Hey guys, welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! This week’s topic is all about players that we want to see get more playing time, so I asked the Rotoworld hoops crew to pick three players each. I’ll get us started…
Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)
Bobby Portis- How many times is Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg going to say that Portis is going to play meaningful minutes this season? I'm sorry, but there's absolutely no excuse as to why he has logged just 27 minutes this season after dominating the summer league and preseason. Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol have one year left on their contracts and Taj Gibson has been mentioned in countless trade rumors, so I'm still confident that the Bulls will move at least one big before the deadline. Portis' upside is scary, and he's still one of my favorite players to own in dynasty leagues at the moment. Your time will come, Portis.
John Henson- Greg Monroe has a Grade 1 knee sprain and will likely miss a few games, but it's shocking that Henson averaged just 15.2 minutes per game before Monroe went down. Remember, this is the same guy that signed a four-year, $44 million deal in the offseason. That's a lot of money to spend on a towel boy. Then again, Jason Kidd is the coach so I really shouldn't be surprised. Henson could lead the NBA in blocks if he played consistent minutes, but at least we will get a good look at him with Monroe on the shelf.
Aaron Gordon- Despite being just 20 years old, Aaron Gordon has been tasked with guarding players such as Kevin Durant and LeBron James this season and has looked really good in the process. Unfortunately for Gordon, coach Scott Skiles believes Channing Frye and Jason Smith are entering their prime and refuses to play the second-year player more than 20 minutes per game. I'm still holding onto Gordon everywhere, and I still consider him to be the best stash out there.
Honorable mention: Terrence Jones has caused me enough headaches, but I'll be ready to move on soon unless he starts wearing goggles and body armor or gets traded out of that nightmare in Houston.
Steve Alexander (@Docktora)
Victor Oladipo - I hate his bench role and I hate the fact Scott Skiles is messing with him. He's a stud and could be an incredible fantasy player if his coach will set him free. And I'm not convinced he ever will this season. On a side note, please start Andrew Nicholson over Channing Frye. Seriously, Skiles, it's not too much to ask.
John Henson - I agree with Jonas. Henson blocks a ton of shots in very limited minutes and has shown he can play. The Bucks have Greg Monroe, so center minutes aren't just sitting there for him, but there's no reason he can't split time with Jabari Parker at power forward for the Bucks.
Matt Barnes - Wishes do come true, as Barnes was recently named the starter and is ballin' right now. As long as he's starting for the Grizzlies, he should rack up stats all the way across the board and be a very solid fantasy option going forward. Let's just hope he stays healthy and sticks in the starting unit.
Honorable Mention 2: Michael Carter-Williams - Just start him and get it over with, dang it.
Michael Gallagher (@MiKeSGallagher)
Bobby Portis - FREE BOBBY PORTIS! NOW! Portis was one of the most impressive players at Summer League, he was terrific in preseason and has a 30.1 usage rate. Per 36, he's averaging 28.3 points, 5.4 boards, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks and 2.7 turnovers. He'll need some trades or an injury, but the upside is so very nice.
Aaron Gordon - He played almost all power forward to start the year and now he's playing all small forward. Gordon is another per-36 minute stud with 1.9 blocks, 1.1 steals and 0.9 treys. He just needs 25 minutes to have great value.
Devin Booker - Another guy that really needs more run. The Suns are now playing Sonny Weems and guys like Ronnie Price are getting in his way, too. The Suns are 11-16 and probably will start giving their rookie more run soon.
Jared Johnson (@JaredJ831)
I'm gonna go ahead and hop on this #FreeBobbyPortis bandwagon. The guy's motor is ridiculous and I'd love to see what he could do getting 20-25 minutes a game.
Terrence Jones - At this point I'm not really expecting more minutes for Jones in Houston, I'm just praying for a trade. Jones' name has popped up in the rumor mill, linking him to a potential deal that would send him to New Orleans in exchange for Ryan Anderson, and I would love to see Jones playing starters minutes in Alvin Gentry's system. All I want for Christmas is for Jones to play for a team not coached by J.B. Bickerstaff.
Julius Randle - Call me crazy, but you'd think a guy who was selected No. 7 overall in the 2014 draft would be earning more than 27.6 minutes per game on a rebuilding team with a record of 4-21 (worst in the Western Conference). Perhaps even be starting? Per 36, Randle is averaging 15.3 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.2. Note to Byron Scott, Randle is better (and more important to the franchise) than Larry Nance Jr.
Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)
Zach LaVine - His playing time is pretty consistent, but he needs to be getting more of it. LaVine has yet to top 30 minutes one time in December, and given Minnesota's situation, there's no reason he shouldn't be playing 35 minutes most nights.
T.J. Warren - Wednesday was the latest example of what he can do when he gets extended run: 19 points, eight boards, three assists, a steal and two blocks in 36 minutes.
T.J. McConnell - I wish the Sixers would make up their mind on a PG.
Ethan Norof (@Ethan_Norof)
Nikola Jokic, C Denver Nuggets
In seven games as Denver's starting center, 20-year-old Nikola Jokic is averaging 8.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.6 steals 0.6 blocks on 52.2% shooting in just 19.5 minutes per game. Jokic should be playing ahead of Joffrey Lauvergne, especially after Mike Malone said Jokic previously 'earned' the starting center job. It's not going to get any easier with Jusuf Nurkic (knee) on his way back, but Jokic has produced when given the opportunity and his versatile game is certainly fantasy-friendly.
Zach LaVine, G Minnesota Timberwolves
After an inability to make a decision as to where Zach LaVine should be playing, the Timberwolves appear ready to move him to shooting guard in order to get him on the floor. That's a good idea since Kevin Martin isn't going to be around for much longer and the team needs to see if LaVine can be the shooting guard of the future, and it should result in his playing time trending up as a result.
I've never been that high on LaVine, and I like him a lot more if (when) Ricky Rubio is out of the lineup, but for what it's worth, he's clocking in with 20.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.2 3-pointers in six games as a starter.
Ish Smith, PG New Orleans Pelicans
Ish Smith was dropping dimes and taking names before Tyreke Evans got into the lineup and Jrue Holiday starting playing more minutes, and it's laughable to think about how this was a guy the Philadelphia 76ers—a team that has been searching for a point guard since before its drafting and dealing of Michael Carter-Williams—said wasn't good enough to stick around.
It's going to take a trade for Smith to come into any kind of sustainable fantasy value with the Pelicans now healthy, but it's a conceivable concept considering Holiday, Evans and Norris Cole are all playing ahead of him for a team that needs to make sure its future is in order.