Top 10: Minor Players with Huge Roles
Michael Jordan may have won six championships in his professional basketball career, but he did not do it alone.
Sure, Scottie Pippen was his right hand man, but what about his other teammates?
Jordan's 1996 championship quest not only displayed Jordan's individual talents, but also displayed those of his teammate’s as well.
Toni Kukoc was a true sixth man. He provided 13.1 points per game off the bench; a huge boost.
Dennis Rodman was the defensive lock and the hustle that helped convert energy on the defensive end to the offensive end.
Steve Kerr might not have seen many minutes, but his 8.4 points per game and 93 percent from the free throw line gave Chicago an offensive edge.
Luc Longley's 9.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game helped the Bulls in the paint most of that season too.
No matter what team you play for, a role player will always be spotted. There are players who may not rake in the most points, but have the value of a seven carat diamond. They can specialize in one aspect or be a well-rounded player.
So sticking with the theme of role players, here are the top ten role players for the 2009-2010 NBA season.
10 - Daequan Cook
His lethal long range shooting really gives the Miami Heat a boost in their offense.
With the latest addition of forward Quentin Richardson, Daequan Cook might find himself playing an important role off the bench this year.
During last season Quentin Richardson found himself in and out of D'Antoni's rotation in New York. On top of that, Richardson's ankle injuries interfered with his playing time. However, he did manage to average 10.2 ppg.
Daequan Cook would be a nice asset coming off the bench, providing a scoring sting and rest for all-star Dwayne Wade and forward Quentin Richardson.
Cook's 9.1 ppg last season will hopefully transition into bench fuel this year.
9 - Anthony Parker
Cleveland Cavaliers have made tons of roster changes this offseason. Bringing in Shaquille O'Neal and Leon Powe will help their front court this coming season.
More importantly the Cavaliers acquired Anthony Parker as a free agent.
After receiving Hedo Turkoglu from a three team trade, Toronto did not have enough money to support the contract of Anthony Parker. In Cleveland's case, they made an intelligent move in signing the guard from Bradley.
Parker, who averaged 10.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, will fit in easily with the Cavaliers this year.
Known as "Mr. Consistency", Parker will provide a steady game to support Mo Williams and Delonte West's sometimes inconsistent play. His ability to bring the ball up the court will give Williams some chances on the offensive end.
Nonetheless, Anthony Parker will be cherished in Ohio.
8 - Mike Miller
The trade that sent forward Mike Miller and teammate Randy Foye to the Washington Wizards really whipped the Wizards into Eastern Conference contention.
The Wizards surrendered their fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft along with centre Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, and Oleksiy Pecherov.
The trade turned out to be a good move on Washington's part.
The fifth pick belonged to guard Ricky Rubio, who will stay in Europe for a couple of years.
And although the Wizards gave up some hefty bench talent, they are fortunate to get such role players from Minnesota.
Mike Miller will be a nice bench presence. It appears now that he will give forward Caron Butler rest during games which is good because of Butler's reoccurring hip injuries. Miller’s shooting range is plus for the Washington Wizards who only averaged 33 percent last season.
7 - Thaddeus Young
Losing Andre Miller and Reggie Evans will hurt the Philadelphia 76ers this season.
The 76ers lost toughness, distribution, scoring, and consistency with their departure. If they wish to even get a slight taste of last year's attributes, their trust lies in the hands of Thaddeus Young.
Young averaged an impressive 12.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and a solid 1.3 spg. He sat out seven games during the 2008-2009 season, and altogether, missed only 15 games in his NBA career to date.
Young’s durability will prove to be a good trait this season. He can attack the basket and step out and drain the long range jumper.
Young will have to step his game up this year and help teammate Andre Iguodala with the scoring load and bringing back the basketball passion to Philadelphia.
6 - Jarrett Jack
The always changing Toronto Raptors made the most headlines this offseason, acquiring the most players via trade or free agency.
One key addition that will help the Raptors a lot will be guard Jarrett Jack.
Jack averaged 13.1 ppg with his old team, the Indiana Pacers, and helped pass the ball with his 4.1 apg.
His durability and versatility will give the Raptors an extra boost this season. Playing all 82 games last year, Jack was very capable playing point guard and shooting guard.
Jarrett Jack will be a good role player off the bench of Toronto helping Jose Calderon running the point.
5 - Ty Lawson
Entering the league as a champion, Ty Lawson will be looking to taste more success this season with his new team, the Denver Nuggets.
Ty Lawson's ability to take charge and get to the basket will help the Nuggets alot this year.
With an aging Chauncey Billups and an old back-up in Anthony Carter, Ty Lawson brings youth; something the Nuggets need.
Lawson is a huge upgrade from Anthony Carter. Not stating that Carter is not fit for the Nuggets, but adding youth doesn't hurt. Carter has good basketball IQ and is good at finding his teammates (4.7 apg last season).
Ty Lawson will make more of an impact and adds more power than Anthony Carter. Minutes for the one spot are going to be tight.
Whether Lawson gets playing time or not, working with Chauncey Billups is a step forward in becoming an elite guard.
4 - Marcin Gortat
He banged and battled down low. He gave Superman his rest so that Superman can fight the forces of evil. He quite simply was the shoulder that Dwight Howard could lean on.
Marcin Gortat might not get the points or the playing time, but he defines what a role player is. He isn't going to give his team 20 and 10 every night. He provides toughness for the Magic and extra rest for Dwight Howard.
And although Gortat might find that he is worth more than what the Orlando Magic offered him, Gortat is a solid and well rounded banger.
He holds his own in the post and gets down and dirty when the time comes.
He might not have drained the three pointers against Cleveland in the playoffs, but he did his job and without his work, the Magic might not have made it to the Finals last year.
3 - Robin Lopez
The Phoenix Suns enter this season on unlevel terms.
The Suns enter the league as underdogs trying to climb their way back to the top of their division and conference.
In trading Shaquille O'Neal, it is clear that the Suns want to turn back to their "run and gun" ways. The half court set didn't quite function as well as Steve Kerr wanted it to, resulting in firing Terry Porter and bringing in Alvin Gentry.
What the Suns need this year is grittiness and toughness. Amar'e Stoudemire is back with permanent eye damage, that sees him wear protective sport glasses.
Seeing an aggressive Stoudemire might not be the case this year, and you do not want to gamble on it if you are the coaching staff of the Suns.
Which is why Robin Lopez needs to step his game up.
Lopez's 2.0 rpg are not going to cut it. Everyone knows that Lopez wasn't the scorer in Stanford, but the NBA is all about progress.
Even if Lopez averages around five points this season, if he is getting boards and blocking shots that is all the Suns can ask for.
Robin Lopez is the key to a successful Suns bench.
2 - Marquis Daniels
The Boston Celtics have brought in talent, from near and far, to help bring another title to Beantown.
Latest catches have included Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Shelden Williams, Lester Hudson, and Marquis Daniels.
Daniels, who averaged 13.6 ppg last season, is a great addition to the Celtics roster.
Paul Pierce logged 44.4 mpg during the first round of the playoffs last year. Ray Allen averaged 40.1 mpg during the first round too.
Adding a youthful player like Marquis Daniels will give Paul Pierce and Ray Allen rest in case a close game ever occurs.
Daniels had proven himself in Dallas and Indiana, but he is part of a franchise that is all about the title. He will be a very important player for Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics.
1 - Pops Mensah Bonsu
If you asked the people up in Toronto if they are disappointed about losing Pops Mensah Bonsu to the Houston Rockets, most people will pour their hearts out for this player.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu might not have shined during his time in San Antonio, but he impressed the people in Toronto which eventually landed him a spot in the rotation for the last part of the season.
His high energy and willingness to play the boards is what every team desires.
Pops move to Houston will help the Rockets on the defensive end. He averaged 5.4 rpg for the Raptors, fourth on the roster. He is an average shot blocker and can defend the paint alright.
Losing Yao Ming to injury will hurt the Rockets this year, and adding centre David Andersen might back fire.
As of now, the Houston Rockets are a very under sized ball squad.
Luis Scola is an under sized forward, Chuck Hayes and Joey Dorsey are not proven yet, and Dikembe Mutombo has retired.
Pops' energy and rebounding power will be crucial for a very unpredictable Houston Rockets squad.
Drew Gooden - Erick Dampier is getting too old for the Mavericks to rely on. Along with Tim Thomas, Gooden will bring some extra fire power.
Chris Anderson - What did you expect? He is the Birdman, enough said.
Anthony Randolph - A nice Summer League will hopefully transform into solid play during the regular season.
Shaun Livingston - Who? Yeah, you might've forgot about this mate, but his injury put him on the shelf for a long period of time. His guard play will be a key aspect to watch in Oklahoma.
Kwame Brown - This isn't the first time people expected from this kid. Brown's centre frame will be valuable next season. Austin Daye is a spit image of Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell is a bench figure. Big Ben is back home, but his travels haven't shown any promise.
*Anything I missed? Please feel free to comment and discuss with me!*