NBA / Oct 27, 2009 / 10:30 am

Top 5 Second Units In The NBA

Rasheed Wallace

Some of the benches on NBA squads are just nasty. It used to be teams would go just seven or eight deep in their rotation. Now some of these teams have benches so stacked that they could probably handle Milwaukee or Sacramento’s starting fives. I ranked my top five second units in the league. Keep in mind, starting lineups haven’t been set in stone and some of these guys might start come opening night (tonight for some).

1. Celtics: No matter what lineup other teams might throw at the Celtics, Doc Rivers has someone on his bench to counter it. If you need big bodies to go in there and bang, you got Big Baby and Sheldon Williams to mix it up in the paint. If you need instant buckets, you got Eddie House to provide the quick trigger. Rasheed Wallace is someone who can help you in the post, perimeter and pass out of the paint. He also provides tenacity on the court and has championship experience. Tony Allen can provide a spark on D and has the ability to slash to the basket. And the other new addition, Marquis Daniels, can use his speed and size to take advantage of smaller guards on both sides of the ball.

2. Magic: Even though the Magic lost key contributors to last year’s team that went to the Finals like Hedo Turkoglu, Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston, they loaded up on enough talent to make up for it. New additions Matt Barnes and Jason Williams will strengthen the Magic’s second unit backcourt. Ryan Anderson, who came over in the Vince Carter trade, might prove to be the team’s best offseason acquisition. He’s a forward that can play inside and out and has been killing it in the preseason. Last year, Mikael Pietrus was huge for the playoffs and will thrive in the team’s sixth man role. Marcin Gortat is a solid backup for Superman and sharp-shooter J.J. Redick should flourish now that Turkoglu and Lee are gone.

3. Blazers: Anytime you have Andre Miller as your backup point guard, you know your team is deep. Portland also has a trio of guard/forwards in Travis Outlaw, Rudy Fernandez and Martell Webster who all have versatility and are athletic. If they go with Greg Oden to start, Joel Przybilla could be the best backup center in the league. Juwan Howard’s minutes will be scarce, but his experience and leadership will be a welcome addition. Third-string point guard, Jerryd Bayless has the talent to be a starting point guard some day, but will have to wait his turn since Portland is loaded at that position.

4. Washington: If Washington stays healthy, they have one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA. If Flip Saunders opts to go with Mike Miller as the starting two guard, then DeShawn Stevenson will be a quality sixth man for Washington. Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee are two up-and-coming big man who can block shots and finish at the basket. Randy Foye is a talented guard who can get you buckets off the bench. Nick Young and Dominic McGuire are also capable of contributing if given minutes.

5. Spurs: The Spurs might have one of the most reliable benches in the NBA. Manu Ginobili is probably the league’s best sixth man. He has all-star talent and can be the team’s go-to guy down the stretch. Although Michael Finley is aging, his experience and basketball IQ will help the Spurs, especially in the postseason. Like Robert Horry before, Finley can also hit big shots in crunch time. DeJuan Blair will prove to be the steal of the draft. He who will provide inside toughness and rebounding off the bench for Gregg Popovich’s squad. George Hill, Matt Bonner and newly acquired Keith Bogans will also be key contributors for San Antonio’s championship run.

What other NBA teams have great second units?

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  • the_don_mega

    ‘sheed looks funny in that picture…

  • John

    What about the Cavs ????

    Bob Gibson
    Anthony Parker
    Jamario Moon
    Leon Powe
    Big Z

    JJ Hickson and maybe Antonio Daniels now

  • scotsman

    i would def switch the magic and celtics. I think the magic have the better bench of the two. otherwise i think its a pretty legit list.

  • No J Mayo

    Yo Dime, when we getting our #1 go-to-guy Kobe article? I need to argue with some Lebron fans. T minus 8 and 38 minutes to tip-off…………..

  • chebs

    shannon brown
    sasha vujacic
    luke walton

  • http://allthatjazzbasketball.blogspot.com Amar

    Def not Top 5, but one that isn’t going to roll over (unless the team is playing on the road, on a brutal 5 games in 7 nights east conf. road trip) would be the Jazz, when healthy . . .

    Paul Millsap, Andrei Kirilenko and Kyle Korver are all specialists in what they do. The Jazz back-up centers are all dicey, so Sloan may be opt to play ‘Sap (or Booz) as the back-up 5 here. Ronnie Price is fearless (think Robert Pack with a jump shot — as Luke Walton about how his defense is) and capable of disrupting the other team with his hustle. Love him or hate him (I’m not a fan) but a healthy Harpring (as the 3 in this list) can still be a force off the bench. Last season he was healthy enough to help the Jazz beat the Celtics when Utah was rife with injuries. (KG also went down in that game, but it was still very close down the stretch)

    Thus, I submit the Utah Jazz’ bench as one of the top 20 to 10 benches in the league . . . when healthy . . . lol

  • Jau

    So im guessing u guys arent putting the wopves or the kings in the top five?

  • http://allthatjazzbasketball.blogspot.com Amar

    @chebs granted I don’t watch every game LAL plays, but I don’t remember seening a lot of Farmar and Brown in at the same time. That said, the Lakers are stupid deep. I haven’t seen a team that has so many guys who can get calls down the stretch of games since Houston (‘Akeem, Clyde, Barkley, Pippen)

  • http://www.nukedasouth.net Chicagorilla

    Matt f^kin Bonner? seriously. JJ Reddick – Lee& Turkalou = JJ’s last year in the NBA no matter how you cook it. That’s like saying Luc Longley, Bobby Hansen, Jason Caffey, Scott Williams or Dicky Simpkins were great role/bench players for the 90’s bulls teams. They weren’t. They were just along for the ride. You see what happened when they left in free agency or was actually relied on to produce… see the 99′-02′ bulls for an example.

    while Sheed is a beast and Doc would be a complete bloodfart if he doesn’t start him over Perkins,M. Daniels is skilled too, the rest of that Celtic roster (including my boy Tony Allen) are str8 booty. None of those guys would thrive on a team like Charlotte, Sacramento, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota or any other team that would actually rely on them to produce every nite and not just fill in some minutes.

    The Magic, Blazers, Wizards and Spurs have elite bench mobs. You should have included the Bulls seeing as how Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller, Janero Pargo, and both rookies are coming off the bench but that’s not a big deal. But including the Celtics is just plain ole bias.

  • chebs

    amar well u may b right however shannon is still an off guard

  • D-Nice

    Magic’s bench is sick this yr. No doubt Magic & Celts have deepest benches this yr. Big Baby’s injury will hurt the C’s

  • http://www.nukedasouth.net Chicagorilla

    Seriously DIME, don’t bite the apple. That celtic team would get smashed nitely if they rely on that bench. The Spurs bench only looks that great because Manu is on there. Put Roger Mason in his spot and they fall a couple notches.

  • http://www.nukedasouth.net Chicagorilla

    Oh yeah I forgot about the Lakers.

    Farmar (who should be in front of Fisher), Odom (who should be starting over Bynum anyway), and Shannon Brown are nice. Though they won’t have to do much work when they get in the game because the Lakers will be up by 45pts!

  • sh!tfaced

    The Houston Rockets are pretty deep. They’re basically playing with a bench team to start this season.

    Yao, T-Mac, Scola… Houston’s injured list is the deepest in basketball right now, hands down. LOL.

  • IGP

    How do you not have the Lakers on this list? Come on man…

  • BillyJack

    What about the clips? Their at least 10 quality players deeo,
    Starters – Davis, Gordon, Thornton, Griffin, and Caveman.

    Bench – Camby, Deandre Jordan, Rasual Butler, Sebastian Telfair and Craig Smith.

    Surprisingly, other than a backup 2 the Clippers are looking deep.

  • Ian

    spurs are too low


  • Christopher

    The Bulls

    Miller, Gibson, Johnson, Pargo, Hinrich

  • M

    I thought DeShawn Stevenson was close to being one of the worst players in the nba a while back…..
    I would leave out Washington in this list, and im not sold on Boston either. Like one of the earlier responsed mentioned, on a bad team players like Tony allen, scalabrini etc would not get any love. Wallace, Daniels and Davis are more then okay tho, in my book.

    I agree on Portland, magic and Spurs tho, and I would add Denver / Utah / Cleveland on the list with deep benches.

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    GSW coming in at #6 IMO. In fact we probably should slide into that top five. Even though Nellie doesn’t utilize the bench right doesn’t mean we don’t have the talent.

    You got:

    Brandan Wright
    Anthony Morrow
    Ronny Turiaf
    Anthony Randolph
    CJ Watson
    Mikki Moore
    Kelenna Azubuike

  • Diego

    Not at all impressed with Boston’s bench. Their key simply is their starting 5, which is great–but old. Second 5 is nothing special. Pick 5 out of Orlando’s bottom 7 players and they mop the floor with Boston’s 2nd unit.

    How about Hawks?:

    Jeff Teague
    Jamal Crawford
    Joe Smith
    Zaza Pachulia
    Mo Evans

    I’ll take that over Boston’s (and almost any other team’s) 2nd 5 any day.

    Chicagorilla, what exactly the hell is wrong with Matt Bonner? He is 6’10”, rugged, and shoots the lights out from 3. The guy is a solid NBA player and he has been since Toronto.


  • boombastic

    Defending Matt Boner just takes away from the pretty good argument you had going…

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    @ Diego (#27)

    for atlanta, i believe josh smith is the starting power forward.

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    a better question to this is:


    interesting for the lakers. do they put a point guard on the floor? or do the go with Kobe, Artest, Odom, Gasol and Bynum?

    what about boston?…will there be a better final 5 than Rondo, Allen, Piece, Garnett and Wallace?

    in cleveland, how do you surround lebron on the frontline? do you go with shaq and parker as a shooter? do you go with big z who can stretch a defense when lebron drives the lane? do you go with neither and put varejo at the 5, lebron at the 4 and either parker or moon at the SF spot?

    what about dallas? if you have kidd and jason terry in the backcourt and dirk upfront, where will josh howard and shawn marion be? with no brandon bass anymore, do the mavs just use 7ft dirk at center?..and go with marion at the PF and howard at SF?

    in atlanta…what do you do with jamal crawford at crunch time? keep a 20pt scorer on the bench? if he plays, then who sits?..bibby?..joe johnson?..marvin williams?

    Nevermind the best 2nd unit…


  • flavur

    I say the magic bench is deeper than the celtics, the bulls have a pretty good bench GSW has a pretty good bench also and the lakers bench should be here becuase they have a lot of versatile players that can play different positions.

  • Diego

    @ Heckler (post 23): Josh Smith is; Joe Smith isn’t.

  • AB_40

    I still can’t believe the red haired armada both had starts in the nba last season brian scalabrine and matt bonner. I’ve got big quistion marks with the lakers bench. GSW has 12 bench guys

  • http://astrokidz.blogspot.com T.J.

    No ATL? I coulda swore our bench would have made it

    Jeff Teague
    Jamal Crawford
    Mo Evans
    Joe Smith
    Zaza Pachulia
    Jason Collins

    I thought we would at least be an honorable mention

  • c

    Seriously, how could you forget the Lakers? I’m pretty sure they have a better bench than some of the teams mentioned.

  • WetNurse

    Hands down. Orlando has the deepest squad. 2nd unit should be one of the most efficient giving their specific roles:
    Williams= playmaker
    Barnes= wing shooter/ slasher(at times)
    Pietrus= shooter/dunker/ slasher/Defense
    Bass( if he comes off bench)= rebounder/ inside power
    Gortat= defense/blocking/inside-medium shooter
    JJ Reddick’s another shooter… shooting happpens to be essential to 80% of orlando’s plays too

    The only other team I’d mention…and this is because they’re up and coming, would be the Blazers. Here’s a little more depth:

    Miller- playmaker/creative scorer
    Fernandez- shooter/ slasher/ finisher
    Outlaw- Defense/Blocking/Rebounding/ shooting- did i mention their most clutch next to Roy???
    Webster- shooting
    Pryzbilla- rebounding defense

    *Not to mention, this line up gives Portland a very different momentum when matching up with other teams.
    The starters in blake/roy/batum/aldridge/ oden are a solid half court team. Along come the second unit, they run, run , run and score, tiring out the other team, then come the starters again and switch it up… They do look dangerous

  • srb

    This should have said something more like Celtics have the best bench despite it having Tony Allen available to dribble the ball off his knee.

  • Ryan Conte


    -Jarett Jack PG
    -Marco Belinelli SG
    -Antoine Wright SF
    -Reggie Evans PF
    -Rasho Nesterovic C

    Good enough

  • justlovethegame

    I’m surprised both the Lakers and the Cavs are not in your top five. Their benches look pretty solid to me.