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What team has the best bench players in the NBA?

Our NBA rankings continues. Who has the best 6th, 7th, 8th and beyond men in the NBA?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Behind every great starting five is always usually probably sometimes a great bench.

Through the Miami Heat's recent run of championships they built their roster with a starting five surrounded by three superstars and then built their bench with aging players with just enough left in the tank like Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, Rashard Lewis, Shane Battier and others.

The San Antonio Spurs on the other hand have always been able to find players and put them in the perfect roles, allowing them to exceed and go beyond what they were able to do as bench players on other squads. Their most recent championship team was backed up by manuthe likes of Patty Mills, Matt Bonner, Marco Belinelli and others including one of the greatest sixth men of all time; Manu Ginobili.

So usually, a great starting five and a great bench can carry a team a long way. Or it can probably carry them a long way. Or sometimes it can carry them a long way.

Anyways, 10 writers and editors from our staff here voted and ranked the NBA's best benches coming into the 2014-15 season.

Tier 5

Rank Team Highest Rank Lowest Rank Average Rank
30 27 30 29.3
29 24 30 28.6
28 25 29 27.9
27 21 30 26.3
26 17 29 24.8
25 10 28 24.1
24 20 25 23.3
23 20 27 22.8
22 16 26 21.9
21 18 26 20.8
20 12 25 20.6
19 16 21 19.3

Most of these teams have awful benches and most of these teams will miss the playoffs. But the ones likely to make it in to the playoffs out of tier five are projected so because of their superstars in the starting five. It's unfathomable to think that a starting five including Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will miss the playoffs, but heading into round one you'll see plenty of columns, blog posts, articles and hot takes outlining the Thunder's biggest flaw; their bench. The Rockets, with Dwight Howard and James Harden fall in the same boat, as do the Miami Heat with Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng. With a new coach and a new system, Carmelo Anthony has a chance to do the same with his roster full of gunners. Kobe Bryant's playoff hopes? I don't know, can he and Steve Nash stay healthy and not kill Swaggy P?

Tier 4

Rank Team Highest Rank Lowest Rank Average Rank
18 11 20 16.5
17 12 24 16.4
16 11 23 16.2
15 4 22 15.4
14 12 22 15.3

This is the tier that, we don't know how they will look. The Indiana Pacers brought in Chris Singleton, C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey, but with the departure of Lance Stephenson and the injury to Paul George, those guys could be starting, and their bench minutes could be filled by the likes of Lavoy Allen and C.J. Fair. Meanwhile, the Suns signed Isiah Thomas, but between he and projected starting guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, there may not be enough minutes to keep everyone happy. Not to mention, they lost Channing Frye to the Magic, who created a lot of points off of pick and pops from the bench. Frye's presence on the floor alone as a stretch five created spacing for the high-flying Suns, and I'm not buying Anthony Tolliver as a realistic replacement. The Hawks picked up Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha in free agency, and drafted Adrien Payne, but their bench wasn't anything to write home about last season and those names added in the off-season don't exactly leap off the screen. For the Hornets, it's hard to tell how good this bench will be because it's so young. For the Pistons, well, anything can happen.

Tier 3

Rank Team Highest Rank Lowest Rank Average Rank
13 12 15 13.1
12 9 19 12.5
11 8 19 11.3
10 8 14 10.5

Tier three is certainly better than tier four, but I'm not sure we really know how good these benches are either. On paper, the Golden State Warriors have a good bench, but last year a big flaw of Mark Jackson was that he wasn't creative with the lineups and did a poor job of mixing starters and reserves. We'll see how Steve Kerr does with that. Meanwhile, the Nets are a year older, but with a healthy Brook Lopez that means that Mason Plumlee is likely returning to a reserve role, giving them some young depth in the big man department. Toronto had a solid bench last season led by Greivis Vasquez and should be better in year two of the new era Raptors as they go after another playoff spot.

Tier 2

Rank Team Highest Rank Lowest Rank Average Rank
9 3 17 8.4
8 4 15 7.3
7 4 9 7.2
6 4 18 6.4
5 2 13 6.2
4 5 7 5.6

LeBron James came back to Cleveland this past summer and with him he brought a handful of role players like Mike Miller and Shawn Marion. Derrick Rose's return from injury in Chicago also came with some added depth on the bench as they drafted Doug McDermott, retained Taj Gibson and brought Nikola Mirotic over to the states. The Mavericks were able to improve their depth by adding a few veterans in Richard Jefferson, Jameer Nelson, Al-Farouq Aminu and others to fill out their roster, while the Wizards picked up a former Maverick, DeJuan Blair, along with the addition of Kris Humphries and Damion James to a bench that didn't lose many pieces as the 'Zards held on to the likes of Kevin Seraphin, Drew Gooden, Otto Porter and Martell Webster.

Perhaps the team that made the biggest strides in adding depth were the Clippers. Last season they might as well have had no one behind DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin on the depth chart, but this summer they added versatile bench bigs in Spencer Hawes and Ekpe Udoh along with adding a swingman in Chris Douglas-Roberts and a back-up point guard in Jordan Farmar.

I'm still not sure how the Trail Blazers made it up this far though. Sure, they added Steve Blake and Chris Kaman and held on to guys like Thomas Robinson, C.J. McCollum and Dorell Wright, but should an injury happen to one of the Blazers' starting five, their season could get ugly very quickly.

Tier 1

Rank Team Highest Rank Lowest Rank Average Rank
3 2 7 3.7
2 2 6 2.8
1 1 1 1

The Denver Nuggets have a very deep and large roster, the problem is, I don't know who is starting or coming off the bench. For this exercise, we'll say that their starting five is Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee. Which means Head Coach Brian Shaw gets to pick from a crop of Nate Robinson, Gary Harris, J.J. Hickson, Danilo Gallinari, Randy Foye and others for his final seven players on the bench. If Shaw can get creative with minutes management and lineups then the Nuggets could do really well this year and have a high powered second unit.

The Grizzlies are a year older and last year an achilles' heel of theirs was three-point shooting and bench play. To improve that, Memphis went out and picked up Michael Beasley, Jordan Adams, Jarnell Stokes, Luke Hancock, Earl Clark and the big sixth man fish; Sergeant Vincent Lamar Carter Jr.

Last season with the Mavericks, Vince Carter averaged... well, here's his per-36 minutes numbers from last season:



























































Not bad for a 37-year old Vinsanity.


I talked about them a bit up top, but they deserve to be addressed again. Year in and year out, the Spurs front office does a great job of bringing in guys that want to play for Greg Popovich and then Pop does a great job of putting those players in roles that they succeed in and he's been doing it for years. In the Spurs most recent run of successes those guys have been Manu, Belinelli, Bonner, Mills, Danny Green and Boris Diaw. Outside of Bonner, each of those guys had a game in the playoffs where they just blew up the stat sheet coming off the bench and helped the Spurs win a game, or multiple games. The Spurs’ bench finished the regular season in 2014 first in scoring per game (44.5 ppg), field-goal percentage (47.8) and assists (10.9) while also finishing second in rebounds (16.8) and 3-point percentage (39.1), and  then finished third in steals (3.3). They're almost too good for stats to measure, but you all watched the Finals last year, right?

And the same bench core is back for another ride with Pop, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Oh, and they drafted Kyle Anderson, who did some pretty awesome things at UCLA last season and at Summer League.