Having a strong second unit is one of the most important things any general manager needs to try and do, as starters tend to get burned towards the end of the campaign, and a single injury may send your season down the drain.
Teams of the likes of the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors have thrived thanks to their strong benches, as their second tier players are good enough to maintain and extend leads, or even put together nice comebacks.
Nonetheless, there have been some teams that haven’t been as prolific off the bench, and as soon as their starters get a breather, hell breaks loose. Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 worst benches in the NBA.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Seth Curry, Nik Stauskas, Evan Turner, Caleb Swanigan, Zach Collins
The Portland Trail Blazers feature quite a strong starting unit for sure, but they can’t be considered a legit threat in the Western Conference with this kind of unproven, unbalanced second unit.
Curry’s coming off a season in the shelf due to injury, while Stauskas is one of the biggest busts of his Draft class. Zach Collins looks like a solid player in the making, but you just can’t trust Evan Turner in either side of the hardwood, while Swanigan is merely a role player at best.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Rose, Josh Okogie, Keita Bates-Diop, Anthony Tolliver, Gorgui Dieng:
Tom Thibodeau has always been known for pretty much draining his starters by playing them 40+ minutes even if we’re talking about back-to-back sets, so having a soft second unit has never been much of a concern for him.
The young Timberwolves have one of the strongest and most promising first units in the league, but they’ve constantly struggled to take a step forward, and with this kind of bench, they just can’t make any slight mistake.
8. New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay, Courtney Lee, Lance Thomas, Noah Vonleh, Mitchell Robinson
We don’t know just yet whether if coach Fizdale is going to start Burke or Ntilikina, so we left them out of the equation, but that logjam at the point guard spot may be a disaster in the making for the Knicks.
When it comes to their bench, things aren’t looking much better either. Yes, Vonleh may still become a solid role player while Mudiay has the talent to become at least a Kyle Lowry kind of point guard, but there isn’t much more there.
7. Chicago Bulls: Cameron Payne, Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine, Bobby Portis, Robin Lopez
The Chicago Bulls are actually looking like a very good squad for the future, but they still need to improve their second unit in order to contend in the Eastern Conference, as they’re right on track to becoming a competitive squad once again.
Cameron Payne hasn’t been able to prove his worth due to constant injuries, while Valentine’s development has quite stalled. Portis brings a lot of energy but is a major defensive liability, and they just need to trade Robin Lopez ASAP.
6. Detroit Pistons: Ish Smith, Luke Kennard, Glenn Robinson III, Henry Ellenson, Zaza Pachulia
The Detroit Pistons’ first unit pretty much consists on Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Besides them, they have second or third tier players that aren’t going to be able to lead them to the playoffs.
Nonetheless, their second unit is even worse, and we don’t even know how on earth that’s possible. Ish Smith is a subpar scorer, Kennard’s a work in progress and both Robinson and Ellenson shouldn’t even be in the league anymore, not to mention they have arguably one of the worst centers in the league in Zaza Pachulia.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Korver, Larry Nance Jr, Ante Zizic
The Cleveland Cavaliers went from being perennial Championship contenders to a team that’s likely to be among the bottom of the standings right after LeBron James decided to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
We assume Collin Sexton is quickly going to grab onto the starting point guard spot, so that’s going to leave a couple of washed out veterans in Hill and Korver to the bench. Clarkson has been horrible since leaving the Lakers, while Ante Zizic is still a couple of years away from being able to make a steady contribution.
4. Sacramento Kings: Yogi Ferrell, Buddy Hield, Nemanja Bjelica, Harry Giles, Zach Randolph
The Sacramento Kings have been one of the league’s laughingstocks for years and that’s mostly because of the incredibly dumb moves they’ve done every season, the trades and signings they do and the prospects they draft.
They’re used to giving away a lot of money for players that just aren’t worthy of those kinds of deals, like Yogi Ferrell and Nemanja Bjelica. Randolph is already washed out, Hield hasn’t been able to establish himself as the dominant scorer we all hoped he’d become, and Harry Giles has pretty much reached his ceiling already, which isn’t that high, to be honest.
3. Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Jared Dudley, Ed Davis
The Brooklyn Nets may mess around and try to put together a nice playoff run, but that’s not going to last much, especially with this kind of second unit featuring guys of the likes of Jared Dudley, a player that’s never been actually good for anything but fighting.
Ed Davis brings a lot of energy and hustle on both ends of the hardwood and is a solid defender, while Spencer Dinwiddie is one of the best backup point guards in the league, but this second unit lacks balance and a true scorer that could create his own shot.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Shelvin Mack, MarShon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Ivan Rabb
The Memphis Grizzlies are set to dress several guys we even forgot were still NBA players, guys like Shelvin Mack and MarShon Brooks, let alone Chandler Parsons, arguably their worst signing ever.
Memphis is likely going to tank from day one and they should already be exploring deals surrounding Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr, so that could leave the door wide open for Ivan Rabb to take over the starting center spot, whoever he may be.
1. Atlanta Hawks: Jeremy Lin, Tyler Dorsey, Justin Anderson, Omari Spellman, Alex Len
The Atlanta Hawks are by far the worst team in the NBA heading into this season, and that’s not even close. Assuming Trae Young will be their starting playmaker, their lone reliable asset off the bench is going to be Jeremy Lin, if healthy.
Besides Lin, this team features a huge ‘what if’ with a lot of upside in Alex Len, while the other guys look like players somebody created for NBA 2K. They’re going to be lucky if they win over 13 games this season.