No matter how good a team's starters are, it is impossible to win an NBA championship without a quality bench. A single player—even a superstar—can only do so much on the court, and on those nights when the shots aren't falling for a team's No. 1 option, others are forced to make big plays in the clutch.
Many times, those called upon down the stretch are members of a team's second unit. But referring to them as mere "backups" or "substitutes" doesn't give those players nearly enough credit: Even reserves in the NBA are elite-level talents in their own right.
We've seen a number of benches around the league make a statement this season—many second units have been forced to step up to due to an injury to one of their team's front-line players. And with a full 82-game campaign on deck, having a reliable crew of backups is perhaps even more important this year than it was during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.
Note: Statistics are accurate as of Dec. 4.