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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.

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Rising NBA Bench Performers

Note: I will only be selecting players who are not regular starters and who are owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! leagues.

 

Wade Baldwin IV (PG, MEM) - 2% owned 

News of Mike Conley's back injury was devastating to many fantasy owners, who now look to his replacement for help. Andrew Harrison is likely to take over the majority of minutes early on. His ownership will surely skyrocket over the next 24 hours as he becomes the new starter at PG. The domino effect of this injury means that Baldwin becomes the backup at point. He is a player that will be overlooked by many, but I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes just as valuable a fantasy asset as Harrison.

Baldwin, a first-round pick out of Vanderbilt, made an early impression with a stat-stuffing line in his first NBA game. He recorded seven points, five rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks in 24 minutes of action on October 26 against the Knicks. He then went through a 7-27 shooting funk the next five games before starting to see the bench most nights. He was actually deactivated for five days before being recalled on Nov. 25. Now he is due to receive at least 20 MPG with ample opportunity to contribute.

Despite his rough shooting so far (.333 FG%, .182 3P%), it should be acknowledged that he shot .422 on three-pointers in two years of college ball. He also averaged almost five assists and four rebounds per game. In limited time this season, Baldwin is managing 5.2 assists and 1.9 steals per 36. If you are a Conley owner looking for his successor, Harrison is the safe bet, but Baldwin may offer more upside. If you are set as point guard and simply looking for a bench stash, take a chance on the fourth Baldwin and see how he performs the next couple of weeks.

 

Brandon Jennings (PG, NYK) - 16% owned

He's driven us crazy before with his poor shooting and inconsistency, but Jennings still has value in New York. Jeff Hornacek is rotating Jennings in at the same time as Derrick Rose and it seems to be working well. Jennings has dished out 40 assists in the last seven games, along with 13 steals. His 32.2% AST% is now 14th in the league and his 8.3 assists per 36 minutes match the highest mark in his career. His 2.7% STL% is good for 20th in the league, as his 1.9 steals per 36 are a career high thus far.

As usual, the concern with Jennings is his percentages. The current .302 three-point percentage is lower than he has ever finished a full season. On the one hand, this could be concerning. On the other, it could mean positive regression is in order. Generally speaking, his .373 FG% is something you're going to have to live with if you want those counting stats, although he will still pop off the occasional double-digit scoring game too.

Many will shy away from Jennings because of those shooting numbers, but if you need help in the harder-to-achieve categories of steals and assists, he can help you in deep leagues. It's hard to believe he's only 27 years old, so don't discount Jennings as a has-been while he can still produce.

 

Sean Kilpatrick (PG/SG, BKN) - 46% owned

With Jeremy Lin and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out recently, there are plenty of shots available in Brooklyn. Kilpatrick has not been shy about taking them either. He turned in a team-high 22 points on Sunday against Sacramento, after pouring in 23 against the Celtics last week, giving him 61 points over the last three games.

Kilpatrick's involvement in the offense is not a new development - his 26.6% usage rate actually ranks 31st in the NBA, ahead of players like Eric Bledsoe, Bradley Beal and the aforementioned Mike Conley. Kilpatrick's main contribution comes as a long-distance shooter. He is making 2.1 three-pointers per 36, out of 6.2 attempts. Those numbers mirror his career average, as does his .338 3P%, so expect similar production the rest of the way. He also rebounds well for a guard at nearly six rebounds per 36.

There are few bench players averaging 15 PPG that are available in over half of fantasy leagues. If you need a scorer who is experiencing an uptick in usage, Kilpatrick 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.