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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Trabajo de la Wire

An addendum to this week's Working the Wire column... if he's available in your league (and according to the Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner stats, he's available in nearly every league) put in a claim on Juan Carlos Navarro of the Grizzlies.

I was actually very high on Navarro, even before training camps opened. He seemed to be landing in an ideal situation -- on a team expected to play an open, European-style offense stolen from, er, inspired by the Phoenix Suns -- and with Pau Gasol, his teammate for years on the Spanish national team. (I tried to draft him in the expert league, but because his trade from Washington to Memphis wasn't quite final, he wasn't available at the time. Going on the "best available rookie from Europe" strategy, I wound up with Marco Belinelli instead. C'est la vie.)

Navarro didn't have a clear role at the start of the season -- scoring just 30 points total in Memphis first seven games -- and he dropped off the radar of a certain fantasy hoops writer with a remarkably short attention span. Seeing him play last night, in the Grizzlies' win over the Nets -- showed me I was right about him all along. (Until I forgot about him... that part was wrong.)

When given playing time, Navarro has produced numbers that match or exceed the production of any other rookie in the league. In the five games in which he's played 30 or more minutes, he's averaged 20.4 points, 4.4 boards and four assists -- in his breakout game against New Jersey on Tuesday night, he scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. On the season, he's shooting 46 percent from the floor and 44 percent from three, and hitting 88 percent of his free throws.

And much like his countryman Jorge Garbajosa, he's an excellent "glue guy" -- the Grizzlies seem to play better when he's on the floor. "Glue Guy" isn't a category in most fantasy formats -- but if "doing the little things that helps the team win" means he gets more minutes, those little things do have real fantasy value.

A note about this post's title... it was intended to be "Working the Wire" in Spanish. Unfortunately, I took French in high school - so Google Translate was the best I could do. (Is the Spanish word for "wire" really "wire?")


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