Finding the Perfect Nickname for Top 10 NBA Bench Squads
The Los Angeles Clippers have ended up nicknaming their bench "A Tribe Called Bench," which is honestly one of the better bench nicknames in a while. Rather than going the route of just referring to their bench as a "Bench Mob," as a handful of teams have done in the past, they did something actually creative with it.
Of course, the most popular bench in recent years has to be the Chicago Bulls' incarnation of the bench mob last season, although they were far from the first team to use that monicker.
Chicago's bench has since disintegrated, but they're reformed and still a very good bench, thanks in a huge part to Taj Gibson continuing to play well.
The biggest problem with the new squad in Chicago, however, is that they are without a nickname, and there's no way I'm going back to calling them a bench mob.
At this point, the nickname "Bench Mob" has become the de facto nickname, kind of like guys using their initials and jersey numbers (CP3, CB3, AK47, for example) as a go-to nickname, despite how dull and un-inventive it seems.
Therefore, with the best benches in the league still needing a nickname, it seems only right to dole a few out here, so why not start with Los Angeles' "Tribe?"
Los Angeles Clippers: A Bench Called Quest
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I love Los Angeles' thought process going into their nickname creation. The execution is just a bit off, however.
While I wouldn't normally do it, I'm totally going to rip off Trey Kerby's idea of relocating the word bench in the name and leaving it be, changing the Clippers' name from "A Tribe Called Bench" to "A Bench Called Quest."
It's just too perfect.
There is no other bench nickname in the league that's going to top this one. It flows well, it's a throwback to one of the coolest rap groups in the history of music and it totally lends itself to a flurry of spin-off nicknames.
The Clippers are forming themselves a great bench out in Los Angeles—punctuated with Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford—scoring 27 points per game and moving the ball well while playing some impressive, albeit spotty, defense.
Philadelphia 76ers: The Cleanup Crew
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Last season the people of Philadelphia took to calling the guys coming off the bench for the 76ers "The Night Shift," which is actually pretty cool.
In sticking with the blue-collar nature of the nickname, I'm going with an equally rugged, albeit slightly less cool-sounding, nickname for the 76ers' new bench: "The Cleanup Crew."
After completely revamping their bench this season, they don't play in quite the same smooth offensive yet rough-and-tumble defense fashion that they did a year ago, but they continue to be effective.
In fact, coming into this season Philadelphia looked like a potential bust of a bench, but it has ended throwing together horrific playing styles and making something matter out of it all.
Between Nick Young's terrible shot selection, Spencer Hawes' rugged defense and the entire sloppy offense, this group of guys is as ugly as they come. But they're productive, and they're getting the job done.
New York Knicks: Jurassic 5
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I've always got an old joke in me when it comes to talking about the New York Knicks, but I've also got to pay them a little bit of respect after they've come out and shocked everybody by looking like the second best team in the Eastern Conference.
The bench, albeit one that's nearly Jurassic in age, has been both deep and productive over the course of the season. And once Iman Shumpert comes back and (presumably) knocks Jason Kidd to the bench, it'll be full-on prehistoric.
As one of my favorite rap groups to come after ATCQ, Jurassic 5 was not only a group of seemingly real dudes, it also made some great rhymes—so this is by no means an insult.
I think it's obvious in this case that Kurt Thomas is playing the role of Chali 2na—deep voice and all—and J.R. Smith moonlights as Akil the MC, while Pablo Prigioni keeps everything flowing as Cut Chemist, the bench's DJ.
Milwaukee Bucks: Who? Live Crew
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The Milwaukee bench has been surprisingly effective this season despite running out a handful of guys that might not be the most recognizable names of the game.
From Ersan Ilyasova to Mike Dunleavy, and from Marquis Daniels and Ekpe Udoh to John Henson and Larry Sanders, Milwaukee has been getting it done with a veritable who's who of "who's he's?"
While they may not be the most recognizable bunch in the league, the "Who? Live Crew" tends to play terrific defense and even goes on a run every now and then to extend a lead or put its team back into a game.
This crew is Top Five in both offensive and defensive efficiency when it comes to the bench and is very prone to blocking shots (Sanders alone is averaging 3.1 per game in just 23 minutes) and grabbing mad offensive rebounds.
Chicago Bulls: Slam and Eggs
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I'm throwing away the "Bench Mob" and bringing in something that sounds cool and almost, sort of, makes sense for the group of guys coming off the bench for the Chicago Bulls.
Chicago has two guys coming off its bench who the casual fan probably only knows because of their dunking abilities: Taj Gibson and Nate Robinson. Obviously, that's the "Slam" half of the bench.
Meanwhile, the Bulls have got a handful of guys who seem like filler but who are quite a tasty dish when they really need to be.
In fact, if Tom Thibodeau weren't so reliant on killing his starters every night, I think he'd be quite impressed with contributions from Jimmy Butler and Nazr Mohammed—if they were given regular minutes.
Oklahoma City Thunder: MCM Grand
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Oklahoma City's bench is great because it's used as an extension of the starting lineup. Instead of mob-subbing in and out, this team does a lot of picking spots and integrating the bench guys in with the starters.
Of course, the Thunder don't need to go very deep when they've got so many young guys playing, so they're ending up with a lot of Kevin Martin, Nick Collison and Eric Maynor, with Hasheem Thabeet sprinkled in more and more, but mostly for some garbage time.
With Martin, Collison and Maynor getting the job done in the most efficient and effective way possible, comes the birth of the "MCM Grand."
No, these guys aren't some swanky hotel resort and casino in Las Vegas. They're a group of vastly talented basketball players who can cover every need possible when it comes to a bench.
They've got perimeter and post defense, quick-footed transition play and terrific shooting.
They may not be very deep, but they get the job done.
Utah Jazz: The Bassists
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Every good jazz band needs a big man slapping a beautiful upright bass if it wants to be anything; otherwise, it's just a lot of brass.
Well, the Jazz have the brass in the starting lineup: Mo and Marvin Williams are great scorers in the backcourt, while Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Randy Foye get the job done in the frontcourt.
However, when they need somebody to keep the rhythm while keeping the funk flowing, they need the defense from the big men down low.
For that they've got two men of very different backgrounds, both good at slapping the bass in the post and manning up: Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
Of course, they've also got themselves a nice cellist coming off the bench—Gordon Hayward—who is capable of coming in and sawing out a nice tune offensively but keeping a nice rhythm going defensively.
Golden State Warriros: Carl Landry's Angles
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There's a reason the Golden State Warriors have been able to make their way to a 13-7 record early on in the season, and a lot of it has to do with Stephen Curry playing at an all-star level.
However, a big thumbs up has to go to Carl Landry's play off the bench and the leadership he brings with the other guys coming in to do the dirty work.
What we have is a group led by Landry coming in to clean up the paint, fight for equality and get the job done for the Warriors.
Between Landry scoring in the paint and grabbing boards, he's leading the way—as the barely visible yet obviously important member of the group—as his angels Jarrett Jack, Draymond Green and the other guy come in to help out.
Jack runs the point, Green does the dirty work and the other guy (most recently Charles Jenkins) guards the perimeter.
Denver Nuggets: The Goonies
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What the Nuggets have coming off the bench is no more than the league's most entertaining group of misfits.
Not only do they come in and do what they need to do, they're thoroughly entertaining in the process.
Of course, they're led by JaVale McGee, the world's most bumbling, stumbling yet effective basketball player.
After JaVale come Andre Miller and Corey Brewer, two guys who play some strange basketball. Miller is one of the most effective low-post point guards in the league, with an afro that looks as soft as a baby's hair. Brewer is a defender who is always on the edge of panic, yet somehow always in control.
Add the unintentionally goofy Timofey Mozgov to the mix, and you've got yourself a veritable group of high-scoring, decently defensive bench guys.
San Antonio Spurs: The Replacements
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There's no way this group of guys will be able to shake this nickname after they nearly beat the Miami Heat in one of the season's most entertaining, yet undeniably entertaining games of the year.
Gregg Popovich sent his starters home for the last game of their road trip a few weeks back, simultaneously waving the white flag and giving a vote of confidence to his bench guys.
Of course, the group came out and battled Miami down to the wire, and if a three-pointer fell here and there, they would have come away with a shocking win.
Since then it has been impossible to deny just how good the Spurs bench is. Despite the fact that the team is missing two of its most important players—Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson—the rest of the players have stepped up and continued on their torrid pace without them.
San Antonio sits at 17-4 on the season. It's hard to say how good the Spurs would be without the strength of their bench, but there's no way they would be as good.
So, give this group of "other guys," this group of impossibly good replacements, your love. They've been amazing so far this season.