There’s a lot to like about the Grizzlies. They’re the reigning Cinderella squad of the NBA, their logo is among the best in sports, they put a great town on the league map after years of embarrassing failure and they have, not one, but two players on their team that pronounce their English names with a French accent. Xavier Henry and Darrell Arthur have names that shouldn’t scare anyone off. Ex-AY-vee-er and DARE-uhl. No biggie. But these guys? These guys are unique and they pronounce their name accordingly. ZAH-vee-ay and Dah-RELL. So very French. There’s a good chance that either of these players could be the first guy off the bench next season or out of the 10-man rotation completely. Again, what’s not to love about a team with that much swing? We’ll regard Henry some other time. Today, let’s look at what makes Arthur a king among fantasy basketball sleepers.
Right off the bat, it’s worth noting that Arthur jumped from a 10.9 PER in his first two seasons to a 15.7 as a 22-year-old. Noted! (Totally worth it.) He improved hugely in every single category other than TOV and RBD by a ton in 2010. He went from averaging .437/.590 in his first two seasons to .497/.813. T’weren’t no fluke, neither. He averaged more minutes and took more shots and free throws per game last season than in either of his first two. This tells you (and you, and you, but not the guy behind you because he’s just trying to steal your wallet!) that he not only saw more minutes and action, but he did more with the minutes he saw. Arthur’s scoring slingshot from 10.9 points per 36 in his rookie and sophomore seasons to 16.3 last year. Meanwhile, Arthur owners got 1.5 stl+blk out of a guy who was probably on the waiver wire for all but a month of the season. It’s true that Z-Bo and Marc Gasol were both hurt during portions of last season and that Arthur bumped his stats a ton in October, November and March because of it, but that’s kind of the point. Guys get hurt in the NBA. And right now, other the guys that aren’t hurt might skip the country to play overseas. Either way, you’re not going to draft Arthur in the fourth round, but he might be a steal in the 14th. He was a steal for fantasy owners last year and people have a way of not learning lessons after the first try.