The San Antonio Spurs 2013-14 title run was a testament to the value of unheralded virtues like teamwork and passing, a reminder that teams can win in this league without a trio of superstars in the primes of their careers.
It was also a compelling argument on behalf of depth.
Not only did head coach Gregg Popovich's egalitarian distribution of minutes preserve his best players for the postseason—it also gave everyone else a chance to grow.
"It also does develop the bench, give them some confidence to play," Popovich said of his rotation strategy, per NBA.com's Jeff Caplan. "And hopefully in the end when playoff time comes, sometimes it’s a role player that steps up in a certain game and has a heck of a night and helps you."
Indeed, player development can turn an unspectacular collection of names into a well-oiled machine seemingly overnight.
But talent plays an important role, too. The Spurs had plenty of that, as well, even if it was often in the form of uncelebrated role players like Boris Diaw or Patty Mills.
The importance of second units is nothing new, even if they're receiving unprecedented spotlight in the wake of San Antonio's lopsided Finals victory. It's often the depth of a team's rotation that sets it apart from other playoff-bound competition.
Here are five teams who've successfully operated with that principle in mind, positioning themselves as the deepest threats of the 2014-15 season.