Clubs That Must Make Big-Time Bench Changes by Trade Deadline
The 2012-13 NBA regular season remains young. Even in the first week of action, however, we have learned unfortunate truths about a handful of under-performing franchises.
The following five teams have proven that their second units are as weak as their starting lineups are strong.
Due to this established fact, there is no way to justify their moving forward as they currently stand. Instead, they must take action and cure their detrimental woes before their weakness as a collective unit is exposed.
By the time the February 21st NBA trade deadline rolls around in 2013, these teams must make a move via free agency or trade. So where can they turn?
When the Chicago Bulls replaced Kyle Korver with Marco Belinelli, local fans sang Belinelli's praises as an upgrade. The fact of the matter is that Korver is in another stratosphere from virtually every other shooter in the NBA—including the Bulls' new marksman.
With Belinelli and Richard Hamilton in the lineup, some expected the duo to provide quality perimeter-scoring numbers. Through the first five games of the season, however, the Bulls are shooting just 28.1 percent from beyond the arc as a team.
To say that they need to add some sharpshooters to their rotation is a gross understatement.
To fill that void, there are options in free agency. Young shooting guard James Anderson could come in as a minor-minutes scorer, while veteran Matt Carroll is known for his small minutes and big shooting. In nine years, Carroll has shot 38.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Another option would be Anthony Parker, who has shot 40.4 percent from beyond the arc over the span of nine years in the league. The most promising option, however, would be Michael Redd.
Over the final month of the 2011-12 regular season, Redd averaged 11.4 points per game on 40.5-percent shooting from beyond the arc. Although he's no longer the 20 point per game scorer he was before injuries struck, he'd be a quality fit for a team in desperate need of a shooter.
If not Redd, a trade is the only other option. Unfortunately, the Bulls do not have the greatest class of trade options.
Los Angeles Lakers
It's no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers have started the season with a record of 1-4. What most people don't know, however, is that the Lakers starters are not the ones who should be held accountable for their shortcomings.
It's their bench, who have been averaging a mere 17.4 points per game. That ranks 29th in the NBA, which is a primary reason that team chemistry has been so difficult to build.
The Lakers coaching staff just isn't comfortable with their current group of reserves.
There aren't very many free agents who could help the Lakers out of their current predicament. Kenyon Martin is a quality player, but Jordan Hill and Antawn Jamison already fill the voids in the frontcourt.
Hopefully, they'll discover consistency by the trade deadline.
A legitimate option for the Lakers would be to sign Mickael Pietrus to bolster their perimeter defense. As they presently stand, Los Angeles has done nothing to slow down their opponents.
With Pietrus on the roster, however, they'll have a player who can work with and develop Devin Ebanks into a quality perimeter defender.
What the Lakers truly need is athleticism. They continue to be outrun by Western Conference opponents and will continue to struggle against the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder until they find perimeter players that can provide an athletic boost.
The only way to do that is via trade. Unless they believe in combo-guard Delonte West, that void will continue to grow in Los Angeles.
Through the first four games of the 2012-13 NBA regular season, the Philadelphia 76ers are averaging just 83.3 points per game. That ranks them dead last and stretches well beyond the absence of center Andrew Bynum.
When Jrue Holiday isn't on the floor, the Sixers lack any form of direction. That falls directly upon their lack of a second-unit point guard.
Royal Ivey isn't a terrible option, but he is not the answer for the second unit. Although Evan Turner could handle the ball-handling duties, the team needs either a scorer or a ball-handler who can step up and fill in while Holiday is resting.
So who can they turn to?
In terms of free agency, the options are limited but available. Derek Fisher is one option to provide veteran relief, while the recently cut Delonte West could be another player the Sixers bring in to fill said void.
Other than those two, Jordan Farmar appears to be the only realistic option for this team. If that does not work out, a trade may be the only plan of attack.
But the question is who will the Sixers be willing to give up on by the trade deadline.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers starting five is presently clicking on all cylinders. Rookie Damian Lillard is exceeding expectations, while Wesley Matthews has stepped up as a consistent scoring option at the 2.
LaMarcus Aldridge, meanwhile, continues to play at an All-Star level as Nicolas Batum and J.J. Hickson offer quality support.
Unfortunately, beyond their quality starters is nothing short of disarray. The likes of Sasha Pavlovic are being turned to for major minutes, and the Blazers know the trouble with this as an organization.
According to Chris B. Haynes of CSN Northwest, general manager Neil Olshey could utilize the trade deadline to cure their woes.
#Blazers GM Neil Olshey says he hopes someone internally steps up on bench. Says if not, he may address it at trade deadline or offseason.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) November 8, 2012
A major reason for their deficiencies is how poorly the team has played when Matthews is on the bench.
With him on the floor, the Blazers have shot 40.6 percent from beyond the arc. When he's on the bench, however, the team is shooting just 21.7 from distance.
Their plus-minus per 48 minutes, meanwhile, has been a negative-1.0 with Matthews on the floor. Without him, it is a negative-14.6.
A major reason for this has been the fact that the team is presently turning to Pavlovic to take his place. For that reason, it may behoove the Blazers to take a look at Mickael Pietrus or explore trade options involving a quality scorer.
A move should be explored. The question is how drastic a move are the Blazers willing to make to acquire a shooter as their sixth man.
The Toronto Raptors are much like the Chicago Bulls. They're an elite defensive team with the necessary weapons to win any game they play in, even if they are missing their starting point guards due to injury.
Unfortunately for Toronto, the Raptors aren't quite as well-built as the Bulls. In turn, they cannot overcome how poor they've shot from beyond the arc over the past two seasons.
During the 2011-12 regular season, the Raptors shot just 34.0 percent from beyond the three-point line. Thus far in 2012-13, they're shooting 32.4 percent.
In order to fill that void, the options for the Raptors are virtually the same as the Bulls. Michael Redd and Matt Carroll would provide depth at the guard positions and could become the three-point shooters they presently lack.
The true fix for the Raptors, however, is to simply offer rookie Terrence Ross more minutes.
Ross is an outstanding jump shooter with above-average size for the shooting-guard position. He's also a quality defender, which should make him a favorite of the defensive-minded head coach Dwane Casey.
Nevertheless, the Raptors have given Ross an average of 8.8 minutes per game. Unless he finds the floor more often, signing an alternate shooter is the only way to go.