Ranking the NBA’s Deepest Teams
Over the course of a grueling 82-game NBA schedule, the strength of a team’s reserve core becomes a huge factor as injuries and fatigue take their toll during the season. The best NBA teams have players coming off the bench that have the ability to make a huge impact on the game on either end of the floor.
The last two NBA Champions, the Miami HEAT and Dallas Mavericks, each made it to the NBA Finals because of the contributions from each of their respective reserve cores.
In Dallas, winning the NBA Title in 2011, the Mavs received a huge lift from former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry along with numerous other key games from reserves like Peja Stojakovic and J.J. Barea.
For Miami, while missing Chris Bosh for nine games in the 2012 postseason, the HEAT relied on huge lifts off the bench from veterans like Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller to reach the top.
Now that we’ve made a bit of a dent in the 2012-13 NBA season, let’s look at the most talented teams top-to-bottom in the NBA so far this year:
3. Denver Nuggets:
Even though their slow start to the season doesn’t reflect it, an argument could be made that the 9-9 Nuggets have the deepest team in the NBA today. Denver is two-deep at virtually every position which allows the Nuggets to run opposing squads into submission.
With one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the NBA, Denver features six players that currently average double figures in scoring – including two off the bench. JaVale McGee, Corey Brewer, Andre Miller and, when healthy, Wilson Chandler round out a unique and talented reserve core that makes head coach George Karl’s life a whole lot easier.
Brought in to be a starter at center, McGee now leads the team in scoring off the bench and also leads the Nuggets in Player Efficiency Rating (PER). Miller, a longtime NBA starter at point guard, provides a steady, veteran influence off the bench and is second on the team in assists at 5.1 dimes per contest.
2. San Antonio Spurs:
As the Spurs proved recently in resting the big three of Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan in Miami; San Antonio features one of the most potent reserve cores in the NBA. Featuring an all-reserve lineup, San Antonio took the Miami HEAT to the brink in their own home stadium, losing by a narrow margin despite missing five of their top six scorers. Part of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s genius is his ability to put role players in situations like that which helps them grow and mature as players.
Relative unknown Nando de Colo set career-highs across the board that night with his 15 point, six assist and five rebound performance that helped keep San Antonio in the game.
On a nightly basis, former Sixth Man of the Year Manu Ginobili, Gary Neal, Stephen Jackson and company provide a spark off the pine that makes life easier on the Spurs older core. Not to mention, talented veterans like Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw and DeJuan Blair can both play key roles as reserves and also start when necessary.
Coach Popovich is one of the best in the business at getting the most out of his team and he hasn’t been shy about using each and every one of the players on his roster to make a positive impact.
1. Golden State Warriors:
Featuring their best start to a season (10-7) in more than five years, Golden State has played outstanding basketball out of the gate and superior depth has played a key role. Offseason acquisitions Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack have each been huge, with both former starters leading the charge off the bench. Landry, who has the highest PER on the Warriors, is still averaging starter’s numbers with 14 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest on a whopping 57 percent shooting from the field.
For Jack, who started virtually all of last season with the New Orleans Hornets, his modus operandi has been providing an explosive and efficient scoring punch off the bench. Backing up Stephen Curry at the point, Jack is averaging 10 points on nearly 49 percent shooting and 4.5 assists to make sure there’s not much of a dip when the Warriors young star hits the bench.
It should also be noted that last year’s blockbuster trade acquisition, starting center Andrew Bogut, has also missed a large chunk to start the season but Golden State still hasn’t missed a beat. The Warriors second round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Festus Ezeli, has filled in admirably for Bogut – starting 13 contests and leading the team in blocks.
When talking about this Golden State squad, it’s hard not to mention the long injury history with key players but, with the depth in place, that might not be an issue as the Warriors look like a playoff team in the brutal West.
Ray Allen has proved to be arguably the best acquisition of this past summer, especially when you consider his modest $3,090,000 salary compared to his crucial contributions. Allen is the team’s leading scorer (13.3 points per) behind the big three and his 52.6 percent shooting from behind the arc ranks third in the NBA.
Because of the massive roles LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh take on in terms of Miami’s scoring load, there’s not much other point production aside from Allen off the bench. However, talented veterans Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and Rashard Lewis all play key roles and second-year player Norris Cole has shown promise.
Is this list on point or do you have a better idea of who are the deepest teams in basketball? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below!