Starters get most of the attention and praise from the media and the fans, but truth to be told, who finishes games is way more important than who starts them, as Manu Ginobili has proved over his entire career.
Some substitutes have been even more reliable than his starting counterparts, as they’ve been called to maintain the team’s leads or even try to make a push to come back from huge deficits, achieving what the starting 5 wasn’t able to do.
Today, we’re going to talk about the guys that didn’t get the starting not, but even so, played terrific basketball all season long, proving that they could be starters elsewhere with great ease, making our very own.
All-NBA 2018 Bench Team
PG: Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson has always played very well off the bench as a combo guard capable of running the team’s offense or play off the ball as a scorer, and this year he didn’t miss a beat with the Lakers and the Cavs.
Clarkson averaged 13.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 0.7 steals per game and was one of the best trade chips Cleveland could land looking ahead of the future, as he’s still just years old and has proven that he can get hot on the blink of an eye and put a lot of points on the scoreboard.
SG: Lou Williams
Lou Williams is a perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, but this year, he played at an All-Star level leading the Los Angeles Clippers all season long following injuries of Danilo Gallinari, Milos Teodosic, Blake Griffin and Patrick Beverley.
Williams has always proved that he can torch opposing defenders, draw fouls, finish through contact and put other people on skates, but he even improved his defensive skills and playmaking abilities, posting season averages of 22.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
SF: Will Barton
Will Barton was called to step up every time the Nuggets had an injury on the starting lineup, filling up for Gary Harris and Wilson Chandler when needed, but spending most of the time off the bench as their primary scorer.
Barton has never struggled to put points on the scoreboard and this year averages of 15.7 points, 4.1 helpers, 5 rebounds and 1 steal per game have been no different. Also, his ability to play the 2, the 3 and even the 4 on small ball lineups provided Denver with a much-needed versatility and stroke from beyond the arc.
PF: Kyle Kuzma
Kyle Kuzma is looking like one of the biggest steals in the past couple of drafts, posting season averages of 16.1 points, 6.3 boards and 2.1 three-pointers while providing coach Walton with a crafty combo forward that could even play the center spot if needed.
Kuzma developed a lot of chemistry with Lonzo Ball and is looking like a lock to be the team’s starting power forward next season, didn’t hide from big moments and didn’t hesitate to take big shots either, showing a lot of confidence although his defense still needs to improve a lot.
C: Larry Nance Jr
The Cleveland Cavaliers landed a hell of a hustler in Larry Nance Jr, a young man that’s willing to take a hit for the team, put his body on the line on every loose ball and try to make scorers earn all of their points the hard way.
Nance Jr is never going to put some flashy stat lines, but his top-notch effort was a huge factor early on for the Los Angeles Lakers. Over the course of the year, he put averages of 8.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 0.8 blocks per game.