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NBA Bench Risers: Waiver Wire Sleepers for Fantasy Basketball (Week 12)


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 12 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.

Doug McDermott (SF, CHI) 28% owned - DMC is finally starting to look worthy of a lottery pick. Starting on December 30th, McDermott had a five-game stretch scoring in double digits. That point production has come with some other benefits and pitfalls, however. In Saturday's game against the Raptors, he scored 17 and gathered 10 boards, but shot a poor 6-for-17. Another positive is that his AST% is climbing each season, up to 7% so far this year. 1.6 assists per 36 won't help anybody, but at least it's a step in the right direction so he won't be a liability in that category.

McDermott may become more important for the Bulls down the stretch as Dwayne Wade will get more days off in preparation for the playoffs. He is seeing more minutes already with Rajon Rondo benched and more shot attempts as a result. He's played three games of 30 or more minutes in January - he only had two such games in the 2016 portion of the season. McDermott has some way to go before he is a true contributor in 9-cat leagues, but he could at least provide a scoring boost for owners at the forward position.

Donatas Motiejunas (SF/PF, NO) 17% owned - Motiejunas posted his best numbers two years ago in Houston, when he averaged approximately 12 points and six boards. Now he's a Pelican, making his season debut just days ago. It may take a couple of weeks before he's playing major minutes, but he has the chance to carve out a nice role off a fairly thin bench in New Orleans. He only has Terrence Jones and Dante Cunningham competing for playing time at the moment; neither has the offensive potential of Motiejunas.

With just two games under his belt this season and a total of 37 played last season, let's look at his per 36 averages from the 2014-15 season when he played significant minutes. Motiejunas scored 15.1 points per 36 in each of the last two seasons, contributing to a 14.8 career average. He doesn't shoot many threes, but he did so at a .368 clip that year, contributing to a .501 FG%. A 7.4 rebounding average per 36 keeps him playable at the power forward position, although he won't help whatsoever in blocks. Motiejunas is nothing more than a speculative pick at this point, but if he strings together a few good games, he could be worth adding.

Justin Hamilton (PF/C, BKN) 6% owned - The biggest change for Hamilton has been a dramatic increase in minutes played this season. In another week or so, Hamilton will already have established a career high for MP in the NBA in his third year. Hamilton's usage isn't any different, staying just under 15%, but he has been more efficient in recent days. He has scored 16 points in two of the last three games, after not scoring in double digits for nearly six weeks. Hamilton averages a respectable 8.1 rebounds per 36, but only 1.1 blocks.

His strength at the position is as a long distance shooter. Hamilton is making roughly two out of six treys per 36, but that number has also started to creep up lately. He drained four three-pointers against the Pacers last Thursday and is shooting .343 behind the arc. Hamilton will need to catch a break in order to become a major part of the rotation, but has the size/skill combination to help deep league owners in points, rebounds and threes if his minutes surpass 25 a game.


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.