Jerryd Bayless is currently the backup point guard in Toronto behind Jose Calderon, but in reality, he is a far better fit at the two spot behind DeMar DeRozan.
Bayless has the potential to become a great scoring threat for the Raptors—as he was during his college days back in Arizona—and a huge spark plug off the bench.
Bayless is extremely athletic and an excellent slasher with the ability to draw a ton of fouls and beat teams at the free throw line. He is a good jump shooter but he could still use some work, especially from long range.
Once he becomes a bigger threat from behind the arc, he will be a legitimate NBA scorer with a well-rounded offensive game.
With Sonny Weems being an unrestricted free agent and Leandro Barbosa a restricted free agent with a player option for one more year (that he will likely accept), Bayless seems to be the logical choice to replace them as DeMar DeRozan’s backup and the sixth man of the future for the Raptors.
Following is a brief description of what makes a good sixth man, some examples of recent great sixth men and three reasons why Jerryd Bayless should be moved to SG and made the sixth man of the future for the Raptors.
A sixth man is the first player off the bench and the leader of the second unit, the same way a franchise player is the leader of the starting rotation.
A good sixth man must be versatile and capable of playing more then one position.
He must ready and able to provide his team with a spark off the bench—be it on offense or defense.
It is a unique role that not all NBA players are capable of/willing to take on.
Sixth men are usually good enough players to start for a weaker NBA team, but instead they sacrifice the opportunity to be an NBA starter in order to come off the bench and help a stronger team win an NBA championship (This is why the great sixth men often play for championship contenders).
(2010-2011) Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers: Provides an all around game at the small forward or power forward position. He is also this year’s winner of the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award.
(2009-2010) Jamal Crawford, Atlanta Hawks: Provides energy and a scoring punch at either guard position.
(2006-2007) Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix Suns: Provides explosive speed an scoring punch at either guard position.
Jerryd Bayless is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body, and the sooner the Raptors accept this, the better off they will be.
If Bayless was moved to SG, he would no longer have to worry about being responsible for running the offense and instead he could focus on giving the Raptors a scoring spark off the bench, playing off the ball and giving the opposing defenses fits as they try to keep up with him.
The move to SG would also mean that Bayless could focus on his three-point shooting and defense this off-season and during practices rather than trying to become something he is not—a playmaker.
The only knock on moving Bayless to SG is that he is too undersized to guard opposing SG’s and his existing foul problems would only get worse—who cares.
His job, coming off the bench, would be to take over the scoring load when the starters are getting their rest on the bench. He would be a bit of a liability on defense, but that is why he will be the sixth man and not a starter.
Let him play his own game and watch as he becomes a special scorer and a valuable high-energy player off the bench for the Raptors.
The Raptors are lucky to have one of the more experienced sixth men in the league today and the 2006-2007 sixth man of the year, Leandro Barbosa.
Barbosa is currently a restricted free agent with a player option for one more year. However, I am confident that he will accept his player option and remain with the Raptors for another season since he is scheduled to make far more than his current market value would indicate due to injury problems that plagued him last season.
That being said, Leandro Barbosa is an important asset for the Raptors and could play a crucial role as a mentor for Jerryd Bayless, should the Raptors move Bayless to shooting guard.
The mental aspect of being a sixth man is just as—if not more—important than a players actual skill level. Barbosa could teach Bayless how to embrace the role of sixth man as well as the mindset that goes along with it.
Many people already consider Bayless as an “expendable” player or possible trade bait, especially if the Raptors draft a PG (i.e: Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker). However, I would argue that Bayless is much more than that.
We still have not seen what Bayless is truly capable of doing when he is “the man” on offense. In college, Bayless was the No. 1 scoring option for his team, something he will probably never be on the Raptors or any other NBA team. That being said, he could—and should certainly—be the No. 1 option on the Raptors second unit.
If Bayless was given 20+ minutes as the “go-to-guy” offensively for the Raptors (with the majority of those minutes being played at SG) he could put up a lot of points. Furthermore, there is also a very good chance he could vault himself into consideration for an NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in the near future.