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A Tough Forecast: Picking A 6th Man


As the terrific C’s Summer Forecast wraps up this week over at ESPN Boston, our buddy Chris Forsberg asked the first question of the series that gave me any real pause on making a prediction. Who will be next year’s sixth man?

Naturally, coming up with an answer is actually a good problem for this team to have. The exciting part is, you could easily make a case for all five guys in the bench mob to take home the honors. Obviously, there are more likely candidates (Glen Davis, Nate Robinson) than others (Delonte West, Marquis Daniels, Von Wafer) but nearly every player likely to be on the active roster has the basketball tools to have the shot of taking home such an offer. With that in mind let’s take a quick glance and handicap the candidates.

An Outside Shot

Marquis Daniels: We all know the story on Marquis last year, and his return to Celtic Green for next season comes out of necessity more than anything else. The truth is the team would perhaps be best served if it was Daniels that stepped up more than any other of his teammates for this honor. The lack of depth at the wing spot will make the microscope on Quisy more magnified than ever ans will  the need to keep Paul Pierce’s minutes under control. Given these factors, Daniels will be given every opportunity to step-up and turnaround from last year’s disappointing campaign. I wouldn’t expect it, but wouldn’t rule it out entirely.

Delonte West: A real wildcard in this scenario. I’ll have much more on West tomorrow, but the truth is the team hasn’t had a reliable backup point guard since they traded away West back in 2007. Delonte’s 10 game suspension will obviously be a detriment in him making an impact out of the gate, but West’s versatility, distribution skills, familiarity with the team and reliable outside shooting make him an under the radar candidate to be Doc’s top man off the pine.

Shaquille O’Neal: Shaq has only come off the bench 9 games his entire career, so it will be tough to see the 38 year old being a source of instant energy required out of a 6th man. That said, the guy still averaged 12 points a game last year and should be able to feast on offensive end against second team centers around the league. Will be a interesting situation to see play out.

The Favorite

Nate Robinson: The definition of instant energy, Robinson had to wait his turn during last year’s playoffs, (much to many fans chagrin) but came through big as a 6th man against both Orlando and Los Angeles before the C’s fell short in Game 7. A full year in the system should do wonders for Nate’s ability to stay on the court and out of Doc’s doghouse, but Robinson needs the ball in his hands to be effective, and there will be plenty of guys in the bench unit looking for their share of those shots so Nate will have to make the most out of his opportunities.

The Pick: Glen Davis

Here’s what I wrote for ESPNBoston on the pick:

This was a tough call given the multitude of candidates next year’s bench will have to offer, but I’m giving the nod to Big Baby for a variety of reasons. Davis has the most experience in the C’s system, he is in a contract year, and he will benefit from entering this year problem free, as opposed to the embarrassing punching incident that disrupted the start  of last year’s campaign.

With an older and injury prone front line, Big Baby will be leaned upon heavily to keep his elders minutes down, so the opportunity will be there and he proved throughout last year’s campaign he can be counted on to provide a scoring and rebounding punch when the team needs it. Nate Robinson may bring more flair to the table, but when all is said and done Davis will be your most consistent performer off the bench.

All things considered, Robinson probably deserve to be the favorite in this category but I feel confident in the Baby pick. Now it’s time for your guys picks. Who will be the strongest performer off the bench next year? Robinson? Davis? Shaq? One of the sleepers?  There’s no right answer here, but it sure is fun to speculate about.

Also, just to note, I failed to include Jermaine O’Neal here since I expect him to start for the majority of the season.

  • http://Aol.com Matthew

    Being that you didnt include JO in that group I will. I see JO and shaq splitting minutes as the starter for a good part of the season. JO had a solid year last year and wasn’t playing heavy minutes. I don’t expect that to change. His minutes will be watched and his production won’t be identical to last yr but very solid. His mid range and ability to Finnish arround the basket will help our very mediocre offense. Nates inconsistant shaq is as well. From the rest of the guys besides glen we have no idea what we are getting. It’s a toss up between JO and glen with the edge going to JO because of his importance as a center.

  • Rangatiratanga

    Aaah the 2nd unit……… i’m more pumped about seeing these guys play than our starters.I think Nate takes it juuust over Baby.

  • Perry

    Davis is a bold pick, and no doubt he’s earned it. In terms of sheer energy the 6th man could be Nate, but I’ll go with Shaq who could easily rekindle thoughts of Bill Walton’s 86′ contribution.

    Tactically, I like the idea of pairing him with Kevin for a few minutes in the first quarter and using him in the post as a passer with the second unit. Quis is a good cutter, and D. West knows how to play with Shaq … who won’t have to score a ton of buckets to make a huge impact.

  • JasonT

    Von Wafer is my pick.
    He will be working his butt off this year to prove himself. after 6 months I bet if PP or Ray is out for injury he’ll be the one who starts for them. And I can not wait for him and Rondo to zip down the court on fast breaks.

  • Rex

    I’m not sure that the “sixth man” concept will even apply to the C’s. If the two O’Neals split time at the 5, they’ll have a “starting six”.

    Makes me curious about your definition of sixth man? First guy off the bench? Most minutes played by a non-starter? Top scorer? Best quality minutes?

    Trying to roll with the question, though, my first thought was Big Baby as being the MVP of the second unit guys, thanks to KG’s aging legs and the glory of offensive rebounds. That and I think West will hold down Nate’s impact.

  • pam

    i feel for baby to become a better player, he needs to become a better passer. the reason he gets blocked so much (apart from his height) is that while he is making a crazy move towards the basket, opposing centers know that he is going to take the shot. hence they leave their man and block his shot. now with a quality 5 off the bench playing with baby, he needs to make opposing centers pay for switching onto him by passing the ball.
    if he starts becoming a good passer, he easily becomes 6th man for us because he is the only true backup 4 in the lineup..

  • Tugboat

    Everyone harps on Davis having his shot blocked constantly… for good reason. It’s close to inexcusable and even borders on selfish (looks like he wants some points/glory instead of simply passing the ball back out).

    But he is a logical choice for most important/productive bench player. I actually considered Nate a dark horse for sixth man of the year – until West was signed. Just doesn’t seem like Nate’ll get the minutes to make the impact he’s capable of.

  • http://rawr asd


  • Ross in Maine

    Baby is the easy pick, my man Nate won’t get enough minutes.

    My ‘dark horse’ picks is either Daniels or Von Wafer. How I would LOVE for one of those two cheap gambles to pay off in a big way. The only drawback is, someone will offer them big (bigger) money after next year and steal them.

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