It’s always a head-scratcher when a season-long bench player gets a starting job and exceeds all expectations. Remember Jeremy Lin? Why was that guy on the bench this whole time while some bum was playing serious minutes? Well, it’s a long season and eventually those things work themselves out. Luckily this week, we take a look at some new starters (and some old) that are going to keep their minutes (and hopefully do better than Lin is doing this year).
Marco Belinelli (Owned in 12% of Yahoo Leagues): Belinelli has gotten the starts for the Bulls with Richard Hamilton out and looks so good there is no way he goes back to a 15 minute per game player when Hamilton returns 1-3 weeks from now. Though he hasn’t had as much non-scoring success, in his last three games he is averaging 20 PPG and 41 minutes per game.
Bradley Beal (50%): The rookie is looking better in the Wizards backcourt with Jordan Crawford (another good pickup) getting more time. In his last four starts he is averaging 15 PPG, 3 APG, 4 RPG, and the occasional steal and block. He played a season-high 40 minutes Saturday against the Warriors which means the coaches have more confidence in him these days.
Gerald Henderson (39%): He hasn’t gotten to start since returning from the foot injury that kept him out through almost all of November but that hasn’t stopped him from putting up 17 PPG and a few rebounds in his last three games. He is playing 25 minutes per game which should increase as the coaching staff feels more confident his foot wont flare up.
Andray Blatche (38%): He has gotten a chance to start only because of Brook Lopez‘s injury but his production should keep him in the 25 MPG range even when he returns to the bench. In his last six games he is averaging 17 PPG, 10 RPG, and 2 steals per game. Don’t forget he averaged 17 PPG and 8 RPG for the Wizards just two seasons ago.
Rodney Stuckey (36%): He hasn’t found his way into the lineup but his minutes, assists, and some other stats littered in he is looking like a pretty solid producer. He has put up 17 PPG over his last three games and 7 APG over his last five games. His minutes have increased slightly as well.
Shannon Brown (18%): Brown has actually been starting since before Thanksgiving but seems to have finally found his groove (and minutes). He is averaging 15 PPG, 2 steals per game, and a few rebounds and assists here and there over his last six games and is playing 35+ minutes per game regularly.
Jason Maxiell (13%): Maxiell plays great defense which is making those starter minutes count for something. Don’t expect much scoring aside from a few low-double digit games but he is pulling down 8 RPG and blocking almost three shots per game which makes him a nice complementary player in deeper leagues.
Mickael Pietrus (8%): He didn’t play until November 30 and has already missed one game due to a flare up in his knee. The worry, of course, is another Brandon Roy situation. He’s had two surgeries on his right knee and now his left knee is going too. On the other hand, when he plays he starts and looked solid playing 30+ minutes and putting up a combined 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks over his last two starts. He’s considered day-to-day but is a nice all-around complementary option in deeper leagues.
Chris Duhon (5%): They say Steve Nash could be back as soon as the Lakers next road trip but I’ve heard the Steve Nash is returning bandwagon cry wolf too many times this season. That means Duhon is getting serious minutes in the Lakers backcourt and is so far averaging 13 PPG in his last two starts and 8 APG in his last four starts with some decent rebounding. It’s a short-term rental but no reason you can’t ride him out for a couple weeks.
John Salmons (4%): This is definitely a deeper league play for the moment but I’m coming around on this guy. Two double-digit performances in his last three games and a combined 18 assists over those two starts to go with it. I’m not saying pick him up right now, I’m just saying keep him on your radar.