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NBA Bench Risers: Waiver Wire Sleepers for Fantasy Basketball (Week 20)

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 20 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.

Kostas Koufos (C, SAC) 14% owned - It's been a long, winding road for the big man out of Ohio State. He's never really stuck in one place for very long or carved out a big role, but he is enjoying life in post-Boogie Sacramento so far. After posting one double-double in the first four months of the season, he's done so in three of the last four games. Aside from a huge letdown and horrible all-around game against Brooklyn where he shot 0-for-7, Koufos has become a sneaky grab in two-center leagues.

In six games since the All-Star break, Koufos is averaging 12.9 points and 11.6 rebounds on a per-36 minute basis. In March alone, his usage rate has gone up to an acceptable 19.2%. His shooting percentage is actually down from .582 pre-break to .472 post-break, so his scoring average could be better. Maybe he's just not used to taking so many shots. Koufos won't have too many scoring outbursts, but should be a steady contributor with chances for a double-double semi-regularly.


Tyler Ulis (PG, PHO) 27% owned - The Suns are going to let their youngsters play out the rest of the season and this rookie is taking advantage already. As a second-round pick backing up Eric Bledsoe, Ulis barely averaged 10 MPG through most of the season. As a result, his paltry season stats (4.2 PTS, 2.0 AST, 0.8 REB) make him look untouchable in rotisserie. Playing time has been the main issue, however, as his per-36 numbers show plenty of promise (13.8 PTS, 6.5 AST, 2.2 STL).

Ulis will have to improve his shooting stroke to become more than just a streamer for good matchups. He is currently at .428 from the field, although he's shooting .348 from three-point range. Don't expect much three-point production though - he's attempting less than two per 36. With Bledsoe likely to receive fewer minutes, Ulis will work his way into heavier usage over the next couple of weeks. He should offer fantasy owners help in steals and assists, along with a scoring average hovering around double digits.


Richaun Holmes (PF/C, PHI) 31% owned - In the latest instance of "unknown 76ers bench player suddenly becomes fantasy relevant," Richaun Holmes has now scored in double-digits four of the past five games. He didn't even suit up for 25 games this season, including a month-long stretch where he was simply a non-injury DNP. Now that Nerlens Noel is gone, Holmes is stepping up and could be worth a look in deeper leagues.

He first turned heads with 12 points, 10 boards, and five blocks in a win against Washington two weeks ago. Since the trade deadline, he is averaging 17.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes played. His playing time has mostly hovered around the 25-minute mark in that time, so expectations shouldn't be raised too high. Holmes isn't a great shooter (.544 FG%, .661 FT%) and won't add too many peripheral stats, but if you need a boost in the basic big man stats, try him out as an Embiid substitute if you're still stinging from losing "The Process."



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.