One of the biggest strengths and one of the biggest reasons for the New York Knicks success this season is the performance of their bench.
The Knicks are a deep and talented team, evident by their bench scoring 82 points last week in a beat down of the Sacramento Kings. Add to that the resurgence of Amar’e Stoudemire, whose play as of late gives the Knicks one of the best second units in all of basketball.
But are they the best?
Here’s a look at the five best benches in the NBA.
5. Denver Nuggets: George Karl goes nine, sometimes 10 deep on a regular basis and the Nuggets get consistent production from the likes of: Andre Miller, Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee. That trio was a plus-3.2 per 100 possessions through January. Now that Wilson Chandler is back, it gives the Nuggets just another weapon off what has turned into a very deep and talented second unit.
4. New York Knicks: The Knicks only come in at No. 4 mostly due to the fact that they haven’t been healthy, as key reserves Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace are still out with injuries. But it hasn’t been all rosy for the Knicks bench this season. They are averaging 39.4 points (5th best in the NBA), has the most three-pointers made and a well-rounded second-best defensive efficiency rating. But they are 18th in rebounding and 12th in overall efficiency. J.R. Smith, even though he is having a great season, often prevents this bench from being as good as it is capable of being.
However the past 10 games, which coincides with Stoudemire’s improved play, the Knicks’ bench averages a league-best 44.5 points a game, 15.4 rebounds (seventh) and are the third most efficient around. But there are still better benches in the NBA. While the Knicks have gotten production from STAT, Smith Steve Novak and Pablo Prigioni, they still have Kurt Thomas, Ronnie Brewer, James White and Chris Copeland who have been unable to provide consistent production on the season.
But the Knicks bench is rolling now and if I revisit this topic a month or two from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were right near the top.
3. Dallas Mavericks: Surprised? Don’t be. The Mavs second unit, which features the likes of: Vince Carter, Brendan Wright, Elton Brand, Jae Crowder and plenty of others produces on a nightly basis. The Dallas bench ranks third in points, second in rebounds, third in steals and third in efficiency. Simply put, that is outstanding production. Even though the Mavs have disappointed and are eight games under .500, their bench has performed very well.
2. San Antonio Spurs: It’s the same old story from the Spurs bench. They get production one through 13 on the roster. You ever wonder why they are among the best teams in the NBA every year? It’s because of their depth. This year their bench ranks among the leaders in points, rebounds, steals and both offensive and defensive efficiency. In addition they lead all second units in assists by over two assists per game.
1. Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers were a team without depth last season and were swept by the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs as a result. That is not the case this season as the Clippers have the most dangerous second unit in the game. The Clippers second unit of Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf could be a starting unit for some NBA teams. When they are on the floor together, the Clippers are a plus-14.5 per 100 possessions. Also throw Grant Hill in the mix and the Clippers have by far the best bench in the league. Because of their depth, they have been able to hang in there without Chris Paul in the lineup.
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