There are a lot of ways to improve a struggling team. Sometimes it takes a trade, or an off-season addition, maybe even drafting a player that will really fit. However, there is also the option of shuffling the deck and use a different starting line-up.
Whether it is for the betterment of the team, or simply to give a player incentive to play better, benching a starter can create diverse effects. Even so, this is a usual tactic we've seen over the years, and while sometimes it leads to trade requests and overall bad vibes, it actually works. Here is a list of the seven players that should be benched in the NBA this season :
7. Carmelo Anthony
The OKC Big Three experiment has not been as successful as it initially seemed. One would expect that the addition of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, the team would be sitting higher than the 8th spot of the Western Conference. However, there are a lot of mouths to be fed in the OKC starting line-up now.
A move to the bench might not only improve how the OKC starting line-up behaves, but it can also increase Carmelo Anthony's season. However, a player that has had a no-trade clause in his contract (with the Knicks) might not take the benching news all that good. But it might be a necessary evil for a struggling OKC side who can easily be left out of the playoffs this season.
6. Austin Rivers
The Clippers tried to stir the pot in the off-season when they traded Chris Paul to the Rockets. They did get a ton of players in that trade, and also signed European veteran PG Milos Teodosic. However, the team has been plagued by injuries, and coach Rivers now has been starting his son at the PG. It's not like he is inadequate and all, but Lou Williams has been magnificent so far. Milos Teodosic also returned from a foot injury, and the Clippers will now have to figure out who goes where.
Milos Teodosic was brought in to start at PG, and that's what will eventually happen. Lou Williams had been known to be one of the best 6th Men in the NBA, but the Clippers need his energy in the starting line-up. They are now that far from challenging a playoff spot (two wins behind the 8th Thunder), so they need to remain competitive. Nepotism should have no place in the NBA.
5. JR Smith
JR Smith has been used as the starting SG in the Cavaliers this season, but we all know how the Cavaliers struggled a bit at the start. Kyle Korver has emerged as a viable option off the bench, but his consistently strong play should be rewarded. He doesn't require a lot of touches to do his damage, while he plays some really solid defense.
With Dwyane Wade aging, and Isaiah Thomas getting ready for a return from that hip injury, the Cavaliers will need to find the perfect chemistry within their squad. Kyle Korver should be starting, he is one of the best sharp-shooters in the NBA right now. Such a move would create a back-court of Wade and JR Smith to come off the bench. They are both seasoned veterans, and it would greatly improve the Cavaliers.
4. Stanley Johnson
The Pistons have been really strong so far in the new season, mainly because of Andre Drummond's improvement. However, Tobias Harris has also been really strong, while Avery Bradley has found his place in the squad. Reggie Jackson is also having a really strong season, and that's four of the five starters.
But there is a problem with the fifth starter, Stanley Johnson, who has been a true disappointment so far in the season. He was great in his rookie season two years ago, but this season, Johnson is posting 7.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.3 spg and one triple. The Pistons have some great youngsters on their roster, and moving Stanley Johnson to the bench is surely going to change things. Veteran PF Jon Leuer is out for about a month, so the Pistons are a little weak in depth right now, but a change will surely benefit Johnson, and even the Pistons.
3. Larry Nance Jr.
The emergence of Kyle Kuzma has done a lot of good to the Lakers this season, as the under-hyped rookie is among the best of his generation. He was also very lucky to see Larry Nance Jr. miss about a month with an injury, a turn of events that gave Kuzma a lot of extra playing time.
While the Lakers are happy to see him go off like that, their frontcourt is now somewhat stuffed, with so many players looking for minutes. Kuzma has been a great scorer as opposed to Larry Nance Jr who is a great defender.
Last season, Larry Nance was great off the bench, and a move back there might benefit the team overall. The Nance/Randle combo off the bench will provide a mix of scoring and solid defense, and that's surely something to look into.
2. Allen Crabbe
Allen Crabbe has emerged as a solid sharp-shooter the past couple of seasons, where he was still with the Blazers. The Nets traded Andrew Nicholson for Allen Crabbe this off-season, looking to unleash the prolific scorer in their up-tempo style of play. However, Crabbe has not been what the Nets were expecting so far, as he is currently 6th in scoring average this season.
The injuries to the team's both PGs, Jeremy Lin and D'Angelo Russell might have something to do with it, but the extra minutes these injuries opened up must be taken advantage of. Allen Crabbe has failed to improve his play, and Caris LeVert and Joe Harris do just as good as Crabbe off the bench, and in much fewer minutes. The Nets will surely explore some different line-ups now that Okafor has been acquired, and Allen Crabbe might be better coming off the bench.
1. Tyson Chandler
Well, Tyson Chandler might be the king of this list, as he is by far the best candidate to be benched this season. The Suns have taken some really controversial decisions over the past five years or so, in an attempt to start a re-build. While they have acquired the pieces they want, the playing time is simply a mess.
The Suns are giving a lot of playing time to veterans Tyson Chandler (35) and Jared Dudley (32), at the expense of a lot of young players who are looking to improve. That situation hurts Marquese Chriss, Alex Len and Dragan Bender at least, while the Suns also brought in Greg Monroe too. Since that happened, the Suns use just two of their three Centers in any given game, which means that either Len, Monroe or Chandler sit out in each game. While Chandler has been a really strong player in his prime, starting for a tanking team is simply catastrophic.