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NBA Bench Risers: Waiver Wire Sleepers for Fantasy Basketball (Week 13)

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 13 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.

Kelly Olynyk (C, BOS) 25% owned - Olynyk is on the verge of pushing his way into the starting lineup with a pair of big games this past week. The former Zag scored 26 against the Hawks, followed by 15 against the Hornets. He also gathered 17 boards in those two games. It has taken him some time to work his way back into top form after recovering from off-season surgery that cost him the first six games of the season. 58 minutes played in the last two contests seem to indicate he is just fine now.

Olynyk's season numbers may be deceiving for the reasons mentioned above. His per 36 scoring average is down from last season, but his recent surge may change that quickly. His other stats are comparable to his career marks (7.4 REB, 3.5 AST, 1.4 STL, 0.7 BLK per 36), so those could remain static. The offensive upside is what makes Olynyk intriguing at the center position. Al Horford's presence is something new that could clear up more shots and putback opportunities for Olynyk. He's certainly worth a flier at this point, especially in leagues that require two centers.


Austin Rivers (PG/SG, LAC) 17% owned - Chris Paul's body isn't doing his wallet any favors entering his free agency year. Paul can't seem to stay healthy for long stretches - this time suffering a thumb injury courtesy of Russell Westbrook's freakishly high jump shot. He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, making Austin Rivers and Raymond Felton desirable pickups. Rivers has served well as the backup point guard under Papa's tutelage and is shooting a career high .389 from three-point land. Rivers has had a few scoring outbursts this season, mainly when Paul was absent from the lineup. He scored 20 or more points four times in December alone.

Rivers is an offensive-minded ball handler; he averages nearly 12 FGA per 36 minutes. Just 3.4 assists per 36 make him more suitable for the SG or G spot in your lineup. He is no replacement for Paul in that respect, but he can help out anyone in need of a short-term scoring boost. His usage rate without Paul on the floor climbs to 21.8, so this may be a good time to add Doc Jr. if you are an unlucky Paul owner.


Mindaugas Kuzminskas (SF, NYK) 2% owned - If you think Mindaugas Kuzminskas is just a poor man's Kristaps Porzingis, you're probably right. Porzingis continues to be held out of the lineup with an Achilles issue, so Kuzminskas has stepped into his role. He played 37 minutes against Atlanta on Monday, scoring 14 points. He had been used sparingly up until now, but that all changes until Porzingis is 100%. An Achilles injury is something that could linger, so it wouldn't hurt suffering Porzingis owners to fill the spot with his Mini-me for the time being.

What does Kuzminskas bring to the table? Games of 19 and 14 points in the last three show a glimpse of what he can do with extended floor time. He is averaging 16.1 points per 36 for the season. He offers decent three-point stats, draining 2.4 per 36 with a .365 3P%. Don't expect gaudy rebounding stats like Porzingis, however, as K-man only pulls down 4.4 boards per 36. He is simply a stopgap at this point, unless he carves out a bigger role for himself with some hot shooting. Or if Melo gets traded...

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.