The New York Knicks had a very busy and fruitful off-season. General manager Glen Grunwald made a number of moves that should help the Knicks improve a lot this year. He signed the Artist Formerly Known as Ron Artest (Metta World Peace), and acquired former No. 1 overall pick, Andrea Bargnani, from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Steve Novak and Marcus Camby.
MWP and Bargs will immediately fill some gaping holes on the Knicks roster, but the move that could ascend them into title contention was the signing of point guard Beno Udrih, and that makes him a great late-draft sleeper in fantasy basketball leagues. Hey, if he can lead the snake-bitten Knicks to an NBA title, why should things be any different in your fantasy league?
Udrih, the 31-year-old guard from Slovenia, has always seemed to fly under the radar, both in real life, and in fantasy. When given starters minutes he has flourished as a point guard, a position that can be lacking in availability and quality late in drafts. He was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, but didn’t get any significant playing time until he went to Sacramento.
With the Kings, he had 4-year averages of 12.6 points and 4.7 assists-per-game. While the assists aren’t overwhelming, his lack of turnovers (2.3 per-36 minutes) and efficient shooting (48% FG) more than make up for the non-traditional assist numbers a point guard usually puts up.
The ideal starting lineup in New York could quite possibly include two point guards, with Udrih playing alongside incumbent Raymond Felton. With Pablo Prigioni back in the fold as the second-team point guard, and J.R. Smith assuming the sixth man role, it makes sense for coach Mike Woodson to start Udrih with Felton,
Udrih being the mistake-free floor general, and Felton being the slasher and 3-point shooter. With Udrih starting it will allow the talented and explosive Iman Shumpert to play with the second unit, giving them some youth and speed to help offset the lead-footed pace of Amare Stoudemire. His playoff experience and 83% career free-throw shooting suggests he may be a prime candidate to finish out games, which is always a nice way to tack on cheap fantasy points.
Udrih may go unnoticed in the standard ESPN.com 15-round drafts, but don’t let that stop you from taking him in the later rounds if your team needs some point guard depth. New York led the league last year in 3-point field goals made per game (10.9), and as the Knicks point guard least proficient in that category, Udrih should be the one dishing out the assists on those treys all season.
If he can garner significant playing time, his career per 36 stats of 13.9 points, 5.5 assists and 1.2 steals suggest sneaky upside. I’d take a flier on him in the late rounds rather than waste an earlier pick on very flawed, percentage draining point guards like Brandon Knight, Mario Chalmers and Darren Collison.
2013-14 Prediction: 10.8 PTS, 6.1 AST, 2.2 REB, 1.0 STL, 48 FG%, 36 3P%, 84 FT%
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