2020-21 NBA Fantasy Draft Guide: How to approach it, sleepers and players to avoid

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton celebrates during game against Chicago Bulls
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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.

The start of the NBA season is right around a week away. The ‘offseason’ went by in the blink of an eye, and all of a sudden we’re about to get high-level basketball back. That means fantasy basketball is coming back as well, and drafts are in full swing. If you haven’t drafted already you’re in luck, because today we’ll be breaking down some players to look out for as well as some to avoid.

We’ve also got a ton of great NBA futures betting content coming, including our pick to win the NBA Championship and a recent look at MVP betting odds with some best bets. But for now we’ll be throwing out one player per position, with a couple of sleepers as well as some better-known stars mixed in. Let’s dive in:

PG – Collin Sexton – Cleveland Cavaliers

Nobody is talking about Sexton because he plays in Cleveland, and you can use that to your advantage. The Alabama product averaged 20.8 points per game last year, and he’s now shot at least 38 percent from downtown in each of his two pro seasons. The Cavs should be a bit better as a whole this year, so I think his assist numbers will go up. His percentages are all efficient and his counting stats should be great as well with guaranteed heavy minutes. Sexton also qualifies at both shooting guard and point guard, giving him extra value.

SG – Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz

Mitchell is obviously already a star, but I think people are sleeping on him as a fantasy basketball asset. Mitchell was unconscious down the stretch in the bubble, and I think he’s going to carry over that momentum in a monster fourth season. He only just turned 24 a couple of months ago, and this Jazz team is going to be really good once again. As he gets older I think his assist numbers will increase as well, and his upside is incredibly high. He has the potential to be the league’s next dominant scorer, but he isn’t getting drafted like it right now.

SF – OG Anunoby – Toronto Raptors

Anunoby is flying under the radar, but I think he could be poised for a breakout. He took a huge step forward last year, setting career highs across the board while averaging 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. Now with Serge Ibaka leaving in free agency, Anunoby should see more power forward minutes and increase his average of 29.9 per game. I think his offensive usage will increase as well, especially after he shot 39 percent from three last year. Anunoby just turned 23 and still has a lot of room to grow, and with his length, he’s going to get you a ton of steals as well.

PF – Al Horford – Oklahoma City Thunder

Horford might not be a dynamic player anymore at his advanced age, but he’s still great for fantasy purposes. The big man does a little bit of everything, and he qualifies at center as well. He’ll be a leader on a rebuilding Thunder team, and with Steven Adams getting traded away there’s very little competition in the frontcourt. Even in his very disappointing season with Philly, he still averaged 11.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and four assists. That was with a 76ers team where he was clearly a terrible fit, so I think he’ll be able to improve on those numbers this season.

C – Deandre Ayton – Phoenix Suns

I think this is the season Ayton turns into the dominant big man we’ve seen flashes of the past couple of years. The former first overall pick made major strides last season, and right before the NBA shut down in March he was on fire. Now the Arizona product is getting paired with Chris Paul, which should do wonders for his career. Paul will elevate the whole offense, and he’ll be dropping off plenty of dimes to Ayton down low. He’ll easily average 20 and 10, and he should be able to get you close to two blocks per game as well which will be huge.

Players to avoid – Kristaps Porzingis, Tyler Herro, Kevin Durant

Porzingis is coming off knee surgery, and won’t be ready for the start of the season. Given his recent injury history, there’s no way I could feel comfortable drafting him when his return date could easily keep getting pushed as the season goes on. Even when he does come back obviously this is going to be Luka Doncic’s team, and Doncic’s usage rate should be off the charts.

I love Herro as much as the next guy, but it’s important to never chase hype in fantasy basketball. Everyone is understandably fondly remembering Herro’s bubble run, but he’s being over-drafted as a result. He’s still going to be coming off the bench, and he’s not going to put up huge numbers in anything but scoring. Speaking of major injuries, it’s been about a year and a half since we last saw Durant on a court following his Achilles tear. Nobody really knows what this Nets offense is going to look like, and there are a lot of mouths to feed. The coaching staff will surely be careful with Durant, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s resting a lot this year.

Pickswise is the home of free NBA Picks and Predictions. Check out our daily NBA Prop Bets, NBA Parlays, and NBA Best Bets throughout the entire NBA season.

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