SleepersOctober 10, 2005

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Sleeper Watch

By Mike Antoine

Every season, fantasy owners dream of finding the perfect sleeper that puts them over the top. Last season, for me, the find was Brendan Haywood. I needed Haywood, who was projected to be the Wizards’ starting center, to provide me with a decent FG%, rebounds and blocks. Haywood wasn’t new to league, but he was going to get the opportunity to start and that’s what convinced me to draft him. Others doubted his ability, but sure enough, Haywood came through and a fantasy sleeper was awoken.

Now, what was more fun than finding the perfect sleeper for a fantasy season? Finding the sleeper that everyone had heard of, but no one believed in. This season, that player could be Kareem Rush of the Charlotte Bobcats. Here’s why:

Anyone can check the splits from last season and see that Kareem saw a significant increase in minutes when he was traded from the Lakers to the Bobcats. What’s not as easily observable, however, is that Kareem had decent numbers in games in which he played 30+ minutes per game. Here are those numbers in games of 30 minutes or more:

33 mpg, 39% fg, 1.8 3pg (on 42% 3pt shooting), 2.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 15 ppg

Numbers like that quietly put Kareem Rush very close to Stephen Jackson-like numbers. And, in fact, Rush’s stats are better than figures coming out of late-round picks like David Wesley, Jimmy Jackson, and Vladimir Radmanovic.

But why would we have any indication that Kareem Rush is going to average 30+ minutes per game when he only averaged 25 minutes as a member of the Bobcats last season? Well, we don’t know for sure. But it sure sounds good when on the first day of announcing signings of free agents, the Bobcats’ management team states, “It was a priority for us to re-sign Kareem and we are glad to have him back,” as general manager and head coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. “Kareem has the potential to be a go-to scorer, someone who can create his own shot and make the outside jumper. We look forward to having him for the entire season, and injury-free, where he can showcase his talents and be a significant part of our team.”

To further the argument that Rush will get more minutes, his backup, Keith Bogans, was not a priority signing and the team made no efforts to solidify the position beyond Rush. Bogans eventually re-signed with the Bobcats on September 30th. And for those of you who think the Bobcats will put point guards Brevin Knight and touted rookie Raymond Felton on the court at the same time? Forget it. Knight at 5′10″ and Felton at 6′1″ would make for a very limited backcourt that could easily be exploited by opposing teams.

Kareem Rush alone is probably not going to give you a victory in the three-point category. And he’s probably not going to wow you with his shooting percentage. But Rush just might give you what you need, as a late-round pick, to push you over the edge and bring you another fantasy season victory. Good luck!

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Related Cafe Articles

• Other articles by Mike Antoine
Brandon Rush and Flip Murray by David Huang (posted on 04/01/2009 in Sleepers)
Brendan Haywood by Phil Londen (posted on 10/04/2009 in Sleepers)
The Deep Sleeper Team by Phil Londen (posted on 09/21/2008 in Sleepers)