SleepersNovember 23, 2007

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Sleeper Watch

By Jamaal Gilbert

The Milwaukee Bucks have had their share of fantasy performers with guys like Michael Redd, Mo Williams, and Andrew Bogut over the past few years, and adding Charlie Villanueva to that mix before the 2006-07 season was supposed to vault the team to a new level. Who would blame them for believing in the guy? Villanueva averaged 13 points and 6.43 rebounds in his rookie season, ratcheting it up to 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds with a block per game over the final two months of the year.

Of course, we all remember that nasty shoulder injury that sidelined the former UConn Husky most of last season, limiting him to just 39 games and 11.8 points with just under six rebounds a night. The off-season held another blow to Villanueva’s value in the person of seven-foot small forward Yi Jianlian, a Chinese import whose game resembles Andrea Bargnani as a rangy big man.

Fast forward to ‘07-’08 and Jianlian has looked good, putting up 11 points and seven rebounds with nearly two blocks a night. Curiously though, the past three games have found Yi only receiving 17, 12, and 22 minutes a night to Villanueva’s 28, 27, and 28. Checking the box scores tells us that the Bucks have won all three of those games (beat CLE and LAL, started out 3-3), with Villanueva dropping in 16.3 points and pulling down 8.6 caroms over that span. This should get Head Coach Larry Krystowiak’s wheels turning… and hopefully yours too.

Don’t expect Yi Jianlian to sit on the bench all game long – the guy has real talent and the Bucks’ brass wants him to develop into a star. The trick is not to sleep on Villanueva, who is owned in only half the CBS fantasy leagues and a measly 24 percent of ESPN leagues, and is talented in his own right.

Think of Villanueva as a David West in-the-making type of player, and snag “Villy” off the waiver-wire to preempt another owner’s attempt to claim him after insertion into the Bucks’ starting power forward slot.

Jamaal Gilbert contributes regularly as 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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