Starters and stars get all the glory, but a deep NBA bench is a critical element of any team's regular-season success.
Key reserves take the pressure off of a team's marquee talents, allowing A-listers to reach the postseason in some semblance of good health. Plus, some particularly dynamic backups provide the kind of spark off the bench that comes in handy during the course of the occasionally monotonous 82-game regular season.
On the flip side, a lack of competent reserves can spell disaster for even the most dangerous starting units. The injury bug never seems to bite at a good time, so it's always important to have able reinforcements on hand.
As we go through the best bench units in the league, keep in mind that quality trumps quantity. So if one club has three excellent starting-caliber reserves, it'll rank ahead of a team that has five or six so-so substitutes.
In addition, it's vital that the bench talent fits in with the starters. It doesn't do a team any good to have a half-dozen one-dimensional scorers on the pine when it needs someone to defend the rim or distribute the rock. Just ask the Sacramento Kings.