There has been a narrative created by NBA fans, generally in support of Nikola Jokic, that states that Jokic has far less help than Joel Embiid. If you compare starters, that may be true in the James Harden era. When looking at their respective teams’ bench, it’s clear that Jokic has the better bench. At this point in the season, there is absolutely zero debate to say otherwise.
Let’s take a look at the bench’s compared to each other in a few stats to get a better sense of the differences. The Denver Nuggets are averaging 36.7 PPG off the bench this season. The 76ers, on the-other hand, are averaging 26.6 points per game off the bench. Taking a look at defensive stats, the Sixers are averaging 2.8 steals per game and 1.5 blocks per game off the bench. This is opposed to the Nuggets 3.1 steals per game and 1.4 blocks per game.
The one argument against these stats are minutes played by bench players this season, which does heavily favor the Nuggets. The Denver Nuggets have played 90.4 minutes per game off the bench this season and the Sixers bench has only played 77.7 minutes per game. Even with this stat, the Nuggets bench still has a better net rating than the Sixers. Some may say this doesn’t matter, but it’s the same people using it as an argument to defend Jokic. The net rating for the Nuggets bench is -5.8. This may seem bad until you hear that the Sixers bench has a -9.2 net rating.
Disregarding stats, the Sixers bench has cost them multiple big games. Against the Pistons, the Sixers bench scored a mere 5 points in the entire game. The last 3 games combined, the 76ers bench as scored a total of 42 points. Friendly reminder that the Nuggets bench averages 36.7 points PER GAME.
When the Nuggets and Sixers played, Joel Embiid very clearly won the matchup over Jokic. Jokic needed a bench player in Bones Hyland to have the best 3 minutes of his career to win that game. There is a very legitimate argument for Jokic when comparing starting lineups this season. However, Jokic clearly has the better bench, this has become abundantly clear over the last few Sixers games.
Ps… Fire Doc Rivers!