SleepersJanuary 4, 2009

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Sleeper Watch

By Phil Londen

The Los Angeles Lakers are better than advertised this season after falling just shy of the promised land last year in six games to the Celtics. Much of their success is due to arguably the most productive and deepest bench in the league today. One Lakers bench player who is making his impact felt this season is Trevor Ariza.

Ariza was drafted in the second round by the New York Knicks in 2004 and was drafted primarily for his defensive capabilities and his athleticism. Offensively, he has been used by the Lakers as a slasher in the half court and a thunderous finisher on the break. Defensively, he plays quality defense while wreaking havoc in the passing lanes and battling for rebounds. He is also known for his hustle and unwillingness to give up on plays. This unique set of skills has proven extremely valuable to the Lakers and Ariza’s minutes have been inching up from his November average of 24.2 minutes per game to 26.8 minutes per game over the last two weeks.

The vast majority of Trevor’s production comes from steals but he also provides modest production in other areas, such as field goal percentage and rebounds, all while providing low turnovers. Over the last two weeks, Ariza is averaging 7.8 points, 0.6 three points made, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 1.0 turnovers on fifty percent shooting from the floor and eighty three percent shooting from the line. Ariza’s statistical line is especially valuable in leagues that count turnovers because he provides high values in other categories without incurring a high penalty in turnovers.

Trevor’s efficient line allows him to fly under the average manager’s radar while paying consistent fantasy dividends in multiple categories to wise managers. However, his main contribution is in steals, which is one of the most valuable categories due to the the rarity of steals relative to other categories. With all that being said, it is somewhat surprising that Ariza is available in two thirds of Yahoo fantasy basketball leagues right now. If you need steals and boards with good field goal percentage and low turnovers, then Trevor Ariza is your man.


Phil Londen is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Phil in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of plonden.
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