This is a scary thought to think, but the Minnesota Timberwolves may actually become a strong playoff contender for years to come. Blech, still felt weird saying that string of words. But it’s very plausible, as they now have a solid core of players to build around: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Jose Juan Barea, and possibly the most important piece, Nikola Pekovic. Now before you e-mail my editor ordering him to can me because I said Pekovic was a more important piece than Rubio or Love, keep in mind that I am talking from a real basketball sense, not our sense of fake basketball which is based on other people playing basketball. In fantasy, Rubio and Love are the guys that will be going off the board early, but Pekovic will finally fill the T-Wolves void (Sorry to you beastiality fans who googled “Timberwolves” and “filling voids” and ended up here, not that kind of site!) at center that has been polluted by Darko Milicic and co. since Kevin Garnett was shipped up to Boston. But what can we expect from Pekovic from a fantasy perspective and why is he a fantasy basketball sleeper for the 2012-2013 season?
On the surface, his averages of 13.9 points and 7.9 boards look a’ight. But keep in mind that he wasn’t the starting center right off the bounce and was limited by tacky injuries all season long. If you just look at the 35 games in which he did start, his averages are 15.4 points, 8.5 boards, and just under a block per game. When you couple those stats with his strong shooting ratios (for a big man) of 56.4% from the field and 74.3% from the line, you are looking at Kevin Garnett-like production three or four rounds after when KG is being drafted. Also, Pek’s PER rating was a sneaky good 21.4, which was good for the 20th best rating in the entire Association. This all has to be taken with a grain of organic sea salt, as Pekovic sat out 19 games last season which has some folks labeling him as an injury risk. That being said, all of his injuries were minor, and he played through most of them, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. All in all, Pekovic is a center with solid ratios, room for improvement, and has absolutely no threat of losing playing time (I mean, who is going to take minutes from him, Darko? Ha!). I’ll take that and have another.