You're the coach of a playoff-contending team. Your starting five is solid, with three players hovering around the 20-points-per-game mark. But you need a go-to guy off the bench, someone who can come into the game and provide instant offense. There are two options for you.
Option 1 averages 15.3 points per game on .376 shooting. Option 2 isn't much better, if at all, posting an average of 19 points per game... on 19 shot attempts per game, shooting just .382 from the field and .310 from three-point range. Summarily, your options are Diddly and Squat.
Well, which would you choose? Think about it, then join me after the jump.
Option 2 ("Squat") is the average output of the entirety of the Magic's bench this season.
I'm not saying that we need a guy like Manu Ginobili of the Spurs, who has a good shot at being the first-ever League MVP to come off the bench in most of his team's games. But when your key bench players combine to barely exceed the dreadful "production" of Adam Morrison, you're screwed come playoff time. Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard, our two best players, are each playing over 35 minutes a game. Hedo Turkoglu, our third best, is just a shade under that total with an average of 34 minutes. In April, after a grueling 82-game season, they're going to be winded. And it's going to haunt them in the first or second round of the playoffs against a deeper team.
Should Stan Van Gundy panic and do something rash, like bench Hedo Turkoglu so he can start Trevor Ariza? No. After all, the Magic are 6-2 in the early part of the season, and their only losses have come against elite teams. But if the bench's lack of production continues -- and there's nothing to indicate it won't -- Otis Smith is going to need to keep the phone lines open, waiting to see if a solid bench contributor is available. Otherwise, we'll be taking an early vacation this year.