Central Sleepers: Euro Hero

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Chicago — PF Malik Allen
The recent trade of Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis to the Knicks will likely move Tyson Chandler to center for the Bulls. At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, Allen is the best-suited of a group of players which includes Othella Harrington and Darius Songaila on the Chicago roster to be Chandler's primary backup. Allen has dealt with injuries over the past two seasons that have limited his minutes since his solid sophomore campaign (9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.0 block in 29 minutes per game in 2002), but he had back surgery last season and appears to be healthy in Bulls camp. With Chandler's own back a concern and his playing time typically kept in check as a result, Allen could see consistent minutes and gain center eligibility as the season progresses.

Cleveland — SF Luke Jackson
The Cavaliers took measures to improve their team three-point shooting in the offseason, signing Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones. They will also look within to second-year player Jackson to help in that area. The 10th-overall pick in the 2004 draft missed all but the first ten games of last season with a back injury, but was drafted in large part because of his ability to hit a jumper. He appears to be all the way back from the injury — he averaged over 32 minutes per game in summer league action — and should be the primary backup for Larry Hughes while also seeing some time at small forward. Hughes missed 21 games in each of the past two seasons, so Jackson is among the backups most likely to start for a stretch this season.

Detroit — SG Maurice Evans
The defending champ's rotation is tough to crack, but Evans may be just the player to do it. He immediately became the best option to backup Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince when he left Sacramento this offseason for the Motor City. He rebounds well for a guard (5.6 per game in eleven starts last season) and can score some, too (10.6 points in those starts). If he impresses new coach Flip Saunders enough in the preseason, he could work his way into consistent playing time and some good production for a Pistons bench player.

Indiana — G Sarunas Jasikevicius
This NBA rookie is a seasoned international player — you may remember him hitting seven of twelve three-pointers on the way to 28 points in Lithuania's upset win over Team USA in the 2004 Olympics, and this past year he was also a member of the Euroleague champion for the fifth consecutive season. He joins the Pacers with a reputation as a clutch player, deadly shooter, and strong team leader. He was brought in to back up Jamaal Tinsley and as insurance if (or perhaps when) Tinsley again misses a large chunk of the season, but look for Jasikevicius to immediately contribute as a member of the Indiana rotation. His role and production could increase as he proves himself over the course of the season and/or Tinsley once again is hurt for a substantial amount of time.

Milwaukee — C Dan Gadzuric
Don't assume Gadzuric will return to fantasy irrelevance just because the Bucks used the first overall pick to select center Andrew Bogut. The team also re-upped the UCLA alum in the offseason to the tune of six years and 36 million dollars, so he also looms large in their plans. At the very least, Gadzuric will be the primary backup for Bogut and Joe Smith in the Bucks' frontcourt, and there is a chance that Smith could be moved to the bench in favor of Gadzuric. He posted solid overall numbers last season in only 22 minutes of action, and shouldn't see less playing time this season regardless of his specific role.

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