Having quality depth is as crucial to a team's championship hopes as building a strong core of superstars. That's why a few wise teams opted to use free agency to help bolster their bench.
A blockbuster move like Houston signing Dwight Howard will garner the necessary headlines and raise excitement among the fans. Still, it is just as important to have guys on the second unit who can keep the momentum going when the stars need rest.
This past season's NBA Finals is a good example of teams succeeding because of a solid bench. The San Antonio Spurs were able to get productive minutes out of guys like Gary Neal. As for the defending champion Miami Heat, they benefited from the likes of Ray Allen and Chris Andersen.
This summer, teams followed that mold and spent some coin on lesser names that could provide depth and give a spark off of the bench. Some squads even used the NBA draft to lay the groundwork for a rebuild of their second unit.
The teams that are being recognized today are the ones that have done the best job so far of retooling their reserves. It is important to keep in mind that these teams upgraded their benches rather than just using free agency to fill what they lost.
For instance, the Los Angeles Clippers made a couple savvy moves in adding guards J.J. Redick and Darren Collison to the fold this summer. However, those two are essentially replacements for the departed Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe.
Here are the teams that made the best use of free agency to strengthen their bench this summer.