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Never Too Late

About a week ago, I made two unlikely free agent moves in my 20-team league.  I picked up Carlos Delfino and Kris Humphries.

If you follow basketball, you've certainly heard of these guys.  Humphries had a nice career at the University of Minnesota and was a mid-first-round pick in the 2004 draft.  The Jazz expected good things, but he never really got the playing time in two years with Utah and three with Toronto.  It was more of the same this year in Dallas before a trade landed Humphries with the hapless Nets.

Delfino was part of the 2004 Argentina squad that won the gold in Athens.  After three nondescript seasons in Detroit, he was traded to Toronto, where he showed some improvement.  Then in the summer of 2008, he decided to take the money and guaranteed playing time and headed to Moscow.  After one year abroad, he's back in the states and playing for the Bucks.

In seven games with New Jersey, Humphries, who is suddenly getting serious time off the bench, is averaging 14.0 ppg and 6.9 rpg.  Delfino, who has started for most of the season, is having the best month of his career.  In January, he's averaging 12.9 ppg and 6.0 rpg, and he recently had a six-game run in which he averaged 19.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.7 spg, 3.7 threes/game and shot 54|PERCENT| from the field.

Humphries' and Delfino's numbers aren't exactly earth-shattering in the fantasy realm, but if either of them can keep up their recent strong play, they'll become fantasy-relevant for the first times in their respective careers.  Delfino has found a home as a starting small forward, while Humphries has become one of the first options off the bench in New Jersey, a team that is so bad that anything can happen before the trade deadline.  He may even be a starter by this time next week - who knows?

What I find most interesting about these two is the late-career (relatively-speaking) emergence.  Most of the stars in the league we knew were going to be stars.  For those that aren't high lottery picks, it generally doesn't take long for them to find their way onto many fantasy rosters, if not all-NBA teams.  For example, Monta Ellis and Gilbert Arenas - to name two late-drafted stars - were scoring machines by their second seasons in the league.

Not so with Humphries and Delfino.  These players, who both came into the league in 2004, have done nothing in the NBA before this season.  Are they going to become stars?  Probably not, but they can be very good fantasy players for several more years if they keep it up.  They're not exactly old.  I'd buy them now if I hadn't already.