Every year in the NBA, many players go under the radar, not getting the respect for their contributions to their teams. Especially when it comes to bench players, in an era where the 6 man of the year award has been dominated by Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford. This season, many NBA fans will know about contributions from guys like Dennis Schroder and Jordan Clarkson off the bench for the Thunder and Jazz, but here are a few who are playing better than you might expect.
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
Dwight’s numbers certainly do not jump off the page like they did back in Orlando, but in his second stint with the Lakers, he has flourished off the bench. In only 19 minutes per night, Dwight is giving the Lakers incredible efficiency, shooting 73% from the field. He is averaging 7 and 7, which is somewhat impressive given his limited usage and playing time. He is earning his money defensively though, averaging 1.2 blocks a night even with his low minutes total. His hustle and interior scoring has made it possible for him and AD to coexist on offense, and Howard is producing exactly what the 1st seed Lakers need.
Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors
For much of his tenure in Toronto, Ibaka has received harsh criticism. Despite always giving maximum effort, and contributing to the Raptors year in and year out, he was criticized heavily for not helping take the Raptors to the next level. Now, under Nick Nurse, he has been unleashed and is giving Toronto fans what they wanted. An integral part of the championship, he has only been better this season off the bench. Averaging 16 points and 8.3 rebounds a night, along with almost 1 block in 27 minutes, Ibaka has been one of the more productive bench players in the league this season. He is also efficient, shooting 51.8% from the field and a surprising 39.8% from 3 this season.
J.J. Redick, New Orleans Pelicans
Despite starting his whole career, Redick has now been limited to a 6th man role for the Pelicans, with Holiday and Ball the starting backcourt. However, his efficiency, shooting and gravity on offense has not dropped off. He is getting Zion, Ingram and others great looks due to the inability to leave him open. He is still shooting well, at 45% from both the field and three. He is averaging 15 points a night in 26 minutes, seemingly giving the Pelicans everything they can ask for. In his new role, as a veteran leader and bench contributor, Redick has certainly benefited all of the Pelicans young players, especially Lonzo and Zion.
Seth Curry, Dallas Mavericks
With the success of the Mavericks, the near all-star level play of Kristaps Porzingis, and the MVP caliber play or Luka Doncic, it is easy to discredit some of Dallas’ role players. Their key cog off the bench has been Seth Curry, similarly to J.J. Redick, offering great offensive play and shooting for Dallas’ top ranked offense. They never have a drop off when they get bench guys on the floor, and Curry is a big reason why this is the case. He is extremely efficient all over the floor, shooting 50% from the field and 45% from 3. He has been good when asked to create his own shot, as well as on catch-and-shoot opportunities created by teammates. A huge part of the Mavericks playoff push this season, Seth’s 12.5 points a night off the bench can not be ignored.