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NBA Roundtable

Surprising Rotation Players

by Jonas Nader
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! Recently we've seen a lot of unfamiliar names make a big impact in their rotations such as David Nwaba, Torrey Craig, Isaiah Canaan, Reggie Bullock and Jordan Bell (the list goes on and on). With that said, is what they are doing sustainable and who do you like the most going forward?



Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)


Torrey Craig- For me, Craig has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2017-18 season. The 27-year-old wing is not your typical rookie after spending so much time overseas and in the G-League, but he’s been making a strong impression on the Nuggets since Summer League. Coach Mike Malone can’t seem to stop gushing about him and he’s now made three straight starts, averaging 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.7 steals and 2.0 triples in 28.3 minutes. I love players than can contribute across the board (especially in 3s and blocks) and Craig has certainly shown the potential to do that. I think he sticks in the starting lineup going forward and I’m adding him in 12-team leagues to see if he can keep it going. 


Jordan Bell- He was a beast at the Summer League and during the preseason, but I wasn’t expecting him to get this much run this early. Injuries to the frontcourt have certainly helped his case, but Bell’s strong play has made it hard for coach Steve Kerr to take him off the court. The Warriors outscore their opponents by 17.2 points per 100 possessions with Bell on the court, and he’s shown an elite fantasy skill set with per-36 minute averages of 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 3.1 blocks. He’s worth keeping at the end of your roster in 12-team leagues even in a limited role, but I don’t think it’s out of the question that the Warriors could eventually start him next to Draymond Green


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Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)


Of the names listed, I'd say that David Nwaba, Jordan Bell and Reggie Bullock have the best chance of sustaining respectable production. 


Over the Bulls last eight games, Nwaba is averaging 10.0 points (on 65.2 percent shooting), 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals in 27.6 minutes. Coach Fred Hoiberg has often spoken about his affinity for Nwaba and the aggression and energy he brings to the floor. Nwaba will likely see his minutes reduced eventually once Zach LaVine (knee) returns, but he’s still worth rostering in deep leagues until then.


Like many of the guys discussed here, Jordan Bell’s value relies primarily on injuries to players in front of him. When given a chance to log extended minutes, Bell has posted solid all-around numbers. In the five games he’s started this season, Bell is averaging 6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.5 blocks in 24.5 minutes, while shooting 65.2 percent from the floor and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line. 


Reggie Bullock may not have as high an upside as a player such as Jordan Bell, but Bullock has a good chance to retain his spot in the rotation. Stanley Johnson wasn’t providing enough offense at the small forward spot, so coach Stan Van Gundy replaced him with Bullock, who scored in double-figures in three straight games last week. 



Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)


How about Mike Scott?! Over his last six games he has posted 17.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.8 spg and 2.0 3s on 70.3 percent from the field. This seems borderline unfathomable if you spent any time watching the Hawks last year -- the Regional Manager shot 28.8 percent from the field in 2016-17. And considering the inflated FG percentage lately, this sure does feel like an isolated hot streak that we will have forgotten about a few weeks from now. But there's little harm in adding Scott right now to see how long it lasts. 


Another surprise name that jumps out at me is Trey Lyles, who is on a -- dare I say -- Mike Scott-esque tear of late. Lyles' last six games: 17.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.8 spg and 3.0 3s on 62.7 percent from the floor. Ultimately I can't get too thrilled about a PF who mostly only helps in points and 3s (and FG percentage at the moment), but Lyles' minutes have been pretty steady (26 per game in December), and this certainly could be more than just a short-term binge. 



Jonas Nader 


Wow, I'm a little disappointed Mike Scott didn't cross my mind. Yeah I definitely agree with you Matt, Scott has been lights out and has been outplaying a banged up Markieff Morris. I'm also a little skeptical that he will keep it going, but might as well add him while we find out!


Also, I agree with Beer on Bullock. He has nine triples over his last four games, and while he's not a sexy fantasy asset, it looks like Stanley Johnson is going to be in and out of the doghouse and now Avery Bradley is dealing with a "pubic stress injury." We've seen it all this season…



Matt Stroup


Yeah, "pubic stress injury" seems like an unnecessary distinction. They could've easily just said sports hernia and called it a day. 



Mike Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher)


I'm firmly on the Torrey Craig train. The last three games he's been the primary defender for Jrue Holiday on the last possession of regulation on Friday, he guarded Russell Westbrook on Monday and he guarded Jimmy Butler on Wednesday -- Butler torched him in the fourth, but Jimmy G. Buckets is his name. Coach Mike Malone was eavesdropping on Craig's shootaround interview and as Jonas said he's been gushing over him since before the preseason. Craig's usage rate is just 12.4 this season, but he was a stat stuffer in the G League, too. I could see him being a newer, cheaper version of Hawks DeMarre Carroll until Paul Millsap returns.


Where's the Maxi Kleber love? He's been really solid in our favorite category, posting 1.5 blocks per game over his last eight with 9.3 points, 4.6 boards, 1.0 assists, 0.4 steals and 1.0 treys on 55.6 percent from the field. It feels like he's locked in as a starter and the block totals automatically put him on your watch list in deep leagues. Plus, the Kleber, Yogi Ferrell, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki has a +17.6 net rating this season, and the Mavs fared well in a win last night. Keep an eye on Kyle Collinsworth because coach Rick Carlisle likes him. “He's going to help us. He's a guy that belongs in an NBA game," Carlisle said. "He can make plays."


My choice, my Nwaba. He's a lot like Craig and Kleber because David Nwaba won't be lighting it up in scoring. He won't be starting because he likes his bench role, but his style of play fits how the Bulls want to play. Are they ever going to lose again?


Isaiah Canaan is back! The Suns are expected to keep him all season and it sounds like he's got some heavy leash as the backup PG. Plus, coach Jay Triano has hinted he's trying to save his timeouts later in games so he can use his second unit more, and he had a telling quote about his second unit earlier this week. “Our bench guys are probably better scorers in their careers right now,” Triano said. Given how the Suns are in dire straits on offense, he's got some leash to perform. CANAAN BALL!


I also think Davon Reed could get on the radar because he's expected to debut early next month. He gives a lot of what the Suns need and we know the Suns are not bashful about shutting guys down.

Plus, coach Luke Walton mentioned Thomas Bryant as a guy to fill in while Brook Lopez is out and maybe the Kings rotation gets even messier wen Harry Giles gets cleared for contact, which could be as soon as next month.



Jonas Nader


Yeah Mike I like the Canaan argument. He had some really nice moments back with Philly and it’s not a stretch to say he could be the top PG to own in Phoenix when his competition is Tyler Ulis and Mike James


Davon Reed is an interesting name to keep in mind if only because the Suns are so thin on the wings, and like you said, I’m looking forward to see if the Lakers give Bryant a look. In 12 G-League games, Bryant is averaging 22.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.8 blocks and 2.8 triples, so he’s basically DeMarcus Cousins down there!