Depth can matter more in the regular season than the playoffs, when rotations tighten and stars get extra minutes because games are not as stacked up on top of each other.
But depth does matter in getting top seeds and home court, and it does matter in giving a coach matchup flexibility in the playoffs. A deeper bench does mean more arrows in the quiver.
Who has had the best bench lineups this season? The stats say San Antonio and Chicago, according to work done by John Schuhmann at NBA.com.
According to NBA.com StatsCube, the two best defensive lineups in the league (with a minimum of 100 minutes on the floor together) are Bulls’ lineups that include Brewer, Gibson and Asik.
But the No. 1 offensive lineup in the league is also a bench unit. The Spurs‘ lineup of George Hill, Gary Neal, Manu Ginobili, Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess barely meets the 100 minutes requirement, but has been amazingly efficient.
Those lineups have the best point differentials in the league. The rest of the top 10 include two lineups from Mavericks, two from the Lakers, two from the Thunder and one from the Sixers.
What I like about this is the use of lineups that include stars — Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobili — mixed in with stars because in reality, and particularly in the playoffs, that is how it works. Rotations are usually 8, 9 players deep and the team’s best players mix with guys from the bench.
I guess we should not be shocked that the two best benches in the league are currently the two teams sitting on top of the standings. With the other contenders not far behind.