Josh Smith, Atlanta
Smith will get the minutes leftover from the Childress/Harrington/Diaw/Jon Barry logjam plus Atlanta’s sure-to-be-ample amount of garbage time.
Al Jefferson and Delonte West, Boston
Jefferson only has to compete with Kendrick Perkins to be the fourth big man in the Celtics’ rotation. Should both play well, Walter McCarty’s lovable days could be numbered barring injury to Gugliotta and/or LaFrentz.
The Celtics placed West on the injured list with a broken thumb. In West’s absence, the Celtics will have the opportunity to try the Jiri Welsch Backup Point Guard Experiment and/or decide that Marcus Banks is not the answer as Payton’s backup. Once West is healed he should get a chance to spell Payton.
Jared Reiner, Chicago
Forced into service by the Eddy Curry/Antonio Davis suspensions, Reiner will get a couple of games to make his case as an energy guy off the bench. As neither Davis nor Tyson Chandler is a good bet to make it through the season without missing time, Reiner could parlay a couple of good performances into fairly significant minutes.
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland
Only has to outperform Tractor Traylor and Scott Williams to get minutes behind Drew Gooden.
Sasha Vujacic, Lakers
Tierre Brown is in the mix to play point guard for the Lakers. Vujacic has the advantage of not having proved himself to be unable to play the point in the NBA. He’ll get his chance sometime this year.
Nenad Kristic, New Jersey
On a team that’s planning to start Eric Williams or Brian Scalabrine at power forward and lists Alonzo Mourning as the backup center, a young, active big man will get an opportunity.
Trevor Ariza, New York
Ariza, if he’s not traded, will benefit from being the rare Knick that is neither a shooting guard nor an undersized power forward. Out of necessity, Lenny Wilkens might turn him into this year’s Marquis Daniels.
Sebastian Telfair, Portland
He might not be qualified to be Portland’s third point guard, but he’s there on the roster. The Blazers lack the talent to contend for a play-off berth and either Damon Stoudamire or Nick Van Exel could be included in the Shareef Abdur-Rahim trade so Telfair might actually get on the court sometime this year.
Beno Udrih, San Antonio
Udrih will get first crack at backing up Tony Parker. Brent Barry’s a pretty good Plan B, so a slow start from Udrih may relegate him to the end of the bench.
Robert Swift, Seattle
Potapenko’s injury might force Swift into NBA games at far too young an age. Jerome James, Danny Fortson, and Nick Collison will do their best to keep Swift safely on the bench, but he’ll see a few minutes and get manhandled. It shouldn’t adversely effect his development.
Kris Humphries and Kirk Snyder, Utah
Humphries is listed as Carlos Boozer’s backup, but both Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur could see time at power forward as well. Snyder might take some time to adjust the Jazz offense after being the focal point of Nevada’s half-court game, but will be given the chance to surpass Gordan Giricek and Raja Bell on the depth chart when he’s ready to contribute. Both will be key contributors to the 2005-06 Utah Jazz.