Take Your Pick: Batum, Barbosa, Childress or Wright?
Which sleeper would you rather have: Nicolas Batum, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Childress or Dorell Wright?
Jeff Andriesse, Damn Lies and Statistics: Late-round sleepers are one of the major keys to winning a fantasy championship. Anyone can draft a good player in the first five rounds; finding sleepers either at the draft or on the waiver wire is what will give you the depth that is absolutely necessary to win. Of the four players mentioned, Batum stands out to me, not only as a late-round sleeper, but as a legitimate fantasy starter. In 25 minutes a game last year, he shot 51.9 percent from the floor and 84.3 percent at the line while averaging 1.5 threes and 10.1 points. If he gets 36 minutes of action per contest this year, a distinct possibility, he could also average a steal and a block. Not too many players are positives in so many categories, and while Batum is the fourth or fifth option on offense for Portland when everyone's healthy, he is sure to improve on his numbers. Can he average 13 points, five boards, 1.5 threes, a steal and a block? Why not? I'll certainly select him over Wright, Barbosa or Childress.
Wright is limited statistically and trying to break in on a team with established weapons. Barbosa joins a crowded Toronto backcourt and might only be a second-unit scorer. Childress is a nice pickup for Phoenix but the Suns are loaded at the swing positions with Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Hedo Turkoglu and Jared Dudley. Give me Batum, who will be there later than he should be because he is an unspectacular scorer and rebounder.
Greg Fox, Damn Lies and Statistics: This is a tough call as you can pretty much throw a blanket over these four. Wright and Batum are similar players. Both are going to start and both offer a little bit of everything, including the all-important blocks, steals and threes categories. Batum has competition in Wesley Matthews and Rudy Fernandez, but as long as he produces defensively, I think 25-28 minutes is a reasonable expectation for him. Wright was exiled out of South Beach, where injuries and inconsistent minutes curtailed what could have been a breakout 2009-10. The biggest concern this year is the uncertainty of his role as well as the uncertainty of the Keith Smart system. I can see good things happening with him, but I'll be inclined to choose patience before pouncing on him at my draft.
Childress returns to the states following a two-year stint in Greece, where doctors found small children living in his afro. Now with Phoenix, he will fill a yummy sixth-man role and will also do a little bit of everything in an offense suited for anyone with vision in at least one eye. But my choice out of the four is Barbosa who will have the chance to resurrect his career on what could be a pretty pathetic Raptors team. He too will fill a sixth-man role and has a chance to be the same player he was with the Suns from 2006-08 before he was inexplicably relegated a non-factor in their explosive offense.
Steve Alexander, RotoWorld: I am really feeling Josh Childress here.
He's having a great preseason, fitting in very well with his new teammates and the Suns, and he's one of those guys that won't crush any category, but does enough of everything to be a nice glue guy at the end of a fantasy draft. He can score, hit threes, steal, rebound, shoot it (even though the shot is ugly) and is a great teammate. A hustle guy who won't hurt you anywhere, and is as excited as anyone to be running alongside Steve Nash. I really don't see a downside to him and had he been playing in the NBA for the last couple years he'd probably be going in Round 5 instead of 12. I'm also intrigued with Nicolas Batum, Leandro Barbosa and Dorell Wright, but Childress is the guy I'd rank at the top of that list right now. My guess is I'll be in the minority, with Batum leading the way from the panel, but I don't care.
Tommy Beer, HoopsWorld: I' d take Nicolas Batum. Batum has the skills to be a poor man's Andrei Kirilenko. He offers a healthy helping of steals, blocks, and three's; while also shooting a solid percentage from the floor, from the stripe, and from behind the arc. There is definitely a lot to like there.
Dorell Wright looks like he may win the starting SF gig in Golden State, but with Don Nelson out as the Warriors head coach, their historically fast-paced offense will likely slow down a bit. Moreover, the Warriors backup small forward, Reggie Williams, is
talented offensive option that played very well down the stretch last season. (Williams actually led all NBA players in minutes played during the month of April, and also averaged 16.1 PPG, 6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 three-balls that final
month.)... Josh Childress may also find himself in a potential numbers crunch. Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Grant Hill, and Jared Dudley will all likely find themselves competing for minutes... I like Leandro Barbosa as a nice late-round sleeper; I am just not convinced he is going to get the consistent PT he needs to be a legitimate fantasy factor.
Andre Snellings, RotoWire: I lean toward Batum, though lately I have been feeling positive about Wright this season as well as well. Every year I do projections based upon how a player tends to perform per-minute, trying to adjust for new circumstances. With Batum, no matter how I looked at it I came up with him posting numbers this year that would have him ranked among the top of the roto rankings lists. He's the garbage-man type that does everything pretty well, and with a year of experience under his belt and a bigger role this season I think he is poised to have a strong fantasy season.
My Take: I have to give it up to Dr. A for going with Childress, but as expected Batum won over the majority of our experts. Batum has been the hot name as of late, and for good reason. I think all four of these players add solid swingman stats, except what works in Batum's favor is that he can block shots. Barbosa could, at his best, provide 1.5 steals and 1.5 threes per game. That's a ceiling, though -- and maybe a little too high for him. Childress should get some good minutes in Phoenix, but there is a logjam at the wing. Wright I like for his 3-point shooting and also his free-throw shooting. Still, I'm not sure he'll get as many touches as some expect. Batum is the pick here, and I have a hard time disputing it. Though remember last year when everyone was going crazy about Anthony Randolph as a sleeper? Yup.