NBA / Feb 3, 2012 / 12:00 pm

The 5 Best Benches In The NBA

Jason Terry

Jason Terry (photo. Reebok)

Last night, Denver ran away from L.A. in the Staples Center because they dominated at points in the second and late in the third quarter. George Karl trusts his bench, almost too much in fact. His goal this year might be to coach this team like its intramurals. That’s just speculation, but with the way he hands out minutes, 11 guys all average double figures, we wouldn’t be surprised. Having a decent bench is always important, but it’s never been stressed like this. Five games in six nights will leave your team playing more up and down than a seesaw if the second unit can’t hoop.

The myth about being deep is it’ll help in the playoffs. Wrong. Teams win in the playoffs because they have the best players, and the best closers. Rotations shorten in the second season, and as the defense tightens, eighth and ninth men suddenly can’t make shots. But in the regular season? In a condensed season? The difference between a No. 3 seed and a No. 8 (especially in the West) will be a good bench.

We’ve already rated the 10 best Sixth Men. Now, here are the five deepest teams in the league.

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The fifth-most effective bench lineup, at least statistically, the Bucks don’t have a known commodity off the pine. There’s no Jamal Crawford here, or even a Leandro Barbosa. But this is one of the few teams that rolls with a team of 10 starters and gets away with it. Part of that is due to injuries for a number of their best players, but nine players on the roster have actually started at least six times this year. Mike Dunleavy (10.7 points) and Shaun Livingston (best A/T ratio among the team’s regulars) are silently having effective years. There’s also Ersan Ilyasova (7.4 rebounds per game) and Drew Gooden. Gooden’s currently starting but the former Jayhawk came off the bench for most of the year, and HE’S BALLING: 18 points, 7.8 rebounds on 57 percent shooting in his last five games.

With Stephen Jackson struggling, he’s come off the bench in the past five games, which only adds more fuel. Of course, Jack has been so bad this year (9.6 PER, 36 percent shooting) that maybe this isn’t a good thing.

Their near comeback against Dallas last weekend was all the evidence I needed for this. 51 consecutive bench points. Honestly, that might be the most eyeball-popping stat I’ve seen this entire year. Of course, the Spurs’ bench is helped by the confidence Gregg Popovich gives them. No one has a firmer leash. I remember talking to Chris Webber at the start of the year about Rick Adelman, and he specifically said the former Kings’ coach will give guys the rope to either play aggressively or hang themselves. Pop is the same way, and with superstars who aren’t ego driven, he can ride a hot hand.

Whereas Ginobili once anchored this unit, it’s now a mashup of role players. Gary Neal isn’t a household name outside of NBA diehards, but he’s already been key in four or five close games. Tiago Splitter is quietly averaging 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds. Danny Green, Matt Bonner and T.J. Ford have all played roles as well. And for now, Kawhi Leonard is starting to make up for Manu’s absence. Once the Spurs are at full-strength, the rook will move back to make the bench even deeper. Naturally, this bench takes and makes the second-most amount of treys in the NBA, the shot that’s become San Antonio’s calling card.

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  • http://www.geekchoice.com pc repair

    I have to disagree with some of this article. A good bench matters when it come to the playoffs. It’s what helped the Celtics win back in 2008.

  • s.W.o. 4 Life

    Raps have a whole team of bench players. Kinda crushed they didn’t make the list.

    Brick till we pick!!!!


  • david

    I don’t have stats available here on my lunch break, but not putting the Bench Mob at #1 is pure stupidity.

  • TheLeanHornet

    The hornets… Sick bench I’m telling ya

  • stefan

    Since I read the title I was considering the Spurs for no.1. But it’s a good list and it’s true that in the playoffs the rotations shorten. In any case, Philly will be in the final this year. They will beat either Chicago or Miami. After that people will look differently at the importance of a strong 12 men roster. The “big three” or similar concepts will lose some of their hype.

  • Sean Sweeney

    @david The Bulls bench does have a big reputation, and they are tied for first in blocks. But look at these stats:

    -25th in bench pts
    -25th in bench rebounding
    -22nd in bench assists
    -26th in bench steals
    -19th in bench efficiency
    -11th in efficiency difference

    It’s not all about the numbers, especially w/ a team like Chicago. But that much evidence is too much to overlook.

  • control


    Hahaha, hilarious man, sad but true…

  • sky

    Bench mob certainly deserved to make this list. Statistics are no longer a factor in the game today. If we went purely off statistics we would have a hell of a different opinion on whos the best team and player. Im not saying bench mob is the best bench but in a list of the top five they should be there. I cant think of any other team this season who has had their bench tested the way chicagos was and still is. Bench mob is the reason chicago is even good at all.

  • Andre Fernandez

    Where the hell is the CHICAGO BULLS?! All BULL’s second unit can start for any team in the NBA. They ain’t called the BENCH MOB for nothing! You do not know what you’re writing Sean Sweeney.

  • Big AL

    A bunch of Bulls bench players have started a couple times due to injury. Brewer, Watson, Lucas and Korver have started ALOT so that brings the numbers down considerably. Yall niggas just looking at stats that are altered instead of considering the fact thatthose guys are bench players on the bulls when Rose, Deng n Rip are healthy so this lost is bullshit. The Bench mob is AT LEAST top 5 in da league.

  • matt

    Chicago has the best 1 through 10 in the league. However, Denver is on this list because a) very fun team to watch b) their depth is pretty insane c) the versatility of the roster is quite good. Statistically, aesthetically and record wise – that is the reason why Denver is # 1 on the list.

  • K Dizzle


  • Tdot

    Come on where’s the Raptors?

    Doesn’t get much better than Rasual Butler, Anthony Carter, Jamaal Magloire, and Aaron Gray.