SleepersSeptember 12, 2006

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Sleeper Watch

By Mike Antoine

The much publicized injury to Memphis’ star forward, Pau Gasol, has sparked the fantasy basketball world’s discussion of who stands to benefit as a result. Many Cafe members have suggested either Stromile Swift, or Jake Tsakalidis will benefit the most. One player that hasn’t drawn a lot of discussion, however, is Hakim Warrick.

Hakim Warrick is a second year player for Memphis after being drafted nineteenth overall in the 2005 draft out of Syracuse University. In his four years at Syracuse, Warrick won a National Title during his sophomore year (with freshman Carmelo Anthony by his side), earned the Big East Player of the Year award his senior year, and was known as an all-around athletic player with electrifying dunks.

Warrick’s rookie year in the NBA was less than stellar. The highlight of his rookie season was finishing third in the All-Star weekend’s slam dunk contest. However, there is reason to be optimistic. Warrick played in 68 games last season, three of which he logged 25+ minutes. Although limited in data size, the stats from those three games are encouraging. In those games he averaged 13.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg and 1.0 apg. He also shot 60% from the field on ten shots per game and 80% from the line on just under two shots per game.

During the 2006 offseason, Warrick represented Memphis in the Southern California Summer Pro League (“SPL”). Warrick was one of only two Memphis players to play and start in all seven games of the SPL. In those games, he averaged 17.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.0 bpg and shot 55% from the field on 12.7 shots per game.

While it is somewhat concerning that Memphis traded for rookie Rudy Gay when they already had a player of the same size, with good athletic ability, in Warrick, there is hope that Warrick sees decent minutes. The loss of Pau Gasol, 7-0, 240lbs, is tough for Memphis. They’re not overly blessed with a lot of size in their frontcourt. Barring a trade, this team is going to have to rely on a smaller lineup until Gasol returns. Also, at last word, Stromile Swift had yet to speak to the Grizzlies since being traded to the team in late July. The combination of those events will have me looking over the Grizzlies’ preseason games closely. If Warrick earns decent minutes in the preseason, get ready to grab him off your waiver wire.

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