SleepersMarch 5, 2007

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Sleeper Watch

By Jamaal Gilbert

Buried on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ bench for the better part of the 2006-07 season, high-energy point guard Troy Hudson has surprisingly returned to prominence in the Twin Cities.

A 26-point, eight assist outing against the Boston Celtics in a double-overtime thriller this past Sunday points to future production for Hudson, as superfrosh Randy Foye logged just five minutes, and backup point guard Mike James saw 14 minutes of court time.

Add to that a vote of confidence from all-world forward Kevin Garnett who said this after the game, “He’s a veteran man, I mean he’s very professional. He keeps his self ready, he keeps himself in shape. That’s the kind of stuff you’re looking for when you have a guy that can show Randy and the other young guys how to become a professional.”

All Garnett is looking for are signs of life from someone beside small forward/shooting guard Ricky Davis, and it seems “T-Hud” could be the man for the gig as Foye and James weren’t getting it done on a game-to-game basis.

Also, take Hudson’s 14.7-point, 5.7 assist 2002-03 campaign when he was last able to stay healthy for an entire season. He shot the ball with relative consistency that year, logging a 43 percent field goal percentage and hitting 37 percent from downtown. On top of that, his career 86 percent mark from the charity stripe always helps. Hudson’s game hasn’t changed over the last few years, so with the lion’s share of the minutes, you should be able to expect 12-15 points (with the occasional outburst), four to six assists, and a steal with a couple threes a night.

We’ve seen a couple of bright spots already this year for the ninth-year gunner, but Hudson had fallen out of favor with former head coach Dwayne Casey and collected 29 DNP-CD’s (Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision) before getting the call to start on Sunday. On January 21, Hudson broke loose for 22 points against Utah. Before that, on November 18, he poured in 20 versus the Hornets. We know the man can score, but he wasn’t getting the minutes.

Like I always say, a good sleeper always has three components: Playing time, favor with the coach, and rumblings in the past week with a couple head-turning performances earlier in the season. Hudson qualifies in all three categories and hit the ground running in Beantown.

If Troy Hudson’s short-term (2006-07) value has any parallel to what the the Minneapolis Star Tribune printed Monday, it’s time to take a look:

“Foye might now have to deal with fewer minutes. A bad matchup Sunday limited Foye to fewer than six minutes. For the moment, he has ceded his starting job to Hudson as Wittman looks for a combination that can end his team’s three-game losing streak,” the news source reported.

Hudson is undervalued in every league as of right now, but he’s being picked up quickly as his ownership jumped from one percent to 14 percent the past seven days in CBS leagues. In ESPN leagues, he jumped from zero to 3.8 percent ownership in the last few days.

The Wolves may not make the playoffs, but they have found a savvy veteran point guard to lead them for the remainder of the season. It would be foolish to leave this stone unturned – finding a productive guard in the free agent pool this late in the year is unheard of.

Jamaal Gilbert is an aspiring sportswriter who contributes regularly and is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Jamaal in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of jamastaballa.
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