Examining the Unmatched Dominance of the San Antonio and Golden State Benches

Is any other NBA team even close to the depth of the Spurs and Warriors?

Full disclosure: this was supposed to be an article on the top five benches in the league.

What happened? The numbers -- that's what happened.

The reserves of both the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors are leaps and bounds above any other team in the Association.

Check out the cumulative nERD scores of the bench players.

Team nERD
San Antonio Spurs 27.2
Golden State Warriors 12.6
Cleveland Cavaliers 4.6
Oklahoma City Thunder 3.0
Toronto Raptors 1.9
Boston Celtics -1.1
Los Angeles Clippers -9.6

In case any of you are unfamiliar, nERD is our homemade metric that measures a player's total contribution throughout the course of a season, based on efficiency. With the league average being zero, this metric provides an estimate of how many games above or below .500 a league-average team would be with that player as one of their starters.

The above table lists the combined bench nERD of each of the top seven teams in our power rankings, discounting those five players which most commonly have started for their respective squads. What this tells us is that the Spurs and Warriors benches are just incredible relative to the other top teams in the league.

The Spurs' bench itself has more than doubled up the defending champion Warriors, while the Warriors are nearly triple the next closest team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. And when you combine the Cavaliers and the next four teams you get a total of -1.2.

In fact, San Antonio and Golden State have a combined eight players with a nERD superior to that of the entire Raptor bench.

What's maybe most impressive is that the Spurs have had a single player, Jimmer Fredette, all season with a nERD below zero. Fredette was waived back in October. To summarize, the Spurs don't have a single player in their starting lineup or on their bench that is considered below average.

The Warriors' bench players aren't too average themselves, as Marreese Speights is the only one with a negative nERD. And if you haven't noticed recently, in place of the injured Festus Ezeli, Speights has been killing it as the first Warrior big off the bench.

nERD isn't the only metric that shows the squads' dominance either.

Team WS WS/48
San Antonio Spurs 21.2 1.857
Golden State Warriors 14.9 1.367

The San Antonio bench, consisting of veterans David WestBoris Diaw, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills and youngsters Boban Marjanovic and Jonathon Simmons, have tallied a combined 21.2 Win Shares on the season, averaging 1.857 Win Shares per 48 minutes between them.

Taking Win Shares literally, that means that the Spurs reserves have more wins than nine NBA teams.

The Warriors aren't far behind, with 14.9 Win Shares of their own -- more than four NBA teams. With their relatively young starting lineup, the Dub reserves don't play as many minutes per game, so it's understandable as to why they don't have as many Win Shares.

The dropoff from the Spurs to the Warriors is really ridiculous until you see the gigantic gap between Golden State and the rest of the upper echelon teams. 

Clearly, these two benches are 1A and 1B, which isn't the biggest surprise in the world. The Spurs and Warriors are the 1A and 1B of NBA title contenders and are so for many reasons, including their ridiculously efficient and talented benches.

Stay tuned in to the site for a closer look at one of the more impressive individual bench performers so far this season.