Thursday, 23 July 2015

The All-Bench Squad

Basketball is a team sport, and as we've seen in the pass, it takes a whole team of individuals working together to create success, rather than an individual creating his own. Not only do the starters have to play well, but a team's bench must also be able to contribute and even carry the team at times. In light of this, here are the 5 players that I believe have the biggest impacts on a their teams coming off the bench.

1. Lou Williams (Lakers)

Last season (as a Raptor), the reigning 6th man of the year provided a much needed scoring burst off the bench for the team. With the Raptors' offense becoming stagnant at times, Lou was able to create his own shots to bail the team out. As he quickly became a fan favorite, Williams' play continued to help the Raptors reach new levels of success, as the team won a franchise record 49 games. The 6' 1" guard averaged 15.5 ppg while shooting 40% from the field.

2. Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers)

While he was inserted into the starting line-up for parts of the season due to injuries all over the Cavs roster, Tristan Thompson emerged as one of the league's top rebounders, especially on the offensive glass. Thompson averaged 8.5ppg, 8rpg during the regular season, but upped his play during the playoffs, averaging 9.6ppg and 10.8 rpg to help power the Cavaliers to post-season success. With Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao out to injury, the Cavs needed the presence of a big man in the paint, and Tristan Thompson provided that.

3. Andre Iguodala (Warriors)

The 2015 Finals MVP and captain of the Golden State Warriors, Andre Iguodala, took big leaps this past season in showing the league what he is capable off, averaging 10.4ppg, 4.5rpg and 3.6ast throughout the postseason. Tasked with guarding Lebron James for much of the Finals, Iguodala held his own, wearing James down on the defensive end. As well, Iguodala provided a much needed spark for the Warriors off the bench, helping them secure the game 5 and 6 Finals victories.

4. Isaiah Thomas (Celtics)

Isaiah Thomas, the 60th pick in the 2011 draft has surprised fans league-wide, showing everyone why he should've been picked earlier. With career averages of 15.6 ppg and 4.7ast, Isaiah has proven himself to belong among the league's better point guards. After fluorishing in Sacramento and Phoenix, Isaiah was traded in February to the Boston Celtics. His immediate impact was felt, as his play kept the Celtics competitive in their first round matchup against the Cavaliers, even though they were swept.

5. Jamal Crawford (Clippers)

Jamal Crawford has come to epitomize the "perfect" 6th man, coming up year after year in 6th man of the year considerations. Known for his flashy crossovers and unrelenting scoring touch, Crawford continues to adapt his game to succeed coming off the bench, even after 15 long years in the league. With career averages of 15.6ppg and 3.7ast, we could see Crawford continue this level of performance for years to come.

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