LA Clippers’ bench can be a great new threat this season
The LA Clippers’ roster runs deep and has impressed so far. The bench should continue to be a threat for opponents all season.
Some of the most talented starters and bench players in the NBA are on different teams this year. With the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors predicted to dominate their respective conferences, teams are experimenting with new acquisitions and lineup possibilities. Most teams in the league have made significant moves in the offseason, looking for a successful future. Some of the teams that have succeeded most in building their rosters this year include the Cavaliers, Warriors, Utah Jazz, and LA Clippers.
Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson, Marreese Speights and Raymond Felton, are the only bench players who have been heavily featured in the rotation this season, with Brandon Bass receiving minimal minutes at times and rookie Diamond Stone having a total of six minutes of run in garbage time. Paul Pierce and Alan Anderson have not played yet this season simply because they do not need to. And given the state of Pierce at this stage of his career, that’s been for the best so far.
The decision by head coach Doc Rivers to keep Pierce and Anderson on the bench is smart. Especially with the way the current guard and wing rotation is clicking. However, holding back Bass is a little more debatable. Bass was voted “Best Teammate” by his Los Angeles Lakers peers last season, and, more importantly, he’s capable of bringing some rebounding, physical defense, and energy to the game when he steps on the court.
Doc is most likely keeping Bass out of the game to ensure a small-ball second string most of the time and give Blake Griffin some minutes to anchor the bench at others, which is all working well so far.
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Even without Bass completely included in the rotation, the Clippers’ second string has proved to be the best in the NBA thus far this season.
In fact, so far (and we can expect some drop off compared to elite starting lineups at some point), the Clippers’ bench has been one of the best groups in the league altogether. The group of Raymond Felton, Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson and Marreese Speights is currently the 4th best five-man lineup in the NBA with a brilliant net rating of +18.2.
With everything put together, the Clippers lead the NBA in net rating (14.9, well ahead of the 2nd place Atlanta Hawks at 9.6) and defensive efficiency.
The defense has been most impressive so far, but the offensive ability of the LA Clippers’ second unit is locked in as well. With Speights, Crawford, and Rivers all trying to get close to 15 points per game, scoring is no issue for the bench.
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The only factor that could push these players further is consistency that they’ll hopefully maintain as the season goes on, and maybe finding Brandon Bass a bigger role.