Stock up, Stock down: Cavaliers who can make a difference in the new year

Georges Niang and Sam Merrill, Cleveland Cavaliers
Georges Niang and Sam Merrill, Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
3 of 5

Stock up: Sam Merrill is playing for a contract with Cavaliers

Before the season began, the expected primary bench contributors for the Cavaliers were Caris LeVert, Okoro, Niang and Dean Wade. While they have all served well enough in their respective roles, the Cavs have found surprise success in two players on unconventional contracts - Sam Merrill and Craig Porter Jr.

Merrill is currently on a non-guaranteed $1.9 million salary this season with one more season after this. Last year, Merrill spent the majority of his time with the G-League Cleveland Charge, only appearing in five games with the Cavs. He has already nearly tripled that number with 14 games played this season.

The reason for his increased role is obvious, and it is not just injuries. Merrill is Cleveland's best shooter, hitting 44.7 percent of his threes on 3.4 attempts per game. The veteran wing is only playing for 9.6 minutes per game but is making his impact on the court with every chance he gets. He stepped up big-time on Monday against Houston as well, with a career-best 19 points, and went five-for-10 from three.

If Merrill keeps up his hot shooting, it will be hard for the Cavaliers to leave him waiting for a full deal. The only hurdle in the way for the 6-foot-4 Merrill is the same as Okoro. The Cavs lack size off the bench and only have so many minutes to distribute among their undersized wings.