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NBA Barometer: Players on the Rise

Juan Carlos Blanco

Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for Rotowire.com, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

GUARDS

Marco Belinelli, G, CHA -
Belinelli has played regular minutes in the Hornets' backcourt rotation and is producing, averaging 13.4, 2.6 and 1.5 assists across 26.0 minutes in the last eight games. Just as impressive, he's averaged 1.9 three-pointers on 4.4 attempts per game over that span, a success rate of 42.9 percent. He's hit double digits in the scoring column in four straight and seven of the last eight and is the beneficiary of secure playing time.

Garrett Temple, G, SAC Temple has seen an uptick in floor time the last three games, playing more than 30 minutes in each contest and scoring 16, 20 and 17 points with 10 made three-pointers. He's outplayed fellow two-guards Ben McLemore and Arron Afflalo on offense and also brings a solid defensive profile. With the Kings always looking to diversify their scoring sources beyond Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins, Temple could be the recipient of extended minutes.

Terry Rozier, G, BOS - Rozier got some extended run recently during Isaiah Thomas' recent four-game absence due to a groin injury, and parlayed that opportunity into three double-digit scoring efforts. While his shooting is far from efficient, the 22-year-old will presumably only get better with additional playing time.

Terrence Ross, G, TOR - Ross continues to serve as one of the more efficient sixth men in the league, most recently tallying double-digit scoring efforts in five of the last seven games. He's picked it up over the last three in particular, averaging 16.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals, with 53.1 percent shooting overall and 40.0 percent from three-point range. With a secure role in the Raptors' backcourt, he's a safe pick-up for those seeking a boost in scoring and three-pointers.

Tim Hardaway Jr., G, ATL - Hardaway has now hit double digits in the scoring column in eight of the last nine games, logging starts at both shooting guard and small forward over that span. He's averaged 13.0 points, 2.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals across 28.0 minutes in the last seven games, making 1.7 three-pointers per game. Although Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha are listed as the starters at shooting guard and small forward, respectively, Hardaway's recent play and positional versatility would appear to dictate a secure spot in the rotation.

Buddy Hield, G, NOP - Hield has been relatively impressive in the last five games, averaging 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists over 25.2 minutes while taking advantage of myriad injuries in the Pelicans' backcourt. His long-range game has particularly been effective, as the rookie has averaged 2.6 three-pointers and tallied a 54.2 percent success rate from the beyond the arc over that span. However, Tyreke Evans has finally made his season debut, and his minutes will presumably only increase in coming games. Nevertheless, Hield's offensive pedigree should continue affording him serviceable minutes, and he undeniably offers nice upside in the various offensive categories.

FORWARDS

Jon Leuer, F, DET -
Leuer has been one of the best big men off the bench this season, averaging 10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists, while shooting 50.4 percent from the field. Leuer even brings decent three-point range, and he's averaged 30.1 percent from behind the arc on 2.6 three-point attempts. His strong play is affording him an average of 26.8 minutes, and he's therefore an appealing candidate for those scouring the wire for some scoring and rebounding.

Terrence Jones, F, NOP - Jones has carved out a steady spot in the Pelicans' frontcourt rotation with his strong play lately, as he's averaged 11.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.2 blocks across 25.4 minutes in his last five games. He's been particularly effective on the boards, with double-digit rebounds in two of the last three and multiple blocks in both of those contests. With Anthony Davis' health often in question and the fact that he's deployed at center at times while Jones handles the four the latter's role seems both secure and potentially even due for a slight expansion.

James Johnson, F, MIA - Johnson has largely produced when healthy this season. He's returned from a four-game absence due to a shoulder injury to rattle off three-straight double-digit scoring games, averaging 13.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists, along with 58.6 percent shooting. A lot of Johnson's extended opportunities earlier in the season were as a result of Justise Winslow's extended absence due to a wrist injury, but given the former's impressive play, he's still receiving more than 20 minutes per game while also backing up Josh McRoberts at the four.

Dwight Powell, F, DAL - Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles) continues without a definitive timetable for return, though he seems likely to come back before the end of December. However, in the meantime, Powell continues to provide solid production across the stat sheet. Powell has four double-digit scoring efforts in the last eight, and has between five and seven rebounds in five of those contests. While his minutes are typically in the low 20s, he's a decent secondary source of scoring and boards for those looking to round out the back end of their rosters.

CENTERS

Al Jefferson, C, IND -
Big Al has been a near-ideal complement off the bench to the surging Myles Turner, especially the last three weeks. Jefferson has posted double-digit scoring tallies in seven of his 11 games over that span, despite not playing more than 21 minutes in any of those contests. He's sporting a robust 28.2 percent usage rate with Turner off the floor during that stretch, an encouraging sign for his fantasy prospects.

Kyle O'Quinn, C, NYK - O'Quinn is another big man who's come on lately, as he's scored 10 to 22 points in four of the last seven, while also hauling in double-digit rebounds in three games during that span. O'Quinn has benefited from some Joakim Noah absences and playing time limitations in recent weeks, but his play has begun to open up more minutes for him regardless. He's logged 20 to 28 minutes in three of the last four, and has the potential to retain this type of playing time if he continues producing.

Dewayne Dedmon, C, SAS - Dedmon has played the role of backup to the aging Pau Gasol with very good results, and he could continue seeing a slight bump in minutes as the season goes on. He has double-digit scoring games in three of his last six, including two straight, and has five to nine rebounds in the last six. While coach Gregg Popovich's rotations have often been the subject of hand-wringing for fantasy owners, he's been fairly steady when it's come to Dedmon, who's seeing minutes in the teens at a minimum on the majority of nights.

JaVale McGee, C, GSW - A wrist injury to starter Zaza Pachulia has opened up additional playing time for McGee over the last four games, which he's parlayed into averages of 8.5 points and 2.8 rebounds during that span. That includes a 17-point tally on Dec. 15 versus the Knicks, which represents considerably more offensive production than the Warriors typically get from Pachulia. While his offensive upside is limited due his typical bench role, McGee could conceivably start to see a slight uptick in playing time even after Pachulia's return, given what he's been able to provide in his absence. He primarily remains an option only in very deep leagues, but one to consider for those desperate for some help on the back end of their roster.

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