SleepersMay 17, 2005

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Sleeper Watch

By Arlo Vander

Can Robert Swift play in the NBA? Nearly a year after the seven-footer was chosen by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 12th overall pick of the 2004 draft, we still don’t know the answer to that question. In his entire rookie campaign, Swift only saw 72 minutes of garbage time action.

When the Sonics decided to gamble on Swift, a raw high schooler, rather than drafting a more proven performer last June, it was clear that they were looking toward the future. Swift is a project player, and nobody was expecting production in his first season in the league. Nonetheless, it’s a little surprising that the nineteen-year-old center didn’t find his way onto the court a bit more often. But Nate McMillan seems content to bring the youngster along very slowly, and by all accounts, Seattle’s head coach is pleased with Swift’s progress and work ethic, both in team practices and in one-on-one sessions with assistant coach Jack Sikma, one of the top big men to ever don a Sonics uniform.

Swift will certainly see increased playing time during the 2005-06 season, but it’s doubtful whether he’ll receive enough minutes to make a fantasy impact, even as a backup. Owners in deep dynasty leagues with enough roster room to stash away a project player might want to consider following Seattle’s lead, however, and take a chance on a young center with plenty of upside.

On the final day of the regular season, Swift showed us a sneak peek of what he’s capable of. In a blowout loss at the hands of the Houston Rockets, McMillan kept his rookie in the game for a season-high 17 minutes, and the freshman responded with ten points on four-for-four shooting from the floor, three rebounds and four blocks. The jury on Robert Swift is still out, but if he can harness his athleticism, add a bit more bulk and learn how to stay out of foul trouble, he could turn into a very useful fantasy contributor a few years down the road.

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