In a seven-game series, the depth of a team is crucial for success. Keeping the starters fresh, adding quick bursts of offense, or having a lockdown defender can provide major advantages that can propel a team in a series and throughout the playoffs. The 2022-2023 playoffs have already shown the impact of superb bench play. For example, Malik Monk dropping 32 points in game one against the Warriors, Josh Hart playing lock-down defense and making clutch shots against the Cavs, or Rui Hachimura leading the Lakers in scoring in game one. These performances have played a significant role in each team’s victory.
Today we are ranking the benches of the 16 playoff teams based on scoring per game, impact players, overall season success, and current success.
Here are our NBA Playoffs Bench Rankings:
1. Sacramento Kings
The Kings are in the playoffs for the first time in 17 years, and it is in large part due to their impressive bench play. Davion Mitchell and Malik Monk have been exceptional off the bench, helping the Kings jump out to a 2-0 lead over the defending champion Warriors. Monk outscored Steph Curry in game 1 with 32 points and Mitchell helped hold Steph to just 3-13 from three in game 2.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have one of the deepest benches of the teams in the playoffs, as they consistently give 4-5 guys quality minutes off the bench. After Giannis Antetokounmpo went down with an injury in the first quarter of game 1, the Milwaukee bench got a major increase in minutes and overall roll. Bobby Portis specifically did his best to replace Giannis’ production, scoring 21 points on 9-15 shooting in 27 minutes of play.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers significantly improved their bench at the trade deadline, adding quality scorers and solid defenders. These additions have propelled Los Angeles to a 17-9 record since the deadline, the best in the Western Conference. Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves have become one of the best bench duos in the NBA, combining for 52 points and helping LA’s bench out score Memphis by 15 points in their game one win.
The Celtics do not have the deepest bench, but talent wise they are one of the best in the league. With two starter-quality players in Robert Williams III and Malcolm Brogdon, the Celtics bench can compete with any starting unit in the NBA. Brogdon is a finalist for Sixth Man of the Year and Williams III is a defensive force who averages almost 3 blocks per 36 minutes in his career.
5. New York Knicks
The Knicks have a young and athletic bench headlined by Sixth Man of The Year favorite, Immanuel Quickly. Josh Hart has been an incredible deadline addition and has gelled nicely with the rest of the bench. Hart was huge in New York’s game one win, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while knocking down the go ahead three with under two minutes remaining. The Knicks bench outscored the Cavaliers by 23 points in game one.
6. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies have a very reliable bench led by Tyus Jones and Luke Kennard. Jones has led the league every year since he entered the league in assist to turnover ratio, so he is as trustworthy as it gets, and Kennard is one of the premiere shooters in the NBA as he led the league shooting 49% from three this year. Without Ja Morant’s availability for game 2 in question, the Grizzlies’ bench will play a big role in trying to tie up the series vs. the Lakers.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers needed to step up with the injury to Paul George, and in game 1 they did exactly that. Mason Plumlee, Bones Hyland, Terrance Mann, and Norman Powell were the bench unit for LA in their game 1 win over the Suns. They were the top 4 leaders in +/- for the Clippers on Sunday. They averaged 41.5 points per game from their bench this season, third in the NBA.
8. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors basically only run three guys off the bench, Gary Payton II, Jordan Poole, and Donte DiVincenzo, each of which contribute in their own way. Poole was phenomenal for the Warriors in the regular season, scoring 20 points per game, but has struggled in the playoffs and has become a defensive liability.
The Heat bench is filled with experience and depth. Kevin Love has been a solid addition and added on to the already strong crew of Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, and Kyle Lowry. Love put up 18 points, knocking down four threes in their game one win. With Herro’s injury, Miami will look to the bench to carry more of the load offensively.
10. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets strength in their bench is shooting. Seth Curry and Joe Harris have each led the league in three point percentage at one point in their career, and Royce O’Neal provides solid outside shooting while being able to defend multiple positions. They lack a true point guard to backup Spencer Dinwiddie, who has struggled in the playoffs, and Day’Ron Sharpe has not lived up to his potential in his limited action off the bench.
11. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks issue is that they lack veteran leadership off the bench. Three out of their four rotational bench players are under the age of 24, so they don’t have much playoff experience. Bogdan Bogdanovic is the oldest of the bunch, but he has only played in 22 career playoff games since entering the league in 2014.
The Sixers have one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Although their bench isn’t filled with household names, they contribute in many ways. Georges Niang, Shake Milton, Danuel House Jr., and Montrezl Harrell is the main unit off the bench for Philadelphia and are able to compete while either Embiid or Harden are on the bench. The Sixers bench is experienced and reliable and will be a factor moving forward in the playoffs.
13. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have one of the shallowest benches in the league, as they only give actual minutes to Jeff Green and Bruce Brown. Green is a solid veteran who can play defense and knock down the occasional three, and Brown is a Swiss Army knife who can guard 1-4 and hit open threes.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves
Naz Reid was one of the best bench big men in the NBA, so losing him to injury significantly bumps the T-Wolves down this list. Minnesota has a pretty deep bench, but not so much talent to compliment Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and Rudy Gobert. Jaylen Nowell leads the scoring off the bench with 10.8 points per game.
15. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs have one of the worst benches in the entire NBA, let alone in the playoffs. Caris LeVert is their one decent player off the bench, but he had a really poor game 1, shooting 1-7 from the floor with the worst +/- on the team. The starters for the Cavs are exceptional, but if they lose to the Knicks the blame could quite possibly fall on the lack of depth or talent on the bench.
16. Phoenix Suns
The Suns have the best starting lineup in the league, but they hardly ever play anyone off the bench. Landry Shamet was the only player who received more than 10 minutes off the bench in game 1, but he had the worst +/- on the team at -14. If the Suns are able to sustain playing each of their starters 40+ minutes per game then they are poised to make a deep run, but if not, look for them to get upset by the Clippers early.