Top NBA bench players for 2023-24: Ranking 30 best reserves, from Chris Paul, Alex Caruso to Josh Hart

Which teams have the strongest starters at each position, and which ones have the weakest? We’re ranking all 30 starters by position at The Sporting News for the 2023-24 season.

Heading into the season, it’s become a tradition at The Sporting News to rank all 30 NBA starters at every position, along with the 30 best bench players. 

Limiting the best bench players to just 30 names is a tough exercise. Many talented players aren’t starting due to a roster crunch at their position or a specialized role that fits better off the bench. 

A quick note before we begin: Coaches don’t release their starting fives before tipoff of games, let alone in October when they’ve barely seen how their players perform together. Some of these bench players may end up as starters, but my best guess is that they come off the bench more frequently. 

MORE: Ranking all 30 starting centers from Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid to Anthony Davis

Here are the 30 best reserves for the 2023-24 season.

NBA bench player rankings 2023-24

1. Chris Paul, Warriors

One of the biggest questions coming into the season is what the Warriors will do with Paul, who has bristled at the suggestion of coming off the bench. 

READ: Should Chris Paul start for Warriors? The case for and against bringing star guard off the bench

Paul has clearly declined over the past few years. Once a great defender, he’s been targeted on that end of the floor in the playoffs. But he’s still a very high level player. His midrange game is automatic, he’s one of the smartest pick-and-roll players in the league, and he’s an expert at drawing fouls. 

If the Warriors do elect to start Paul, then it will be interesting to see which of Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, or Kevon Looney they bring off the bench. Any of those four would also be top five players on this list. 

2. Alex Caruso, Bulls

Caruso is another tough call on if he will start more games than he comes off the bench. The Bulls have used him in a bench role to try and preserve his minutes, given how valuable he is and how his all-out style can lead to injury. 

Caruso is the best pound-for-pound defender in the league. His 6-foot-4 frame doesn’t stop him from taking on much bigger assignments like Julius Randle. He also is one of the best at locking up scoring guards like Steph Curry. He’s a bit too reticent on offense, but he does have an accurate 3-point shot and plus court vision. 

3. Derrick White, Celtics

It’s unclear if White or Al Horford will be moved to the bench. Assuming it’s White, he’ll instantly be one of the best bench players in the league. He’s a fantastic rim protector for a guard and a great overall defender. He’s become a more reliable 3-point shooter as well, hitting 38 percent of his attempts for the Celtics last season. 

MORE: Ranking all 30 starting power forwards from Giannis Antetokounmpo to Victor Wembanyama

4. Caleb Martin, Heat

Martin is another player that might worm his way into the starting lineup. He was Miami’s best player on some nights during their playoff run, scoring over 20 points three times against the stingy Celtics’ defense in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Martin is a solid defender and a much-improved shooter, hitting 42.3 percent of his 3s during last year’s playoffs. He has some good shot creation ability and seems to rise in clutch situations. 

5. Malcolm Brogdon, Blazers

Brogdon is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year for good reason. He’s a heady player who can contribute in a number of different areas. He averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game for the Celtics last season while also playing good team defense. 

Injuries are always a concern for Brogdon — he played through an elbow injury that was concerning enough for the Clippers to pull a deal off the table for him during the offseason. 

6. Immanuel Quickley, Knicks

Quickley finished runner-up in Sixth Man voting last season but never really found his groove in the playoffs. That poor playoff showing put a damper on an otherwise excellent season. 

Quickley is a plus defender who combines good technique with great effort. On offense, he’s a good 3-point shooter, hitting 37 percent of his tries from deep last season. He pairs that with a fun floater and good passing ability. He’s one of the best two-way guards off the bench. 

7. Robert Williams III, Blazers

The Blazers have a roster crunch at center after trading for Williams and Deandre Ayton. One of them will likely have to come off the bench. My guess is that it’s Williams.

Williams is one of the best defensive bigs in the league. His rim protection numbers are outstanding — opponents shot 8.0 percent worse with him defending at the rim per Crafted NBA, in the 92nd percentile of all players. He’s also a terrific lob threat and a decent passer on offense.

8. Malik Monk, Kings

Monk is a spark plug scorer for the Kings, averaging 13.5 points per game last season. He’s become a better passer too, chipping in a career-high 3.9 assists. Once thought of as one of the worst defenders in the league, he’s become respectable on that side of the floor. 

9. Josh Hart, Knicks

Hart is a tough player that helped change the Knicks’ season with his transition play, defense, and rebounding after the trade deadline. He changes the dynamic of games with his hustle and energy — he was so vital to their success that he became a big-minute starter during the playoffs. 

10. Dorian Finney-Smith, Nets

Finney-Smith has been a full-time starter over the past four years for both the Nets and Mavericks. He’s still easily talented enough to start on the wing for many teams in the league, but the Nets have a logjam at that position with Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson on the roster. 

Finney-Smith is a great defender with good length. His primary value on offense comes from shooting 3s. While he had an off year last season, hitting just 33.7 percent of his attempts, he’s a career 35.7 percent shooter from deep. 

Bobby Portis Jr. Milwaukee Bucks

11. Bobby Portis, Bucks

12. De’Anthony Melton, Sixers

13. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Hawks

14. Kyle Anderson, Wolves

15. Norman Powell, Clippers

  • Portis has been one of the better bench players for years now. He gives the Bucks a great offensive punch with his shooting and post play. 
  • Melton is a great defender who finds a way to get tons of deflections. He’s turned himself into a good 3-point shooter as well, hitting 39 percent of his tries from deep last season. 
  • Bogdanovic is an extremely talented offensive player. He can facilitate in pick-and-rolls and has a deadly 3-point shot. 
  • Anderson is a smart defender and a crafty scorer who can fill a role as a secondary ballhandler. He’s a unique player in that he’s found ways to overcome his lack of athleticism and shooting reticence. 
  • Powell is a big time scorer. He averaged 17 points per game last season, hitting 39.7 percent of his 3s and creating his own offense. 

16. Onyeka Okongwu, Hawks

17. Terance Mann, Clippers

18. Gary Trent Jr., Raptors

MORE: Ranking all 30 starting small forwards from Jayson Tatum, LeBron James to Jimmy Butler

19. Donte DiVincenzo, Knicks

20. Rui Hachimura, Lakers

  • Okongwu is a good defender and elite shot blocker despite standing at only 6-foot-9. He’s been mostly a play finisher at the basket throughout his career but did start developing a decent jump shot last season.
  • Mann got some chances as the starting point guard for the Clippers last season and performed admirably. He’s a good defender who can get to the rim and shoot it well from 3. 
  • Trent Jr. is a good shooter that can provide points off the bench in a hurry. He’s an up-and-down defender who can get a lot of steals but also hurt the team with risky gambles at times. 
  • DiVincenzo is a solid defender and a good shooter — he nailed 39.7 of his 3s for the Warriors last season. He has good feel and playmaking too, averaging 3.5 assists last year. 
  • Hachimura is an improved defender and a great offensive sparkplug. He can get to his midrange shot at any time, and he hit a scorching 49 percent of his 3s for the Lakers during their Western Conference Finals run.
Delon Wright Washington Wizards

21. Delon Wright, Wizards

22. Gabe Vincent, Lakers

23. Caris LeVert, Cavs

24. Herb Jones, Pelicans

25. Kenrich Williams, Thunder

  • Wright has long been one of the more underrated guards in the league. He’s a good defender with quick hands and great effort. He’s an adequate shooter, hitting 35 percent of his career attempts from 3, and he has good passing skills as well. 
  • Vincent is a tenacious point-of-attack defender who makes up for a lack of size with a fearless style of play. He’s a streaky shooter who helped the Heat get to the Finals by hitting tons of clutch shots, but he’s connected on only 34 percent of his 3s for his career. 
  • LeVert is a scorer that can put pressure on the rim with his driving skills. He’s always had some issues with efficiency and shot selection, but he can get a decent shot off at any point in the shot clock. 
  • Jones is one of the best wing defenders in the league. His lanky arms and terrific one-on-one defense have earned him the nickname “Not on Herb.” 
  • Williams is a jack of all trades who has done whatever the Thunder need from him, even playing some center for them at just 6-foot-6. 
gary payton ii warriors

26. Gary Payton II, Warriors

27. Isaiah Hartenstein, Knicks

28. Kelly Olynyk, Jazz

29. Coby White, Bulls

30. Alec Burks, Pistons

  • Payton is a tough-nosed defender and athletic finisher. He’s a limited offensive player with a decent 3-point shot, but he only pulls the trigger on them when wide open. 
  • Hartenstein is a smart role player who can contribute a little bit of passing, screening, defense, rebounding, and scoring. 
  • Olynyk started every game that he played in for the Jazz last season, averaging 12.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He’s a good stretch big man who is somewhat limited defensively. 
  • White has always been able to shoot the ball. He improved substantially on defense and as a playmaker last season, making him a more well-rounded player. 
  • Burks has stuck around the league for 12 years by playing his role well. He’s a good 3-point shooter, hitting 41.4 percent of his tries last season, and a solid defender. 

Apologies to: Larry Nance Jr., Christian Wood, Kyle Lowry, Shaedon Sharpe, Robert Covington, Paul Reed, Andre Drummond, Maxi Kleber, Patrick Beverley, Luke Kennard, TJ McConnell, Mason Plumlee, Davion Mitchell, Josh Green, Christian Braun, Jose Alvarado

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