Fantasy Basketball Sleeper Spotlight: Can Chase Budinger Break Out?

Will OvertonCorrespondent INovember 28, 2011

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 10:  Chase Budinger #10 of the Houston Rockets celebrates his three point shot in the first half against the Boston Celtics on January 10, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Fantasy championships are not always won in the first couple rounds; much of the time they are won in the middle and late rounds.

One guy who is really starting to stand out to me as a sleeper candidate is Chase Budinger, the man who should step in the role of starting small forward this season for the Houston Rockets.

Budinger will be entering his this full season for the Rockets, and will only be 23 when the season starts. Budinger got a chance to step up and get starter's minutes last season, finishing the year with 22 starts in which he averaged 32 minutes per game.

In those 22 starts Budinger put up the following numbers:

43.5% FG
89.1% FT
13.9 PPG
3.9 RPG
2.5 APG
1.5 3PTM

Those  aren’t numbers that are going to blow anyone away, but not bad for a 22-year-old starting for the first time.

The Rockets have Kevin Martin and Luis Scola ahead of Budinger on the pecking list and a point guard in Kyle Lowry who likes to get his own shots as well. Don’t let that discourage you from considering Chase Budinger when you get to draft night.

All those guys were on the team last season when Budinger joined the starting rotation and he still managed to get off more than 11 shots per game.  I have to think he shoots better than 43% from the field as he learns to attack the hoop against NBA defenses.

Budinger is much more than a spot-up jump shot artist and he will start to get more comfortable in the paint. As he does this he will not only make more shots, he’ll also spend more time at the free throw line where he is near automatic.

So assuming Budinger plays as many minutes as he did last season as a starter, and assuming he does improve his inside game the way I believe he will, it’s not unreasonable to think he can up his scoring to between 15-16 points per game.

What will make or break Budinger’s value however is whether or not he can prove to be a contributor in more than the one category. Budinger proved to be a three-point threat last season, and the Rockets are big on using the long distance shooting to stay in games so you’re going to get some help in that regard.

Chase isn’t a great rebounder, but he pulled down over six per game his senior year in college.I also anticipate that he moves closer to the steal-per-game mark as he was quick with his hands in college and should learn to adapt that skill in the pro game as well.

Budinger might not be a star this year, but chances are you’ll be able to land him around the ninth or tenth round in your draft and get production similar to someone like Luol Deng or Wesley Matthew who will likely go around three rounds higher, at least. And that’s the kind of value that’s hard to pass up.