We did a 5 most useless NBA players post about a month ago, and it’s time to check out the other end – bench players who are making the most of their 15-20+ minutes a night, and maybe should start getting a place in the starting five or at least more minutes of basketball each night.
Carl Landry, Houston Rockets
In his third year in the NBA since coming out of Purdue into the professional ranks, Landry is still not a starter, but a fine, maybe the best (that’s what the stats say) sixth man in the league. The 6’9 power forward plays 26.2 minutes a night, scoring 16.6 points and bringing down 5.8 rebounds. As a starter, he’d probably be a constant double-double threat. This season shows a major improvement personally for Landry, in his role with the team and his individual numbers. Despite his awful collision with Nowitzki that knocked out some of his teeth, it looks like he’s doing fine, scoring 27 and 20 in the two games since.
Marreese Speights, Phildelphia 76ers
The big guy out of Florida has really stepped it up this season so far in 14 games. After scoring 7.7 points in 16 minutes per game during his rookie season, Speights has almost doubled his scoring, with 14.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in 23.8 minutes, performing rather well in contrast to his team’s abysmal play this season.
Dejuan Blair, San Antonio Spurs
Somehow this guy slipped to the second round of the 2009 draft, getting picked 37th by the San Anotnio Spurs. Yes, there were the injury issues, but sometimes it’s a risk worth taking. He isn’t playing that much, only 14.9 minutes a night in his rookie season, but Blair is making the most of them, scoring 6.3 points and grabbing 5.3 boards, providing a good option off the bench and showing signs for someone to build on for the future, due to the Spurs aging front line (Duncan and McDyess). If Blair will stay healthy, which so far he has been able to do.
Anthony Randolph, Golden State Warriors
The super athletic Randolph isn’t exactly a perfect player yet, but he has nights that make Warriors fans drool and dream of what could become of this young man. He’s playing 23.2 minutes a night, usually coming off the bench (2 starts this season), scoring 11.4 points and grabbing 6.5 rebounds per game. He’s also quite a defensive stud, averaging 1.5 blocks per game, including 8 blocks against the Hornets last night. He’s an inconsistent shooter (42.2% from the field) and tends to rack up fouls pretty quickly (3.1 fouls per game), but his potential seems to be huge, so it’ll be interesting to see how good can he get a few years down the road and with a lot more minutes of playing time each night.