1. Los Angeles Lakers — Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell
So the Los Angeles Clippers had the best bench duo in the league last season, that part is irrefutable. They had the guy who won the Sixth Man of the Year award and the guy who finished in third place. That is big.
I did argue before the year that the Lakers were deeper because their backend rotation guys, the 8-10 in the rotation, were far better. Just saying… whose bench played better in the playoffs? I got ridiculed for that take.
So the Clippers had the best bench duo in the league last season and the Lakers have a very similar version of it — except it is miles better.
They have Harrell, who is the exact same player but I am hopeful will be even better in the purple and gold. It is no secret that Doc Rivers did not know how to utilize Harrell, especially defensively, and that is something that Frank Vogel thrives in.
Harrell got torched in the playoffs by a generational big man in Nikola Jokic. We cannot ignore it and pretend that it did not happen, but we are also not going to treat it like it is the status quo. Harrell has his holes, but he will be better utilized on the Lakers. That we can assure you.
And if he makes the kind of improvements with the Lakers that we expect then he will be just as good, if not better, than Ibaka is on the Clippers.
Then you have Schroder, who brings the same scoring prowess of the bench that Lou Williams does with the added plus of being a fantastic playmaker and distributor. So he has the slight edge offensively.
Then you look at the defense and it is a wrap. Schroder is so much better than Williams defensively that you would think they play in different leagues. Schroder had the 12th-best defensive PIPM among point guards last season, coming in at a 1.04.
He is younger and more athletic. He is naturally a better defender than Williams and he has far more explosiveness to make up ground in the passing lanes as well in help defense when someone drives to the lane.
It really is not even close. The Los Angeles Lakers are levels above the rest of the league in terms of the best bench duos.