SleepersFebruary 7, 2006

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Sleeper Watch

By Arlo Vander

When Warriors shooting guard Jason Richardson was sidelined with a sore back in late January, head coach Mike Montgomery called on Mickael Pietrus to step up and fill in as a starter. And step up he did, averaging 13.8 points and five rebounds in the four games that Richardson missed, highlighted by a 20-point, 10-rebound efforts against the Lakers on January 27. Golden State only went 1-3 in that stretch, but Montgomery was impressed enough with Pietrus’s performance that he kept the third-year pro in the starting five even after Richardson returned, bumping Mike Dunleavy to the bench.

Starting alongside Richardson in his last two games, Pietrus has come through with 16.5 points and six rebounds per contests, helping the Warriors to back-to-back victories over Minnesota and Denver. Dunleavy has also looked very comfortable coming off the bench, and it looks as if Montgomery’s experiment may become permanent.

So far in his career, Pietrus hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he is capable of. After drawing comparisons to Dwyane Wade in the weeks leading up to the 2003 draft, “the French Jordan” wound up joining the Warriors as the eleventh overall pick. Unfortunately for the 6′6″ guard/forward, the team already featured Richardson, Dunleavy, and Jiri Welsh, and Pietrus found himself lost in the depth chart. Now, he may finally see consistent playing time.

Fantasywise, Pietrus gains quite a bit of value as a member of the starting formation. He won’t magically turn into a star, but he’ll provide you with scoring, rebounding, and roster flexibility. Consider adding him to your roster if you have room, particularly in deeper leagues where he could provide a nice boost as we head closer to the fantasy playoffs.

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