Fantasy Basketball Risers & Sleepers: Guards

RotoWire breaks down 6 guards to keep tabs on heading into the 2023-24 fantasy basketball season.

Mikal Bridges broke out in Brooklyn last season, averaging 20.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game in 27 games.

New talent is constantly bubbling up in the NBA. For every older player that’s exiting their prime, a younger one enters theirs. Those are the risers.

In the rush to draft the next big thing, useful players are often forgotten about. They slip down draft boards despite their upside. If you’re savvy, you can swoop in and grab one of those sleepers.

Below are three guards apiece that fit the riser or sleeper category.


Mikal Bridges, Nets

Bridges spent the first part of last season on the Suns before being dealt to the Nets in the Kevin Durant trade. Once in Brooklyn, he was the top scoring option for the re-tooled team that had also sent Kyrie Irving to Dallas for Spencer Dinwiddie. Bridges’ 28.8% usage rate would have ranked 23rd if averaged for the entire season.

Bridges proved he’s able to create his own shot more than he was doing in Phoenix. The mid-range jumper became his bread and butter, notably drilling 41 of his 82 long mid-rangers. He was also more aggressive and took 6.6 free throws per game, more than doubling his rate from the Suns. Overall, he averaged 26.1 points per game on 48/38/89 shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 combined steals-plus-blocks per game in 34.2 minutes.

That’s the type of role Bridges is expected to have again this season. He demonstrated second-round fantasy upside in his limited time with Brooklyn, and fantasy managers in early drafts have shown confidence drafting him there. The 27-year-old is in his prime and ready for the highest-usage season of his career.

Jordan Poole, Wizards

After being drafted 28th overall by the Warriors in 2019, Poole’s time in Golden State is over. Last season was up and down and filled with tension stemming from an incident at practice in which Draymond Green punched Poole. Still, the guard reached career marks in points (20.4) and assists (4.5) per game in 30 mpg. The playoffs were a different story, with Poole averaging only 10.3 ppg and 3.5 apg in 21.8 mpg while shooting an awful 34.1% from the field.

But playoff performance doesn’t concern us for fantasy, and Poole is in a new situation after being dealt to the Wizards. He’ll be in his biggest role yet and should have an opportunity to be the team’s highest-usage player and No. 1 option.

With Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Green off the floor last season, Poole averaged 27.7 ppg and 5.4 apg per 36 minutes with a 35.5% usage rate — a number that would have ranked fourth in the NBA if averaged for the entire season. That’s not a perfect 1-to-1 comparison to what he’s expected to do in Washington, but it shows what he’s been able to do with more touches.

Desmond Bane, Grizzlies

Bane is coming off a career season, taking meaningful leaps as a scorer and playmaker. He notably improved both his true shooting percentage (60.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0) while reaching career highs in points (21.5) and assists (4.4) per game — a rare combination of efficiency and volume improvement.

This season, Bane should have another opportunity to improve, but not just due to steps forward as a young player. Ja Morant has been suspended for 25 games, and Dillon Brooks signed with Houston. That leaves a massive usage gap for at least one-third of the season, and Bane is expected to jump in. Of course, Marcus Smart will do his share of facilitating, but Memphis’ roster (without Morant) is thin on playmakers who fantasy managers can trust. 

With both Morant and Brooks off the floor last season, Bane saw a 29.4 usage rate and averaged 27.7 points, 6.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds per 36 minutes. That would be an aggressive full-season projection, but there will be plenty of nights where the Grizzlies need Bane to score 30 points.


Collin Sexton, Jazz

The past two seasons have been a downturn for Sexton. He tore his ACL after just 11 appearances in 2021-22 while with the Cavaliers, and he played just 48 games (15 starts) for the Jazz last season — hamstring issues being the culprit most recently. During his first three seasons, he averaged 20.2 ppg and 3.4 apg while slashing 46/39/83.

The Jazz still have more than $50 million committed to Sexton over the next three seasons, and now feels like the time to see if he can return to form. He’s shown potential to reach mid-round fantasy value in the past. You shouldn’t select him that high this season, but Sexton is worth exploring with a flier at the end of drafts.

Malcolm Brogdon, Blazers

Brogdon and Robert Williams were traded to Portland by Boston in exchange for Jrue Holiday. His role in a rebuilding Portland team with a stacked backcourt is unclear, but he deserves more of a look. Some of it will depend on his usage, but Brogdon has proven to be a reliable backup guard who can produce in limited minutes.

He won Kia Sixth Man of the Year honors last season after posting 14.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg and 3.7 apg in 26 mpg. It’s reasonable to think his workload could trend into the high-20s to low-30s with more regularity. Injuries continue to drag down Brogdon’s fantasy value, but early mock drafts suggest you can select him well outside the top 100. He’s never ranked worse than 119th in 8-category per-game value, and he’s topped out at 52nd.

Gary Trent, Raptors

Trent took a small step back last season after a career year in 2021-22, notably being moved to the bench following the acquisition of Jakob Poeltl at the trade deadline. The sharpshooter started 44 of his 66 appearances and averaged 17.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg and 1.6 apg. His real fantasy value comes from his three-and-D stats, with Trent drilling 2.5 threes and swiping 1.6 steals per game.

Despite the down year, the Duke product returned sixth-round per-game value when accounting for turnovers (or his lack thereof). Toronto seemed disinterested in extending Trent this summer, and the guard simply opted into his $18.5 million player option.

With the departure of Fred VanVleet, minutes and shots have opened up in the backcourt. Some figure to be filled by Dennis Schroder, and Scottie Barnes will presumably handle the ball more, but there’s an opportunity for Trent to have a slight bounce back. The 24-year-old is a crucial part of the Raptors’ floor spacing — even more so now that VanVleet has departed. Trent’s relative lack of name recognition and quiet fantasy value means managers shouldn’t have to reach far inside the top 100 to acquire him, but he’s certainly capable of returning excellent value on that investment.

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Alex is RotoWire’s Chief NBA Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, VSiN and other platforms. He firmly believes Robert Covington is the most underrated fantasy player of the past decade.