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NBA Bench Risers: Waiver Wire Sleepers for Fantasy Basketball (Week 15)

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 15 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.


Yogi Ferrell (PG, DAL) - 7% owned

The list of famous athletes named Yogi has now expanded to two. Injuries are once again the story in Dallas (think basketball, not Cowboys). With Deron Williams and J.J. Barea unable to stay healthy for seemingly more than a week at a time, the Mavs turned to Yogi Ferrell last week with surprisingly positive results. After a 10-day stint with Brooklyn yielded poor results, Ferrell is faring much better. In just two games as a Maverick, he's logging a huge amount of court time, playing 35 and 37 minutes. He managed nine points and seven assists against the Spurs, continuing his poor shooting ways from earlier in the season. Against the defending (but struggling) champion Cavaliers, he made seven field goals and shot 3-for-6 on threes, finishing with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals.

In an extremely small sample size of 12 games, his per-36 numbers show 13.2 points, 4.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals. As desperate as Dallas is for warm bodies, those could very well be his regular stats for the next couple of weeks. Ferrell was a four-year player at Indiana, which may make him a more reliable pickup than other rookies battling for playing time on their respective clubs. Ferrell will fight hard to extend his 10-day contract in to a longer commitment, so now is the best time to add him.


Jamal Murray (SG, DEN) - 22% owned

The Denver backcourt has been a guessing game all year, but rookie Jamal Murray could be earning more playing time as he gains his coach's confidence. Emmanuel Mudiay's absence has led to increasing minutes for Murray and he responded with 18 and 14 points in the last two games of January. While he's averaged under 20 minutes per game this year, his playing time has increased in those last two games, up to 23 and 27 minutes. More opportunities could be a pathway to more production, if he can get his shot to fall with more frequency.

To be honest, Murray's numbers aren't great, even on a per 36 basis. He's shooting 38.5% from the field and 32.2% from behind the arc. As a jump-shooter, that's just not going to cut it. He averages 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per 36, which aren't reason enough to add him if the scoring isn't there. He fires up almost seven treys per 36 and could become a regular double-digit scorer if he can at least approach his college mark of 40.8% from three-point range. He stands at a 20.4% usage rate right now, but that number should also move up as the year goes on. Target Murray as a streaming option if you need a scoring boost and hope that his confidence continues to grow.


T.J. McConnell (PG, PHI) - 50% owned

You may have heard McConnell's name surface in trade rumors lately, but it appears he isn't headed anywhere for the time being. The thought of him backing up Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and dishing the ball to King James might entice you to run to your league's waiver list and add him immediately, but the Sixers aren't keen on giving him away. Still, McConnell has provided solid value as Sergio Rodriguez's backup, handing out 9.3 assists per 36 minutes, along with 2.1 steals. He isn't much of a scorer, evidenced by his 5.7 PPG average (8.6 per 36), so don't expect a huge offensive boost.

McConnell also won't help your peripheral shooting stats, as he holds a .452 FG% and is a lowly .250 from three-point land on just 0.9 attempts per 36. The draw here is counting stats at the PG position. If McConnell does get dealt either to the Cavs or another contender, his value could shoot much higher. He is already owned in half of Yahoo leagues, so this might be the best chance to make him a bench stash if you are looking for another point guard.

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.