The benches for the Celtics and Lakers have been a staple of their success for years. With the amount of energy that is exerted throughout the playoffs, having a reliable bench can be a key success factor. Still, they were two of only a few teams that went out and significantly improved their bench this off-season.
The additions of Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal added some height – a weakness that Celtics desperately needed to fill, especially with Perkins out. They also added some fill-in height with 7'0” Semih Erden out of Turkey. Erden has been useful early during a few nagging injuries for the O'Neal's.
The Celtics have already implemented new acquisition Delonte West seamlessly, and West, along with Nate Robinson, serve as a formidable backup to Rajon Rondo.
The best aspect of the Celtics pickups is that they usually firmly address a sore spot, and the Lakers are no different. With an aging Derek Fisher, and players like Jordan Farmar simply not fitting the puzzle, the Lakers needed to make some moves to boost both bench scoring and defense. Again, they were successful.
Last season, Shannon Brown cemented himself as a rising talent with less of a ceiling than Farmar. The addition of Steve Blake after his short stint with “the other team in L.A.” has already proven to be a very effective piece of the Lakers puzzle. Blake is 39.5% from three on his career and is shooting close to 50% this season.
The Lakers also bolstered their bench by adding free agent Matt Barnes. Barnes has been a traveling man his whole career but may have found a place in L.A. as a defensive specialist with scoring potential. He brings energy and stability to a young second unit, especially while Lamar Odom plays with the starters.
Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic aren't exactly consistent off the bench, which is probably one of the Lakers few weak spots. Still, Walton knows how to make a solid defensive contribution while Vujacic sucks up cap space.
Could the Celtics/Lakers benches contend with lowly teams like the Raptors or Wizards? Possibly. While much less is required of some of these former starters, their jobs remain just as important.