SleepersDecember 20, 2005

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Sleeper Watch

By Arlo Vander

With Tracy McGrady back on the court, things were looking up for the Houston Rockets. After losing all eight games that their leading scorer sat out, Houston went on a 6-2 roll once McGrady returned, and things seemed to be back on track in Rocketland. Then, of course, came the news that center Yao Ming was suffering from an infected big toe…

Fantasy owners, being the opportunistic folks they are, immediately turned their eyes to Dikembe Mutombo, who looked like he might be a nice fill-in for the handful of games Yao would miss. Unfortunately, while Mutombo did come through with nine rebounds and three blocked shots in his first start of the season, he also dislocated a finger and had to leave the game.

Don’t be too quick to discount Mutombo’s value, however. While he’ll miss this week’s remaining contests while his finger heals, he may still be worth adding to your roster. Yao has undergone surgery, and is now expected to miss several weeks rather than several games. With no other true centers on the roster, the Rockets are counting on Mutombo to return to the lineup quickly.

At age 39, Dikembe Mutombo is no longer the force in the middle that he once was. Even if he sees starter’s minutes once he returns, don’t expect him to light up the scoreboard the way Yao does. On the court for nearly 32 minutes on December 18, Mutombo scored a whopping two points. If you need boards and blocks, on the other hand, he may just be your man. The veteran center currently ranks 19th in the league in rebounds per 48 (15.2) and 16th in blocks per 48 (3.69). Keep an eye on his status; if he is able to return to action next week, he might be worth picking up.

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