Top Five Eastern Confrence Benches
Fellow Raptor writer Taylor Smith made a comment regarding the state of the Raptors bench, and their lack of strength so of course I had to look at the issue of team benches in the East.
Most contenders have to rely on their depth in order to avoid the pitfalls that come with contending for a championship. Despite the changing NBA landscape where the gap in between the contenders and pretenders are growing, depth still plays a key role in winning it all.
So I am choosing to base the top five benches off of these factors: Ability to play with the starting unit, overall talent level, players that could start for most teams, and understanding of their roles\specialties within their system. Without further ado Our Top 5 Benches in the East (of course in my opinion)
While I’m sure some people will not agree with my selections for the East, bottom line is that other than these five teams who can match up with them from a bench perspective?
Disagree with me? Missed your Favorite Team? Sound off.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
I know I am surprised myself. When I was running down the rosters of the Cavs I realized that well they have O’Neal now (Silly I know).
So that means that Big Z either is a backup OR he will start at the power forward position (unlikely). So with a second unit of Big Z, J.J Hickson (very underrated), Daniel Gibson, Jamario Moon, and Delonte West the Cavaliers have a wonderful mix of power, athletism, youth, and experience.
This at least in the East is an ideal bench in a position to tip the balance of power in a playoff series.
2. Washington Wizards
That huge pre-draft trade with Minnesota has paved the way for an improved Wizards bench featuring Randy Foye who can be quite effective when healthy.
JaVale McGee showed an impressive improvement from his rookie year in the summer league, Mike James can show up when he’s in the mood, DeShawn Stevenson is a known defensive stopper and if Andrew Blatche can stop soliciting prostitutes for a minute he can also make a huge contribution to the depth and talent level for this team.
Oh yes and Nick Young has the potential to be good, very good
3. Toronto Raptors
I have cast aside any bias I have and ranked the Raptors third. My reasons? Jarrett Jack, and Reggie Evans. The supplemental arguments are DeMar DeRozan, Roko Ukic, and new acquisitions Marco Belinelli or Antoine Wright for added punch offensively or defensively.
It just makes that much sense. Granted working against them is having that Marcus Banks character on the roster, with Patrick (waste of space) O’Bryant.
The Raptors really have put together a formidable bench to hopefully avoid some of those depth issues that plagued them last year.
4. Chicago Bulls
This is what you end up with when you have several assets and an incompetent GM who cannot turn them into anything.
So the Bulls bench will likely consist of John Salmons/Kirk Hinrich, Jannero Pargo (a younger, better defending Eddie House) Joakim Noah (the ultimate energizer bunny, at the cost of offense) rookie James Johnson and Taj Gibson are big bodies that are willing rebounders and will learn how to do the dirty work inside (hopefully).
5. Milwaukee Bucks
Please don’t laugh. The Bucks are not going to be a good team but their bench is almost interchangeable with their starting lineup as some of those starters have not lived up to expectations or are one-dimensional players (cough Michael Redd cough).
The key to their position is the potential re-signing of Ramon Sessions who is a starting point guard in this league.
With hulking (albeit underachieving) Amir Johnson, helpful pieces Kurt Thomas, Fransico Elson and Joe Alexander, do-it-all (in a limited fashion) Malik Allen, Charlie Bell (another streaky shooter), Brandon Jennings and the NBA-Ready Jodie Meeks coming on board the Bucks have an amazing bench. It’s the starting lineup that gives me pause.
Honorable Mention: Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are very similar to the Bucks with the overall depth for their bench. However since the Pistons don’t even have a full roster as of today’s date I can’t comment however a potential bench of Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Charlie V. and Chris Wilcox is certainly a great start.