Just in case there wasn’t enough craziness taking place four weeks into the season, owners witnessed the first trade of the NBA season, as Mario Chalmers was shipped off to the Memphis Grizzlies. It was a four-year deal, which saw Beno Udrih move over to Miami. More on Chalmers later on, though. There’s a Greg Popovich-like theme becoming evident this season, whereas more and more players are being given days off, whether it’s due to age or injury or something else. Nonetheless, owners need gems they can plug in on days when those players (Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Chandler Parsons) aren’t playing. That’s where I come in. Use the list below to help fill all the gaping holes you might have.
It might have been injuries. It might have been a good preseason. Whatever the case may be, Jerryd Bayless has been trusted with more minutes and he’s certainly making the most of his opportunities. His largest role was two seasons ago when he received just over 23 minutes per game playing with the Grizzlies and the Celtics. This season, he’s averaged a whopping 31.2 minutes per game and it’s paying off. Over his last four games, specifically, he’s averaged 17.5 points, 5.3 assists, 1.8 steals, and 2.8 three-point shots per game. Jabari Parker has seen a minute restriction so far, and he has been ruled out for the next three games, which benefits Bayless’ usage rate. The Bucks don’t have much useful depth and with O.J. Mayo/Tyler Ennis falling out of the rotation this year, Head Coach Jason Kidd has entrusted Bayless with those minutes. His upside isn’t tremendous but he will be a consistent contributor this season with averages close to 14 points, four assists and over a three-pointer per game. Any 12-team league or deeper could use that as a valuable asset moving forward.
Looking Deeper: Much like our first pickup, Cory Joseph has been the beneficiary of more playing time this season while in Toronto. For most of his career with the Spurs, he barely cracked the rotation and never saw more than 18.3 minutes per game. This year, however, Joseph is up to 25.1 minutes per and has made the most of it recently. He scored 12 or more points in four of his last six games but it’s the efficiency that has really impressed his coaches and fans alike. Joseph is currently shooting 57-percent from the field to go along with 86-percent from the charity stripe. He won’t keep that up necessarily but he’s proving his worth in leagues that include percentages as categories. He should be owned in leagues of 14-teams or deeper.
*Bonus* – Don’t look now, but the aforementioned Chalmers just dropped 29 points in 23 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s scored at least 11 points in each game he’s played with the Grizzlies and looks to be a staple in the rotation already. This team is in desperate need of offense and it would not come as a surprise if this coaching stuff has influenced Chalmers to be this aggressive from the get-go. There will be some inconsistency but he can certainly provide some scoring, three-point shooting and impressive free-throw percentages.
Noah Vonleh was one of the main pieces in a trade this summer that sent Nic Batum to Charlotte and it is for good reason. In 2014, Vonlah was selected with the ninth overall pick because he is loaded with potential. At 6’10”, 240 pounds, Vonleh has the size and athleticism to compete with other power forwards at this level. During his college career he proved he could score, rebound, and even shoot from downtown as a big man. He averaged just over 11 points and nine rebounds per game. He only attempted 33 three-point shots during his freshman year but he connected on nearly 49-percent of them. If the minutes were to rise and the coaching staff instilled a little confidence in this young man, he might be able to do big things. Meyers Leonard recently separated his shoulder and could miss over a month. Now is the time for Vonleh to step up and claim his minutes. He’s more of a stash pickup at the moment, but the potential/opportunity is definitely there.
Looking Deeper: Jerami Grant was another nice prospect coming out of college and is making his name as a “jack of all trades” one might say. He’s scored in double figures in five of his last six games, but where he really helps as a small forward is in the rebound and block categories. Grant ranks first among all small forwards this season with 1.55 blocks per game. He’s chipped in 5.1 rebounds per game as well. He won’t ever be a “sexy” player in Fantasy but he does the dirty work that other players don’t want to.
Before the season, one of the most intriguing sleepers was “The Bosnian Beast,” Jusuf Nurkic of the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately, before the season kicked off, Nurkic went down with a knee injury, but he is expected to return some time in December. So, why pick him up now? It will be worth it. As made evident in this video, Nurkic is a legitimate two-way player and he has no trouble trash-talking, even if it’s with “Boogie” Cousins. He had a few big games as a rookie last season but with more minutes expected this year, consistency will be easier to come by. A look at his numbers, from a year ago on a per 36 minute average, reveals that Nurkic could approach totals of 14 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks per game. With just 30 minutes per game, Nurkic could be a double-double machine; it’s just a matter of stashing him until he returns from injury. If you have the space on your bench or an Injury Reserve slot, he should be owned in leagues with 12-teams or more.
Looking Deeper: Center is a tough position at which to find valuable pickups, but Kris Humphries’ enhanced repertoire merits ownership in deeper leagues. Humphries has never attempted more than seven three-point shots in a season, but in just eight games this year, he’s put up 28 shots from downtown, connecting on 46-percent of them! He’s coming off a game in which he nailed five 3-pointers and grabbed five boards. If his minutes become more consistent, he’s a legitimate 3-point contributor at one of your big-man positions. It’s just a matter of Humphries playing defense and giving the coaches reason to believe in him. He’s worth owning in leagues with 14-teams or more, just in case that happens.