What Team Has the Strongest Bench Going into the 2012-13 NBA Season?
There appears to be a general consensus in defining the value of depth when it comes to the NBA's regular season, but how that aspect of team construction translates to the playoffs remains a matter of debate.
Nevertheless, a deep roster at the very least positions a particular team for long-term regular-season success and affords it the ability to withstand injury. There is value in having a deep lineup, however unspecific that value might be.
All of which makes it a worthy enterprise to identify the league's deepest teams with the 2012-13 NBA season nearly upon us. Which squads are best positioned to withstand an injury to a crucial contributor? Which teams are best prepared to compensate for a particularly underwhelming showing? The following clubs are almost certainly among them.
San Antonio Spurs
Even without making any notable additions to their rotation in the offseason, the Spurs begin the new season as one of the league's deepest outfits. A statistical testament to that fact: 13 different Spurs players averaged over 10 points per 36 minutes last season. That kind of scoring balance is almost unheard of in NBA circles, as is Gregg Popovich's rotation of seemingly interchangeable parts.
Few coaches know how to get more out of their respective rosters than Pop; although San Antonio isn't necessarily loaded with top-notch talent, the Spurs develop talent and utilize specialists as well as any team in the NBA.
Golden State Warriors
These playoff up-and-comers may not be the first team to enter the discussion as far as the league's deepest rosters are concerned, but consider this: Richard Jefferson may be Golden State's ninth-best player in the coming season.
A healthy Steph Curry and Andrew Bogut make the Warriors far more potent at two crucial positions, but it's the glut of talent at the other positions that thrusts the Dubs into this category.
Klay Thompson had a fantastic finish to his rookie campaign and looked three steps ahead of his Summer League competition.
Brandon Rush didn't draw much attention as a free agent, but he plays fantastic defense, shoots well and doesn't make mistakes.
Harrison Barnes may not be a sure thing, but he has the potential to be an explosive scorer from his first day in the NBA.
David Lee has been Golden State's most productive player and will complement Bogut beautifully this season.
Carl Landry could make for the steal of the summer, as the Warriors nabbed a quality reserve scorer for just $8 million over two years.
Even if rookies Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli don't pan out in year one, the Warriors look absolutely stacked.
Fit remains an issue (as does a lack of efficient play from Milwaukee's ball-dominating guards), but the Bucks are irrefutably sturdy. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will be crucial to whatever ends Milwaukee is able to manage, but much of their success will come from elsewhere.
Ersan Ilyasova, Beno Udrih, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Tobias Harris, Mike Dunleavy, Ekpe Udoh and Drew Gooden make for an incredibly underrated crop of role players, meaning that Scott Skiles should have absolutely no problem filling minutes when one of his starters inevitably finds their way into his dog house.
What Masai Ujiri and head coach George Karl are looking to accomplish in Denver is virtually unprecedented and damn impressive. The Nuggets thrive based on the direct and indirect value of depth, and nowhere is that better demonstrated than on the wings.
Between the nominal shooting-guard and small-forward positions alone, the Nuggets have as many as seven viable NBA players. Even more impressive yet: With the flexibility throughout the roster (and Karl's willingness to play the likes of Andre Miller, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler out of position), the Nuggets put that depth to frequent and creative use.
Daryl Morey cobbled together asset upon asset to use in a trade package for Dwight Howard, but when the final elements of his plan fell through, the Rockets were left with a full stable of players and no foundational centerpiece.
As good a get as Howard would have been, these Rox are hardly in a bad place; their consolation prize is a roster loaded with young talent and filled to the brim with options in Morey's roster-building future.
The Rockets' depth is rather unique in that it not only stems from a platoon of young players, but outright rookies. Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones, Royce White, Donatas Motiejunas and Scott Machado could all find their way into Kevin McHale's rotation in the coming season, and though minutes could prove scarce with so many other capable players on the roster, that influx of youth and energy gives Houston's lineup an interesting—and unpredictable—feel.
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