NBA: The 10 Best NBA Bench Players

Henry BrownContributor IIIJanuary 25, 2012

NBA: The 10 Best NBA Bench Players

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    In the National Basketball Association, bench players are vital to every team's success.

    If you look back over the history of the league, several NBA teams who won a championship would not have done so if their "Super Subs" failed to come through in the clutch.

    Some of the greatest bench players in NBA history include Manu Ginobili, Vinnie Johnson, John Havlicek, Kevin McHale, Lamar Odom, Micheal Cooper and Jason Terry.

    That list is just a start.

    However, who are the best NBA bench players in the game today?

    There are many to choose from, but only the top 10 will do for right now.

    Here are the 10 best NBA bench players in the game today. Enjoy!

10. Shane Battier: Miami Heat

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    Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant will tell you that the Miami Heat's Shane Battier is one of the toughest defenders in the NBA.

    Although Battier averages only 4.4 points a contest, it's on defense where the former Duke alumnus causes the most havoc.

    Battier defends Bryant better than most defenders, and recently help Miami hold him to 24 points (on 8-of-21 shooting) as the Heat beat the Lakers 98-87.

    Battier is also one of the more cerebral players in the league; he has the knack of doing the little things—drawing charges, timely three-point baskets—that help teams win.

9. O.J. Mayo: Memphis Grizzles

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    Ever since becoming a substitute player, Memphis Grizzlies shooting guard O.J. Mayo has become one of the best scorers off the bench.

    Mayo, in his fourth season, started his first two years. But personal problems and inconsistency led him to being a backup last season.

    However, Mayo is still one of the NBA's most dangerous scorers went he is hot. Mayo, averaging 11.3 points a game, is the Grizzlies best outside shooter (44 percent from three point range).

    He is capable of getting hot at times. Mayo has ten double-digit scoring games already and recently went 6-of-10 from the three-point line (scoring 22 points) in a 128-95 win over the Sacramento Kings.

8. Lamar Odom: Dallas Mavericks

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    The Dallas Mavericks Lamar Odom is struggling of late, but he is still one of the most effective players in the NBA.

    Odom played a big role coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers in their back-to-back championships in 2009-10, but was traded to the Mavericks before the start of the season.

    The 13-year pro can still dominate a game in a myriad of ways: offense, rebounding, defending and passing.

7. George Hill: Indiana Pacers

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    One player who thrives in coming off the bench is the Indiana Pacers' George Hill.

    The 6'2", 180-pound backup guard is currently averaging 10.6 a game. Hill, in his third year out of IUPUI, averaged 11.6 and 12.4 the previous two seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. Hill was traded to the Pacers on draft day of the 2011 NBA Draft.

    Hill was not widely-known coming out of college, but has made a huge impact since entering the league. He is capable of having big scoring nights and does a nice job distributing the ball.

6. Al Harrington: Denver Nuggets

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    One thing Al Harrington of the Denver Nuggets does well is score.

    A prep star who skipped college, Harrington is one of the league's most productive bench players.

    Harrington, averaging 13.8 in his career, is currently the Nuggets' third-leading scorer at 15.5 a game. The 14-year veteran has been a backup most of his career and is known for providing instant-offense off the bench.

    If it's offense you need, Harrington can deliver.

5. Thaddeus Young: Philadelphia 76ers

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    One of the biggest surprises in the early season has been the Philadelphia 76ers.

    And one of the reasons for Philadelphia's quick start (12-5) has been backup forward Thaddeus Young.

    Young, averaging 12.5 points, is one of the league's brightest young stars. The athletic small forward can score, rebound, defend and brings high-energy to every contest.

    Although he comes off the bench, Young is normally a mainstay late in games.

    Young, along with fellow bench player Lou Williams, gives the Sixers arguably the best bench in the league.

4. Lou Williams: Philadelphia 76ers

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    Lou Williams, also of the Philadelphia 76ers, is currently the only backup player in the NBA leading his team in scoring.

    The seventh-year guard is averaging a team-leading 15.4 points a game in only 24 minutes a contest. Williams, one of the NBA streakiest scorers, has scored over 20-plus points five times this season.

    Earlier this season Williams was the victim of an attempted armed robbery. A would-be gunman approached Williams and threatened to rob him at gunpoint, But Williams was able to talk the gunman out of doing so.

    Not only is Williams a smooth-talker, but he is a smooth-player as well.

3. Jason Terry: Dallas Mavericks

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    Jason "The Jet" Terry has been instant offense off the bench his entire career.

    In Terry's 13-year career, he has alternated between being both a starter and a bench player. But he has proven to be most effective as a scorer when he comes off the bench.

    Terry won the NBA's top sixth-man award in 2009, averaging 19.6 a game (second-best on the team). Averaging 13.7 this season, Terry was instrumental in leading the Mavericks to their first NBA title last season.

    When he's hot, Terry can be dangerous. Last season against the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs, Terry hit eight three pointers in Game 4 in helping Dallas eliminate the Lakers in four straight games.

2. Jamal Crawford: Portland Trailblazers

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    Jamal Crawford is one of the most feared offensive weapons in the NBA.

    Crawford, who has scored 50 points or more three times in his career, is a dangerous scorer off the bench for the Portland Trail Blazers.

    He has never met a shot he did not like and since his inception in the league, Crawford has been one of the game's top-scoring backups. In the last three seasons, Crawford has scored 20 or more points off the bench 24 times; more than any other player in the league over that span.

    Crawford won the league's best sixth man award in 2010.

1. James Harden: Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Without a doubt, the best sixth man in the NBA this season is Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden.

    Although Harden resembles former Smurfs cartoon character "Papa Smurf", Harden's game's is definitely not old by any standards.

    Harden, averaging 16.7 points a game (third on the Thunder), can score at anytime. He has scored 20 or more six times and scored in double-figures in all but one game this season.

    The third-year guard out of Arizona State is a front-runner for the league's most improved player and the best sixth man.

    Harden can score in a variety of ways, but is most dangerous off the dribble.

    He is a big reason—along with Kevin Durant—why Oklahoma City are 14-3.