NBA Starters Who Should Get a Chance to Come Off the Bench and Spark a Shift


Certain NBA players excel when given the opportunity to start games, while others thrive in crucial rotation roles coming off the bench. Unfortunately, circumstances often force players into roles that may not suit their strengths, be it because their team lacks better options or due to a history of playing in a specific role.

However, recent changes in free agency, the draft, trades, and updated lineup statistics from the previous season, have highlighted the need for some teams to reevaluate their starting lineups for the upcoming season. The following five players predominantly started games during the 2022-23 season, but it is now evident that it may be in the best interest of their teams to reconsider their roles within the starting five.

Marcus Morris Sr., Los Angeles Clippers

Approaching his 34th birthday, Morris should transition from a consistent starter to a key bench player for the upcoming season. Over the last two years with the Clippers, his stats have declined noticeably, and with his 13th season in the league, further regression is expected. The Clippers have an aging roster (average age 28.9), emphasizing the need to nurture young talent for a top-six seed in the competitive Western Conference. They thrived with smaller lineups last season, featuring Leonard at power forward and George at small forward, achieving a remarkable net rating of plus-12.2. Moving Morris to the bench and adjusting the starting lineup for more speed aligns with their objectives and accommodates Russell Westbrook's style. Morris can still offer a valuable veteran presence at 34, but his starting role should conclude.

Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets

Despite starting all 268 games over four years with the Charlotte Hornets, it's time for a change in Terry Rozier's role to break the NBA's longest playoff drought. The Hornets would wish to finish at a better place than last season in the Eastern Conference, but that will largely depend on how players, including Rozier are utilized. The latest predictions will not go down well with the Hornets fans, but it goes to show the current situation. Led by 6'7" point guard LaMelo Ball, they can gain a size advantage, but pairing him with the 6'1", 190-pound Rozier often nullifies it. Rozier's career 41.7% field goal shooting and struggles connecting on 28.9% of three-pointers from Ball's passes make this partnership suboptimal.

Charlotte's net rating improved by 3.6 points per 100 possessions when Ball played without Rozier. Prioritizing youth, slotting 6'9" Brandon Miller at shooting guard creates a supersized backcourt, with Rozier as a valuable sixth man and backup point guard. Rozier can excel as a primary playmaker when Ball is off the court, coming off the bench.

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Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks have reluctantly turned back to Dwight Powell as their projected starting center due to past center position failures. At 32, Powell is serviceable but limited, averaging 6.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks in 64 starts, lacking modern NBA floor-spacing ability. This isn't ideal in a Western Conference filled with dominant big men. Last offseason's pursuit of a better center resulted in JaVale McGee, who lasted just seven games before being waived. While Dereck Lively II is the future at center, Dallas needs a temporary solution. They should explore trades for veteran upgrades like Clint Capela or Jusuf Nurkić to bridge the gap until Lively is ready, crucial for a competitive Western Conference playoff run.

Quentin Grimes, New York Knicks

Grimes' recent benching doesn't reflect his performance; he excelled as a full-time starter for the Knicks. Standing at 6'5", he's a reliable 3-and-D wing, averaging 11.9 points and shooting 38.6% from beyond the arc while playing stout defense in 66 starts last season.

The move to the bench primarily hinges on the Knicks' success with Josh Hart. With Grimes, Jalen Brunson, and Julius Randle on the court, they had a modest net rating of plus-1.6. However, Hart's presence boosted the net rating to plus-18.1, ranking in the 100th percentile. Hart's well-rounded game and his long-term contract make him a better fit for the Knicks as they aim to build on their playoff run. While finding a role for Grimes remains important, Hart's ability to contribute to winning suggests he deserves a starting spot. According to ESPN ranking, Knicks are expected to finish a spot lower than last season’s, but that could change for better if the right changes are made.

D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers

While not an easy conversation, transitioning Russell to a sixth-man role could benefit both him and the Lakers. The team's signing of Gabe Vincent to a three-year, $33 million deal compared to Russell's one-year contract with a player option ($36 million total) suggests uncertainty in him, especially after being benched in the Western Finals.

Russell has a higher ceiling but also a lower floor than Vincent. With LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Austin Reaves in the starting lineup, Vincent's steadiness at point guard may benefit the Lakers.

This change could provide Russell more scoring chances off the bench, as his usage rate dropped from 31.9% (2018-19 All-Star season) to 22.6% with the Lakers. He can still deliver explosive scoring off the bench, while Vincent's mistake-free play would support the stars in the starting lineup.

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