10 Best Backup Bigs in the NBA


Jarrett Allen

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Jarrett Allen has been a revelation for the Nets after being drafted 22nd overall.  At only 19 years old, Allen has demonstrated his rebounding and shot-blocking capabilities.  His game is still raw but at 6′ 11″ 234 he has legitimate size at the center spot.

After a slow start, Allen has arrived in 2018 and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.  If he works on his footwork, stamina, and agility he could be the franchise center for the Nets going forward.



Frank Kaminsky

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Frank the Tank is doing his part on an underachieving Hornets team, scoring 11 ppg and shooting 36% from three.  The Hornets have been floundering with a record of 15-23.  Their future is unclear regarding whether they move Kemba and their other core pieces.  But Kaminsky coming off the bench should allow them to hang around in games when their starters go to the bench.

Frank has a very polished offensive arsenal including crafty spin moves and pump fakes to get his shot off.  Although he’ll never be a great defender, Frank could become a better scorer and may earn himself a starting role sooner rather than later.


James Johnson

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If Johnson could stay healthy he’d definitely be higher on this list…

In a recent podcast with Zach Lowe, Goran Dragic called James Johnson “the glue of their team.”  JJ is an integral part of what Miami does, providing depth and switchability off the bench.  This season, he’s been a capable outsider shooter upping his 3-point percentage to 36%.

Johnson has always been a freak athlete, but over the years he’s become a better rebounder and passer.  He’s averaging a career-best 3.9 assists per game which leads all backup bigs.  Spoelstra has done a fantastic job incorporating Johnson into schemes and has needed to fill a major void when he’s been out.


Kyle O’Quinn


O’Quinn, a known Bar Mitzvah crasher, has become a bit of a folk hero in New York.

The 6′ 10″ center is equally appreciated on the hardwood as he is in the social scene.  Kyle comes off the bench and immediately makes an impact playing next to Frank Ntilikina and the other bench unit.  Hornacek uses him as a pick and roll guy and a facilitator around the block.  In fact this year he’s averaging a career high in assists(2).

O’Quinn is appreciated in New York for his 1990’s grind and he should continue to be one of the best bigs off the bench in the league.


John Collins


Collins has been impressive in his young NBA career.  JC takes playing above the rim to a whole new level.  His 21.1 PER leads ALL rookies: which is extremely impressive for a class that includes Simmons, Taytum, and Mitchell.

Collins is a tenacious rebounder and improving rim protector.  His per 36 minutes averages of 18/11/2 show just how productive he can be.  If he continues to develop the Hawks may have found their big of the future.

But for now, Collins remains one of the best backup bigs in the association.


Nikola Mirotic


Mirotic is a 3-point marksmen and capable shot-creator at the power forward spot.  Since coming back from injury Mirotic is averaging an absurd 18/7 off the bench, shooting 49% from the floor and 46% from downtown.

Bulls fans should be excited because Mirotic and Markennan seem to make up a taller version of the splash bros.  The Bulls have only won 14 games on the season, but Mirotic inserts a certain energy and excitement to a team that desperately needs it.

If you’re playing Chicago you better put a hand up so you don’t get torched.


Trey Lyles

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Trey Lyles has come a long way since being drafted 12th overall by Utah in 2015.  Lyles looks like he’s put on some weight and hit the shooting machine.  He has been outstanding for Denver this year providing about 10 points and 5 boards a game off the bench, including career-high 26 points against Utah.

Lyles is shooting a ludicrous 46% from 3 up from 32% last year.  Denver’s bench unit has been solid this year led by Lyles and 6MOTY candidate Will Barton.  At 22 years old, Lyles still has a lot of upside and he will continue to develop as a part of Denver’s young core.


Julius Randle


Randle, despite starting the last few games, has been coming off the bench for the majority of the season.  He’s putting up 13.1 points, and 6.7 rebounds on the year while shooting nearly 56% from the floor.

Randle gives the Lakers another look when Lopez and company are off the floor.  Randle has a unique ability to rebound at a high rate, handle the rock, and make plays in transition.  This skillset sets him apart from more traditional bigs, or even more modern floor-spacers.  At 23 years old, Randle seems to have finally recovered from knee issues in the past.  He could be setting himself for a big payday in the future, but for now, he’s a nice piece off the Laker bench.


David West

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Who leads the Warriors in overall defensive rating?

No, it’s not Kevin Durant.

David West actually leads the Dubs in defensive rating, and is top 10 in the entire association(20 games to qualify).  West gives the Warriors an edge that only a few players on their roster bring.  He gives them toughness.  He’s a schoolyard bully, the perfect compliment next to the splash bro ‘finessery.’

West, at 36 years old, is shooting a career-high 63% from the field and for the first time in over 9 years, he’s averaging over 1 block per game.  And he’s doing all this in only 13 minutes a game!

The GSW bench is once again magnificent in large part because of David West.


Domantas Sabonis


Whether it’s the new ball-movement system in Indiana, or a more defined role, Sabonis has blossmed this season.  Domo has fantastic footwork on the block and a nice touch around the rim.  In his second season out of Gonzaga, Sabonis has found ways to get to his spots and score efficiently.  He has more than doubled his scoring output(12), assists(2.1), and rebounds(8) from last year.

The Pacers are suddenly a very fun team with young assets like Sabonis (21), Turner (21), and Oladipo (25).




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