If you intend to contend in the NBA, you definitely need to have a lot of depth surrounding your stars, as absolutely no team can win with just 5 players, regardless of how good or talented they may or may not be.
Teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors have thrived throughout the last campaigns due to their extense rotation, keeping their starters fresh as they use a lot of different players on a nightly basis.
To prevent injuries and even try to prevent tired legs take a toll on their team’s success, you need to have proven players on the bench, and there’s no doubt some of the mediocre teams struggle precisely because of the lack of NBA caliber players on their bench.
Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 worst second units in the NBA, so you don’t expect much out of those franchises for this upcoming campaign that’s just about to be underway.
10. Memphis Grizzlies
Andrew Harrison, Wayne Selden, James Ennis
Chandler Parsons and Brandan Wright
Memphis had some good seasons a couple of years ago, but this one they’re entering a transitional phase where they will try to play the best they can. With Mike Conley and Marc Gasol as the biggest stars of the team, the bench is supposed to have a hard job, but seeing what they have on it right now, the picture doesn’t look any good for the Grizzlies, who will miss the guys they used to have in their second unit several terms ago.
Chandlers Parsons is supposed to be the leader of the bench, but seeing his struggles over the past couple of seasons, this is still an unknown. Accompanied by Andre Harrison and James Ennis as the best players, Memphis will have a hard time this season, trying to get more from these guys than they actually can offer.
9. Washington Wizards
Tim Frazier, Jodie Meeks, Kelly Oubre
Jason Smith and Ian Mahinmi
The Wizards did it great last season; they had a good playoff run before running into the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, where they lost in a dramatic seventh game. Although they counted and still do with John Wall and Bradley Beal, their bench didn’t bring the best of its game to the court and this year it appears to continue happening. If they had a good backup, the Wizards would be one of the best teams in the league, but unfortunately they don’t have it.
Washington’s bench looks like a whole different team if you compare them to the starting five, as nothing here appears to be as good as the first unit of the team –except, maybe, for Ian Mahinmi, who showed some interesting things last season. It looks like John Wall and Bradley Beal will have to play more than they can with this bench, as nothing there seems to be a reliable replacement.
8. Utah Jazz
Raul Neto, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Johnson
Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh
Utah used to have a very good team and we watched that last season, but with the departure of Gordon Hayward everything started to change for the Jazz. Now they look like a weakened team that even if can make good things, later they will start suffering from the lacking of players that can make an impact in the game. Jazz went from being a shielded team, ready to take over the league to a team with only two or three players that can make the others play well.
Raul Neto was expected to thrive in the league after seeing the things he did in FIBA, but he is already a burst and the injury of Dante Exum doesn’t help the team to have good expectations this season. Plus, Joe Johnson is entering his finals years playing at the maximum level and Ekpe Udoh didn’t do it well when he first entered the league, and even though he was really good in Europe, he must demonstrate that he’s capable of playing in the NBA with success.
7. Chicago Bulls
Jerian Grant, Denzel Valentine, Quincy Pondexter
Lauri Markkanen and Cristiano Felicio
Chicago not only has one of the worst starting lineups in the entire association but one of the worst benches in the world right now. This upcoming season will be really difficult for the Bulls since nobody is completely sure about his role in the team. They count with a variety of players that can be starters or part of the second unit, making this team one of the worst assembled in the league in several seasons.
With the injury of Cameron Payne, Jerian Grant will take his spot as the second point guard on the team, making things even worse for the Bulls. Besides, the rest of the players are mostly bursts or players expected to become one of those. Quincy Pondexter and Cristiano Felicio are the prime examples of that, while Lauri Markkanen looks good, but it’s not as good as many people believe.
6. Brooklyn Nets
Isaiah Whitehead, Caris LeVert, DeMarre Carroll
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jarrett Allen
This is a team with zero expectations for this season, as the Brooklyn Nets are expected to have a horrendous season this year. Counting with D’Angelo Russell as their only remarkable player and the support of Timofey Mozgov and Allen Crabbe, this season will be a constant struggling for Brooklyn. They don’t have any depth in their ranks, as the supposed leader of the second unit is DeMarre Carroll; you can see yourself how the season is going to be for Brooklyn.
The only remarkable player –and still underrated- in the second unit of the Nets is the always efficient DeMarre Carroll and even though Whitehead and LeVert can bring some help, it will be very useless most time, as this franchise is set for failing for the next three or four years. This is just a squad filled with players who looked good at the beginning of their careers but winded up after trying to live up the expectations.
5. Detroit Pistons
Ish Smith, Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson
Anthony Tolliver and Boban Marjanovic
Detroit is another franchise trying to figure out what they are going to do and be this season, with some imminent changes to do during and after the campaign. The Pistons will be heading to a season with a horrible squad that can be worse as the weeks go by. This is another team with a bunch of youngsters trying to get some experience and nothing much else.
The Pistons’ substitutes are more like a bunch of guys who will try to do the best for him in order to get a bigger and better contract either with Detroit or another franchise. Maybe Stanley Johnson is the best player on this bench, but besides him, there is not so much to see. Perhaps Boban Marjanovic can have good performances when Andre Drummond is out, but nothing remarkable for sure.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
Raymond Felton, Alex Abrines, Kyle Singler
Patrick Patterson and Nick Collison
Well, well, this is not a surprise. Oklahoma has been struggling with the lacking of depth from several seasons ago. The Thunder has suffered these evils for the last couple of years and that has significant a big factor at the time of chasing the ring. This season, however, they will count with a great trio in Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, but besides that, the bench is going to look really weak.
It is hard to find a way to start this, but let’s do it for the most important position on this team. The replacement of Russell Westbrook is Raymond Felton, a guy that already looks like an ex-player, plus Alex Abrines and Kyle Singler that only remain in the team because Oklahoma ran out of players trading Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Patrick Patterson and Nick Collison aren’t that bad, but there is a clear difference between them and Melo, Steven Adams.
3. New Orleans Pelicans
Ian Clark, E’Twaun Moore, Solomon Hill
Dante Cunningham and Alexis Ajinca
The Pelicans have never been a team with ranks full of talented players, but seeing the expectations they have for this upcoming season, there are some things to have in mind when it comes to their staff. Sure, they count with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins but when they both leave the court, there is nobody to fill their position and play at least decent basketball. They have struggled to find a good starting lineup, so you can imagine what happens with their bench.
This is the perfect example of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If you look at the possible starting lineup of the Pelicans, it looks nothing but good and then you take a look at their bench and it is like… They still have AD. Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holliday can be easily one of the best backcourts in the association if they played well, but replacing them with Ian Clark and E’Twaun Moore isn’t precisely the best idea ever. Plus, if you see the replacement for the twin towers, you just want to cry. Maybe they could add some depth later in the season if they want to have real chances to compete.
2. Toronto Raptors
Delon Wright, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby
Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl
The Raptors still have one or two players that can lead the team to reach the playoffs and contend with the best teams in the conference, but seeing their replacements and comparing them to the favorites Celtics or Cavaliers, there isn’t so much to do with the Raptors. Sure, DeRozan and Lowry are both great, but they don’t have a proper replacement on the sidelines and that’s the main reason why they won’t thrive this season or the ones to come.
This case is not as dramatic as the Pelicans’, but it is indeed similar. Luckily they have Norman Powell, who was a good surprise for the team last season and recently agreed to an extension contract, but beyond that, this team’s bench is simply awful. Delon Wright is not even a quarter as good as Kyle Lowry and it’s the same case with the other players, including Powell who is still on development. Plus, Jakob Poeltl is already a fluke, expecting to leave the team and possibly the league at some point of the season.
1. Atlanta Hawks
Malcolm Delaney, Marco Belinelli, DeAndre Bembry
John Collins and Mike Muscala
The Atlanta Hawks have been losing talents for the last two or three seasons, as they failures in playoffs and the changes they’ve made in order to rebuild the team, have left them with a team lacking depth. Same case as Russell with the Nets, Dennis Schroeder is the figure and arguably the only player to be afraid of in his team. Atlanta’s bench is full of youth, with lads trying to get a shot to shine, which makes the Hawks something very similar to a D-League squad.
At least they have a sharpshooter in Marco Belinelli, but other than that they are just a bad team. Not even one of the other players has big achievements or talents to brag about. The only consolation for the Hawks is the fact that the starting team is almost as bad as the second unit. Dennis Schroeder will be leading the team with almost no support besides Kent Bazemore and somehow Belinelli himself.