Last season during the Sixers’ sudden rise to power in the East, they showed off one thing that was kinda the goal of all teams heading into last season: A good bench. Unfortunately, their bench’s role was to clean up the mess the starters made each night.
As one of my favorite commentators of all time Malik Rose called them, The Night Shift. The Night Shift were the best bench in the league hands down. Led by Thad Young and Lou Williams, these guys came in and did what a bench player was suppose to do: change the game or impact the game. Other members of this “squad” were Evan Turner and Nikola Vucevic. Later, as Vuce fell out of rotation, it was Lavoy Allen.
The question is, will the Sixers’ bench be as effective this season? Lou Williams became a rare guy in that he led his team in scoring without starting a game. that just gives and idea of how the bench players outplayed the starters. Lou is gone, Vucevic is gone, and I’m thinking Evan Turner should be starting. Let’s say these are the starters:
PG Jrue Holiday
SG Jason Richardson
SF Evan Turner
PF Lavoy Allen
C Andrew Bynum (yay!)
So then here’s some guys off the bench:
Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Spencer Hawes, Kwame Brown, and Thad Young. Notice I didn’t put Royal Ivey in there. He’ll probably play but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Turner run the point too. The big question is will this group of guys coming off the bench be better than last year’s group. My initial thoughts are “no”. But, after some soul searching and sleepless nights I said “no”. Yeah I didn’t change my mind.
I think there are a couple of reasons why The Night Shift was so successful. For one thing, last year was the year of the bench. It was all about rotation management. Lucky for coach Collins, he already had a solid bench going into the season that barely changed from the previous season. The chemistry and level of need for the bench gave them the ability to be so effective.
Another reason why this bench will not be as good as last year is because the starting 5 will be a much better unit. Again, The Night Shift had to bail out the starting 5 last season from poor start after poor start to 1st and 3rd quarters. Bynum pretty much changes that.
Also, I just don’t feel the skill level is as good. I don’t think Nick Young is better than Lou Williams (you know how much I hate Lou’s game!). Dorell Wright adds a scoring punch so I guess the two of them could be subbed for Lou. Thad is Thad and I mentioned in a post about his new contract that I really thought Thad was at his ceiling. Still feel that way. Spencer Hawes is a former starter who is now in the role he was meant to be in. Kwame Brown is Kwame Brown. Both are better than what Vucevic brought to the table.
Basically, the bench’s shrunken role really prevents them from having the same impact. The starters will be getting back their minutes and the role players will be in constant battle for playing time. Collins has each player where he wants him: If you don’t play well, I’ll just put somebody else in there. Remember that “it felt like a Tony Battie night”? Maybe instead of Jason Richardson, it’ll be a Dorell Wright night. Instead of Lavoy Allen, coach wants to put in Hawes.
That’s the beauty of the roster, and yet that’s a bad thing for the bench. If Collins keeps changing the lineup at the start of each game, we won’t really know how good our bench is. I mean, Collins isn’t going to be changing up every night but you know him; he’ll do what he thinks is best for the team.
Will the bench still be one of the best in the league? For me, that remains to be seen. I think they have the potential.