Ranking Every Team's Sixth Man

Patrick ForteCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2012

Ranking Every Team's Sixth Man

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    The 1982-83 NBA season was the first year that the league honored the Sixth Man of the Year.  

    Every year since, the NBA has given the award to the best player to come off of the bench consistently for an NBA team.  

    As the league continues to add more talent, the competition for Sixth Man of the Year becomes more stiff. This year's list of sixth men includes past award winners, All-Stars, rookies and veterans.  

    With so many injuries depleting teams this season, the players for each team were based on who would ideally come off the bench if every player was healthy.  

30. Steve Blake, Los Angeles Lakers

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    (6.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 8.5 PER)

     

    Well, someone has to be last.  Steve Blake is probably a better player than Lakers starting point guard Derek Fisher, but he comes off the bench to control the offense of the second unit.

    Blake's play has dropped off in recent years, but he is still a good player for the Lakers.  However, there is no doubt that the Lakers could use more depth on their bench.  

29. Tracy McGrady, Atlanta Hawks

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    (6.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 15.3 PER)

     

    Tracy McGrady isn't nearly the player he was on the Orlando Magic or the Houston Rockets, but he has been a nice veteran for the Hawks this season.  

    Even with the absence of Al Horford, the Hawks have been very competitive, and McGrady is a big part of that.

    McGrady brings veteran leadership to the Hawks.  He also has the ability to score in spurts when the starters are resting.  McGrady has found a nice niche on the Hawks this season coming off the bench.  

28. Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings

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    (8.0 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 11.0 PER)

     

    On a team with Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton, there are only so many shots available on the Sacramento Kings.  Rookie Jimmer Fredette does the best he can with the shots he gets on the Kings.  

    Coming off the bench, he has done the one thing that he is best known for: score.  While he isn't putting up nearly the numbers he did at BYU, Jimmer has still been a solid player for the Kings this year.  

27. Leandro Barbosa, Toronto Raptors

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    (11.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 13.4 PER)

     

    Barbosa's ranking proves how deep benches in the NBA have become.  Five years ago, Barbosa was coming off the bench for the Phoenix Suns and he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award.  

    He doesn't put up nearly the same numbers that he did back in the 2006-07 season, but Barbosa is one of the best scorers on the Toronto Raptors.  

26. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Milwaukee Bucks

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    (6.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 0.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 11.4 PER)

     

    Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is one of the most versatile players on the Milwaukee Bucks.  He is by no means known for his offensive play, but he is probably the best defender the Bucks have.  

    He can also play multiple positions, which is great when coming off the bench.  He may not be flashy, but Mbah a Moute helps the Bucks win games.  

25. Norris Cole, Miami Heat

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    (8.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, 10.7 PER)

     

    Shane Battier was expected to have the biggest impact off the bench for the Miami Heat this season, but one could argue that their most valuable bench player is rookie point guard Norris Cole. 

    Cole has been a surprise to many people in the league.  After playing four years at Cleveland State, his game was NBA-ready, and he has created stability off the bench at point guard for the Heat, a position at which they are not strong.  

    If Cole continues to develop his game, then the Heat had a very valuable piece fall into their laps.  

24. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz

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    (8.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.4 APG, 15.4 PER)

     

    Favors came over to the Jazz last year in a trade that landed the Nets Deron Williams.  

    Favors doesn't get as many minutes as he should, as the Jazz front court is loaded with guys like Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter.  However, Favors is very productive for the Jazz when he is in the game.  

    Favors was very raw when he entered the league last year, and his development will probably be slow. While he may never be a star on offense, Favors' potential lies in his defense.  

    If he can develop into the defensive stopper many think he can be, Favors could become an absolute force in this league.  All he needs is more playing time to develop his game.  

23. Jordan Crawford, Washington Wizards

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    (11.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 12.8 PER)

     

    Jordan Crawford has made a name for himself in the NBA, even if he may always best be known for dunking on LeBron James at a Nike skills camp.  Crawford can simply score at will.

    The problem, however, is that the Wizards have many scorers at the guard positions, including John Wall and Nick Young. 

    Additionally, while Crawford puts up nice scoring numbers, he isn't an overly efficient player.  As with most young players, Crawford should continue to improve and his future in the league looks bright.  

22. Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks

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    (10.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.0 SPG, 10.2 PER)

     

    Iman Shumpert was drafted this summer by the New York Knicks as a defensive stopper.  He's proven that he is that, as he leads all rookies with 2 steals per game.

    However, the Knicks didn't know they would be getting such a nice offensive player in Shumpert, too. While he is often inconsistent, Shumpert has been able to provide nice scoring off the bench backing up either guard position.  

    This spot may end up going to newly-acquired J.R Smith as the season goes on, but for now, Shumpert is the Knicks' sixth man.  

21. Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns

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    (8.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 14.5 PER)

     

    Markieff has clearly been the better of the Morris twins, who were drafted this past June in the 2011 NBA Draft.  Markieff has shown good shooting touch for Suns while also grabbing a respectable 5 rebounds per game.  

    With the Suns likely to lose Steve Nash and Grant Hill this summer during free agency, the Suns will look to Morris as a key building block.  

    Judged on his performance coming off the bench this season, Morris looks like someone the Suns will be able to rely on for years to come.  

20. Chase Budinger, Houston Rockets

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    (8.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 16.3 PER)

     

    The Houston Rockets have been a surprise playoff contender this year, and Chase Budinger has been a big part of that.  

    While many of the young players on the Rockets haven't quite reached their potential, Budinger certainly has been a good player for this team.  

    He's shooting a career-high 45.2% from the field, and his PER of 16.3 is the highest of his career.  

19. Nate Robinson, Golden State Warriors

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    (9.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 17.4 PER)

     

    Nate Robinson's career has been very inconsistent since his days with the New York Knicks.  

    After short stints with the Boston Celtics and the Oklahoma City Thunder, it looks like Robinson may have found a home with the Warriors.

    Robinson provides another undersized scoring guard for the Warriors, along with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis.  Robinson has revived his career this season and has been a very valuable player for the Warriors.  

18. Carl Landry, New Orleans Hornets

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    (11.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, 16.7 PER)

     

    Carl Landry may be a bit undersized, but he is able to score very well for a backup big man, and he also grabs a respectable amount of rebounds.

    While the Hornets have struggled mightily this season after trading Chris Paul, Landry has been consistent and a valuable player for the Hornets.  

17. Michael Beasley, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    (12.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.1 APG, 13.1 PER)

     

    Michael Beasley may have never reached the potential many thought he would've when he was drafted, but Beasley has carved a nice role as a sixth man for the improved Minnesota Timberwolves.  

    Besides scoring, Beasley also grabs a nice amount of rebounds for a small forward.  

    Beasley has always been in trade rumors while in Minnesota, but the Timberwolves have been wise to keep him, as he is a valuable backup to both Derrick Williams and Kevin Love. 

16. Ben Gordon, Detroit Pistons

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    (13.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 12.8 PER)

     

    Ben Gordon's numbers may be down since winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award in the 2004-05 season and since leaving the Chicago Bulls as a whole, but he is still a valuable scorer whether he is starting or coming off the bench.  

    With Gordon, Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey, the Pistons have their choice of playing any of those two guards together.  

    While they are all scorers, Gordon is the one who brings it off the bench, which is very valuable.  

15. O.J Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies

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    (12.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 15.1 PER)

     

    Mayo's scoring may be down from his first two years in the league, but he is still a very valuable scorer off the bench for the Memphis Grizzlies.  He has finally come to grips with his role as the Grizzlies' sixth man, and it's helping the team win games.  

    Mayo brings a great scoring punch that many teams don't have off their bench.  He also has the ability to catch fire quickly, and he can score at will when he's feeling it.  

    The Grizzlies have been wise to not trade Mayo, as having him come off the bench is a great luxury to have.  

14. Anthony Morrow, New Jersey Nets

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    (13.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 14.3 PER)

     

    Morrow does one thing very well, and that is score.  He shoots over 40 percent from three and makes over two three-pointers per contest.  

    The New Jersey Nets don't have many bright spots on their roster, but Morrow qualifies as one for them.  

13. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats

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    (13.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 15.4 PER)

    Kemba Walker is the first rookie to appear on this list. 

    With injuries to DJ Augustin and Gerald Henderson this season, Walker has actually started quite a few games for the Charlotte Bobcats this year, but he's just as valuable off the bench.

    Walker has very impressive numbers for a rookie, as he ranks third in scoring among first-year players. Walker definitely looks like a bright spot for the future of the Bobcats.

12. J.J. Redick, Orlando Magic

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    (11.2 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, 15.9 PER)

     

    After an extremely successful career at Duke, many thought J.J. Redick couldn't play at the NBA level. They were wrong.  

    Redick's best trait is his three-point shooting, where he shoots a stellar 44 percent.  Redick is averaging career highs in points, rebounds and assists this season.  

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Redick is important to the Magic because he is their main scorer off of the bench.  With him consistently improving each year of his career, he is officially a very important piece for the Magic in their title run and quest to keep Dwight Howard in Orlando.  

11. Ramon Sessions, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    (10.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.6 APG, 16.2 PER)

     

    Ramon Sessions carries the second unit of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  He leads the bench in scoring and assists, while playing very efficiently with a PER of 16.2.

    Sessions could start at point guard for quite a few teams in the league, so having him back up rookie Kyrie Irving has been a blessing for the Cavaliers.  

    With a player of Sessions' ability coming off the bench, the Cavs have been able to limit the minutes Irving gets while he acclimates to the NBA game.  Sessions is a very valuable piece in Cleveland.  

10. Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana Pacers

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    (9.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.6 APG, 14.1 PER)

     

    Tyler Hansbrough is the definition of a hustle player.  He does all of the dirty work coming off the bench for the surprising Indiana Pacers.  

    While he is a very weak passer, he is a solid rebounder and can score when he gets the opportunity.

    Many thought Hansbrough wouldn't be much of an NBA player when he came out of the University of North Carolina, but he has clearly proven his doubters wrong.

    With his hustle play, he has a long, successful career ahead of him in the NBA.  

9. Mo Williams, Los Angeles Clippers

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    (13.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 16.4 PER)

     

    Mo Williams may not be happy coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers, but there's no doubt he's one of the best sixth men in the league.  

    After being the main sidekick to LeBron James in Cleveland, Williams has had to settle into his role as being the main man off the bench.

    When Williams is hot, he can provide endless scoring for Lob City.  Additionally, with the season-ending injury to Chauncey Billups, Williams will be relied on even more for the Clippers.  

    If the Clippers have any chance of winning a title this year, Williams will have to be on his A game, whether he's happy coming off the bench or not.  

8. Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls

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    (7.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.7 APG, 1.2 BPG, 16.7 PER)

     

    Taj Gibson has played so well at times, specifically in last year's playoffs, that it's been debated whether Carlos Boozer should be starting over him.  The fact that Boozer and Bulls center Joakim Noah don't play very well together has only added fuel to the fire.

    For now, Gibson is a very valuable player off the bench for the Bulls.  While he doesn't score that much, he's an excellent rebounder and plays great defense along with backup center Omer Asik.  

    With Gibson leading the Bulls' second unit, there is no doubt the Bulls can make a title run this season.  

7. Brandon Bass, Boston Celtics

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    (11.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.0 APG, 15.0 PER)

     

    The Boston Celtics clearly got the better end of the deal when they sent Glen "Big Baby" Davis to the Orlando Magic for power forward Brandon Bass.  

    With a weak second unit, Bass has had to be the main scorer off the bench for the Celtics. 

    Bass is also a good rebounder, as he averaged a respectable 6.1 per game for the Celtics while not even starting.  

    The Celtics are glad to have Bass as they make one last run towards a title, before the "Big Three" likely goes their separate ways when free agency hits at the end of this season.  

6. Jamal Crawford, Portland Trail Blazers

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    (14.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, 16.1 PER)

     

    Jamal Crawford won the Sixth Man of the Year Award two years ago for the Hawks, and he has always been one of the game's best scorers off the bench. 

    This season has been no different, as he has helped improved the scoring off the Blazers' second unit and kept them in the playoff race.

    Crawford has played so well this season that there has been talk that he should replace Raymond Felton as the Blazers starting point guard.  

    However, Crawford truly shines when he is coming off the bench as a scoring threat going up against another team's second unit.  Crawford will always be valuable for that reason alone.  

5. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs

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    (12.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.3 APG, 25.2 PER)

     

    Ginobili has always been one of the best men off the bench for his entire NBA career.  The two-time All-Star has been a pivotal piece in the success of the San Antonio Spurs and their title runs.  

    Though he has been hurt for a good portion of this season, it would be wrong to leave him off this list.  

    Ginobili's numbers are down a little bit this year, and injuries and age have played a part in that.  Ginobili is one of many aging players on the Spurs roster, and it's starting to show.  

    A hand injury sidelined him for several weeks this season, and he is now out for another two weeks with an oblique strain.  

    Even with his numbers slightly down, Ginobili will have to be healthy for the Spurs to make a real title run this season.  

4. Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks

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    (14.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 16.1 PER)

     

    The one-time Sixth Man of the Year award winner has been one of the most consistent men off the bench in the NBA for years, and this season has been no different.  

    Even with the acquisition of Lamar Odom from the Lakers, Terry has been the best and most important man off the bench for Dallas.

    Terry is known for shooting the three, and is shooting 37.1 percent from the three-line this season.  He is a great spot-up shooter, but can also handle the ball when needed.

    Terry always brings energy off of the bench for the Mavericks, and he is able to pump up both the fans and his teammates.  Without Terry, the Mavericks wouldn't be nearly the team they have been this season.  

3. Andre Miller, Denver Nuggets

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    (10.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 16.4 PER)

     

    Andre Miller is good enough to start at point guard for plenty of teams in the NBA.  

    However, with Ty Lawson emerging as a future star for the Denver Nuggets this season, Miller has provided the Nuggets with veteran leadership and a great option to lead the second unit.  

    Part of the strength of the Nuggets is their depth, and Miller is a huge part of that.  Miller has always been a great passer, and this season, he's averaging more assists than Lawson, even though he comes off the bench.  

    Miller hasn't let age affect his game, and he is a huge reason why the Nuggets have been so competitive this season.  

2. Lou Williams, Philadelphia 76ers

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    (15.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 3.8 APG, 22.3 PER)

     

    If anyone can compete with James Harden for Sixth Man of the Year, it's Philadelphia 76ers point guard Lou Williams.

    Williams has vastly improved this year, as he is averaging more points, assists, rebounds, and steals per contest.  Additionally, he has the highest PER of all the players on this list.

    Williams could start for many teams in the league, and the fact that he comes off the bench for the 76ers is quite the luxury.  

    He is a main reason why the 76ers have been one of the most surprising teams in the league this year, and are currently one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.  

1. James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    (16.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 21.1 PER)

     

    James Harden was considered by many to be one of the biggest All-Star snubs this season, so of course he has to be No. 1 on this list.  Harden is known for his scoring, and leads all bench players in points per game.  

    Harden, along with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, are forming their own version of a "Big Three" that could rival any in the league.

    With Harden carrying the second unit, Oklahoma City doesn't have to worry about losing scoring when Durant and Westbrook are on the bench.  

    He shoots a respectable 46.4 percent from the field, in addition to 37.2 percent from three, while making almost 2 a game.  

    There is no doubt that Harden is clear front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year this season.