian Lillard and the NBA’s Most Improved Player in C.J. McCollum, Jusuf’s production and play should improve.
Players to avoid:
Jahlil Okafor (Center, Philadelphia 76ers) – Okafor’s time in Philadelphia is likely over. He is currently playing behind Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. He did not play or travel with the team to Charlotte, and his name has been involved in numerous trade talks.
Joakim Noah (Center, New York Knicks) – Joakim is past his prime, plain and simple. The former Defensive Player of the Year has looked like anything but what the Knicks wanted when they signed him this past summer. Noah is injury prone, and has missed New York’s last four games which could be a sign of his age (he’ll turn 32 later this month). His dwindling play will likely continue heading into the All-Star break.