Less than three weeks into the NBA 2018/19 season, teams are already undergoing lineup shifts. As players get hit by early injuries and scenarios–like the Lakers and Houston brawl–force starters to sit out a few matches, unexpected names have had to step up and fill the gaps. Here are six players getting golden opportunity to build up their repertoire on their teams and maybe even prove that they deserve to be part of the starting five.
Forbes of the San Antonio Spurs established his role in the team way before the season took off. Both Dejounte Murray and rookie guard Lonnie Walker IV got hit by long-term injuries in the preseason, all but securing Forbes major play time this season. The third-year player started three of San Antonio’s games and will likely be part of the rotation until the end of the season. Currently, he plays 12 more minutes than he did in the previous season and is averaging 15 points a game and shooting an impressive 47.6 percent from outside the arc on seven attempts per game. Forbes can isolate himself by taking on the sharpshooter role the Spurs need to endure high-scoring games.
Jonathan Williams and Lonzo Ball
The Los Angeles Lakers are currently one of the hottest teams in the league, as well as Bitcoin sportsbooks today. Five days ago, Williams’ name wasn’t even on an NBA roster. But, shortly after, he sealed a two-way contract with the Lakers. He showcased his talents during the closing stages of the team’s 143-142 loss to the spurs, closing with eight points, four rebounds, and three blocks in 14 minutes.
On the other hand, Ball has a good chance of showing his growth in his sophomore year. Rajon Rondo was suspended for three games following his fight with the Rockets’ Chris Paul, so Ball will command the position as starting point guard. Ball has looked noticeably better this year. He is more confident and he refined his shooting motion.
Torrey Craig, Juancho Hernangomez, and Trey Lyles
The Denver Nuggets will have to move forward without Will Barton for approximately two months as he recovers from his adductor muscle injury. The day before, power forward Hernangomez played closing minutes with Denver’s starting four, adding two crunch-time 3s, eight points, and two rebounds in 12 minutes. He also added a crucial block to give the Nuggets the home win at the Pepsi Center.
However, the Spanish national will not be starting in Barton’s place; that spot will go to sophomore small forward Craig. Craig will join Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic, while Lyles will fill in as Craig’s natural backup. The two will have to prove they can shoot 3s. Meanwhile, Hernangomez already proved that he can take the long-range shots, as he’s 3-of-7 from beyond the arc this season. With the absence of Barton, all three players will get to prove their worth to the Nuggets’ core.