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Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA. Via Wikicommons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Estudiantes_vs_Unicaja_M%C3%A1laga_-_Lucas_Nogueira_-_01.jpg)

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

Lucas Nogueira (PF/C, TOR) 41% owned - A former first-round pick in 2013, Nogueria has only 39 games of NBA experience under his belt. The loss of Bismack Biyombo in the offseason and the relative ineffectiveness of Jacob Poeltl have led to an increased role for the Brazilian recently. His playing time has jumped from 7.8 MPG last season to 25.8 MPG this season. The sample size of four games is too small to draw many conclusions from yet, but Nogueria certainly has the physical ability to make his presence felt down low and is showing signs of doing so.

First of all, he is shooting a ridiculous 88.2% on all field goals. Granted, he is only averaging 4.3 attempts per game and doesn't stray too far from the basket, but that may be a good thing. The obvious comparison is to project Nogueira as a younger, thinner Nene Hilario, but it may not be too far from the truth. He is also averaging 7.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. That translates to 10.1 REB and 3.5 BLK per 36 minutes. At 11.5 points per 36, Nogueira may not be a double-digit scorer off the bench, but those defensive figures are hard to overlook regardless of point production. If your league counts offensive rebounds as a separate category, 3.8 ORB per 36 is quite a boon too. If you need depth at center, consider giving Nogueria a chance while he is still available in over half of fantasy leagues.

Vince Carter (SG/SF, MEM) 10% owned - He may almost be 40 years old, but he won't go away quietly. Usually a player who has relied on his exceptional athleticism and an aggressive style of play tends to fade earlier than other professional athletes. Instead, Vinsanity has reinvented himself as a jump shooter and it's working. Carter's field goal attempts have stayed in the double digits each of the last four games, as have his point totals. That includes two 20-point games and a 55% shooting percentage in the last ten days. Carter's minutes have stayed fairly consistent throughout the early part of the season, but he is now becoming more involved in the offense as JaMychal Green has failed to generate much scoring.

Carter's FG% the last two seasons in Memphis of .333 and .388 indicate that regression is certainly in order. After all, NBA players typically don't improve once they hit 40. Carter doesn't project as a long-term addition for fantasy teams, but his recent production is too good to ignore if you could use scoring (who couldn't?) In addition to the points and great shooting percentages, Carter is logging 5.5 total rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals per 36. Believe it or not, he is collecting rebounds, blocks, and steals at a higher clip than his career average in addition to shooting a .035 higher FG%. Stream Carter for now and enjoy the flashback while it lasts.

Seth Curry (PG/SG, DAL) 25% owned - The younger Curry won't be hoisting a championship trophy any time soon, but he may be developing into a fine role player. Curry has seen additional minutes this past week due to a calf injury to Deron Williams (surprise, surprise). In a matchup with his older brother a week ago, Seth filled the stat line with 10 points, nine assists and five steals. The downside is that he finished 4-for-17 on field goals in that game, probably a result of trying a bit too hard. Prior to that, he scored 23 against the Lakers, going 4-for-7 on threes. In the past week, he is averaging 32 MPG and has hoisted up 44 shots in three games. If you had any doubts whether he emulates big brother, Seth has attempted more three-pointers (40) than two-pointers (36).

His 18.2% usage rate keeps him in the same company as other top bench guards such as Tyler Johnson and Patty Mills, and ahead of Rajon Rondo. Curry's sudden involvement in the offense may taper off a bit when (if) Deron Williams is healthy, but he seems to have solidified an important role on a thin Mavs bench. Bear in mind, Curry has been on five different teams in less than four seasons, so the upside is limited. If you are looking for a mad bomber that is seeing increased minutes off the bench, Curry fits the bill.


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.