SleepersMarch 1, 2006

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Sleeper Watch

By Mike Antoine

Competition for minutes is rarely a desired situation for fantasy managers. Sometimes the situation can work and minutes balance out (remember our concerns about TJ Ford and Maurice Williams in the preseason), and sometimes they don’t work out as well as we wishfully hope (as in the case of our preseason concerns about Drew Gooden and Donyell Marshall).

This week’s sleeper pick is in a similar boat when it comes to competition for minutes, but there is reason to more optimistic than pessimistic. Marvin Williams was drafted as the number two overall pick in this past off-season’s NBA draft. A touted youngster out of North Carolina, Williams was regarded as a good defender, good rebounder, and an overall nice guy who’s a phenomenal talent with good work ethic. NBA teams were salivating for the young swingman.

Then came a little bit of a shocker: he was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. Already filled with a core of young swingmen, the Hawks were thought to need either a big man or a point guard. With their first pick and second overall in the entire draft, they selected neither. They selected Marvin Williams.

Through the first three months of the season, Williams quietly played a reserve role with the Hawks, averaging 23 minutes per game over their first 43 games. As of late, however, Williams’ role appears to have been expanded thanks to the injury to Tyronn Lue and a roster move by the Hawks in releasing Tony Delk.

A door opened ajar, and since the All-Star break, Williams has responded nicely, averaging 30 mpg, 11.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.0 spg, 1.0 apg, and shooting 48.7% from the field on an average of 7.4 shots per game.

While those numbers alone are not staggering, the mere sight of Williams getting more minutes on the court is encouraging. More minutes means more experience. And with as much talent as Williams has, more experience will hopefully mean more production. And fantasy managers love production – even if there’s a little competition for minutes mixed in there.

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