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NBA Bench Risers: Waiver Wire Sleepers for Fantasy Basketball (Week 7)

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. Below are my Week 7 bench risers and waiver wire adds for fantasy basketball. These 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.

Jeff Green (SF/PF, ORL) - 8% owned

In an unusual reversal of fortune, Green's value may be rising now that he has become a bench player again. Green wasn't putting up useful stats in his first 16 games for the Magic, half of which came as a starter. His .366 FG% is well below his .433% career average and well below the league average. However, he is turning things around in his last three games, averaging just over 14 points on .451% shooting. Green has never been a great rebounder for his size, but he's collected 11 over the last two games and won't hurt you at the SF position.

What's interesting about Green is the trade talk circulating around Orlando already. The Magic are a young team that don't appear to be playoff bound, so a player like Green could be moved to a contender in need of scoring before too long. Conversely, if someone like Serge Ibaka is traded instead, Green could find himself in a bigger role. Green's current usage rate of 19.9% is already ahead of teammate Elfrid Payton (19.8%) and barely behind Serge Ibaka (20.9%) and former Magic guard Victor Oladipo (20.8%). That number could shoot up further in the near future. Green is a player to watch more than an immediate add at the moment, but he could become a fantasy factor in deeper leagues eventually.


Dario Saric (PF, PHI) 49% owned

A position switch might be just what the doctor ordered for Saric and the 76ers. Saric has been off to a slow offensive start in his rookie year, shooting just .388 from the field. Like Green, Saric also moved out of the starting lineup onto the bench 10 games into the season. He got into a funk soon after, totaling 10 points in a three-game span at one point in late November. Saric may be re-emerging now after shifting to small forward. He's dropped 21, 17 and 17 the last three games, including a season-high 3-for-6 from behind the arc in all three contests.

Perhaps more impressive have been the rebounding numbers this past week. Saric has 27 total rebounds in the last three games. Obviously that's an average of nine per game, which matches nicely with his Per 36 numbers: 1.4 Offensive Rebounds and 7.5 Defensive Rebounds. Despite that production, Saric slots best as a SF in fantasy because he doesn't block shots (0.3 BLK per 36). He is listed only as a PF in Yahoo! leagues, but that may change in the near future. With Robert Covington struggling from the field and now facing a knee injury, Saric's role should continue to expand along with his ownership rates.


Wayne Ellington (SG, MIA) 18% owned

Just when it looked like Josh Richardson was ready to make an impact, he goes down again with an ankle injury. Dion Waiters will be out at least a couple of weeks and Justise Winslow has missed 12 games already. Enter Ellington, the veteran shooter and former Tar Heel in his first year with the Heat. Ellington has been everything the team could have hoped for, doubling his career scoring average so far with 14.8 PPG. His three-point percentage is decent (.368) and he's increased his overall field goal percentage to .475.

Ellington has only appeared in five games for Miami after starting the season with a bruised thigh suffered in the preseason. It's hard to extrapolate too much from such a small sample size, but so far the results are promising. Ellington is averaging 13 shots per 36 minutes, 8.3 of which come from three-point land. His shortcomings come in the counting stats where he contributes very little (1.8 REB, 2.2 AST, 1.3 STL per 36). He is a shooter first and foremost, so consider adding him if you need help in points or multiple three-point categories. This may be Ellington's seventh NBA team in six seasons, but he seems to be right at home in Miami and should find a larger role as the injuries keep piling up.

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.