The Sixth Man: Lamar Odom and The Best Bench Player From Every NBA Team
The sixth man is a staple of a great basketball team, whether they pick up the scoring burden of a starter having an off night, establish a strong interior defensive presence or just provide some much-needed energy during a sluggish game.
There are a number of phenomenal bench players who went on to become stars in the league, Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs, Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics and Anthony Mason of the New York Knicks all won the coveted Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Strong bench play is a pillar of any championship team and can be the difference between a good squad and a great one. Without further ado, let's take a look at the best bench players from each team in the NBA.
Atlanta Hawks: Jamal Crawford
The NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Crawford would be an asset to any franchise's bench. He is one of the best reserve guards in the league today and can play point guard or two-guard with equal ease.
Crawford is a deceptively quick player with a high-quality jump shot and a solid enough defender to come up with nearly a steal a game.
PPG: 15.7 | APG: 3.4 | SPG: .9 | 3P%: 34.6
Boston Celtics: Glen Davis
Glen "Big Baby" Davis has come into his own this season in a major way. He even had a few starts when Kevin Garnett sat out with a strained calf, but Davis' true role is to come on and provide the spark for the Celtics.
His defensive has improved tremendously, and Big Baby has become the leading offensive-charge drawer in the league this season.
While his shot selection can be questionable at times, Davis is a huge part of why the Celts, despite their veteran status, are poised to make a run for another title.
PPG: 11.8 | RPG: 5.2 | APG: 1.3 | FG%: 45.8
Charlotte Bobcats: Kwame Brown
This was a tough call, since there isn't really a single stellar bench player on Charlotte, but Brown, one of the most notorious draft busts in NBA history after being hand-picked by Michael Jordan himself during his tenure with the Wizards, has been playing solid basketball this year.
The Bobcats have been off to a decent season; they're still in playoff contention with a shot at the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Brown is still a selfish player and for a center, doesn't have the shot-blocking ability of his peers. Brown's game has shown some maturation and, however slight it is, it's definite progress in the right direction.
PPG: 7.2 | RPG: 6.8 | BPG: .6 | FG%: 51.1
Chicago Bulls: Taj Gibson
What a year the Chicago Bulls are having; they hold the league's second best home record of 23-4, 11-0 against their division and are currently seated comfortably in third in the Eastern Conference standings.
Gibson, who started in place of Carlos Boozer while he was injured, has been a strong contributor off the bench.
A strong post player, Gibson's seen slightly decreased production and minutes this season, but is still a dependable player and a much-improved defender for Tom Thibodeau.
Now if the Bulls could just get a good shooting guard...
PPG: 7.3 | RPG: 5.9 | APG: .7 | BPG: 1.6 |
Cleveland Cavaliers: Ramon Sessions
One of the few bright spots in the season for the Cavaliers has been their strong bench play, which really came out of necessity due to the injuries plaguing the team.
Sessions started for a number of games when Mo Williams was out, but since he's been reactivated, it seems Ramon will go back to coming off the pine.
Sessions is a young player with decent talent who could be a big part of the Cavaliers' rebuilding process.
PPG: 11.8 | RPG: 3.4 | APG: 5.2 | SPG .7
Dallas Mavericks: Jason Terry
The Dallas Mavericks have had their share of ups and downs this season. They jumped to an incredible 24-5 record before hitting a rough patch with Dirk Nowitzki's knee injury and Caron Butler's season-ending knee surgery.
Through all the controversy and drama, Jason Terry has remained one of the most consistent reserves in the league. He's averaging 20 points per game in the month of February and is as constant a two-guard as they come.
Not only can Terry establish his own shots, but he is a solid passer as well. His quick hands allow him to come up with over a steal a game and while he's not going to blow past a defender, he's a sound perimeter shooter and a great option for coach Rick Carlisle.
PPG: 16.1 | RPG: 2.0 | APG: 4.3 | 3P%: 34.1
Denver Nuggets: Ty Lawson
Another difficult call, as J.R. Smith is the most talented reserve the Nuggets have, but his volatility and poor behavior have kept him from realizing his true potential. Ty Lawson, on the other hand, has shown tremendous growth this season.
Lawson is one of the quickest point guards, if not quickest players, in the NBA and is nearly impossible to guard in transition.
There have been a number of games this season that were saved by Lawson's irrepressible energy when the Denver starters seemed lethargic.
At only 23 years old, Lawson seems destined for a stellar basketball career, whether it's with the Nuggets or not.
PPG: 10.7 | RPG: 2.3 | APG: 3.9 | 3P%: 38.3
Detroit Pistons: Austin Daye
This has certainly been a rough year for the Detroit Pistons, but Austin Daye has been one of the key bench contributors during their reconstruction.
Starting in the beginning of the season, Daye has made a solid transition back to the bench and while at only 22, his game still needs to mature, his improved three-point shooting and rebounding are definite bright spots for the Pistons.
PPG: 7.2 | RPG: 3.4 | APG: .09 | 3P%: 42.6
Golden State Warriors: Reggie Williams
One of the league's more feel-good success stories, Reggie Williams graduated from Virginia Military Institute and played in France and the NBA Development League before signing a 10-day contract with the Warriors.
Ultimately, they decided to keep him on for the full season and re-signed him for this year as well.
Williams is a strong shooter from behind the arc and though he sometimes has trouble establishing his own shots, he's an asset to the fast-paced Warriors and their energetic style of play.
PPG: 10.1 | RPG: 2.6 | APG: 1.7 | 3P%: 42.8
Houston Rockets: Aaron Brooks
Coming off of a career year and an NBA Most Improved Player Award, Brooks has regressed a bit in terms of his game and has clashed with his team on more than one occasion.
That being said, he is still one of the more explosive reserve guards in the league and a fairly consistent three-point shooter, though his season percentage is down considerably from his career average.
Hopefully, he can come to terms with his minimized role in Houston, or else find another team that would suit him better, because Brooks can be a sensational player when he wants to be.
PPG: 11.8 | RPG: 1.4 | APG: 4.0 | 3P%: 29.1
Indiana Pacers: Paul George
This was a tough call, and I almost gave it to Tyler Hansbrough because he has slightly better rebounding numbers, but Paul George's play has been more consistent and he seems to be hitting his stride.
George is a first-year player, so he still has a ways to go in terms of game development, but he has been making the most of his time on the court and is a solid role player for Frank Vogel's Pacers, who are 7-1 since the coaching change.
PPG: 8.1 | RPG: 3.2 | APG: 1.0 | SPG: .9
Los Angeles Clippers: Randy Foye
Randy Foye has been making the most of his starts in place of the injured Eric Gordon, coming up with back-to-back 24- and 23-point games against the Knicks and Cavaliers, respectively.
Foye is a spot-up shooter and an important piece to this young Clippers team that has such great potential.
While his numbers are down from his time with the Timberwolves and Wizards, Foye is still a talented backcourt reserve and is capable of some decent shooting from three-point territory.
PPG: 7.9 | RPG: 1.0 | APG: 1.9 | 3P%: 31.7
Los Angeles Lakers: Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom is, at least in my opinion, the most consistent Laker. He's one of the most versatile players in the league right now, snatching boards, driving to the rim and even shooting threes with ease. How many other players can rack up a 20-20 game coming off the bench?
His lack of ego is worth noting as well, he started at center in place of the injured Andrew Bynum, but rotated back to his usual reserve position without a complaint.
PPG: 15.2 | RPG: 9.4 | APG: 2.9 | 3P%: 37.5
Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Allen
After six years with the Boston Celtics, back-up shooting guard Tony Allen left for Memphis and has been chipping in off the pine consistently for a Grizzlies team four games above .500.
Though Allen doesn't play heavy minutes, his swingman talents have been well-utilized by the Grizzlies this season. He's a very good defender, his quick hands enabling him to notch almost two steals a game.
This young Memphis team is really starting to come together, and if they can make it to the postseason, Allen's playoff experience could prove instrumental in them making any kind of run.
PPG: 6.8 | RPG: 2.1 | APG: 1.1 | SPG: 1.7
Miami Heat: Udonis Haslem
I was leaning towards selecting Mike Miller, but while Miller's a very gifted shooter, there isn't a lot that he brings to the table that other Heat players aren't capable of doing.
Haslem, on the other hand, is a huge complement to the current Miami team, and his injury is detrimental to the Heat against any team with a strong frontcourt presence.
Haslem is similar to Kendrick Perkins of the Celtics in that his numbers don't necessarily reflect his overall contributions. He's an excellent interior defender and rebounder.
While he doesn't play with the finesse of Wade or James, his work under the rim is the gritty, physical ball-playing that enables the "Big Three" to do what they do best.
PPG: 8.0 | RPG: 8.2 | APG: .5 | SPG: .5
Milwaukee Bucks: Keyon Dooling
The Milwaukee Bucks have been somewhat of a disappointment this season, as many expected last season's Eastern Conference sixth seed to make another run at the playoffs. This seems unlikely at this point, but the Bucks are still a solid basketball team.
In the absence of star point guard Brandon Jennings due to injury, Dooling stepped up admirably. He isn't as explosive as Jennings, but Dooling's been a consistent shooter throughout his time in the NBA and is averaging a career high in assists.
PPG: 7.5 | RPG: 1.4 | APG: 3.8 | 3P%: 32.7
Minnesota Timberwolves: Sebastian Telfair
Minnesota hasn't exactly had a banner season (except for Kevin Love), but Telfair, the Timberwolves back-up point guard, has been having a solid year overall.
Receiving a few starts in place of Luke Ridnour, Telfair has demonstrated his ability to stretch the floor and shoot three-pointers, averaging a career high from beyond the arc.
PPG: 7.8 | RPG: 1.3 | APG: 3.1 | 3P%: 39.4
New Jersey Nets: Jordan Farmar
The Nets are another of the league's many young teams with a great deal of potential, and Farmer is one of their key reserves.
Averaging career highs in minutes per game, points and assists, Farmar was given little playing time as part of the Lakers, but Nets coach Avery Johnson has given Farmar some breathing room, and he's shown significant improvement.
PPG: 9.4 | RPG: 2.1 | APG: 4.4 | 3P%: 35.9
New Orleans Hornets: Willie Green
After seven seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, shooting guard Willie Green took his talents to the Big Easy and has been having another strong year.
Recently, Green has been receiving starts over Marco Belinelli and has really come into his own.
He's a solid scoring option with decent range, while he doesn't have stellar assist numbers, that's to be expected when you're on a team with Chris Paul.
PPG: 7.8 | RPG: 2.1 | APG: 0.9 | 3P%: 34.4
New York Knicks: Ronny Turiaf
Ronny Turiaf is one of the few players on the Knicks with a defense-oriented style of ball. He provides a strong interior presence and is one of the scrappier reserve centers in the league.
Like a Kendrick Perkins or a Udonis Haslem, Turiaf's contributions aren't apparent just by glancing at his numbers.
He actually has an underrated post game and while he isn't a main scoring option for Mike D'Antoni, Turiaf is capable of stepping up and scoring baskets when it's necessary.
PPG: 4.8 | RPG: 3.4 | APG: .6 | BPG: 1.1
Oklahoma City Thunder: Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka is a force on both ends of the floor, capable of grabbing boards and making thunderous dunks. He is also one of the league's premier shot-blockers, thanks to his timing and elevation abilities.
Ibaka is a perfect complement to the offensively-minded OKC team; he demonstrates impressive shot selection and plays unselfishly in every game.
PPG: 9.8 | RPG: 6.9 | APG: .3 | BPG: 2.1
Orlando Magic: Ryan Anderson
Anderson has emerged this year on a team chock-full of shooters as one of the better players from behind the arc. His length makes him a proficient rebounder and an asset on the offensive glass.
With Stan Van Gundy predicating his system largely on defense, Anderson's 6'10" frame is an asset for interior protection and he's the only player capable of carrying back-up duty for Dwight Howard.
PPG: 10.9 | RPG: 5.1 | BPG: 0.6 | 3P%: 40.1
Philadelphia 76ers: Lou Williams
The Sixers have been playing excellently the past month or so after getting off to a rocky start, and reserve combo guard Lou Williams has made significant contributions.
Williams has adjusted back to a role on the bench after starting most of his games last season. Williams is a capable scorer and can provide a big boost of energy for the Sixers coming off the pine.
Though he can be a somewhat streaky shooter and is a mediocre defender, Lou Williams' all-around shooting ability is an asset to the franchise.
PPG: 13.7 | APG: 3.4 | SPG: .6 | 3P%: 34.7
Phoenix Suns: Jared Dudley
The Suns were slow to get going after their blockbuster trade with the Magic but have really hit their stride in the past few weeks.
Jared Dudley is a pure shooter for Suns coach Alvin Gentry and one that is capable of hitting from anywhere on the floor.
Dudley isn't a great defender, but Gentry's offensive-minded, quick possession system perfectly fits his style of ball.
If the Suns can continue their recent surge and worm their way into the postseason, Dudley's sharpshooting could prove essential for the team.
PPG: 9.7 | RPG: 3.5 | APG: 1.1 | 3P%: 38.3
Portland Trail Blazers: Rudy Fernandez
Despite another injury-heavy season in Portland, the Blazers aren't letting the adversity they face keep them from winning games, as they are currently in playoff contention.
Strong bench contributions have been a huge part of that, as players like Patrick Mills, Sean Marks and Rudy Fernandez have helped make the absence of Greg Oden, Marcus Camby and Brandon Roy less devastating.
Fernandez is an energetic player, willing to scrap for every loose ball. He's an excellent spot-up shooter and has stellar ball-handling abilities. He can produce against the league's top teams and has solid shot selection.
PPG: 8.9 | RPG: 2.7 | APG: 2.2 | 3P%: 34.3
Sacramento Kings: Carl Landry
The Kings have had one of the oddest seasons in the NBA, beating the likes of the Hornets, Lakers, Nuggets and Knicks while still only having a 13-38 record.
They're one of the league's youngest teams and with players as talented as Landry, the only thing holding them back is inexperience.
Landry is an incredibly efficient player and a force to be reckoned with on the offensive glass.
PPG: 12.0 | RPG: 4.7 | APG: .9 | FG%: 49.2
San Antonio Spurs: Gary Neal
Gary Neal was one of the better finds of this past summer, and the 26-year-old rookie has been exceeding expectations in his debut season. He is the perfect complement to the veteran line-up of San Antonio and has contributed to the team's stellar start.
Along with George Hill, Neal helps make up one of the best reserve backcourts in the league. Neal is an excellent shooter, he can hit from anywhere on the floor including three-point territory.
His professional experience overseas allowed him to come into the NBA with an incredibly mature game, and his potential seems limitless.
PPG: 8.6 | RPG: 2.5 | APG: 1.0 | 3P%: 40.0
Toronto Raptors: Jerryd Bayless
The Raptors have been having a dismal season since Chris Bosh's departure, and as they try to rebuild, it's players like Jerryd Bayless who help give the floundering franchise some spark.
Bayless is a gifted backcourt player and a strong combo guard; he's explosive and can finish at the rim. As of late, he's become a better facilitator and can establish shots for himself and his teammates.
PPG: 8.1 | RPG: 2.3 | APG: 3.4 | 3P%: 31.5
Utah Jazz: C.J. Miles
The Utah Jazz have had a very up-and-down season. They got off to an impressive start but have struggled as of late. Last week, veteran coach Jerry Sloan retired, and the Jazz seem to be in a state of disarray.
Through it all, C.J. Miles has been the Jazz's most consistent bench option. He isn't a phenomenal rebounder or playmaker, but he can elevate and shoot as well as any reserve player can.
Averaging a career high in points, Miles may make it to the starting rotation if Andrei Kirilenko leaves the team for whatever reason.
PPG: 12.1 | RPG: 3.2 | APG: 1.6 | 3P%: 33.6
Washington Wizards: Al Thornton
The Wizards are a team in the infantile stages of rebuilding, having just traded franchise player Gilbert Arenas in order to usher in the John Wall era.
Thornton can penetrate well and has improved his jumper over the years. While he isn't a great statistical defender, he can cover his man and affect a shot without getting a block or causing a foul.
PPG: 8.2 | RPG: 3.3 | APG: 1.1 | SPG: .6