The stuggles of last years sixth man of the year, Lamar Odom, opens the door for a new winer in 2012
With the condensed schedule forcing teams into more back-to-back games, bench units have taken on added importance relative to previous years. When the starters are feeling the effects of so many games in such a short amount of time, it's often left up to the sixth man off the bench to shoulder the offensive load.
As has been the case in recent years, there are a host of talented players that come off the bench and are capable of being game changers with their offensive abilities.
Here are the 6 best players at providing instant offense off the bench in the NBA right now.
16.1 PPG, 3.3 APG, 4.1 RPG, 22.03 PER
Besides boasting one of the top duos in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder also are home to the odds-on favorite for Sixth Man of the Year in James Harden.
Harden, in his third year out of Arizona State, has taken his game to the next level this year and given the Thunder a much-needed offensive presence off the bench.
In addition to pouring in 16.1 points per game, Harden has also proven adept at setting up the offense when Russell Westbrook needs a breather. Harden’s ascension to a legitimate third option behind Durant and Westbrook has led the Thunder to an NBA-best record of 17-4.
14.9 PPG, 3.6 APG, 1.5 RPG, 17.62 PER
The winner of the 2009 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Jason Terry is putting together another impressive season for the Dallas Mavericks. Terry has been a key factor in the Mavericks moving up in the Western standings after their sluggish start to the season.
When the game gets tight in the fourth quarter, the Jet is at his best playing off of Dirk Nowitzki. Much like he did in last year’s championship run, Terry has hit the clutch shots when the Mavericks have called his number down the stretch.
15.3 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.4 RPG, 22.58 PER
Behind Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, the 76ers have assembled what is arguably the best bench in the NBA. While Young and Turner are both having solid seasons, there is no question that Williams is the 76ers' instant offense off the bench.
It is rare to see a bench player lead the way in team scoring, but that is exactly what Williams has done so far this season. Williams, who has been splitting time between point guard and shooting guard, currently leads the team with 15.3 points per game.
For the 76ers to keep exceeding expectations in the East, they will need Williams and the rest of the bench crew to keep up their remarkable production.
10.8 PPG, 4.9 APG, 2.0 RPG, 17.44 PER
After only playing in four games last season, Nate Robinson has returned this season as a valuable weapon off the bench for the Golden State Warriors.
Robinson has always been able to score the ball—a solid 10.8 points in under 25 minutes this season—but his ability to get others involved has held him back thus far in his career. After only averaging 2.7 assists per game prior to this year, Robinson has seen his assist numbers spike to 4.9 per game.
If the Warriors are able to get back into the playoff race after a slow start, look for Robinson to be their catalyst off the bench.
The Blazers acquired Jamal Crawford from the Hawks to boost their bench production
13.1 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.9 RPG, 14.86 PER
After coming over to the Portland Trail Blazers from the Atlanta Hawks this past offseason, Crawford has seen his shooting touch disappear, but still remains a dangerous weapon off the bench.
While the shooting numbers have fallen from prior years, Crawford is still putting up over 13 points per game. The 2010 NBA Sixth Man of the Year has been showing signs of getting back to his regular form as of late, as highlighted by 24 points in last night's game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
For the Blazers to get out of the first round in this year's playoffs, they will need Crawford to find his shooting touch and lead a Blazer guard unit that has disappointed so far this season.
11.4 PPG, 2.3 APG, 2.5 RPG, 16.43 PER
Even though the Orlando Magic are currently are imploding around him, J.J. Redick has continued to be a bright spot off the bench. Besides his usual proficiency from three-point range—42 percent on the season—Redick has shown an improved ability to put the ball on the floor and score.
As a result, Redick has seen his scoring average this year jump nearly four points compared to his career average. If the Magic are to right the ship and make a run at a top-four seed in the East, they will need Redick to continue his improved play off the bench.