What makes San Antonio so frustrating for opponents and fun to watch for us, the fans, is the parallel personnel magic GM R.C. Buford and coach Gregg Popovich seem to always have working. It’s twofold: The Spurs’ core of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili still play as if they were men 10 years younger, while a rotating cast of reserves and spot starters keep the team’s unbroken chain of success alive. So well that even Sunday night’s win over Minnesota didn’t hit a bump when Manu Ginobili left the game with an injured hamstring that could keep him out two weeks. The Spurs’ reserves will suffer, to be sure, with the former Sixth Man’s absence but it won’t hinder the team’s playoff chances or viability as an NBA contender. San Antonio’s bench was already one of the best in the league by several measurements by Hoopsstats.com. Not all teams are so lucky. Here are a few contenders whose benches aren’t helping their case, whether it’s to just get to the playoffs or go deeper than the first couple rounds.
*** *** ***
5. GOLDEN STATE
Stephen Curry is a man who should not be crossed, averaging 21.9 points per game in the last 10 games, third-best among NBA point guards. The success spreads to the Warriors’ whole backcourt, which is in the NBA’s top five in efficiency and scoring per 40 minutes. The continued injury-rehab cycle of Andrew Bogut has thrown the Warriors’ bench into a mess, however, forcing rookie Festus Ezeli to start 31 games and leaving the reserves just undersized Carl Landry to fill the role of a big man unafraid to play strong down low (Andris Biedrins is not that player).
Landry is a bright spot, grabbing 6.5 boards per game on a reserves unit that collects the most defensive rebounds per 48 minutes and holds its opponents to one of the lowest averages, as well. Still the Warriors give up the fourth-most points per 48 minutes, with 19.1 and outside of Landry and Jarrett Jack, few options exist for the Warriors to choose from if they want offense from their reserves. One positive is that although the W’s are third-worst in shooting three-pointers, their reserves realize it and curb their attempts from deep, shooting the fewest per 40 minutes of any bench.