Bench players are an underrated component of a team’s success. This is partly because the stars get most/all of the attention, but also because most bench players usually contribute in more subtle ways than filling up the stat sheet (like LeBron) or posterizing Jason Terry (like LeBron) and if they did either of those things, they probably would be starting (like LeBron) instead of coming off the bench.
That being said, which bench players have the highest net rating? (Net Rating is their team’s point differential when they play). I only looked at players that played at least 40 games coming off the bench and at least 24 minutes a game. These qualifications might be too stringent, but I was looking for players that have contributed significant minutes over the course of the season, who also help out their team when they play.
- Obviously, seeing these names are not very surprising — these are all good/great teams and we would expect that these teams have effective bench players. For example, Kevin Martin is effective partly because he can shoot the ball really well, and partly because he plays with Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Durant who can create open shots that Kevin Martin can drain.
- That being said, these players also play for large portions of the game, and can be paired with many different lineups, so these players also have to be effective in many different situations, which is non-trivial.
- It is interesting to notice that these players all have one or two skills that come to mind quickly. For example, Kevin Martin: Shooting, Shane Battier: Shooting (more specifically, three point shooting), Andre Miller: Leadership and Passing, Matt Barnes: Toughness and Defense, Carlos Delfino: Shooting.
- All these teams are playoff teams, and even title contenders. Thus, I think because these teams heavily rely on these specific bench players to give quality minutes, that these players are vastly underrated.