Dr. Dick’s Dozen Surprises, Part I

In yesterday’s post, I discussed my fantasy basketball team. Today, we take a broader look at surprising players from around the league. If I don’t get to your hometown (or fantasy squad) favorite, rest assured it is a LOOOOONG season. If a player continues to play well, he will undoubtedly be recognized here at The Splog. So without further ado, Part I of Dr. Dick’s Dozen, featuring Western Conference players:

Leandro Barbosa: Yeah, we learned last year that this 24 year old spark plug from
Brazil could play. His season totals were 13.1 points, 2.8 assists, 2.6 boards in 28 minutes per. This week: 18.4, 4.6, 4.4 in 35 minutes per. With the off-season addition of Banks (for the ridiculous sum of $20 mill over five), and the return of Amare potentially clogging the lane, I doubt if anyone saw this coming. Just wait until Nash’s annual injury to see what Barbosa’s production can become. One other note, Barbosa’s career FG% is 46.8, but he has shot just 40.6% in the five games this year, so by regressing to his career shooting percentage, there is potential for even better days ahead.

Andris Biedrins: After averaging 13 MPG in his first two seasons, he has averaged 24 per in the first five of 06-07. Seemingly a bad fit for Nellie’s go-go style, Biedrins has asserted himself as the most competent of a weak cast of interior players for the Goldies. He is averaging a mere 7.6 ppg/6.4 rpg, but is shooting an amazing 81% from the field. He shot nearly 64% last year, so there is some evidence that he could be Artis Gilmore-like. If Nellie doesn’t get impatient with him, there is good potential for continued solid performance. And remember, he is only 20 years old!

Andrew Bynum: After averaging 7 minutes per while appearing in half the Lakers’ games last year, Bynum has burst from the gate averaging 11 points, 7 boards in just 21 minutes a night. Other key indicators are his shooting: 56% on FGs and 78% on FTs. Can he sustain this pace? Hard to say. But after turning 19 on October 27th, it hardly matters whether the production is sustainable for this year; the Lakers have seen the future and it is Andrew Bynum.

Kevin Martin: Is there a greater joy for a GM than unearthing a player in the bottom third of the first round of the NBA Draft? If not, then Geoff Petrie in Sac must be one happy GM. Martin is averaging 23+ ppg on 54% shooting, while netting better than 90% of his FTs. Not bad for third year player from Western Carolina nabbed with the 26th overall pick. I doubt if he will be averaging 23 a game a month from now, but letting Bonzi walk is looking prescient after the first week of the season.

Luke Walton: Has Walton carved out a niche on Phil’s squad? Perhaps. Averaging 15 ppg on 58% shooting will turn some heads. Recognized as a “glue guy” who does not need to score to be effective, his new found offensive aggressiveness includes knocking down 1.2 threes a game after averaging fewer than .3 threes per games in his first 3 campaigns. Just a hunch, but he seems the least likely of The Dozen to maintain his current productivity. Hard to believe factoid: he is two weeks older than Q-Rich.

Hakim Warrick: Well, someone had to seize the minutes created by Pau Gasol’s absence and Battier’s departure. Based on one week’s action, that someone is Hakkim Ward. Averaging 16 and 7 in about 30 minutes per, the former Orangeman stand out has been productive. The key numbers to watch as the season progresses are his shooting percentage (currently 51%) and FT attempts per (currently 7.5). If those numbers remain consistent Jerry West may have uncovered another gem.

And now for the Western Conference Villanova player watch:

Randy Foye was hyped by NBA writers after his Summer League performance, drawing comparisons to D-Wade for his ability to get anywhere on the floor and having the strength to finish among the trees. So far his line is a bit disappointing, as he has averaged just 4 points and played 11 minutes or fewer in four of five outings. I did catch his performance against the Lakers the other night when he netted 12 points in 22 minutes, while getting to the line six times. That outing may a precursor to an increase in his productivity.

Kyle Lowery had a nice opening night with 10 rebounds in 28 minutes – not bad for a 6’1” PG. Since then he has not played much, but The Splog will continue to monitor his progress.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Deux examining Eastern Conference surprises.

That’s it for now…Dr. Dick

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