Clippers Top League’s Best Benches


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — After Thursday’s 90-77 win in Minnesota, the Los Angeles Clippers are now 3-0 without MVP candidate Chris Paul.

All three wins have come on the road against good teams, and in none of them have the Clippers required a huge performance from one of their other starters. In fact, Blake Griffin has averaged just 16.3 points in the three wins. Eric Bledsoe, starting in place of Paul, has done a decent job of running the team, but has totaled only 11 assists.

The Clippers won the three games — and won them all comfortably –for the same reason that Paul has been able to sit the entire fourth quarter in nine of the 37 games he’s played in: They have the best bench in basketball.

Here’s all you need to know about the Clippers’ bench and why they’re a much-improved team: Last season, the Clips were outscored by 11.6 points per 100 possessions when Griffin was on the bench. This year, they’re outscoring their opponents by 11.7 points per 100 possessions with Griffin on the bench.

That’s a 23.3-point turnaround and that’s really what it’s all about. A good bench should build on leads, not lose them. That’s why the Bulls’ bench was so good the last couple of years, even though it didn’t have anybody who could really score. When Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson were on the floor together, the Bulls shut down foes and scored enough to build on the lead the starters gave them.

With that in mind, here are the best benches in the NBA …

L.A. Clippers

The Clips have a full, five-man bench unit that’s one of the best lineups in the league. In 243 minutes with Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf on the floor, L.A. is a plus-14.5 per 100 possessions.

Though Crawford is known for his offense, this is really a defensive unit that has only scored 102.8 points per 100 possessions, just a notch above the league average. But it has allowed only 88.3, making it the second-best defensive unit of the league’s 72 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes.

The question is how Grant Hill fits in. In Hill’s first game back, that unit only played six minutes together. And in the last three games, it hasn’t played together at all, though that may have more to do with Bledsoe starting.

Either way, it would be disappointing if coach Vinny Del Negro broke up such an effective unit. And it really could affect where the Clippers finish in the Western Conference standings.

San Antonio

Though Manu Ginobili has been neither healthy nor sharp, the Spurs’ bench continues to get the job done. It’s just tough to determine where the starters end and where the bench begins, because eight different guys have started at least nine games for San Antonio already. But coach Gregg Popovich‘s ability to mix-and-match lineups will little drop-off is part of what makes the Spurs’ bench so good.

The Spurs don’t have a full bench unit like the Clippers. Their latest starting unit is Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter. Their most-used lineup that includes at least three other Spurs has only played 38 minutes together, and that lineup includes Parker and Duncan.

This is why we’d rate the Spurs’ bench behind that of the Clippers. But San Antonio is still outscoring its opponents by a solid 5.7 points per 100 possessions with Duncan off the floor. That’s a very good thing.

Oklahoma City

Last season, the Thunder were a plus-4.7 points per 100 possessions with Kevin Durant off the floor. This season, they’re a minus-3.6, scoring a paltry 98.5. So, yes, they are missing James Harden. But Durant is the only starter they really miss when he goes to the bench, and they still have some strong lineups that include two or three reserves.

Kevin Martin (+257) and Nick Collison (+180) both rank in the top 25 in raw plus-minus this season. But both have played most of their minutes with Durant, who is, by far, the league leader (+407). Fortunately, he’s only 24 years old and doesn’t need to rest much.

New York

Minor injuries here and there have kept the Knicks from having a consistent rotation of late, but they’ve kept a second-unit core of Pablo Prigioni, J.R. Smith and Steve Novak in tact. And they’re a plus-10.4 points per 100 possessions in 375 minutes with those three on the floor together.

More important, the Knicks have been decent offensively (103.8 points scored per 100 possessions) with Carmelo Anthony on the bench, and decent defensively (100.5 allowed) with Tyson Chandler on the bench.


The Rockets don’t have a true second unit, but they go nine deep and have been very good with some of their reserves on the floor. In fact, Carlos Delfino leads the team in plus-minus (+165). Houston is a plus-11.7 in 236 minutes with Delfino, Toney Douglas and Greg Smith on the floor together, strong both offensively and defensively. But they’re a minus-2.3 with Harden on the bench.


The Nuggets have basically gone eight deep this season. But though they don’t have a true second unit, they have three reserves — Andre Miller, Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee — that coach George Karl has been able to call on for reliable production. The trio is a plus-3.2 points per 100 possessions in 475 minutes together.

Wilson Chandler now gives the Nuggets a fourth reserve and can maybe help the defense from falling off too much when Andre Iguodala rests. Denver has allowed just 100.4 points per 100 possessions with Iguodala in the game and 108.3 with him on the bench.


Asik, Brewer and C.J. Watson are gone, but Gibson is still around, and the Bulls are still ridiculously good defensively when he’s on the floor. They’re a plus-5.8 points per 100 possessions in 306 minutes with Gibson, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli on the floor together.

But the Bulls do miss Asik. His replacement, Nazr Mohammed, barely plays. And as a result, Joakim Noah is averaging 38.4 minutes per game, after averaging just 30.9 over the previous three seasons. It used to be that coach Tom Thibodeau had to lean on Luol Deng for ridiculously heavy minutes. Now, it’s Deng and Noah.


For the first month of the season, the Nets’ bench carried them. Brooklyn outscored its opponents by 11.3 points per 100 possessions in 159 November minutes with C.J. Watson, Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche on the floor together. Then December came, the Nets hit the skids and coach Avery Johnson got fired.

After shooting 15-for-28 from 3-point range in November, Jerry Stackhouse has shot 9-for-45 from beyond the arc in December and January. Evans, meanwhile, is now a starter. So, coach P.J. Carlesimo has begun to call on MarShon Brooks and Mirza Teletovic for some punch off the bench.

Joe Johnson continues to really anchor the second unit. Overall, the Nets have been better with Johnson and Watson together (+4.8 points per 100 possessions) than with Johnson and Deron Williams (+3.1), though the Johnson-Williams combination has improved of late.


  1. Griffin #71 says:

    Clippers by far have the best bench. Knicks also have a pretty good bench. And I agree that Denver, San Antonio, Brooklyn, Chicago but OKC and Houston don’t have terribly good benches either. What about Charlotte, Boston, Minnesota, Utah, Sacramento or even Orlando

  2. bbFan says:

    OKC has third best bench !!! Are u serious !!!! OKC is a two man show !! There starters play almost the entire game. Why?? Because they have a poor bench. Only Martin will give u some good minutes. Clips, Spurs, Denver and Knicks use there bench players well. These teams get a lot out of there reserves. OKC is a really good team. But the bench is poor.

    • BJ says:

      I agree bbFan, and I think that because OKC bench is very weak, is why they are going to struggle agianst a team like the Clippers. OKC has a great starting line up, but when they are fighting the whole game and the Clippers put their second “starting” line up in with fresh legs OKC is going to be in trouble. its going to be a great match up in the playoffs with these two teams, I’m looking forward to it.

  3. BJ says:

    Can someone explain to me how the Lakers arein the 12th spot in the west, are 5 games below .500….. but have two guys starting in the Allstar game?

  4. Kamote says:

    Boston has one of the best bench on paper. That’s Terry, Lee, Green, Jared… you can throw in Barbosa and Wilcox to the mix. But this one has yet to be realized. Hopefully they can do it sooner than later, to keep KG, Paul and Rondo rested and really get the young ones into the mix. This would be crucial to their playoff run. I just hope it would happen after the all star break.

  5. cleb1 says:

    woww dont even mention detroit bench?….if u watch them play you’d think thats their starting lineup….i know they have a losing record but it aint because of their bench thats for sure

  6. dattebayo says:

    I really like the Timberwolves and watch a lot of their games. With all the injuries to their starters, isn’t it a huge staple for Minnesota’s bench to come in and step up? I mean they still have a better record than the Lakers or Mavericks…

    • JamezBrowny says:

      the only reason the Wolves bench isn’t here is because a lot of them have had to start because of the injuries \. With a fully fit lineup their bench of barea, shved, budinger, williams, stiemsma along with cunningham and lee would easily beat a lot of the benches in this list.

  7. What? says:

    Utah Jazz bench! But I could see the confusion; the bench is often mistaken for the starters, because they win games for the Jazz.

  8. Star Power! says:

    It’s not important to have a deep bench! That is a myth! You need STAR players on your team to succeed! You know I am right!!!!

  9. christian says:

    How bout the real list???

    2.San Antonio
    3.Washington Wizards
    4.Charlotte Bobcats
    8.New York
    10. Detroit

  10. ben says:

    What about the Portland Trail Blazers bench!?!?!? Oh wait… they don’t have a bench, nevermind…

  11. Celtics says:

    The “gangster squad” (jason terrys name for the boston bench) should be on here, smh

  12. Gary says:

    So, Boston has 2 All-Star starters and very possible Pierce will join them.
    Now you say that Boston’s bench is also better than Chicago’s one.
    How come in this case they are only 8th and Bulls – 4th?
    How come Bulls bench lost to Celtic bench 27:18 on November but then could beat them twice: 37:16 & 36:25
    Celtic is good on paper only (sorry, forgot about chip shots). Say wow again.

  13. Sam says:

    What about the pistons bench, they had the most bench points since the old Charlotte hornets a few weeks ago and they were instrumental in the pistons winning 6 of 7 games (with the only loss being a double overtime thriller v hawks where the bench played both over times)

    • Jimmy Jazz says:

      Andre Drummond is a beast, steal of the draft

    • big cat says:

      the raps already got a future all star center in Jonas valenciunas , drafting Terrence ross was good because I think there gonna package derozan in a trade for rudy gay, derozan and bargnani for rudy gay and marc gasol

      • Griffin #71 says:

        That trade won’t come to an agreement Bargnani’s legs are at breaking point and his prone to injury, DeRozan doesn’t even match the game of Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol is like The Big Fundamental II. The Grizzlies have a franchise player in Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol is key for the Grizzlies Big 3 (Gay, Gasol , Randolph). So the chances of this trade happening are slim.

    • Bryan says:

      Will the thrill Bynum and co, top 5 in the league.

  14. samdonjennings says:

    What about the bucks? The frontline depth allow them to take risks defensively. I personally think the bench is the only reason that they are above .500. If you look at the team stats, besides blocks, their is nothing that particularly stands out. The shot-blocking bench of Udoh, Henson, Dalembert, and the effective shooting of Udrih and Dunleavey make up for the poor shooting of Ellis and Jennings. While i’m at it, two time eastern conference player of the week Brandon Jennings should be on the all-star bench.

  15. Nick says:

    WOW, no Utah Jazz? Their bench is the only reason they are still in the playoff hunt. Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Demarre Carroll, Alec Burks, and Enes Kanter. And you’re saying the Rocket’s bench is better? Jesus.

    • bignbafan says:

      AMEN…my thoughts exactly. Utah Jazz never get any credit.

      • Dark Knight says:

        Agreed! Clippers, Spurs and Bulls have by far the strongest benches in the league imo, but after that it’s a much more open race and teams like the bucks, jazz and warriors benches deserve more credit for the positions their teams are in!

  16. Trade Deadline says:

    Maybe if we…

    Trade Jamal Crawford for Steve Blake
    Trade J.R. Smith for Darius Morris
    Trade Kevin Martin for Jodie Meeks
    Trade Andre Miller for Chris Duhon
    Trade Nick Collison for Robert Sacre

    You’re Welcome.

    • Random fan full of opinions says:

      why would any of those teams agree to this?

    • Griffin #71 says:

      The Lakers thought they could do what the Heat and Celtics had done previously by creating a big three in Nash, Kobe & Dwight but they didn’t win any games in the pre-season or in the first couple of weeks in the regular season so they fired Mike Brown then they hired Mike D’Antoni, won a few games then lost and lost and lost and lost. So as you can see this poor fan wants his beloved team to make some very unrealistic trades when the only thing they need is
      [[[PHIL ‘f666king’ JACKSON!!!]]]

  17. big cat says:

    lol wat happened to lamar odom , hes a bum now and two short yrs ago he was sixth man of the year , theres guys in the dleague better than him now , nevermind my buddy Sammy sweatsocks down at the ymca is better than this bum

  18. Jimmy Jazz says:

    Golden States bench isn’t deep but Landry & Jack have been critical to the Warriors success.

  19. me says:

    so Houston and Chicago’s bench is better than boston’s bench? wow just wow and J.R. is nice but he’s the only top guy outta Knicks bench Lee, Terry, Jeff Green and Sully kill those other benches, y’all are haters

  20. amitpal says:

    The clippers bench is easily the best bench in the nba. San antiono bench might score than the clippers bench but the clippers bench allows the startet a lot more rest than the spurs bench. The spurs bench need tim duncan or tony parker to help them score cuz there bench is a bunch of shooter whereas clippers bench can do it all by themselves without the starter. Olus clippers bench Is a lot better on defense than spurs bench and they get many easy points off of turnovers.