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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.

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  1. Jif & The Choosy Mothers says:
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    I might be missing something. Is there a good place to post this?

    I’m a longtime fantasy basketballer, if you will, and a group of excellent owners recruited from Razzball, The Original, three years ago have formed a great new league. We have 12 owners and think we’ll move it to 14.

    The league costs $60 and is H2H points. It’s a salary cap league to encourage roster churn. Plan is for 12- or 13-man rosters with 1 IR spot. We’ll keep 7 players each season. Salaries assigned based on rounds drafted.

    Scoring categories are simple – points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Points carry slightly more weight – then rebounds and assists – then steals and blocks.

    FYI: The concept of this new league borrows heavily from a 26-year-old league that I joined 15 years ago but am bowing out of now for philosophical reasons – namely I don’t think we should pay for the site that it’s housed on. Waste of $179 every year.

    Thanks. If interested, write me about why you want to join at: dw.reds@gmail.com. We have a detailed League Charter already in place.

    If it matters, and it probably does, the owners I recruited three years ago (some 25 of us, believe it or not) have stuck together in two money baseball leagues, one free one and fantasy football too. Not everyone is in every league, of course, but turnover has been almost nil.

  2. Fenris-77 says:
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    Sooo, if Pek’s going to be good, and I agree that he is, where are you drafting him? The last solid mock I did he went in the late 6th round, and while I think that’s a touch high compared to who was still on the board it’s probably at least in the right neighborhood. My though is something more like the 8th round depending on team needs, and possibly a little earlier for roto drafts where the clean %s are a bigger selling point.

    • JashFath

      JashFath says:
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      @Fenris-77, That sounds about right. I am still working on my rankings, but ESPN has him ranked 78th overall. I would love to have him at that value, and I would still like him in the 6th round too. I will probably rank him somewhere in between.

  3. James Redacted

    James Redacted says:
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    I’m very high on him and probably would roll the dice in the 6th unless someone else I loved fell. If I got him in the 8th I’d be struggling to hold back tears of joy.

  4. Fenris-77 says:
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    That in the 6th pick was over guys like Faried and Bogut, which I may not have done in their shoes, especially Faried, at least for HtH play. There’s a huge glut of solid bigs in the 5th through 7th this year and I think Pekovic may go unnoticed in leagues with less savvy managers.

    • James Redacted

      James Redacted says:
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      @Fenris-77, I know Faried has a ton of potential but the Nuggets just have a plethora of forwards. Remember Wilson Chandler will be back playing for them. If Pekovic is healthy, he will get a bunch of minutes and I’m not sure how many Faried will get. As for Bogut, I hope the guy is OK after another injury. It’s crazy with him.

      • JashFath

        JashFath says:
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        @James Redacted, I’d definitely nab Pekovic in the 6th; but as you said Fenris, he will likely slide past that in most standard leagues. Alot of rankings haven’t been released quite yet, but I get this feeling that Pek was underappreciated last season, and will get that same lack of respect this year (ESPN had him ranked three rounds behind KG in their post-Finals rankings). It’s hard not to like a big who gives you points, boards, and solid ratios and has little to no threat of losing playing time.

  5. Fenris-77 says:
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    Of all the guys in Denver I worry about Faried the least. He was lethal for them running the floor last year and I think he’ll get 27mpg minimum there since they’re only looking to run some more this year. He may get more than that too when you consider that he posted the best PER on the team last year and a per36 line of 16/12 with 2.8 blk/stl. I like Pek, but Faried has a higher ceiling IMO, and at least a similar floor. If I have to pick I’ll take the upside when there’s little risk involved. Chandler will play some PF, but other than that I don’t think there’s any real alarm bells when I’m projecting him at 27mpg rather than 30+.

    Faried ranked out at 88 on BBM last year, and that was playing 22.5 minutes a game. I think he’s a pretty safe play this year in the 6th or 7th.

    • JashFath

      JashFath says:
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      @Fenris-77, I agree that Faried has more upside and hair than Pek (I already made a sleeper post about Faried earlier this off-season), but the big trade has me worried about Faried’s playing time. The Nugs have too many SF/PF hybrids who could eat into Faried’s minutes (Chandler, Gallo, and to a lesser extent Brewer and Randolph). I still believe Faried showed that he deserves a regular role, but I’m not sure he will receive the bump in playing time I was hoping for prior to the trade. While we would love to see the manimal out there for 35+ MPG, I see Karl doing the right “real basketball” thing and giving everybody a fair share of court time. Luckily for us, Faried is such a beast that he can produce at a high level even when he is only logging roughly 25-28 MPG, so I wouldn’t knock him down too much, if at all.

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