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The 5 Bench Players Who Are Defining The 2017 NBA Finals

Superstars get all the credit, but what about the unsung heroes of each team?
by John Paulo Aguilera | Jun 8, 2017
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When you talk about the ongoing NBA Finals, the conversation revolves around either Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson (for the Golden State Warriors), LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, or Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers).

Take for example Game 3, where the Dubs pushed the Cavs to the brink (3-0), behind some clutch shots from Durant (31 points). Solid performances from James (39 pts, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) and Irving (38 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast) couldn't prevent the Warriors from inching closer to a history-making win (16-0).

Superstars get all the credit, but what about the unsung heroes of each team? We're referring to those who have accepted the less glamorous role of suiting up for just 15 to 20 minutes to give their starters a breather.

If there was an award for Most Valuable Bench Player, these guys will surely get a strong consideration:


James Jones

This isn't one of those jokes about him being the 'GOAT,' but having to reach the end of the bench pretty much sums up the poor showing from Cleveland's reserves. Ironically, Jones is the type of player—experience, shooting, length—that the Cavaliers could use right now.

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Kyle Korver

Korver's struggles should give you an idea about how his team has been doing from the three-point line. This matchup against the Warriors was the main reason the Cavs acquired him, but so far the sniper has been a non-factor (just three makes from beyond the arc throughout the series).


JaVale McGee

Gone are the days when he was the undisputed Shaqtin' A Fool MVP. JaVale still makes head-scratching plays, but what people are seeing is him giving the Warriors another weapon in their arsenal. Don't be surprised if one day he takes Zaza Pachulia's spot in the opening lineup.

Shaun Livingston

He's the man responsible for Durant's fresh legs. With Livingston, you basically get his MVP teammate's length, while sacrificing offensive firepower and gaining defense flexibility. His playing time (15 mpg, 2nd on bench)—and not his numbers (6 ppg)—reflect his value to Golden State.

Andre Iguodala

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His defensive stop at the end of Game 3 was the 2015 Finals MVP's way of saying, "Not this time." If only the Sixth Man of the Year also counts a reserve's playoff production, Iguodala will be the runaway winner this year with his ability to flip the switch at this stage.


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