Through a rigorous 82 game season and a two-month playoff schedule, NBA benches are extremely important. The stars and best players will always start, but 48 minutes means that bench players are going to play very valuable minutes.
The 2019 NBA Champions Toronto Raptors had contributors like Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet, and Norman Powell off the bench. The 2018 Champions Golden State Warriors had Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Nick Young, and David West. A strong bench is crucial to success.
Top Five NBA Benches
Borderline Elite NBA Benches
5.) Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are loaded with young talent, so they decided to spend a hefty share of their cap space this summer on their bench. This includes bringing in Trevor Ariza, Cory Joseph, and Richaun Holmes.
Ariza is a borderline elite three-point shooter and a tough defender. He brings experience to a young and hungry team, as he was a starter for the Houston Rockets just a couple seasons ago. Joseph is a great back-up point guard. He won’t score much, but he’s a solid floor general and will ease the load on De’Aaron Fox. Holmes averaged eight points and nearly five rebounds per game off the bench last season. It’s safe to say those stats, alongside his 60 percent field goal percentage, make him an underrated bench contributor.
The Kings also already had Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica, and Harry Giles. Bogdanovic is a capable starting point-forward style player. If he improves, he’ll demand a large contract next offseason. Bjelica is a stretch-four whose also a strong rebounder, while Giles is finally coming into his own after suffering long injuries.
4.) Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets adding Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan this offseason meant some starters from their playoff team were moving to the bench. Having starting-caliber players on the bench gives the Nets an advantage over most teams.
Jarrett Allen emerged as one of the better centers in the league last season. He also completely destroyed the Summer League a couple of weeks ago, proving how talented he is. It’s safe to say Allen will be the best bench big man in the NBA.
Along with Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie is going to be one of the top bench players. He averaged nearly 17 points and five assists last season. Irving won’t be depended on too heavily. Rodions Kurucs and Garrett Temple add to the bench. Kurucs can play both forward positions and score, while Temple is a strong defender.
3.) New York Knicks
The New York Knicks have quietly created one of the deepest NBA benches. This includes Marcus Morris, Allonzo Trier, Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, Damyean Dotson, Frank Ntilikina, and one of Kevin Knox or Bobby Portis.
The bench is barely a drop-off from the team’s starting five, which is why the Knicks don’t seem to be a playoff contender. With this being said, the bench still has plenty of talent.
Morris is a strong two-way player capable of starting for many teams. Trier, Ellington, Bullock, and Dotson are all guards who can score the basketball with ease. Payton and Ntilikina are above-average defensive point guards. One of Knox or Portis will start at small forward, likely Portis because he is more polished. Knox can still contribute, however, as he is entering his second year after being drafted ninth overall last season.
Elite NBA Benches
2.) Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have Lou Williams off the bench. In most cases, that would be enough to warrant a team’s place on this list. Williams is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 20 points and five assists last season.
Complementing Williams as a guard is Landry Shamet. Shamet is a lights-out three-point shooter, making 42 percent of his shots from range last season. He’s also a great defender like Maurice Harkless, another player on the Clippers’ bench. Harkless won’t play a big role offensively, but he’s a borderline elite defender. JaMychal Green is an athletic stretch-four on the bench as well. He shot 40 percent from three last season and can throw in a highlight dunk here and there. He’s a perfect option behind Montrezl Harrell.
1.) Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets are possibly the deepest team in the league. This, of course, is due to their plethora of options on the bench.
Will Barton is the first name that stands out. He’s a high-motor two-way player capable of contending for the Sixth Man of the Year award. The Nuggets traded for Jerami Grant, an extremely athletic forward who averaged nearly 14 points and five rebounds a game for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. Monte Morris is also a stud. He logged in starting-caliber worthy stats last season in 24 minutes per game. He’s a great shooter and can find his open teammates.
The bench doesn’t stop there. The Nuggets also have Malik Beasley and Mason Plumlee. Beasley is another great shooter while Plumlee is a strong rebounder and a force down low. Lastly, the bench can get even better with Michael Porter. A year after being drafted in the lottery, he should finally make his debut next season. Porter was an elite high school prospect before he began to suffer from injuries. The star potential is still there.
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