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Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, April 8, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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The importance of finding points off the bench in the NBA

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Every NBA team hopes to have a strong starting five. Equally important is having a second unit that can come in the game and play at a high level. Included in those players coming off the bench hopefully is someone who can score points when needed — maybe even a scoring specialist who can light up the scoreboard when the starters are not on the floor.

Last season, there were seven players who scored 800 or more points when they came off the bench. Leading the way was Denver guard Will Barton, who tallied 1,159 points in games when he came off the bench for the Nuggets.

Here are the seven players who scored 800 or more points off the bench last season:

Wil Barton, Denver guard, 1,159 points
Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City center, 1,005 points
Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers guard, 974 points
Ryan Anderson, New Orleans forward, 974 points
Mirza Teletovic, Phoenix forward, 951 points
Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota guard-forward, 863 points
Darren Collison, Sacramento guard, 802 points

As noted above, Barton’s 1,159 points led all reserves last season. It was, however, about 400 points shy of the single-season mark for most points scored coming off the bench in a season. That mark is held by Rickey Pierce who scored 1,556 points splitting time with Milwaukee and Seattle during the 1990-91 season. The five highest scoring seasons by players who came off the bench:

Rickey Pierce, 1990-91, 1,556 points
Thurl Bailey, 1988-89, 1,528
Thurl Bailey, 1987-88, 1,469
JR Smith, 2012-13, 1,446
Jamal Crawford, 2009-10, 1,425

Pierce is one of six players who had three seasons where he scored 1,000 or more points coming off the bench. He is joined by Thurl Bailey, Jamal Crawford, Dell Curry, Jason Terry and Lou Williams.

Pierce also tops the NBA with the most games played with 20 or more points by a player who was not a starter. Pierce had 180 games in his career where he topped the 20-point mark coming off the bench. Crawford is second on the list with 167 games followed by Eddie Johnson with 163, Dell Curry with 138 and Bailey with 110. Curry holds the NBA record for most games scoring 10 or more points coming off the bench with 569.

Speaking of Curry, he sits atop the NBA with the most career points scored as a player coming off the bench. He had 11,147. Curry actually started 99 games in his career, scoring 1,523 points, a 15.4 points per games average. He came off the bench in the other 984 games in his career, scoring 11,147 points, a per game average of 11.3. Nine different players have scored 7,000 or more points in their career coming off the bench. They are:

Dell Curry, 11,147
Eddie Johnson, 9,176
Jamal Crawford, 8,960
Rickey Pierce, 8,806
Thurl Bailey, 8,379
Manu Ginobili, 7,185
Lou Williams, 7.171
Jason Terry, 7,075
Detlef Schrempf, 7,046

Let’s go back to last season for one final stat. While only seven players scored 800 or more points coming off the bench last year, there were 39 players who scored 500 or more points for a team coming off their bench. Seven of the NBA’s 30 teams did not have a player coming off the bench score 500 or more points in 2015-16, while four teams actually had three players reach the 500-point mark as non-starters in a game.

Here are the number of players who scored 500 or more points coming off the bench for each team last season.

3: Charlotte, Portland, Sacramento, Toronto
2: Boston, Detroit, Indiana, Minnesota, New Orleans, N.Y. Knicks, Oklahoma City, San Antonio
1: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Golden State, L.A. Clippers, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix,  Utah, Washington
0: Brooklyn, Cleveland, Houston, L.A. Lakers, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee

The importance of finding points off the bench in the NBA

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