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.
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.