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Considering bench depth might factor in more than usual, who are the deepest teams going into this restart?
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Steve Aschburner: If we’re talking deep depth, I’m thinking of Milwaukee, Toronto and Boston in the East. In the West, looks to me like the Lakers, Clippers and Nuggets have not just deep rosters but the most versatility for various match-ups and assertive looks. That doesn’t mean I think every coach will use 10 or 11 guys on a nightly basis once the postseason begins, but I do think the teams cited above won’t need to tighten rotations, say, to seven trustworthy players. We’ve seen what the Raptors’ bench did a year ago, for instance, and the Clippers have two guys in the running for Kia Sixth Man (not sure that’s mathematically possible, but what the heck). Boston’s got numbers but not so much at the rim. LeBron makes anybody’s ninth man better. The Bucks are as kumbaya top to bottom as it gets. And Denver’s wealth of young talent buzzing around Nikola Jokic is undeniable.
Shaun Powell: Hard to argue with the Clippers’ depth when twin Kia Sixth Man of the Year candidates Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams are coming off the bench. The Nuggets are bringing the numbers, too, along with the Bucks, Celtics and Heat. Those are the only teams dripping with a high level of flexibility that will allow them to tweak the rotation to their favor depending on the opponent. I’m just hoping the Nuggets find the need to throw Bol Bol into the mix. Mainly because I want to write that name — Bol Bol. Bol Bol. Bol Bol!
John Schuhmann: Assuming they get everybody back and healthy, the Clippers are clearly the deepest team. When the season was suspended, 44% of their points and 46% of their minutes, both the highest rates in the league, had come from reserves. And that’s with Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson having played just 12 and nine games with the Clips, respectively. Even if Joakim Noah doesn’t have much of a role behind Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell, Doc Rivers has 10 guys he’ll likely trust in a playoff series (or at the start of a series, at least). Denver has enough depth that Michael Malone can yank Michael Porter Jr. after one or two defensive breakdowns and still go nine deep with his rotation. And don’t overlook the Bucks’ ensemble. There’s a reason why they’re 53-12 with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton each averaging fewer than 31 minutes per game.
Sekou Smith: All of the drama in the bubble before the seeding games even start has forced me to rethink my theory about the Clippers being as deep a contender as we’ve seen in recent years. They need their full rotation in the fold before they can be fully evaluated. I’m convinced another team has the most complete depth chart in the bubble. The Raptors have the sort of reliable depth that the Clippers still have to prove exists on their roster. The Raptors can come at you in waves and with size, shooting and playmaking that has proved effective at a championship level. They’ll have something to say about who comes out of the East. The Bucks, of course, belong in the conversation. They also possess the quality depth and cohesion that every contender is looking for. Denver is another team overloaded with young talent (Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol on the court with Nikola Jokic someday is a wicked thought). And the Heat can go deep into the rotation and not see a significant drop off.
Michael C. Wright: The Clippers have some folks out dealing with personal matters, but they should all be back when the important games commence. They’ve got serious depth when you think about players like Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Landry Shamet coming off the bench. Don’t sleep on the Lakers, either, with Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Markief Morris and Dwight Howard as well as Rajon Rondo, who should be back sometime during the playoffs. Miami and Utah’s benches are fairly deep too, but I’m actually pretty interested in what happens with the 76ers if they bring Al Horford off the bench.