While the Los Angeles Lakers have a rich history of all-time great players, some of their championships were also a byproduct of role players stepping up. With that in mind, LakersNation.com assembled a list of the best all-time Lakers bench players.
The caveat was keeping the list rather contemporary — from the 1980s and on. Beginning our list is Michael Cooper, who checks in as the No. 5 bench player in Lakers history.
Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy were integral to the franchise winning five championships during the Showtime era, but so too was Cooper. He was often tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player, which during the NBA Finals meant matching up with Larry Bird.
Cooper was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team eight times (five First Team selections) over his 12-year career and was won the Defensive Player of the Year Award for the 1986-87 season.
Additionally, Cooper also provided the Lakers with an ability to stretch the floor at a time when the league wasn’t yet three-point happy. Cooper ranked second in the NBA with 38 made 3-pointers during the 1983-84 season, fourth in 1985-86 with 63, and second with 89 during the 1986-87 campaign.
Spending his entire career with the Lakers after being taken in the now-defunct third round (60th overall) of the 1978 NBA Draft, Cooper averaged 8.9 points per game, 3.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals.
Top Lakers bench players