Ranking the NBA's 5 Deepest Rosters Heading Into 2022-23 Season
As good as an NBA roster may look on paper to begin the season, injuries and illnesses will inevitably chip away at times throughout the year, leaving a far different looking team behind.
This is where depth matters, especially for those who carry playoff or even championship aspirations.
When looking at the NBA's deepest teams, we'll be breaking rosters down into three parts:
- Starting-Caliber Players: Players who will or should have a starting job. Teams on this list will have more than five.
- Rotation-Caliber Players: Players who may not be viewed as starters, but definitely deserve to be in a team's rotation.
- Deep Rotation Players: These are young players looking to break through or veterans looking to hold on. These players likely won't begin the season in the rotation but could provide some "break glass in case of emergency" insurance.
The following five teams may not be the best in the NBA this season, but given their current roster construction, will be the deepest.
5. Detroit Pistons
Starting-Caliber Players: Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart, Alec Burks
Rotation-Caliber Players: Jalen Duren, Marvin Bagley III, Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, Nerlens Noel, Isaiah Livers, Cory Joseph
Deep Rotation Players: Rodney McGruder, Kevin Knox II
The Pistons may not even be a playoff team this season, but this is one of the deepest rosters in the NBA thanks to the continued accumulation of young talent and some smart offseason trades.
Cunningham and Ivey, although both 21 or younger, could make up one of the league's most exciting backcourt tandems this season. This also means Hayes, who started 40 of his 66 games last season, moves to a full-time bench role as a playmaker and defender.
The trade for Bogdanovic was surprising, but also makes a ton of sense for a Detroit team that ranked 29th in three-point accuracy (32.6 percent) and 26th in made threes per game (11.3). His presence as the likely starting power forward gives this unit more spacing and allows players like Bagley and Duren to come off the bench.
Getting Burks and Noel in a salary-dump trade from the New York Knicks was a no-brainer for the Pistons, although the latter may not even make the rotation given the amount of frontcourt depth Detroit possesses now. Even Joseph, who started 39 games a year ago, may have to fight for minutes in 2022-23.
While this isn't the most talented roster in the NBA with so many players still on their rookie deals, Detroit is sneaky-deep thanks to the additions of players like Ivey, Duren, Bogdanovic, Burks and Noel.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
Starting-Caliber Players: Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, P.J. Tucker, De'Anthony Melton, Matisse Thybulle
Rotation-Caliber Players: Montrezl Harrell, Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, Danuel House Jr., Paul Reed, Georges Niang
Deep Rotation Players: Jaden Springer
Thanks to James Harden taking a paycut this summer, the 76ers were able to add some significant help to an already formidable roster.
Tucker and House were signed using exceptions that only became available thanks to Harden opting out and re-signing on a two-year, $68.6 million contract. They should both help improve a defense that ranked just 12th a season ago, with Tucker almost certainly starting at one of the forward spots while House settles into a rotation role off the bench.
Trading an injured Danny Green in a deal to acquire Melton gives Philly another reliable ball-handler and talented defender who can play next to Harden or Maxey, even if he begins games as the sixth man.
Thybulle, a two-time All-Defensive team member who led the NBA in steal percentage (3.4 percent last season), now gets bumped to the bench after starting 50 games for the Sixers a year ago.
The backup center spot was a problem after trading Andre Drummond away in the Harden deal, yet with Harrell and the continued development of Reed, should be much improved now.
The Sixers have both the star power, and now the depth, to win a championship this season.
3. Golden State Warriors
Starting-Caliber Players: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Kevon Looney, Jonathan Kuminga
Rotation-Caliber Players: James Wiseman, Donte DiVincenzo, Moses Moody, Andre Iguodala, JaMychal Green
Deep Rotation Players: Patrick Baldwin Jr., Ryan Rollins
Despite losing players like Otto Porter Jr., Gary Payton II and Damion Lee in free agency, this year's Warriors could actually be deeper, and better, than the team that won the championship a season ago.
Adding DiVincenzo was the most underrated move of the offseason, as the 25-year-old could thrive as a combo guard off the bench with his scoring and playmaking ability. Getting Green for the veteran minimum after he was waived by the Oklahoma City Thunder was a steal as well.
The biggest difference between this year's Warriors and last season is the growth of players like Kuminga, Moody and Wiseman, who missed all of 2021-22 while recovering from knee surgery.
None have to turn into starters for this loaded squad, but all three should be reliable rotation players who provide meaningful minutes and carry some incredible upside. It's probably only a matter of time before Wiseman's combination of size and athleticism earns him the starting job over Looney.
With seven players who could easily be starters, and another one in Wiseman who could bring this group to eight, the Warriors are one of the deepest teams in the NBA.
2. Brooklyn Nets
Starting-Caliber Players: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Nic Claxton, Royce O'Neale
Rotation-Caliber Players: T.J. Warren, Patty Mills, Cam Thomas, Day'Ron Sharpe, Markieff Morris, Kessler Edwards
Deep Rotation Players: Edmond Sumner
The Nets may be unstable, unpredictable and (for some members) unreliable, but there's no doubt that this is one of the deepest teams in the NBA.
Durant and Irving are back despite some massive uncertainty earlier this summer, and both Simmons (back) and Harris (ankle) are medically cleared to begin the season. All four will likely be starters, although who joins them could go in a number of different directions.
Claxton, Morris and Sharpe give the Nets some size up front, while Mills was re-signed to provide some insurance behind Irving. Second-year guard Cam Thomas is a sneaky candidate for Sixth Man of the Year if he gets the right opportunity, as his bucket-getting ability was on full display at Summer League.
This is going to be one of the best offenses in the NBA, and perhaps the top-ranked three-point shooting team with Curry, Harris, Irving, Durant, Mills, O'Neale and Warren when he's cleared to return to the court.
With the injury history of some of the players on this list, depth matters more to the Nets than most teams. Luckily, they have a ton of it to begin the 2022-23 season.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Starting-Caliber Players: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, Ivica Zubac, Nicolas Batum, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr.
Rotation-Caliber Players: Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Amir Coffey, Brandon Boston Jr.
Deep Rotation Players: Jason Preston
No NBA team is as deep as these Clippers, and it's not particularly close, either.
Los Angeles has a whopping nine players who are deserving of a starting job, and that list doesn't even include players like Mann (33 starts in 2021-22), Coffey (30) or Kennard (13). Kennard even led the NBA in three-point shooting last season (44.9 percent), but could be fighting for minutes at the back end of the rotation.
Powell and Covington were starters for the Portland Trail Blazers before their trade to L.A. at the deadline, yet project to just be rotation players here. Even Wall, a five-time All-Star who's still just 32, could be the Clippers' sixth man.
Positions will mean little to this group, as heah coach Tyronn Lue can roll out five players all 6'7" or taller who can all shoot, pass and dribble. Few, if any, other teams have that luxury.
A potential bench of Wall, Powell, Kennard, Covington and Morris looks like a starting five, and that's even before getting to Mann, Coffey, Boston and Preston in a potential rotation.
The Clippers used last season to build up the depth on the roster through trades and get experience to young guys with Leonard out for the year and George playing in just 31 total games.
All of that work from 2021-22 is about to pay off, as no team is as deep as these Clippers.