I am beyond jubilant.  Though I’ve recently discovered that my girlfriend of 3 years has been sleeping with my brother of 31 years for 4 years, that the government has restarted despite my best efforts, and that the person who I thought was my father is actually the reanimated corpse of Ted Bundy, I remain as happy as a person who had not discovered any of those things and had the capacity to write an adequate simile.    

Why, you ask?

Because we are a mere 2 weeks from the beginning of the NBA season opener, which means, far more importantly, that we are a mere 2 weeks from the beginning of the NBA Fantasy Basketball season opener.

I’ve never been a fan of any particular team.  Though I grew up in rural Utah, where people worship the state’s only professional sports team (Major League Soccer doesn’t count – there are no talented soccer players in the United States) nearly as much as they worship the false FLDS prophet that affords them the luxury of multiple wives, I just never could find a space for the Jazz in my heart.  Maybe it was the fact that Jazz music had only been introduced in Utah in 1995, some 16 years after the arrival of the Jazz team in Utah.  Maybe it was my fear of commitment, later validated by my cheating scamp of a girlfriend.  Or maybe it was the persistent brilliance of the Jazz and the title hopes they carried, which we all secretly knew would eventually be crushed by Utah’s worst enemy, Greg Ostertag.

But I am a huge fan of talented players, and I’m also a fan of pretending those talented players could all end up on a team under my glorious leadership.  So without further ado, here are my top 5 sleeper picks of the 2013-2014 season:


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1.  Andris Biedrins, Center, Utah Jazz


Andris Biedrins may prove to be the steal of the offseason for the Utah Jazz, who have been floundering with a lack of talented frontcourt players for years.  And when you combine Biedrins’ freakish athleticism with the passing prowess of John Lucas III, it’s almost guaranteed that lob city is now Salt Lake City – not Los Angeles.  You can also expect Biedrins to stuff the stat sheet.  For a big man, he has incredible ball handling and passing ability, and Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin has already expressed interest in simply letting Biedrins play the point several possessions a game.  I’m expecting Biedrins to contend for an All Star slot, especially in a Western Conference with only a handful of talented big men.

2013-2014 Stat Projections (Per Game):

PTS  REB  AST  STL  BLK  TO  FG%  FT%

17.8  12.5  4.5   2.1    2.8    .5   51%   87%


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2.  Allen Iverson, Guard, Free Agent

Though there were certainly doubters, recent reports indicate that Allen “The Black Mamba” Iverson is making a comeback this season.  Though he’s still a free agent, several teams with mediocre guard play – including the Los Angeles Clippers, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers – have expressed interest in signing the talented veteran.  The Black Mamba certainly won’t put up the same numbers as he did in his prime, but you can expect a steadiness and consistency on par with Iverson’s signature emotional maturity.  It’s also more than likely that any team that signs Iverson will offer him a coaching position upon retirement, as he has maintained cordial relations with the ownership and management of every team he has played for.  


2013-2014 Stat Projections (Per Game):

PTS  REB  AST  STL  BLK  TO  FG%  FT%
11.1  3.1   13.8  3.3    1.1    .1   47%    71%

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3.  Devin Harris, Guard, Dallas Mavericks

Devin Harris is probably the most obvious one of this batch, as every year he just keeps getting better and better.  Last season with the Hawks marked a career year for Harris, who made a career-high 77 3-point shots in only 58 games.  Ray Allen, the current all-time leader in 3-point field goals made, later tweeted that he was “almost 100% certain that Devin Harris will eclipse my record before he retires.”  And with Harris returning to a Dallas Mavericks team poised for a deep run into the playoffs and a potential NBA championship, Harris will have ample opportunities to shatter perhaps dozens of records before the season is through.  Harris is my sleeper MVP candidate – so don’t be surprised to hear his name early and often this coming season.



2013-2014 Stat Projections (Per Game):

PTS  REB  AST  STL  BLK  TO   FG%    FT%
24.8  5.3    9.7    2.5    1.5   1.1  49.3%  91%

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4.  Zaza Pachulia, Forward, Milwaukee Bucks

The Pach-man is exactly what Milwaukee fans have been waiting for.  Though the team has had mixed results the past several seasons, management has maintained a core of extremely talented players in Carlos Delfino, Luke Ridnour, and Ersan Ilyasova, and has opened cap space – waiting for the right opportunity.  That opportunity came this July, when Milwaukee pulled the trigger on a deal that wrested free agent Zaza away from a Hawks team that simply couldn’t afford to keep him.  With Pachulia in the lineup – arguably the most talented big man in Milwaukee since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s days there – the Bucks are looking like a shoe-in for the Eastern Conference Championship.  Expect Zaza to take home Defensive Player of the Year honors as he leads the league in rebounds and blocked shots.



2013-2014 Stat Projections (Per Game):

PTS  REB  AST  STL  BLK  TO  FG%    FT%
22.3  14.5  2.1   1.5    4.3   1.3  56.2%  83.1%


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5.  Jannero Pargo, Guard, Charlotte Bobcats

Jannero Pargo will be at the helm of the only Eastern Conference team with a legitimate shot at defeating the Milwaukee Bucks.  And that’s a good thing for Bobcats fans, because this season’s training camp has shown a side of Pargo we haven’t seen since his legendary career at Neosho County Community College.  Though Old Reliable turns 34 this October, father time appears to have had little or no effect on Pargo’s textbook consistency – in fact, Pargo matched a career high in Steals Per Game last season – on par with his 4th year in the league in 2003-2004, when he played a key role on a dominant Toronto Raptors Squad.  This year, Pargo looks poised to summon that Herculean effort once again, and appears ready to finally take the Bobcats to the next level.



2013-2014 Stat Projections (Per Game):

PTS  REB  AST  STL  BLK  TO  FG%  FT%
14.3  3.1   6.8    2.7    1.3   1.8  48%   93.4%


 


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