Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The fantasy basketball playoffs are just around the corner, and in some leagues, they’re already here.
The NBA’s best teams will be fighting to the finish, but the one’s looking ahead to next season will use this time to develop their young players, making them possible fantasy sleepers.
Uncovering hidden gems like these on your league’s waiver wire could be the difference between winning and losing — and no one likes a loser, right?
» Ray McCallum, PG, Sacramento Kings: The Kings selected Ray McCallum with the 36th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, but it wasn’t until recently that the former University of Detroit star go to show off his stuff on the court.
Prior to February, McCallum saw just 42 total minutes of court time. He was a DNP-CD nearly every game and even got demoted to the NBA’s Developmental League to hone his craft.
In seven games with the Reno Bighorns of the D-League, McCallum scored 20.0 points and dished out 4.3 assists. This impressed Kings’ coach Mike Malone enough to give him a shot with the big club.
With Jimmer Fredette bought out and donning Bulls’ red instead of Kings’ purple, McCallum has taken on a larger role, leading the way for the Kings’ second unit.
Over his last seven games, he has averaged 8.3 points, 3.0 assists, and 0.9 triples in 26.1 minutes.
There’s a lot of rust in his game, but with Sacramento tied with the Lakers for the worst record in the Western Conference, there will be plenty of opportunity for McCallum to have a fantasy impact down the stretch.
Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
» Shabazz Muhammad, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves: After a one-and-done season with the UCLA Bruins, Shabazz Muhammad decided to go pro.
Many off-the-court issues plagued him while in college, but the Timberwolves still decided to take a risk on him at the 2013 NBA Draft, trading No. 9 pick Trey Burke to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Muhammad (and Gorgui Dieng).
The Wolves have a very tight-knit core and that has left Muhammad mostly on the outside looking in, but with Minnesota sitting five games back of the final playoff spot in the West, the days are inching closer to when they could be mathematically eliminated.
If/once that were to happen, Shabazz Muhammad would be an outstanding pickup in very deep leagues.
Although he posted excellent numbers with the D-League’s Iowa Energy, there aren’t many NBA-level stats to go on. He did, however, show some potential when he scored a career-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting vs. the Suns on Feb. 25.
He’s not worth grabbing now, but if the Wolves begin to fall further back in the loss column, owners in deep leagues would be wise to pick up the 21-year-old rookie.