The next man up mentality is a must when discussing championship caliber teams. Similar to the importance of players knowing their roles, you also must have guys that have the ability and the confidence to step up when their numbers are called on.
We’ve seen horrific situations this NBA season, especially in the playoffs where superstars have gotten hurt. First was Stephen Curry with his ankle and knee, but then just a few days later, both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were reported out for the remainder of the playoffs for the Los Angeles Clippers. That’s not to mention the Miami Heat are still without Chris Bosh. Looking at those names, those are big shoes to fill. We’re talking about guys who play major roles on their respective teams and mean a lot to their team’s success. But this is where that next player up mentality has to come into play. When on the bench, you have to be ready at all times, whether you’re the first person off the bench or the very last — you never know when your number will be called on.
The Golden State Warriors are a perfect example during this playoff run. Stephen Curry went down, but their confidence and their play hasn’t. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have held the scoring load while Shaun Livingston has stepped in for Curry and has been as efficient as he’s always been, just simply sticking to his style of basketball. It’s been fun to watch because it’s easy to write a team off when they lose their top guy, but the Warriors have been the complete opposite. When one guy goes down, the others must rise, and that’s what separates the good from the greats.