SleepersNovember 17, 2005

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Sleeper Watch

By Arlo Vander

Leandro Barbosa started his second consecutive game for Phoenix yesterday, contributing 17 points (including two three-pointers), six rebounds, and four assists in the Suns’ 103-115 loss at the hands of the Grizzlies. His stat line on November 12, when coach Mike D’Antoni first moved him into the starting lineup, was similar: 19 points, five boards, three assists, and a pair of steals against the Golden State Warriors. So far, so good for the Barbosa-as-a-starter experiment, but how long will it last?

D’Antoni seems willing to shuffle his rotation on the spur of the moment, and Barbosa may find himself back on the bench as soon as he shows signs of cooling off, but for now, the 28th pick of the 2003 draft is seeing a tremendous amount of playing time. In his two starts, he has been on the court for more than 40 minutes per game, nearly twice his average during the first five games of the season (and, incidentally, slightly more than all-everything point guard Steve Nash).

As long as he continues to receive this much floor time, Barbosa could turn into a viable fantasy option. He’ll contribute in the points category, chip in some assists and rebounds (his seven offensive boards in the last three games are worth noting for owners who use this category), add the occasional three-pointer, and keep his turnovers to a minimum. He also won’t hurt you in the percentage categories.

Should you drop a proven contributor for Barbosa? Of course not, but if you have a roster spot to play with, he may be worth a look, particularly since he should soon be eligible at both point guard and shooting guard in many leagues. Just be prepared to drop him like the proverbial hot potato if D’Antoni reintroduces him to the bench.

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