SleepersDecember 7, 2005

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Sleeper Watch

By Mike Antoine

Bench players (a.k.a. “subs”) are always an intriguing group for fantasy managers to contemplate. They range from the “this guy is great, but how many minutes is he going to get tonight and will he do anything significant in those minutes?” group (thank you, Eddie Griffin and James Jones), to “this guy doesn’t start, but who cares, he’s awesome!” group (thank you, Donyell Marshall and Maurice Williams).

But one, intriguing, bench player has been catching my eye as of late and I’m not sure whether to be surprised, not surprised, relieved or confused…or all of the above (thank you, Larry Brown). Can you guess who I’m talking about? The player is Jamal Crawford, shooting guard for the New York Knicks.

At the start of the season there was much discussion of the impact new Head Coach, Larry Brown, would have on Jamal Crawford’s fantasy relevance. With Crawford being labeled a “chucker,” most feared that he would have a rocky relationship with Brown, which would significantly hinder his fantasy performance. And then when Crawford started the season coming off the bench and scored only 17 points in his first three games, oh boy, our greatest fears were coming true.

But let’s now take a look at Jamal’s performance thus far this season in total. In his first 17 games, Crawford has started 5 games and come off the bench in 12 games. The last time he started a game was November 23rd. So, let’s take a look at the 12 games he’s come in as a sub: 14.3 ppg, 1.3 3pg, 2.7 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 2.2 topg, 81% FT% on 4 ftpg and a 45.7% FG% on 10.8 fgpg.

Wait! What was that?! A 45.7% FG% from Jamal Crawford? There must be some mistake. Is this the same Jamal Crawford that had a 39% FG% in both the 04-05 and 03-04 seasons (on 16 shots per game)? The one that had a 41% FG% in the 02-03 season (on 10 shots per game)? …… Yeah, that’s the one.

As a sub, Jamal is almost averaging his typical averages in standard categories (scoring is down 3.0 ppg, three’s are down 1.0 3pg and assists down 1.0 apg), but he’s now providing a FG% that merits some attention and boosts his perceived value.

You may be able to obtain Crawford at a relatively low price still today. And if so, it’s possibly something you should consider. Despite the reduction in scoring and three’s, by season’s end, Jamal just might pooh-pooh the critics and prove he’s not only still fantasy worthy to own, but he can be a relevant cog to a fantasy team’s championship quest.

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