For this one, I turn the show over entirely to Fantasy Junkie of Golden State of Mind:
SLEEPER: Christian Maraker
SCHOOL: University of Pacific
POSITION: Power Forward
Don’t sleep on Christian Maraker of the University of Pacific Tigers. What? Who? Here’s a true sleeper if there ever was one. Right now he’s fighting for a chance to be drafted in the second round. In fact, some draft experts don’t have him drafted at all. ESPN and CNN have him ranked as the 92nd best player! If you watch his game, it’s clear that he’s got the potential to make it big. The awards prove he can play. He’s the Big West Conference player of the year and an AP All-American Honorable mention. Additionally, his offensive game is smooth as he averaged nearly 18 points per game last year. Basically, he’s your typical European big man (from Sweden) as he can shoot the rock from outside but also has a soft touch on the inside. The excellent shooting allows him to also knock down free throws at a high rate. Unlike many big men, Maraker can handle the ball with ease. He can dribble by you or find the open man with a crisp pass. He also rebounds well as he grabbed 8.9 boards per game last year and recorded 16 double doubles. Combine all that with his high basketball IQ, and you have the makings of a potential NBA baller.
Don’t believe me? Go talk to Boston College. They’ll tell you that Maraker can flat out ball. As the 13th seed, the University of Pacific Tigers lost in double OT to the 4th seeded BC Eagles in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. All Maraker did was drop 30 points, grab 9 boards and hit a game tying 3 pointer with 9 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The Tigers were not even supposed to be in the game, but a heroic effort from Maraker nearly had them dancing in the second round.
In fact, forget analyzing the previous 3.99 years of Maraker’s college career. If you want to know about Maraker, go watch this game, as it was a microcosm of his entire college career. For one, it exposed some of his deficiencies. He lacks supreme athleticism which hurts his ability to play solid defense. In the BC game, had the opposing power forward not scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, 5 offensive, Pacific might have won the game in regulation. So, if Maraker can bulk up on his 235 pound frame, he’ll greatly improve his ability to bang down low and thus improve his defense on the blocks. If he can put on a good 20 pounds in the next year, at 6’11”, 255 he will be strong enough to hold his ground but still maintain his sweet shooting touch. The second thing he must improve on is taking care of the ball. He’s definitely got the ball handling skills to dribble and make a good pass, but his turnovers were much too high even if he did get the ball a lot. He averaged 2.1 assists during the season, so it’s clear he can find an open man. If he can learn how to take care of the ball and make better decisions, he’ll be much more effective. His positives though greatly outweigh the things he needs to improve on. His offensive game is one of the most refined in the draft. In the BC game he was extremely efficient with his prolific shooting by scoring 30 points, on 8-16 FG’s, 2-4 from 3, and 12-14 FT. He hit the big shot and proved he can play against a big time college program on the nation’s biggest stage. If a team needs a big man who can score on the blocks or out on the perimeter, Maraker looks like he can fill that void.
So I’ll tell you this, after watching him play and listening to many season ticket holders claim him to be a “poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki” I’m convinced Christian Maraker will be the 2006 NBA draft sleeper.