Best Off the Bench

It’s easy to brush off the production made by reserve players.

If they were so good, why wouldn’t they just start the game to begin with?

Since the roles of NBA players has been split between specialized talents and all-around talents, so players are better served coming off the bench.

Jamal Crawford has made the transition from starter to a reserve providing instant offense for the Atlanta Hawks.

Jason Terry is an undersized shooting guard that found his niche backing up either guard position for the Dallas Mavericks.

The San Antonio Spurs prefer bringing in Manu Ginobiil off the bench to provide a spark when the team is playing sluggish.

Each player has been rewarded by winning the Sixth Man of the Year award, the only prestigious honor a bench player can receive.

Shatter the Glass is going to look at five players either making a surprise contribution off the bench or exceeding expectations this season.

Toney Douglas– New York Knicks

A second-year point guard drafted for his defensive skills, Toney Douglas has evolved into a complete threat for the Knicks.

Pouring in 30 points along with four assists against Chicago, Douglas followed up the best performance of his career with 19 points and 10 rebounds the following game against Washington.

To open the season, New York has the leagues most productive bench, averaging 47 points per game, with Douglas as the catalyst, posting 13.7 a night, up six points from his rookie season.

The starting shooting guard role in New York was one of the heated position battles in training camp and Douglas may play himself off this list if he’s able to replace rookie Landry Fields in the starting lineup.


Daniel Gibson– Cleveland Cavaliers

Desperately needing a scoring punch from the bench, Daniel Gibson has emerged as the leader of the second unit for the surprising Cavaliers.

Posting career highs in points, rebounds, steals and assists, Gibson has emerged as the early front runner for the Sixth Man of the Year.

Opening the year with an impressive 16 points and eight assists during a victory over the Boston Celtics, Gibson has displayed a more balanced offensive game this season.

Known primarily as a three-point specialist, Gibson is driving to the basket much more frequently this year and has been rewarded by averaging a career high in free throw attempts per game.

The new found aggression has translated into the most successful season in his five-year career.


Al Harrington– Denver Nuggets

The guy that took away injured forward Kenyon Martin’s money has proved he was worth the money.

Tossed away last summer by New York, Harrington quickly landed in Denver because of his scoring capabilities. In fact, Harrington’s 13.7 points per game are more than Martin has averaged in any of the past six years in Denver.

Connecting on 39 percent of his three-point attempts, Harrington is averaging his highest percentage in four years.

Torching the Rockets from long range, connecting on five-of-eight attempts from beyond the arc, Harrington has finally provided some consistent scoring alongside Carmelo Anthony.


Glen Davis– Boston Celtics

Glen Davis’ production probably isn’t a surprise at this point. From draining a game winning shot at Orlando to tie the Eastern Conference Finals at two, or his epic performance in the Finals last season, he has been one of the most productive second-round selections of the past 10 years.

With one of the most reasonable contracts in the league, Davis will likely receive an opportunity to start, along with more money, when he hits free agency this summer.

Insisting he’s not focused on his contact situation, Davis has excelled during the early portion of the season.

His 11.3 points double his career average and his shooting percentages from the field and free throw line have sharply increased this season.


Tyrus Thomas– Charlotte Bobcats

Maybe he’ll never live up to the lofty expectations placed on a someone selected fourth overall in the NBA Draft, but Tyrus Thomas has been impressive since joining the Bobcats last season.

Dealt away from Chicago as part of the Bulls cap-clearing plan, Thomas has responded quickly posting 22 points and six rebounds in the season opener against Dallas in just 29 minutes.

Thomas has continued his early success by averaging a career-highs in points (11.2) and blocks per game (1.7).

Always a threat to land on the highlight reel, the 24-year-old is slowly evolving into the player scouts envisioned following his college career at Louisiana State.

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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