Huge NBA Talents Wasting Away on the Bench
Some of the best NBA stories come from players who ride the bench for a season, or even their whole career, only to eventually work their way into the starting lineup and become a break-out star.
With only so many minutes to be played, setting a solid rotation can lead to some tough decisions by head coaches, and often leaves several talented players left on the outside looking in. Whether it's because they're young and inexperienced or because they've just never really had a chance to prove themselves, some players never see the light of day.
Therefore, I have compiled a list of current NBA players who may not be getting all the playing time they deserve and that are capable of becoming significant contributors to their team, even if their coaches don't know it yet. With that being said, let's take a look at five players with great potential who are wasting away on the benches.
5. Xavier Henry, SG, New Orleans Hornets
Even with would-be starting shooting guard Eric Gordon sidelined with a knee injury, Xavier Henry has still not been able to crack the rotation and get consistent minutes on a team that isn't exactly star-studded.
Now in his third NBA season, Henry hasn't lived up to his lottery selection status, but there have been some brief flashes in the pan, like a strong 19-point showing against Dallas last season. In college, Henry showed great potential to be a quality scorer, and he still can be since he is just 21 years young.
Henry has pretty good size for his position as a guard/forward (6'6"), and his touch from long range makes him a good option as a spot-up shooter. Developing the rest of his offensive game to be more of a slashing threat is definitely a big key to him seeing more minutes, rather than that 11.9 he's averaging so far this season.
There's not a lot of substantial evidence to back up claims that Henry can become a useful player, but given his young age and lack of chances, there's still a possibility that he can blossom into a pretty good guard if given some consistent minutes.
4. Cartier Martin, SG/SF, Washington Wizards
It's been a rough year thus far for the John Wall-less Wizards, who are currently 0-12 as of this writing. It doesn't look to be getting better anytime soon.
One of the possible silver linings in their lack of performance, however, is the chance for swing-man Cartier Martin to emerge from his dwelling place on the bench.
Martin is a fifth-year player who has bounced around from Charlotte to Golden State and now is in his third full season in Washington. He hasn't gotten much burn, appearing for an average of 9.8 minutes in his six games this year, but Martin's ability to produce points in short minutes could be a valuable spark for a struggling team like the Wizards.
During a game against Dallas earlier in the season, Martin scored 14 points (5-6 shooting, 4-4 from long range) in just 10 minutes of action. This performance got him 15 minutes for his next game, but that was followed by three consecutive games where he didn't see any action at all.
Martin can become a dynamic scoring threat for the Wizards if given the chance, and as the team continues to struggle, the opportunity to step up and surprise some people may be just around the corner.
3. Alec Burks, SG, Utah Jazz
After seeing a solid amount of playing time in his rookie year (15.9 minutes per contest), Burks has been seeing a lot of the bench so far this season, playing in only six games for an average of 7.8 minutes.
His rookie campaign wasn't exactly stunning, but it was solid enough and promising to the point where Burks would have been expecting at least a spot in the rotation. However, the Jazz and head coach Tyrone Corbin have simply not been able to work in the 21-year-old with Randy Foye and Gordon Hayward accounting for almost all of the minutes at shooting guard.
With this logjam in the rotation, Burks is out of luck and left with the scraps of garbage time. What the Jazz are missing is a solid scoring option who combines a decent shooting touch with a slashing tendency and a quality ability to get to the line and knock down free throws.
Burks will have to wait patiently for his opportunity to get back into Corbin's rotation, and will have to make a statement with his play if he wants to keep his spot there.
2. Arnett Moultrie, PF, Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia certainly has their fair share of big man concerns, what with Andrew Bynum and his ever-troublesome knees, but they continue to overlook someone who could develop into quite the player.
This man is Arnett Moultrie, a late first-round pick in 2012 from Mississippi State, has played a grand total of 26 minutes in his five NBA games and hasn't done much in his limited time. There isn't much statistical evidence to back Moultrie in this case for why he shouldn't be riding the bench, but what the Sixers should look at instead is the physical evidence.
Moultrie has great size (6'10", 245 lbs) for his power forward position, but is still very raw in his technique and post play. He also has shown in college that he can play at a high level (16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in his senior year), and Moultrie has the right attributes to post similar, if not better numbers in the pros.
The quickest way for the 76ers to develop him and refine his skills is through actual gametime rather than the slower route of practice and individual coaching. There isn't much to risk for Philly, who won't be going too far this season without a healthy Bynum, so it makes sense to give the rookie big man a little burn.
It's still really early in the season and Moultrie's career, but his physical gifts and a strong work ethic could help him earn some minutes, and he has the potential to turn into a quality forward in the league.
1. Jimmer Fredette, PG/SG, Sacramento Kings
Since he was drafted to the Sacramento Kings in 2011, many have forgotten about the former college sensation Jimmer Fredette.
It may be due to the Kings being in a small market, but his lack of attention most likely stems from his lack of playing time and lack of production in that time.
His ridiculous college numbers (28.9 points per game) were distant memories as Fredette struggled to find confidence in his game, and his shooting numbers struggled as he shot just 38 percent from the field and 36 percent from downtown.
Things have been a little different for Jimmer thus far in his sophomore campaign, and he is off to a much better start than last year. Though his minutes are down (9.4 per game in 2012-2013 vs. 18.6 last season), Fredette has been the Kings' most efficient player (23.30 PER). While he's only getting 6.3 points per game, that's still only about a point less than what he averaged all of last year and in half the minutes.
It may be time for a wake up call for Sacramento head coach Keith Smart, who has struggled to find a functional starting five. It's going to be tough for Jimmer to find minutes at point guard with Aaron Brooks and Isaiah Thomas ahead of him, but if he continues his great play, maybe he will make his way into Smart's good graces.