The NBA season is approximately half over, and a number of contenders have begun to create a large gap of separation from the pack.
Because of this—plus the usual reasons such as injuries and attrition—a number of younger players and stalwart veterans are getting a legitimate chance to make an impact by logging big minutes for their squads.
Let’s take a look at some players that we predict will shine in Week 13 of the 2012-13 NBA campaign.
Kawhi Leonard, F, San Antonio Spurs
Week 13 Matchups: at Philadelphia 76ers, vs. New Orleans Hornets, at Dallas Mavericks, vs. Phoenix Suns
Leonard is getting plenty of time on the court and making a difference, but it’s not always showing up in the box score.
We think that will change soon, as the young Spurs star continues to impress by burying his threes, rebounding well from the SF position and playing great defense (garnering blocks and steals in the process).
Eventually the hustle is going to pay off with some stat sheet-stuffing outings, and Week 13 is an optimal time for this to happen. San Antonio has four contests against subpar squads, so deep league players must put in a claim for this sophomore stud and insert him in your lineup.
Jarrett Jack, G, Golden State Warriors
Week 13 Matchups: vs. Los Angeles Clippers, vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, at Chicago Bulls, at Milwaukee Bucks
Jack is already having one of the best years for a bench player, but it looks like he’ll be getting even more minutes now that Stephen Curry is dealing with injury.
On Saturday, he scored 25 points (7-of-13 on field-goal attempts, 1-of-3 from downtown and 10-of-11 from the line) and dished 12 assists in a W’s victory over the Hornets.
It’s clear that the seven-year veteran is going to continue to log time with the starting PG out, and should even remain a viable option for the remainder of the 2012-13 season.
Jack was averaging just under 28 minutes as a backup guard, but should see a steady 35-plus a night until Curry returns and 30-plus when the starter is back.
Kyle Korver, G, Atlanta Hawks
Week 13 Matchups: vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, at Charlotte Bobcats, vs. Boston Celtics, at New York Knicks
Now that Lou Williams is out for the season and Devin Harris is dealing with an ankle injury, Korver looks to be the best option at the guard spot in Week 13—and possibly beyond.
He’s been getting big minutes and rewarding owners with big production over the past few games, notably nailing 5-of-8 treys on his way to a 19-point, eight-rebound performance on Saturday against the Nets.
As long as this 6’7” guard is on the floor, he’s going to be nailing threes from beyond the arc, grabbing boards and hitting a high percentage of shot attempts. Korver will get a great chance to help fantasy teams over these next few games, and could be a serious starter if Harris’ injury is serious.
Amir Johnson, PF/C, Toronto Raptors
Week 13 Matchups: at Miami Heat, at Orlando Magic, vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Johnson battled foul trouble in Sunday's win over the Lakers, which explains the mere 22 minutes he saw. Nevertheless, he still had nine points, eight rebounds and three assists during his limited playing time.
If he can stay on the court, the seven-year veteran should start logging more 40-minute nights and contributing big numbers in the points, rebounds and field-goal percentage categories.
The Raptors may not be any good, but Johnson is a solid fantasy center and has the potential to be a regular member of your starting lineup.
Derrick Williams, F, Minnesota Timberwolves
Week 13 Matchups: at Atlanta Hawks, vs. Brooklyn Nets, at Charlotte Bobcats
Williams continues to get minutes despite being a relative disappointment as last year’s No. 2 overall draft pick—largely due to a rash of injuries the T-Wolves continue to suffer.
He’s yet to show any real propensity to become a star, but looks to be a nice add in some deeper leagues.
If the Arizona product can step his game up and start taking—and making—more shot attempts, pulling down boards and contributing like his potential suggests he should, Williams could be a fantasy steal.