Tyler Ulis, PG Phoenix Suns (26%)
Ulis’ role has been steadily trending up since after the All-Star Break, and it’s no surprise that Phoenix is currently evaluating what it has in order to get a feel for its future. Ulis, a pint-sized point guard who head coach Earl Watson absolutely loves, is getting his opportunity and then some to show what he’s capable of doing. With Brandon Knight an afterthought, Ulis is going to be the recipient of consistent playing time and his minutes should hover in the 20s with room to grow as he continues to find his comfort zone.
Including his 20-point explosion on Sunday—that featured a game-winner vs. the Boston Celtics—the rookie has averaged 12.8 points, 6.8 assists and 1.8 steals over his last four contests. In case it wasn’t clear already, Ulis is worth a roster spot in any league with at least 12 teams.
Garrett Temple, G Sacramento Kings (4%)
Temple has fallen off of the radar after a hamstring injury knocked him out of action prior to the All-Star Break, but he’s back and should play a consistent role regardless of Dave Joerger’s inconsistent rotations. There is a very real argument to be made that Temple is Sacramento’s best active player, and the defensive capabilities he brings to the table is unlike what anyone else currently on the roster can do. It’s really hard to rely on Temple to be an asset because the Kings are such a mess and have a ton of options in the backcourt, but he’s capable of playing minutes at small forward in small-ball lineups, and with 11 points, four dimes, three steals and two triples in his first game back, Temple can be the kind of contributor who could be helpful in deeper, competitive leagues where the waiver wire has been picked clean.
Bobby Portis, F/C Chicago Bulls (25%)
Portis’ playing time should be a priority for a Bulls team going exactly nowhere, but the lack of peripheral stats will really put a lid on his fantasy ceiling if BP can’t get it going. Although he’s played 20-plus minutes in four straight games—including three of four with at least 25 minutes of action—Portis has one empty double-double to show for his efforts and averages of 12.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 3-pointer with nothing else. There is value to be had in guys who contribute in just two categories, but I’d prefer to chase upside targets with better fantasy floors, greater on-court involvement and more consistency promised in their roles. It’s hard to see how this becomes the BP show with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade dominating the ball when both are in the lineup, and it’s even more difficult to see how either would shut it down early given Chicago is chasing a playoff berth.
Norman Powell, G/F Toronto Raptors (5%)
Stormin’ Norman is on the rise again and it’s not all due to DeMarre Carroll’s current ankle injury. Although P.J. Tucker’s arrival previously figured to put a dent in Powell’s appeal, Kyle Lowry’s wrist surgery brought an entirely new variable into the equation that nobody could have projected entering the mix. Powell has previously been capable of multi-cat production when given the opportunity, and that’s exactly what he has again without Lowry available. Over his last three games, Powell has averaged 16.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and a triple, and although those are not “must-grab” numbers by any stretch, he’s worth a speculative look for those fantasy GMs looking to fill an available roster spot.
Bismack Biyombo, C Orlando Magic (45%)
Orlando is playing for Ping-Pong balls, so there is a very good chance that the Magic are overly cautious with Nikola Vucevic’s Achilles injury moving forward. If it lingers, there will be real shutdown potential here, and without Serge Ibaka on the roster any longer it’s all about Bismack Biyombo at center after Vooch. In the last two games in which Vucevic has sat out, BB has come out firing with averages of 12.0 points, 14.5 rebounds and a steal while playing massive minutes in the process. The blocks should come with the extended playing time, and he’s not a bad speculative flier to take if you’re hurting in the big man department.