5 teams with the best bench players ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season

The Brooklyn Nets are one of the five teams with the best bench players.
The Brooklyn Nets are one of the five teams with the best bench players.

Roster depth can make or mar a team's shot at an NBA championship, which is why several franchises leave no stone unturned to acquire quality rotation players. Although the Phoenix Suns' starters were exceptional, their second unit played a key role in helping the team reach the 2020 NBA Finals.

It has been an intriguing 2021 NBA offseason, as teams have made significant changes to their lineups. While few have built their rosters for the future, others are looking to compete for the championship this season.

Teams rely on their bench players to keep up the intensity when the starters take a breather. Although many stars demand bigger roles, some are willing to be off-bench contributors too. A good example of that is Dwight Howard, who has expressed his desire to help the LA Lakers win their 18th NBA championship, and is not necessarily concerned about how much playtime he'' get.

Heading into the 2021-22 NBA season, here are the five teams with the best bench players.

#5 Miami Heat

Jimmy Butler (#22) and KZ Okpala (#4) of the Miami Heat
Jimmy Butler (#22) and KZ Okpala (#4) of the Miami Heat

The Miami Heat have had a busy 2021 offseason in a bid to bolster their ranks for another championship run.

The 2020 NBA championship finalists were swept in the 2021 playoffs first round by the Milwaukee Bucks, who came looking for revenge. Such poor performances are uncharacteristic of the Heat, especially with the level of talent on their roster.

To help boost their chances in the 2022 NBA playoffs, the Miami Heat front office have made a few roster changes. While the acquisitions of Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker are worthy of mention, our focus is on their bench players.

The Miami Heat retained the services of Tyler Herro after exercising a $4 million option for the 2021-22 season. Although he struggled a lot from beyond the arc during the 2021 NBA playoffs, he remains a major threat from range. His tally of six of 19 shooting in the playoffs last season is not an accurate representation of his abilities.

Meanwhile, Victor Oladipo had a very traumatizing 2020-21 NBA campaign, as he could not stay fit. He was bounced around the league because of health concerns, and played only 33 games.

A healthy Oladipo should be a problem for opposing teams, as he will lead the second unit when Lowry is off the court. Despite his injury woes, he averaged 19.8 points per game while shooting at 40.8% from the field.

#4 New York Knicks

New York Knicks introduce New Signees
New York Knicks introduce New Signees

The New York Knicks' resurgence after the 2021 All-Star break helped them secure the No. 4 seed in the 2021 NBA playoffs. While much of their success was owed to starters, especially Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, their bench played a significant role too.

Led by veteran Derrick Rose, who joined them midseason, the bench maintained its production all season long. The 32-year-old averaged 14.9 points and 4.2 assists in 35 games for the Knicks.

Another bench player who should keep the Knicks' engine running is Immanuel Quickley. The 2020 25th overall pick led the New York Knicks' 2021 NBA Summer League team in assists (7.8) and steals (1.4) while finishing second in scoring (20.2) behind Obi Toppin.

Toppin, Nerlens Noel, Taj Gibson and Alec Burks should also be huge contributors off the bench for the New York Knicks this campaign.

#3 Utah Jazz

Jordan Clarkson (#00) of the Utah Jazz
Jordan Clarkson (#00) of the Utah Jazz

An unexpected loss to the LA Clippers in the Western Conference semi-finals ended the Utah Jazz's 2020-21 NBA campaign. The Clippers opted to go small, which put Rudy Gobert out of his elements, as he was forced to defend perimeter shots on occasion.

Nevertheless, the Jazz have one of the best bench players heading into the 2021-22 NBA season. Jordan Clarkson won the 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, and is currently leading the polls ahead of the new season.

Clarkson ended the 2020-21 season, averaging 18.4 points while shooting at 42.5% from the field. It was more of the same from the 29-year-old in the playoffs, as he averaged 17.5 points.

Joe Ingles is another huge contributor from the bench for the Jazz. Despite being in a cap space pickle, the Utah Jazz found a way to retain the services of the sharpshooter for another year. Ingles shot an efficient 45% from beyond the arc while attempting 6.1 shots per game last season.

Both stars will be crucial for the Jazz in their 2021-22 NBA campaign. They are the perfect backups to Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt.

#2 Brooklyn Nets

Bruce Brown and James Harden (right) of the Brooklyn Nets
Bruce Brown and James Harden (right) of the Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets suffered in the 2021 NBA playoffs because not many of their rotation players could be relied on at that stage of the competition. Kevin Durant played huge minutes, especially in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, while James Harden tried to play through his hamstring injury.

Their over-reliance on the big 3 proved to be their downfall, as it looked like the Steve Nash-led team could not function without any of the superstars on the floor. To address that, the Brooklyn Nets utilized the 2021 offseason to bring in elite players who could help with their 2022 NBA campaign.

Patty Mills immediately comes to mind, as he was their high-profile free agency signing. His acquisition should undoubtedly be a boost to the Brooklyn Nets' second unit.

Mills ended the 2020-21 NBA season with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 10.8 points and 2.4 assists coming off the bench. However, he was more impressive for Team Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as he led the team in points (23.3) and assists (6.3) in six games. His heroics led the Aussies to their first-ever Olympic medal in the men's basketball tournament.

#1 LA Lakers

LA Lakers' bench
LA Lakers' bench

The LA Lakers are the favorites from the West to win the 2022 NBA title. With the caliber of players on their bench, winning a record 18th championship is not far-fetched for the Lakers this season.

Bench production was key for the LA Lakers in the 2020-21 NBA season, as LeBron James and Anthony Davis were sidelined due to injuries. However, the failure of the bench to rise to the occasion resulted in the Lakers competing in the play-in tournament and ultimately a first-round elimination.

It has been a busy offseason, as Frank Vogel and Rob Pelinka have turned to veterans for help. Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker are some of the bench players who will be called upon during the 2021-22 NBA season. The Lakers have brought together some of the most prolific scorers and defenders to assist LeBron James and Anthony Davis this campaign.

Given the quality of players who will occupy the LA Lakers' bench in the upcoming NBA season, it could be an arduous task to keep them quiet even in the absence of James.

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Edited by Bhargav
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