The sixth man might be the most difficult role on an NBA team. They are expected to produce like a starter despite coming off the bench.
These players must be versatile, gritty and have the ability to “turn it on” right away. Some players don’t like this spot, but it can be one of the most important jobs in the league.
In this list I have compiled a power ranking of the best sixth man from each NBA team. All teams will be represented with one player, and then will be ranked against the rest of the league's sixth men.
This list is based on how the player is doing this season as a sixth man. Some of the players have started at sometime in the season, but all of the players on this list have come of the bench for the majority of the season.
The following are the best sixth men from each NBA team.
The sixth man might be the most difficult role on an NBA team. They are expected to produce like a starter despite coming off the bench.
For most of his career Brewer has been used to being in the starting line-up.
In his first full season coming off the bench, Brewer has not made the transition very well. He averages just 6.5 points per game and 3.4 rebounds per game in 23 minutes per night.
Brewer plays solid defense, but more offense should be expected from his position. The Bulls surprised many when they did not trade for a shooting guard, thus leaving Brewer to play a lot of minutes off the bench.
This spot could have also been given to swingman Kyle Korver, but I feel Brewer contributes more. Korver is a straight sharp shooter, while Brewer provides more with his defense and rebounding.
Miami is the most top-heavy team in the NBA, as a result, their bench suffers. Udonis Haslem is probably their best bench player, but he has only managed to play 12 games this season.
This leaves Mario Chalmers to be the Heat sixth man.
Chalmers is a decent backup point guard. He averages 6.7 points per game and 2.3 assists per game. However, Chalmers’s most impressive statistic is the 91.8 percent free throw percentage.
Chalmers has shown promise that he can be a very good point guard in this league, but has not proven that he can run an offense yet. The bench is a good place for him right now. It gives him a chance to learn and improve.
Thornton is a decent forward who can give you good minutes.
Although, the 2010/2011 season has been his worst so far as a professional. In 21.8 minutes per game, Thornton is averaging just eight points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game, both career lows.
Maybe it is only fitting that one of the worst teams in the NBA have one of the worst sixth men in the NBA.
Thornton is different than many of the others on the lower part of this list because he has been a very productive player in the past. The skill is there, he is just not putting his game together right now.
The Hornets just traded their old sixth man, Marcus Thornton, for a new one, Carl Landry.
Landry would be given then Hornets spot on this list if he had more time to prove himself, but I don’t believe two games is enough.
That leaves Willie Green to be named the Hornets sixth man. His 2010/2011 season is pretty similar to his career average. He is averaging 8.5 points per game and 2.2 rebounds per game.
Budinger has been a very consistent player for the Rockets in both of his NBA seasons. He shoots a high percentage, rebounds well for his size and is pretty consistent off the bench.
He averages 8.5 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game this season for the Rockets.
The reason he is so low on this list is that Budinger never really has spectacular days. He is fairly average every night, but never seems to breakout. A true sixth man is looked at for a 20 point game here and there.
Budinger is never really the go-to guy on the court.
Early in his career, Randy Foye looked like he had the potential to be one of the great guards in the league. Although since his rookie season, Foye has not really improved.
Foye always averages around ten points per game and two or three assists, but never has outstanding numbers. The 2010/2011 season has been just as average as in recent years for Foye.
His team, the Clippers, has one of the best young cores in Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon. If they want to improve and become real contenders, they will need to work on their sub-par bench.
Williams is a true NBA journeyman.
He was undrafted out of college and played for a French team before playing professionally in the US. Then last season he played in the D-league with Sioux Falls, until the Warriors eventually signed him to a 10-day contract.
He then played good enough to deserve a contract for the rest of the season, only to be re-signed for the 2010/2011 season.
He has been solid for the Warriors ever since and is their strongest player coming off the bench. This season he is just under 10 points per game 2.6 rebounds per game as well.
The Warriors might have the worst bench in the NBA. Williams is the only good consistent player Golden State has on the second unit.
Fernandez is a solid bench player because he can get hot and carry a team for a few minutes every game. However, he can also go ice cold and miss shot after shot any given night.
This season Fernandez is averaging 9.1 points per game, 2.4 rebounds per game and 2.4 assists per game. These numbers are solid for a bench player, but not up to par for an NBA sixth man.
Although Fernandez will never be as great of a player as he was in Europe, he is still a decent NBA talent.
In his second season, Douglas is a solid bench combo guard. He can score on you in many different ways and is good at getting steals.
Although Douglas has struggled at being a true point guard, he still is a positive contributor to his team.
He averages 9.1 points per game, just under three rebounds per game and 2.3 assists per game. However, his field goal and three-point percentages are both down from a season ago.
The Knicks need players to fill their bench. Douglas is not good enough to be a team's sixth man. If the Knicks want to compete for a championship, they need to improve their bench.
Martell Webster has only played 28 games for the Timberwolves thus far, but he has already proven he is the best bench player on the team.
He averages 10.5 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game. He is shooting a career best 42.7 percent from the field and is a solid three-point shooter.
Webster’s problem is that he is very inconsistent. He can put of 20 one night and follow it up with a two point performance the next.
Like Webster, Rush also has a problem with consistency. At times Rush can be a team’s top scorer, while other times he disappears.
In the 2010/2011 season, Rush is averaging 10.2 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game and is shooting 42 percent from beyond the arch.
Rush is a dead-eye from deep, but he hasn’t developed a complete offensive game yet. He has the potential to become a good starter someday, but for now he is just a mediocre sixth man.
Casspi is a solid and versatile bench player for the Kings. He usually gives you around 10 points and five rebounds off the pine.
What makes Casspi so good is that he can guard a number of players. He stands 6’9” which allows him to guard most forwards. He also has the quickness to stay with most NBA guards.
Casspi has been starting recently, but for most of the season has been the Kings sixth man.
Vujacic is playing 27 minutes per game off the bench for the Nets, the most playing time he has received in his career.
He has taken advantage of this extra time and put up the best numbers of his career thus far. He averages 10.7 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game and 2.1 assists per game.
Vujacic has decent numbers, but he doesn’t bring too much to his team. He would be a solid seventh of eighth man. He lacks the toughness and consistency to be a great sixth man.
Mayo is arguably the most underachieving player in the NBA today. He is averaging just under 12 points per game and two assists per game.
Someone that possesses the talent of Mayo should be averaging 20 per game and starting.
After showing such promise early in his career, Mayo has actually become less effective. Maybe a change of scenery would be good for Mayo. He is too talented to be a below average sixth man for an average West team.
Fear the Beard!
James Harden is one of the many promising young players on the Oklahoma City Thunder. He shoots the ball well from the outside, is tough to stop on the drive and plays unrelenting defense.
This season he is averaging 10.7 points per game, 3.2 rebounds per game and two assists per game. He also provides a lot of toughness for a team that is often criticized of lacking it.
Probably the highlight of Harden’s career thus far has been his dunk over Cleveland forward J.J. Hickson. Harden wasn’t a high-flyer when he came into the league, but his reputation has changed ever since this vicious slam.
George Hill is a true Spurs player.
He plays tough, strong and has a focus on his defense. But don’t think that Hill is a slouch on the offensive end just because he plays defense.
Hill is one of the best young combo guards in the NBA and does a great job backing up Tony Parker at point guard.
This season Hill is averaging 11 points per game, along with three rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
It is hard to believe that the 2007 sixth man of the year winner is only 14th on this list. However, Barbosa’s numbers have gradually declined since that memorable season he had with Phoenix.
Barbosa is averaging 12.7 points per game and 2.2 points per game coming off the bench for the Raptors this season.
He was playing his best basketball of the season in late December/early January, but an injury slowed him down. He has not been quite as great since his return, but has plenty of time to turn around his season.
Anderson is one of the best kept secrets in the league this year. This 6’10” forward is averaging 10.6 points per game, 5.1 rebounds per game and has a three-point shooting percentage of 39 percent.
Anderson is very valuable to the Magic because he is the only real big man they have behind starters Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass.
He will be key in Orlando’s playoff run. If they want to be successful against the other teams in the east, they will need him to rebound and shoot well off the bench.
J.R. Smith is your typical offensive spark, sixth man type player. He is phenomenally talented and has the ability to score 25 points any given night.
This season Smith is averaging 11.4 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game off the bench for the Nuggets.
He is a good three-point shooter and is known for having a highlight reel dunk every once in a while.
If the Nuggets want to continue their success after the departure of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, Smith will have to take on a bigger role offensively. He has the ability to be a big scorer.
Now he needs to execute.
Earlier in his career, Gordon was the go-to-guy for the Chicago Bulls. Since that time he has been traded to Detroit and now has to deal with many veterans on his own team not showing up for practice.
Despite dealing with all of that, Gordon has been a solid player off the bench for the Pistons. He is averaging 12.8 points per game along with 2.2 assists per game.
Due to the veteran mutiny and other things, Gordon seems to be finding himself in the starting lineup more often now. He is the best scorer on the Pistons roster, he needs to get more playing time.
Thomas has not played since January 18th due to injury, but his body of work before his injury was impressive enough to give him the 10th spot in this list.
Thomas averages 11 points per game and just under six rebounds per game. He is very talented and is one of the most underrated dunkers in the league.
He was the fourth overall pick in 2006 and has underachieved since then. He might not be the superstar he was expected to be, but Thomas is a very consistent and an impressive sixth man.
Miles has improved every season since he was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 2005. Miles is currently having the best season of his career despite coming off the bench.
He averages 12.2 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game as the sixth man in Utah.
It is hard to believe that this five year veteran is still only 23-years-old with plenty of room to improve. He has only started five games this season, but has been a full-time starter in the past.
Miles will need to put up big numbers to help keep the Jazz in playoff contention.
The portly power forward is one of the fan favorites in Boston and is commonly known by his nickname, “Big Baby.” Davis isn’t just known solely for his physique or his nickname, but he is one of the best back-up big men in the NBA.
Davis provides toughness and energy off the bench for the Celtics. He averages 11.7 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Offensively Davis is not a big high-flyer or a long distance shooter. He gets the job done by knocking down the mid-range jumper and uses his size to get high percentage looks.
For most of his career, Maggette has been one of the most underrated players in the NBA and, unfortunately, has had trouble staying healthy. Although this season he may have found a new role that suits him well.
With the second unit Maggette averages 13.2 points per game and four rebounds. He has been very consistent the entire season for the Bucks.
Maggette has the ability to lead a team in scoring and rarely has off nights. He has been one of the very few bright spots for the Bucks this season.
It was difficult to choose whether to give this spot to Lou Williams or Thaddeus Young. I chose Williams because he has eclipsed the 20 point mark nine times this season coming off the bench.
Williams is one of the best backup point guards in the league. He averages 13.6 points per game along with 3.4 assists per game.
Williams is a very solid young point guard that has shown a lot of promise in his five career. He has the talent to be a good starter on a team someday.
Gortat is the most valuable player on the Suns not named Steve Nash. He is by far their best rebounder, inside defender and he has been impressive offensively since arriving in the valley.
He is currently averaging 11.2 points per game with 8.3 rebounds per game for the Suns. Since being acquired by Phoenix he has recorded a total of 11 double-doubles.
If the Suns have any hope in making the playoffs, they will need Gortat to play as well as he has been. He is probably the best center the Suns have had in the Steve Nash era.
Sessions has started 24 games this season, but most of his work has been coming off the bench. He is currently averaging 12.7 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game and 5.5 assists per game.
Last month Sessions has played as well as any guard in the NBA. He has averaged 19.9 points per game and 8.8 assists per game in February.
If Sessions can keep this up, he will be a good candidate to win the NBA’s most improved player award this season.
Jamal Crawford is the reigning sixth man of the year award winner, and he has a chance to win another this season.
The 30-year-old guard is one of the most important players on the Hawks. He averages 15.1 points per game and 3.2 assists per game.
Crawford has the offensive ability to take over games. He is also one of the Hawks best big shot takers. He is very clutch and can hit the big shot at any time.
Terry won the sixth man of the year award in 2009, and he too is in the running to take the prize again this season. He is averaging 16 points and 4.4 assist per game this season so far.
Terry has been very consistent throughout his career. Other than his rookie season, Terry has never averaged less than 15 points per game and three assists per game.
Other than Dirk Nowitzki, Terry might be the most valuable player on the Mavs. He is a clutch shooter and always seems like he is open. If the Mavs want to make a run at the championship, they will need Terry to be great.
Over the past three seasons, the Lakers have been able to keep Odom on the bench. But injuries to Andrew Bynum cause him to get the starting nod often. When the Lakers are healthy, Lamar Odom is the sixth man, and possibly the best in the NBA.
Standing at 6’10” 230 pounds, Odom is one of the most versatile players in the NBA. At time he plays in the post, at other times he dribbles the ball up for the Lakers.
He is currently averaging 14.6 points per game, nine rebounds per game and 2.9 assists per game.
Odom can do it all.
The main reason I put Odom number one on this list is because how difficult he is for other teams to matchup with. He is too fast for most big men and too big for most speed players. Odom is a nightmare, and he always elevates his game in the post-season.