The improvement in the Blazers bench is key to success this season. Here is a summary of team scoring stats from hoopsstats.com. These stats are through 47 games.
Last year, as a team, we were outscored by 3.2 points per game (PPG). This year, we are outscoring our opponents by 4.9 PPG. The net: our scoring margin is 8.1 PPG better than last year.
Where did this increase come from? Starter scoring is up by 6.1 PPG (from 79.0 to 85.1), while opponent starter scoring is up by 4.9 PPG (from 67.2 to 72.1). For the starters, the net difference in year-to-year scoring is 1.2 PPG (6.1 minus 4.9).
Bench scoring is up by 4.7 PPG (from 18.5 to 23.2), while opponent bench scoring is down 2.2 PPG (from 33.5 to 31.3). For the bench, the net difference in year-to-year scoring is +6.9 PPG (4.7 minus -2.2).
So of the +8.1 PPG year-to-year improvement in scoring margin, 85% is attributable to the bench (+6.9 PPG) and 15% is attributable to the starters (+1.2 PPG).
One way to look at how important improved bench play has been to the team is looking at the improvement in the number of wins from last year. Last year, we had a .402 winning percentage. If we were winning at the rate this year, our record would be 19-28 (instead of 34-13). So we have 15 more wins this year than last. Since the bench is responsible for 85% of the improvement in net scoring margin, it is reasonable to attribute 85% of these 15 extra wins to the bench. This means that the improved bench is responsible for 13 of those 15 extra wins.
So Neil Olshey should get credit for addressing the Blazers Achilles heel from last year, and the bench players should get credit for being big contributors to the team's overall improvement in net scoring and wins.