With NBA All-Star Weekend having passed, teams will look to make a second-half push to make the playoffs. With the NBA trade deadline nearby, I expect more movement throughout the league. 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.
Last week, I was fairly accurate with my picks. Hopefully, I can continue the consistency moving forward in the second half of the NBA season.
Kelly Olynyk (Center, Boston Celtics) – Olynyk has really settled into his role coming off the bench for the Celtics. Because of his versatility and ability to space the floor, Olynyk has become the go-to scorer of the bench. In the last five games before All-Star break, Olynyk averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds, and shot 55 percent from 3-point range off the bench. Look for his hot play to continue in the second half of the season.
Willie Cauley-Stein (Center, Sacramento Kings) – With DeMarcus Cousins traded to New Orleans, Cauley-Stein has a huge opportunity in front of him. Cauley-Stein should see an increase in minutes which should improve his production and efficiency.
Kyle Korver (Shooting Guard, Cleveland Cavaliers) – With Kevin Love out six weeks following knee surgery and the Cavaliers still without J.R. Smith, Korver’s role is bound to increase. Korver has ingratiated himself nicely in the Cavaliers lineup and already become one of LeBron’s favorite targets. Over the last five games, Korver averaged 15.8 points while shooting an incredible 74 percent from three-point range.
Tim Hardaway Jr (Shooting Guard, Atlanta Hawks) – Hardaway has found his niche on the Hawks rotation after having issues with playing time earlier in the season. The last five games, Hardaway averaged 18.4 points while shooting 36 percent from 3-point range and close to 90 percent from the free-throw line.
Players to avoid:
Buddy Hield (Shooting Guard, Sacramento Kings) – Hield was part of the blockbuster deal that sent DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, and unfortunately it could hurt Hield. Hield is now in a crowded Sacramento backcourt that features Arron Afflalo, Ben McLemore, Garrett Temple, Ty Lawson, Darren Collison, Langston Galloway, Malachi Richardson and Tyreke Evans. While his situation makes it hard for Hield to get minutes, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive thinks Hield has “Steph Curry potential.”
DeMarcus Cousins (Power Forward/Center, New Orleans Pelicans) – While it was a great move by the Pelicans to get Cousins, his production is bound to go down playing alongside Anthony Davis. There are legitimate questions to whether they can coexist, especially in a guard driven league. When Lebron James joined the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh’s points and statistical production both went down. The same thing happened when Kevin Durant joined Golden State this past summer as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green’s points and statistical production have all gone down. While the Pelicans should win more games with the addition of Boogie Cousins, Cousins’ points and rebounding should go down after taking a backseat to Anthony Davis.