Back at it with one of my favorite pieces to write – Role Players Need Love Too. I’m a firm believer that the key to winning in the NBA, and winning consistently over the course of a few years, is the development and retention of strong role players. Below are some that I believe deserve a shout-out.
Josh Okogie – Phoenix Suns
Defense, energy, basketball IQ, and improving spot up shooting. Okogie is looking more and more like the 5th starter for the Suns and everything he brings is perfect for this team. In his last 10 games, Okogie is averaging 12 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.5 APG, and 1.5 SPG on 46/40/65 shooting splits. Those are solid stats and considering his impact goes beyond the stat sheet, Okogie has improved greatly recently. Whether it be hustle blocks and steals, dynamic rebounds and dunks, or frustrating opponents with his pesky defense, the Suns can now rely on Okogie going forward.
Vlatko Cancar – Denver Nuggets
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like Vlatko Cancar does much for the Nuggets. But when you look at the Nuggets roster as a whole and the rotations they play, Cancar is actually incredibly important as that 7th or 8th man who can come in and knock down 3s and provide solid defense at the 4 spot. The Nuggets will probably only bring Bruce Brown, Reggie Jackson, Cancar, and occasionally Thomas Bryant come playoff time, so utilizing those 50/41/94 shooting splits of Cancar is incredibly valuable for a team that needs all the help they can get from their bench.
Daniel Gafford – Washington Wizards
Gafford is your typical rim running big but he’s a little more than that when you look at how impressive his advanced stats are.
Additionally, Gafford is playing an important role for this playoff contending Wizards team, as he is their anchor on defense and scraps for rebounds utilizing his length and athleticism. Gafford is young and his contract extension will kick in next year, but even at $11M/year, Gafford brings great value at that price.