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2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: NBA Rookie Sleepers & Busts

By Ultraslansi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ultraslansi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsThe tip off of the 2014-15 NBA regular season is just around the corner, but we are nearly four months removed from this past summer's NBA draft.

In case you are in need of a refresher, the following are some NBA rookies to keep in mind heading into your fantasy basketball drafts, and some to forget. Some of these players may be draft sleepers for the 2014-15 fantasy basketball season, and same may be busts.

Be sure to check back on more fantasy basketball analysis and draft prep including rankings, sleepers and draft strategy articles.


NBA Rookie Sleepers for Fantasy Basketball

Marcus Smart (BOS, G)

Smart, the former Oklahoma State star, has a huge opportunity to begin the season, as incumbent point guard Rajon Rondo will be sidelined with an injury. Smart has all the makings of being a fantasy star, as he is not only an offensive weapon, but an absolute terror on defense, ranking near the top of the NCAA in steals last season.

Smart, as he did in college, will likely struggle from the field, so if you select him be prepared for sub-40 percent shooting. However, he could still fill up the three-pointers made column. If he is able to show Coach Brad Stevens an ability to handle things on both ends of the floor, Smart should have little problem maintaining near 30 minutes per game between point and shooting guard when Rondo returns.


Elfrid Payton (ORL, G)

For the second straight year, the Magic appear to have a young guard who is poised to burst onto the fantasy scene. Last year it was Victor Oladipo whose all-around game made him a viable option and this year it looks to be Payton.

Payton blew up the NBA summer league, which surprised many, and made the USA U19 team. He could struggle with turnovers and shooting early on, but with Jameer Nelson now in Dallas, the opportunity is there for Orlando's first-round pick to excel. A statistical effort of 12.0 points, 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game seems possible, so Payton is well worth a late-round flyer, especially in keeper leagues.


Bojan Bogdanovic (BRK, G/F)

A deep sleeper from the rookie ranks, Bogdanovic has been a standout in Nets' camp and appears to be in line to start at small forward for Brooklyn heading into the 2014-15 campaign. The 25-year-old native of Bosnia and Herzegovina averaged just north of 13.0 points per game while playing in Turkey over the last three seasons and should provide the Nets with some much needed shooting from the wing.

Bogdanovic could see plenty of open shots with Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson drawing attention from opposing defenses. Though he will not likely provide much in terms of other stats, the second-round selection from 2011's NBA Draft could deliver some long-range shooting help in deep fantasy formats.


NBA Rookie Busts for Fantasy Basketball

Julius Randle (LAL, F)

Randle will undoubtedly go way too early in most drafts due to being a former star for the University of Kentucky and playing for the well-known Lakers. Do not fall into that trap, let another owner take a player that is certainly talented but has plenty of obstacles ahead of him.

One big concern is that after starting last year on fire, Randle slowed down the stretch and came into the draft with a foot injury. Another concern is that with Kobe Bryant on the team, the Lakers will try their best to win now and that likely means veterans such as Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis and Jordan Hill will take up a ton of time at the power forward position.

Randle should have solid games here and there, but it would be a bit of a surprise for him to average over 10.0 points or 7.0 rebounds in year one.


Noah Vonleh (CHA, F)

After a strong freshman year at Indiana, Vonleh was picked early in the first round by the Hornets. A few years ago that would have been great news, as the team was in rebuild mode and gave a ton of time to rookies. However, after making the playoffs last season, Charlotte will look to keep winning and has brought in a few veterans to help out.

Marvin Williams looks to be the starter at power forward with last year’s top pick Cody Zeller being the backup, which means Vonleh has an uphill battle. He does have the game to be a fantasy stud in the mold of a Paul Millsap, but that could be a few years in the making. Expect him to be much like another young Hornet, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who has talent but will struggle to contribute in his first NBA campaign.


Zach LaVine (MIN, G)

In terms of pure athleticism, LaVine is only rivaled by Timberwolves teammate Andrew Wiggins among the rookie class. The "Bounce Brothers" will certainly provide some highlight plays, but LaVine is an extremely raw guard who was phased out at UCLA as the season went on last year. He ended the campaign averaging less than 10.0 points per game and barely played in the NCAA tournament.

LaVine is slotted in as the number three option at both guard positions for Minnesota, which means playing time will be difficult to carve out. When he sees the floor, expect turnovers and shooting to both be huge issues. Even though he may be an exciting player to watch, let another fantasy owner be upset when the damage comes.