As we continue to look for trends this early in the season, start looking at shot distribution among teams. On the team in which the shots are split more evenly, reserve players have a better chance at picking up a bigger piece of the offensive pie than on the Warriors that have Stephen Curry. Continue looking at players that play 25-30 minutes per game even if their stats don’t jump off the page. They’re on the court for a good amount of the game meaning their production ceiling will naturally be higher.
Jae Crowder, F PHX-35% Invested In: While not an exciting pickup, Crowder is solidly in the Suns rotation and he’ll normally take seven to 10 shots per game. His impact from the reality standpoint keeps him in the game longer. He’s a solid perimeter defender and he can guard the inside too. Deandre Ayton being out leaves a huge void to fill and Crowder is their best chance at guarding the paint as sad as that is. Crowder is actually coming off of two multi-block games and he has swatted away shots in five of his last six matchups. Crowder is often utilized as a bailout shooting option from beyond the arc. When Chris Paul or Devin Booker draws double-teams from the opposition, Crowder is often left open with a high-percentage shot. Teams will prioritize taking out the Suns guards because they provide most of the offense for the team. Crowder has scored in double figures in three of his last five and produced steals in four of those games during that span.
Terance Mann SF LAC-35% Invested In: Mann gets the minutes and he’s been taking eight to nine shots per contest and he’s been averaging double figures in scoring. We don’t know when or even if we’ll see Kawhi Leonard on the court this year and other forwards on the team will continue to have more opportunities to grab minutes. He grabs over five boards per game. He’s hit multiple three-pointers in back-to-back games and he’s even dished three or more dimes in his last two contests. His defense alone will keep him playing around 30 minutes per game, as other players on the team will help provide more offense. Mann is often left open from downtown but he’ll drive the lane if he sees an opening upon receiving the ball. The Clippers don’t have a big low-post presence and it’ll be up to their back and midcourt to get the job done from an offensive standpoint.
Talen Horton-Tucker SG, SF LAL-27% Invested In: I know! It has been one game but, if memory serves me correctly don’t the Lakers cherish Horton-Tucker? They wouldn’t offer him up in trades last season and LeBron James and Trevor Ariza are still hurt, but even when James returns, Horton-Tucker should absolutely still see playing time, even if he doesn’t hit 27-30 minutes per game. He played 27 in his first game back and shot 50 percent from the floor. He’s a career 46 percent shooter and he’s grabbed 1 steal per game as well. The Lakers will find ways to get him SG run even when James is back in the mix. He can drive with force and he’s very agile on both sides of the ball. The Lakers need to start thinking about their future and they need to let some of their young players play and Horton-Tucker is coveted by this team and should be groomed and given a true rotation commitment. He grabbed a steal and blocked a shot in his first game back on the court.
Precious Achiuwa F, C TOR-27% Invested In: He’s currently dealing with two minor issues with the first being a bum Shoulder. He’s a little banged up and is considered day-to-day. The second issue is the return of Pascal Siakam, but that shouldn’t keep Achiuwa out of the rotation. The Raptors traded for him when they sent Kyle Lowry packing and he can play multiple positions. The Raptors refuse to commit to Chris Boucher. Achiuwa has played over 25 minutes in 4 of his last 5 contests. He’s blocked seven shots collectively in his last three games. Achiuwa has also grabbed 8.7 rebounds per game and he’s grabbed swipes in his last 3 outings. Keep an eye on his shoulder, but he’s proven when active, he can do a little bit of everything and he will be a key reserve from the Raptors bench. He’s proven himself defensively and has the speed to keep up with some of the better forwards in the league.
JaVale McGee C PHX-18% Invested In: The Suns frontcourt is a big time focus point because they don’t have too much depth and McGee is one of the few players averaging fewer than 20 minutes per game that I would include in this article. Ayton plays a huge role, but as he continues to miss action, McGee has proven to be a good short-term solution. He’s scored 14 or more points in 2 of his last 3 games and he has grabbed 7 rebounds per outing. He has proven that he doesn’t need a lot of minutes to put up production and productive centers are very hard to find on waivers. McGee is blocking nearly a shot per contest and he’s grabbed steals in three of his last four battles. The Suns have Minnesota and then two games versus Dallas coming up and McGee should be able to produce against both frontcourts, at least on the offensive side of the ball.
Frank Kaminsky C PHX-40% Invested In: Want shooting and floor-stretching? Kaminsky has played 22 or more minutes in each of his last 5 matchups and he has scored 11.5 points per game. With Ayton out, he’s certainly seen more love in the Suns rotation and his rebounding lately could give him staying power. He’s pulled down six or more boards in four of his last five games. Kaminsky has even blocked shots in his last five games. He’s known more for his offense but his defensive stats have made him even more appealing. Kaminsky could theoretically see some time at PF if Crowder isn’t hitting his shots or if they want more size up front. Kaminsky has shot 45 percent or better from the floor in each of his last 3 seasons. Kaminsky and McGee will battle each other for reserve minutes once Ayton returns.
Furkan Korkmaz SG, SF PHI 23% Invested In: The Sixers are still battling COVID issues and Korkmaz should continue to see more shots for at least the next couple of games and we’ll see if his shooting improves enough to be able to keep his piece of the offensive shot chart in Philadelphia. Korkmaz has scored 11.8 points per game and he’s grabbed 3 or more rebounds in each of his last five games. Always look for guards who rebound and guards who grab at least three boards per game shows a true commitment to rebounding. Korkmaz has improved his rebounding in recent games. He’s produced five dimes in two of his last three games. Korkmaz will get some time to run the point, but he’ll play more off the ball. He hits at least two three-pointers and he’s been playing over 25 minutes per outing.
Royce O’Neale SG, F UTA-40% Invested In: O’Neale starts for the Jazz and provides a ton of defense at the elbow for them. He plays over 31 minutes per game and he’s scored in double figures in three of his last five games. He has also grabbed five or more rebounds in five of his last seven contests. O’Neale can do a little bit of everything including bringing up the ball. The Jazz can rotate him to four positions and that will keep him on the floor deep into games. O’Neale will fight for steals and has grabbed 12 total in his last 5 contests. O’Neale is a good end of bench fantasy stash. He doesn’t take too many shots but he does just enough everywhere else to be picked up. His minutes give him a good floor and even though the ceiling for him isn’t that high when it comes to his production, he’ll still be out there for most of the game.
Eric Gordon SG, SF HOU-14% Invested In: Gordon has scored over 13 points per game and he’s still very involved in the Rockets rotation. He plays 27-plus minutes per game and he’s taken 9 or more field goals in his last 3 matchups. He hangs at the arc a lot on offense and should be added if you need the scoring badly. They have Gordon out there to set screens and then rotate around the arc to hit shots. If the opposition steps back on him, he’ll try to drive and draw contact or just get the interior defense to shift while another Rockets player cuts to the rim. The Rockets are one of the fastest teams in the league and because their pace is so high, they get a lot of offensive possessions and that completely benefits a player like Gordon. For what it’s worth, he’s recorded blocks and steals in both of his last two games. View those stats as an added bonus.
Nassir Little SF POR-17% Invested In: Let’s not get too excited but after having back-to-back 13-point outings let’s give Little a look. He’s taken double-digit shots in his last two games and Damian Lillard is a little banged up. Little is known more for his defense than his offense and it’s clear that with Lillard hurting, it’s resulted in him getting more plays thrown his way. He’s played 22-plus minutes in 3 straight games and grabbed at least 7 rebounds in all 3. Little has also grabbed steals and blocked shots in his last five games. He posted multiple steals in three of those games and multiple blocks in two of them during that span. He’s definitely picking up steam and could start fighting Norman Powell for more minutes. The Blazers PF situation is a little messy and that will help Little stay in the Blazers rotation even when Lillard is healthy again. Defense is noticed and often rewarded by coaches and if Little keeps making the defensive impact he’s made recently, he’ll see his minutes rise.