Every season we watch out for each teams break out star. We want to know who is the MVP of the team. We want to know who will stink. But we often forget the Role Guys.
These are the players who do not make the headlines, players who may not even start for their team, and players who are not all-stars. Despite this, these are the role players whose individual improvement and growth will be a big factor in the success of these teams.
These are the Role Guys.
Dewayne Dedmon – Sacramento Kings
Dewayne Dedmon signed a three year, $40 million deal with the Kings to become their starting centre, leaving the Atlanta Hawks behind.
Last season, Dedmon had a decent year with the Hawks, starting the majority of games at centre for that team. He averaged a block and steal in the 2018/2019 season to go along with 10.8 points and 7.5 rebounds. Not bad for the 30 year old centre that has spent most of his career as a journey man.
So why is he important for this young and fast paced Sacramento team?
Firstly, he is an upgrade from the inconsistent Willie Cauley-Stein who was the previous starting centre for the Kings. While on paper, it would seem that Willie had a better season than Dedmon, Willie’s game did not suit the new look Kings, headed by Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagely IIi. Willie didn’t space the floor and was much more of a traditional big man in the paint.
Dedmon is a bit more modern in his style of play. Most importantly, Dedmon can actually shoot the three. He shot at around 38% last season with an average of 1-4 threes per game, so to start with Dedmon can space the floor. This will help de-clog the paint for that silky smooth drive of Fox or to give more space to Hield to shoot the open three. Another threat behind the arc never hurt a team.
Also Dedmon historically has had more of a presence in the paint. He isn’t Rudy Gobert or Joel Embiid but he is more of a shot blocker than Willie, which again will help on the defensive end of the floor.
Don’t expect huge numbers from Dedmon but do expect him to get the start and make his teammates better. Dedmon will help the Kings to keep up their face paced, three shooting flavour that they showed last season.
Torey Craig – Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have a Small Forward problem. They have too many that need minutes. They have the veteran in Will Barton, the (pretty much) Rookie in Michael Porter Jr, who has the potential to be a superstar in the future, world cup superstar Juancho-Hernangomez and of course Torrey Craig.
Torrey Craig is the role guy for Denver. He isn’t the stat filler like Will Barton, and will never be a superstar, like Michael Porter Jr has the potential to be if healthy. But he is exactly what Denver needs in their line-up.
Last season, Craig had the start whilst Barton was injured and replaced Barton for good in the playoffs. Why? Because of his defence. Craig is a far better defender than the other names at Small forward and this will be necessary to keep Denver near the top of the West.
Craig needs to improve his offense to keep the SF role. If he can emulate his great playoff run, shooting at a 47.6% from three playing around 24 minutes per game, then Craig is more of a complete package.
Whilst the pre-season is rarely a good indicator of regular season performance. From his start with Denver in one of their recent preseason games, Craig seems to fit into the team structure better than the other options at this positon.
Craig is on an expiring contract and needs to use this season to rpvoe he is needed in Denver into the future. Craig can be a great piece alongside Jokic, Murray, Milsap and Harris to make Denver a greater defensive powerhouse, which is necessary in the West.
Anfernee Simons – Portland Trail Blazers
With all eyes on Dame Time, it is hard to think of who will be the backup for PG for Portland. With the loss of Seth Curry and the fantastic trade of Evan Turner, Portland need someone to step up to lead the second unit.
In comes Anfernee Simons. Simons ended the regular season last year with 37 points on 13-of-21 shooting, including 7/11 from three point land, a huge 9 assists and six rebounds.
In the summer he earned All-Summer League Second team honours, shooting 56% with 22 points per game.
Garbage end of season games and summer league performances do not always give the best indication of performance, BUT with the loss of alternatives, Simons is set to see many more minutes than his previous 7 minutes per game for only 20 games last season.
Simons has the potential to be a huge impact player for the Blazers and when given the opportunity, expect him to shine off the bench. He may even run for 6th man of the year…
JaMychal Green – Los Angeles Clippers
Green was traded to the Clippers last season and resigned with the team on a $10 million, two year deal. He took a smaller, very team friendly deal in order to compete for a championship.
The Clippers are already the Championship favourite’s due to their two superstars and very very very deep roster.
So where does Green fit in with this deep rotation?
Firstly, Green has to compete with Maurice Harkless for the backup spot at Power Forward. Harlkess is coming off an average season with the Trail Blazers and was nearly invisible in the Playoffs, but has shown over his many seasons that he can be a decent role player.
Green will have to battle Harkless for minutes off the bench but with Paul George injured to start the season, Green may even get the start until PG 13 returns.
So why is Green a solid role player for the Clippers?
Green has a lot of upside. He can space the floor with his 40% three point shooting, had around 10 points per game last season in limited minutes and is a versatile enough player to be able to play the stretch four/ small ball five for this team.
Green is often overlooked on this roster behind the stacked bench players of the Clippers, please see Lou Williams and Montrez Harrell for further information. But if given the opportunity expect to see him putting up slightly better numbers than last year for the Clippers’ second unit and helping the Clippers off the bench.
Who is the Role Guy in your team? Comment below and let us know!