In the NBA, some teams have bench players who give a lot to their team being a backup. In this article, I give five players who can make an impact on their team going down the stretch. All of these players are guards, but there are also forwards and centers who can also make an impact. *This list of five is not in any specific order.*
Dennis Schroder leads the bench for one of the most surprising teams this season. Helping the Thunder off the bench will be vital down the stretch. Keeping the five seed would help the Thunder avoid a tougher opponent, and Schroder can help give a strong boost to the Thunder when needed, Schroder leads all bench players in scoring, averaging 19.3 points per game. A big game from him most likely leads to an OKC win, not only because of scoring, but also because he makes his teammates better on the court. The point guard position continues to show success each season in Oklahoma City, as it seems like they always have an elite player handling the ball. Schroder is having a career year, posting his best in field goal percentage and 3 point percentage. A healthy Dennis Schroder along with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Paul should make things very interesting in the West.
Goran Dragic was almost traded by Miami in the offseason, but they are very glad that they still have him. Coming off the bench, Dragic averages about 16 points per game in 28 minutes. He’s been playing very solid for a Miami team looking to get closer to Finals contention. As the Heat went deeper into the season, they realized how valuable Dragic can be getting his team closer to a win when down. Sadly, Goran will become a free agent this season, and has a chance of being part of another team next year. But, if the Heat show that they are closer to a title than expected, he might re-sign. A prediction I have for the playoffs is that Dragic will average 18 points per game to finish out the season, proving his worth to Miami.
If you are an NBA fan, you know that Lou Williams is one of the best sixth men of all time. He has had outstanding performances for every team he’s played for, and gives them a valuable asset. Lou-Will ranks second in the NBA in points per game for bench players, and hasn’t taken one step back. Yes, the Clippers are a top 3 NBA team, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need a strong bench. When they are down 10 points, and their starters are tired, who do you put in? Lou Williams. That is one of the many reasons why a team needs him. He can easily bring a team back in a game with his mid-range game, as well as his defense. Come postseason time, expect Williams to have a couple of breakout games, helping his team off the bench.
When Buddy Hield found out he was benched midseason, he was not happy. He still gave good numbers, and continued his consistent shooting from beyond the arc, but wanted to get that starter job back. The Kings most likely will not give it back, but Buddy knows that he needs to contribute, because Sacramento needs to get back into the playoffs. The Kings have a shot at the postseason this year, and part of that reason is because of Hield. Throughout the season, Hield averaged almost 20 points per game, shooting 39.5% from 3-point range. For the rest of the season, one way Hield can make an impact on the game is by giving his team a big lead getting on a roll when shooting threes. Overall, the Kings have a strong group when it comes to shooting. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica are two examples of consistent shooters in Sacramento. Between De’Aaron Fox’s speed and Buddy Hield’s shooting, the Kings could be a team that many should watch out for.
This season, Mavs fans got a lot more out of Seth Curry than expected. Curry shot 45% from beyond the arc, and delivered on a lot of instances for Dallas. In 25 minutes, Curry averages about 13 points each contest. Before the season suspension, Seth was on a roll for a few games, putting up numbers that people haven’t seen in a long time. Dallas currently holds the seven seed, and they are trying to avoid the Clippers in the first round. Curry can make an impact in the eight remaining games by giving defenses another problem to worry about on the court. Opponents like to double team Luka Doncic when playing Dallas. If Seth and Luka are on the floor, Curry can be an immediate outlet for Doncic when he is double teamed. When Seth gets an open shot after a pass from Doncic, you will most likely see it go in. Setting up situations like this can really help the Mavericks throughout the rest of the season when in a clutch situation. All in all, it will make a lot of sense for the Mavs to play Seth Curry with the starters, but we will see how they decide to play it out later on.
Top Photo: Jim McIssac