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Sunday Topic: NBA’s Deepest Team?
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On January 6, 2013 @ 2:59 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Every Sunday, HOOPSWORLD’s analysts weigh in on an NBA-related topic. Get in on the debate by leaving your thoughts in the comment section. Here is this week’s Sunday Topic.
Depth is extremely important in the NBA. Deep teams can withstand injuries because they have other weapons in their arsenal. In the playoffs, a strong second unit can help a team make a deep postseason run. This year, there are some very deep teams in the league, which brings us to this week’s topic:
Which NBA team has the deepest roster?
“Los Angeles Clippers. The deepest team in the league, by a large margin, is the L.A. Clippers. With a record of 27-8, the Clippers have risen to the upper echelon in the standings.
In addition to star power with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Clippers have a second line that may be as good as some first units. Jamal Crawford is a high-volume scorer. Eric Bledsoe is a young, athletic scorer and defender. It’s no coincidence that the Clippers won 17-straight games around the same time Lamar Odom started to produce (after working his way into shape). Matt Barnes has found a home, playing more minutes than starter Caron Butler.
The Clippers still haven’t gotten a healthy Chauncey Billups into the rotation, making just three appearances. Willie Green has started 31 games in his place. Grant Hill has yet to play as well, but he is hoping to play in January.
The net result is a team that wins at a high volume without relying on players like Griffin and Paul to play 45 minutes every night. That should translate into fresher legs for the playoffs and what could be the best run in franchise history.” – Eric Pincus
“San Antonio Spurs. While the Clippers’ bench has plenty of notable players and has been extremely productive all season long, the Spurs’ second unit has been the most productive group statistically speaking.
San Antonio’s bench leads the league in points per game (42.0), assists per game (11.3), field goal percentage (.479) and efficiency (49.7). As is often the case, the Spurs have been flying under the radar and not getting the credit that they deserve.
The big-name players on the Spurs’ bench are Manu Ginobili and Stephen Jackson. Outside of those two players, San Antonio’s contributors are far from household names. Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills, Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair and Nando De Colo have been playing well for the Spurs.
They don’t have the star power that the Clippers do on the bench (with Jamal Crawford, Chauncey Billups, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, etc.), but they do have players who Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich can trust and who can be counted on when needed.
San Antonio’s bench may be just as good as L.A.’s, if not better.” – Alex Kennedy
“New York Knicks. Over the summer, Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald was chided for assembling one of the oldest rosters in the history of the league. However, now more than a quarter of the way through the season, New York has established itself as a legitimate contender.
And one of the reasons for their early season success has been the surprisingly strong play from their bench. The most important cog among the reserves has clearly been J.R. Smith, who is playing the best basketball of his career and is making a very strong case for Sixth Man of the Year. Earlier this week, Smith ran his streak of at least 20 points and five rebounds to five straight games, which is the longest such streak for a player off the bench since 1989. Smith is also the first Knick to score 25 or more points in four straight games as a reserve.
In addition to Smith, sharpshooter Steve Novak (who led the NBA in three-point percentage last season), has continued his long-range marksmanship this year. Backup point guard Pablo Prigioni has done a solid job quarterbacking the second unit. Rookie Chris Copeland has provided scoring in spurts (he is currently the only Knick, other than Carmelo Anthony, to have scored over 28 points in a game this season). Rasheed Wallace is currently sidelined, but he was undeniably impressive in his return from retirement back in November and early December. If Sheed can stay healthy, he can provide strong interior defense, as well as offensive versatility on the other end of the floor. Iman Shumpert will also soon be returning from an injury, and although he’ll likely be inserted into the starting lineup, it will allow coach Woodson to use Ronnie Brewer of the bench, which only increases the team’s overall depth.
And, of course, we now add Amar’e Stoudemire to the mix. There are some questions as to how Amar’e will embrace his role off the bench, but it’s rare any team can bring a career 20-point scorer into games as a sub. If Amar’e is anything close to 100 percent, and embraces his role as a reserve, one could make the case that New York has the deepest team in the NBA.” – Tommy Beer
“Golden State Warriors. There aren’t too many teams in the NBA that can lose two starters and still find a spot near the top of their conference after two months of play.
The Warriors, however, have done just that, fighting for a spot in the West’s top four despite losing guard Brandon Rush to a season-ending knee injury in early on and still waiting for center Andrew Bogut to get healthy.
With nine players playing at least ten minutes per game, head coach Mark Jackson is using his depth to make up for the loss of two starters. Klay Thompson is playing well in place of Rush and Carl Landry’s brilliant play off the bench has helped the team’s front court situation immensely.
The Los Angeles Clippers are a very deep team, but the Warriors, especially with Bogut and Rush in the mix, would give them a run for their money.” – Bill Ingram
“Boston Celtics. Boston entered this season with an infusion of youth and depth that this team has not enjoyed for some time. The Celtics added to their big three of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett by bringing in proven veterans Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa to replace Ray Allen. Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox were back to bolster the front court that also features promising rookie big men Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, but the biggest additions to the team’s depth were probably the returns of Avery Bradley and Jeff Green. With the benefit of hindsight, the addition of Darko Milicic is best forgotten. By any measure, the Celtics had a very deep and talented team heading into the season and despite the disappointing results, they still do.
However, the Celtics’ depth hasn’t created chemistry and maybe that should not have come as a surprise. All this depth has meant so far is there are 10 or 12 players needing or deserving of significant playing time on any given night and the team still doesn’t have a true backup point guard or center.
What the Celtics do have is too many players that are used to being major contributors and not enough minutes to go around. The recent return of Bradley to the lineup could actually make things worse and despite recent suggestions Bradley could backup Rondo at point guard, it was head coach Doc Rivers who said the reason Bradley broke out last year was they figured out he wasn’t a point guard.
The Celtics are one of the deepest teams in the league, but depth alone doesn’t guarantee success. It does, however, give the Celtics options going forward.” – Stephen Brotherston
Which team is the deepest? Leave a comment below.
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