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NBA teams have a multitude of players coming off the bench, each with a unique role to fill. As a fantasy owner, you need to decide which of those players can contribute across multiple categories and have the potential to make the most of their time on the court.

To find bench players that can contribute more than just energy and defense during their time on the court, I will analyze usage rate and Per 36 statistics. Here are some bench players whose stock should be rising based on their recent play and could be great fantasy pickups for deep leagues. Note: I will only be selecting players who are not regular starters and who are owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! leagues.

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Rising NBA Bench Performers

C.J. Miles (SG/SF, IND) - 41% owned

The 12-year veteran has seemingly been around forever, even though he is yet to celebrate his 30th birthday. Miles isn't part of the Pacers' core nucleus, but he has been more efficient than starters Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis to start the season. Miles is currently second in the league in effective field goal percent at a .667 clip. Surprisingly, he is also second in the league with 4.4 3PTM per 36.

Not known as a prolific outside shooter, Miles is playing his role in this offense as well as coaches could have hoped for. His outstanding 51.4% three-point percentage won't last, but that shouldn't stop fantasy owners from deploying him while he is on a hot streak. Miles slots at both guard and forward in fantasy leagues, making him a versatile add as a bench player.

While that has always been the case, fantasy owners should look at his increasing minutes over the last week (25 minutes played against Charlotte on Monday) and double digit FGA in five out of seven games. Sure, he's been streaky before and may not maintain this pace, but for Week 3 he appears to be one of the best options widely available.

 

Ersan Ilyasova (SF/PF, PHI) - 20% owned

The 76ers usually don't trade away one of their young talents to get anything other than a draft pick in return, but things may be different now under Bryan Colangelo. Jerami Grant upgraded from Philly to OKC, while Ilyasova now inherits his minutes on the 76ers bench. Initially, Ilyasova is seeing more time at the four spot, which could eat into Dario Saric's minutes.

Saric has been playing a rookie-high 26.4 minutes per game, but is shooting just .356/.400/.571 so far. Ilyasova, a career .443/.371/.769 shooter brings more stability to the position and can rebound just as well. He has a 19.3 usage rate over the first six games, comparable with Ryan Anderson and Pau Gasol at the moment. That figure should trend upwards as he becomes a more integral part of Philadelphia's offense. He is averaging nearly 26 minutes since joining the 76ers and has hoisted 12, 13, and 12 shots in those three games.

His last one against Utah was a clunker as he went 2-for-12 from the field, but he had just come off a 21-point game against Cleveland, going 4-for-6 on threes in the process. This sudden "win now" mentality may ultimately lead Ilyasova to supplant Saric in the starting lineup if the rookie can't improve his shooting. For the moment, Ilyasova is a steady bench option that can provide at least a 10/5 nightly average with the potential for more.

 

Jon Leuer (PF/C, DET) - 17% owned

There would seem to be little opportunity for a big man to make waves in Detroit other than Andre Drummond, but Leuer is performing nicely off the bench. Among a plethora of other big men, including former Spurs Aron Baynes and Boban Marjanovic, Leuer has become a favorite of coach Stan Van Gundy. He is currently averaging 10.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, with a 52.6% FG%.

Unlike Drummond, he is actually an asset at the free throw line, shooting 83.3% on the season. Leuer even shoots the occasional three, draining five out of 14 shots in his first seven games. Leuer isn't quite the defensive presence that Baynes is, but his offensive upside may keep him on the floor more often. He is averaging 26.9 minutes per game, by far a career high for a player whose career average is 14.0. Leuer's percentages are already strong for his position, and his per 36 stats are encouraging as well.

He is providing a solid 13.4 PTS, 8.2 REB, 1.3 BLK and 1.5 STL per 36. He isn't likely to supplant Marcus Morris in the starting role as long as things are clicking, but he will continue to be one of the most relied upon bench players in Detroit. Fantasy owners who need consistency at the big man positions could benefit from Leuer on their own bench. Drummond owners should also consider adding him, both as a handcuff and to balance out Drummond's horrific FT% and lack of threes.


By popular demand, RotoBaller has aggregated all of our fantasy basketball NBA waiver wire pickups into a running list of NBA waiver options, so bookmark the page and check back often for updates.