By Frank Lee, for NBA.com
Posted Oct 29 2009 10:25AM
No team can expect to contend without a solid bench. These 10 sixth men will prove to be huge factors for their teams during the season:
Many criticize Odom for his inconsistencies, but his unique skill set adds another dimension to the Lakers' already-formidable offense. And Odom seems to play best when it counts the most. Last season during the playoffs, Odom averaged 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds a game in the Lakers' championship run.
Orlando's Pietrus is a sixth man that can do it all. His ability to drive, hit spot-up jumpers, rebound and defend make him one of the most valuable sixth men in the NBA. Pietrus has been extremely productive in limited minutes. He averaged 10.5 points a game while shooting 48 percent in only 26 minutes per outing during last season's playoffs. His toughness on defense was a key to Orlando's success last season in his role of containing the opponent's best perimeter player.
Moon, at 6-foot-8, gives Cleveland a lengthy perimeter presence that was desperately missing last season. He is an athletic, solid defender with quick feet and long arms, and he's very effective at disrupting shots. Those attributes will be especially important when guarding other big perimeter players in the East, such as Boston's Paul Pierce and Orlando's Rashard Lewis. Moon also is a very good rebounder, and he'll help in spreading out the defense, thanks to his improved 3-point shooting.
Despite getting older and seeing a dropoff in his numbers the last three seasons, Wallace is still a very valuable player. His versatility adds another dimension to Boston's already potent lineup. His ability to score in the low post and hit 3-pointers with regularity give Boston another scoring threat. But it's his presence at the defensive end that will help his team the most. Wallace is still regarded as one of the best low-post defenders in the league. Team him with Kevin Garnett and the Celtics have a formidable front to stack up against the likes of Dwight Howard in Orlando and Shaquille O'Neal in Cleveland.
The NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award winner last season, Terry will continue to provide instant offense off the bench for the Dallas Mavericks. Terry's 19.6 points a game last season ranked second on the Mavericks. His ability to drive, pass and shoot from long distance is imperative if Dallas is to make a run at the NBA Finals.
Gordon's career scoring average of 18.5 points a game will be relied on after Detroit lost Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess to free agency during the offseason.
The Spurs' goal of winning another title is largely dependent on the performance of Ginobili. Injuries limited him to only 44 games last season -- none after early April -- and the beat-up Spurs were eliminated in the first round. When healthy, Ginobili is a dynamic player who can add another dimension to a highly talented Spurs team. His ability to hit threes, penetrate and finish strong around the rim is key for the Spurs' success.
Smith is one of the most dangerous players in the league when he's in the zone. He nailed 11 of his 18 3-pointers in a late-season game against Sacramento last season. And his value will increase if he can improve his shot selection and decision making. As good as he can be, he's streaky; in a playoff loss to the Nuggets, he was just 1-for-10 from 3-point range.
Millsap averaged a solid 13.5 points and 8.6 rebounds a game last season for Utah as the Jazz won 48 games and slipped into the playoffs as the last seed in the West. The Jazz recognized his value, locking him up over the summer by matching Portland's $32 million offer, thus keeping him in Utah for the next four years. Millsap, at 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, gives Utah an inside complement to Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer.
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