5. Denver Nuggets
If anything, the loss of Carmelo Anthony has made the Nuggets as a team, much better. In a trade where Denver received multiple, solid players, it made their bench one of the best in the league. Denver has also made some great free agent and trade acquisitions other than the Melo trade, such as Corey Brewer, who provides length and defense and Rudy Fernadez who has one of the best 3 point shots in the game. Other bench players include: Al Harrington, Andre Miller and Chris Anderson aka Birdman who are all capable back ups. Look for the Nuggets to surprise you in the playoffs this season, possibly making it past the first round for the first time in a long time.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers made a surprise run in the Eastern Conference Playoffs last season, giving the Miami Heat quite a scare even though the series score may not show it. With a young nucleus led by veteran Andre Iguodala, the 76ers will look to improve into the top 6 in the East this season. One of the factors in Philly is their talented bench which includes Andres Nocioni, Lou Williams, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young. Turner, the second round pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, had a rough start in his rookie season, but finally got it together by the playoffs. So far this season he has provided a spark off the bench, giving the Sixers star Iguodala a break. Turner is averaging 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game and will eventually be a star once he gets more playing time. Lou Williams is a solid back up to Jrue Holliday and has a silky 3 point stroke. Nocioni and Young provide some offense, but give the Sixers a lot of energy when their numbers are called.
3. Dallas Mavericks
Even though it hasn’t showed this year so far, the Mavericks bench is one of the best in the NBA. Almost all of their subs could start for most teams in the league. The addition of Lamar Odom hasn’t paid off yet, but there is no way he will play this poorly throughout the entire season. Jason Terry has been one of, if not the best 6th men in the NBA for most of his career. He can single-handedly win games for the Mavs with his versatile game as well as his deadly three point shooting ability. Shawn Marion and Delonte West are phenomenal back ups who alway provide valuable minutes and even the young seven footer, Ian Mahinmi has shown that he can play at a high level. The Mavs will pick up their sloppy play soon enough and the bench will be a big part of that.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder’s bench is an extremely young and talented group of scorers. With shooting guard James Harden leading the bench averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists per game, he is looking to be the early favorite for the 2012 Sixth Man of the Year award. Many people question Scott Brooks choice to have him come off the bench, but it is actually a very smart move. Thabo Sefolosha, the starting guard, provides length and great defensive abilities and then when either Durant or Westbrook need to rest, Harden can provide the same kind of offense without skipping a beat. The other bench players include one of the best team players in the league, Nick Collison, as well as sharpshooter, Daequan Cook.
1. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls “BenchMob” is by far the best bench of any team in the NBA this season. They have five players, one for each position, who can step in for the starters and give extremely productive minutes. In the front court, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson are arguably the best defensive tandem in the league. With Asik’s shot blocking/altering and rebounding abilities and Gibson’s athleticism, improving offensive game and hard nosed defense, they have found themselves playing in front of the starters on many occasions in the fourth quarter. At the shooting guard/small forward position, Ronnie Brewer is a phenomenal defender and has been surprisingly good on offense this year. Kyle Korver is the team’s threat from beyond the arc shooting close to 50% for his career. He has the ability to stretch any defense and has one of the quickest releases in the game. Finally, C.J. Watson has been a pleasant surprise for Chicago, giving the Bulls extremely valuable minutes to rest Derrick Rose, but also to provide a game manager as well as a solid scorer. With a 10 man rotation, Chicago’s chances of reaching the finals have only improved this season.