By Matt Rochinski
December 11, 2012
Much of the success the Bobcats, Clippers and Hawks have had this season can be attributed to the play of their benches. Charlotte and Los Angeles have two of their reserves in the top four in team scoring – Ramon Sessions (14.5 points) and Ben Gordon (14.2) for the Cats and Jamal Crawford (17.9) and Eric Bledsoe (10.1) for the Clips – and Louis Williams (14.0) ranks third on the Hawks. For now, it’s the play of Gordon, Crawford and Williams that are your best fantasy options.
After scoring 17 or more points in four straight games at the end of November and into December and connecting on at least three treys in all four contests, Gordon hit a speed bump in back-to-back games in Milwaukee and against San Antonio. He didn’t reach double figures and could not connect on a 3-pointer in either contest. But you can’t keep Gordon down for long, and he was back at it against the Warriors on Monday, leading Charlotte’s reserves with 14 points, including three treys. He can be fantasy feast or famine for you, but his 2.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds and shooting percentages - .450 field goal percentage, .471 3-point percentage, .850 free-throw percentage – make it worthwhile to have him in your fantasy lineup even in an off game.
The casual NBA fan might be surprised to hear Jamal Crawford is tied for the Clippers team lead in scoring (17.9 points) with Blake Griffin. Crawford has found a home off the bench in the Clippers high-octane offense, where he’s shooting 44.2 percent from the field, 38.7 percent from long range and 93.2percent from the charity stripe. A scorer who hits on such high percentagesacross the board is extremely valuable in fantasy basketball, and the 1.8 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 1.10 steals he adds in 29.4 minutes off the bench are a nice bonus.
Crawford is finding great success coming off the bench for the Hawks. He’s averaged 14.0 points and can fill an fantasy stat sheet the way Gordon and Crawford can while being able to play both guard positions for Atlanta. Getting 3.2 assists, 1.9 rebounds and 1.28 steals in 24.8 minutes is solid production as a reserve, but what’s been most impressive is the way Williams is getting to the charity stripe. He’s taken a team-leading 73 free throws and knocked down 64 for a team-best .877 free-throw percentage.
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