A substitute may wind up being as important (or even more) than some of the team’s starters depending on their impact with the team, and it matters the most who closes out games that who actually starts them.

Sixth men are a crucial part of any team’s rotation as their main guys off the bench that can lead the second unit and be like a coach in the hardwood, making the most of opposing subs and trying to either stretch or maintain leads or to make a comeback push.

This season, some substitutes have turned a lot of heads, and there’s absolutely no doubt that they could be starting elsewhere, but they’re so valued in their respective rosters right now that they don’t push for trades, playing even more minutes than some starters. Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 6th men so far this season.

 

10. Jonathon Simmons

After living one of the NBA’s craziest stories, Jonathon Simmons decided that it was time to get paid big time instead of competing, so he decided to join the Orlando Magic on a longterm deal that has really paid off for him so far.

Making 19 appearances off the bench, Simmons has been so productive that he’s even shifted to a starter role with Terrence Ross sidelined, posting season averages of 14.3 points, 3.2 boards, 0.8 steals and 1.8 dimes per game on 48% from the field with a 13.3 PER.

 

9. Dwyane Wade

Embracing his new role since being bought out by the Chicago Bulls, the veteran shooting guard demanded to come off the bench for the Cleveland Cavaliers, making 21 substitute appearances throughout the campaign so far.

Yes, it’s pretty odd not to watch the Flash with the starters, but he’s managed to be extremely productive on a limited basis nonetheless, averaging 11.5 points, 3.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game on 45% from the floor with a 17.5 PER in his first season at the Q.

 

8. Julius Randle

Julius Randle hasn’t started a single game for the Los Angeles Season after being one of their reported cornerstones for the future, but instead of showing frustration, he’s proving that he’s got a place on this league and that he’s definitely worth some assets in return if the Lakers do intend to change him.

The former Kentucky Wildcat has been pretty solid with the team’s second unit so far this year, making 23 appearances off the bench for 12.3 points and 6.5 rebounds to go along with 1.7 assists and 0.8 blocks per game with a 17.3 PER.

 

7. Kyle Kuzma

yle Kuzma started the year on the bench but shifted to the first unit due to Larry Nance Jr’s injury, but regardless of where he plays, he’s proven to be one of the biggest steals of this prior NBA Draft and has vastly outplayed fellow rookie Lonzo Ball.

Through the campaign, Kuzma has posted very nice averages of almost 17 points and 6.5 rebounds with 1.5 dimes and 0.8 swats per contest in almost 50% from the floor and 38% from three-point territory, owning a very respectable 15.6 PER in 11 appearances off the bench and 12 as a starter.

 

6. Eric Gordon

The reigning 6th man of the year makes our list despite making just 7 substitute appearances, as he had to step up with Chris Paul falling down early with an injury, but he’s likely to be headed back to the bench now that CP3’s back.

Gordon hasn’t missed a beat coming off a career-best season, and through his second year as a member of the Houston Rockets, he’s posting averages of 19.4 points on 40% from the floor to go along with 2.1 rebounds, 2.6 dimes and 0.7 steals with a 14.9 PER.

 

5. Will Barton

Will the Thrill keeps on making Denver fans fall in love with him on a nightly basis, leading the Nuggets second unit in both ends of the hardwood with his instant offensive spark off the bench that makes opposing defenders fall on their knees.

The versatile and athletic scorer enjoys to fill the stat sheet night in and night out, and he hasn’t struggled when he’s had to step up and play as a starter due to Wilson Chandler’s injuries either. Recently signing a huge extension, he’s thanking the Nuggets with averages of 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.9 helpers and 1 steal per game on 49% from the floor with a 17.7 PER.

 

4. Jeremy Lamb

Jeremy Lamb keeps shifting from the bench to the team’s first unit to make up for all the injury woes that have plagued the Charlotte Hornets, but he’s been as productive in both units that he’s finally starting to shape up as the productive role player everybody thought he’d be when he first entered the league.

Throughout the campaign, the former Thunder and Rocket has been very consistent and has averaged 15 points on 44% from the floor to go along with 3.2 assists, 5 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game and a 17.6 PER on 10 substitute appearances.

 

3. Jordan Clarkson

Just like Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson hasn’t started a single game and is reportedly also in the trade block (or at least has been for some time now), but he hasn’t let all that mess up with his continuously improving game.

Clarkson is one of the league’s best second unit combo guards and he just can score in bunches. Backing up Lonzo ball through the 23 games of this campaign, he’s posted a very impressive 18.4 PER with averages of 14.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3 dimes per game in 48% from the hardwood.

 

2. Lou Williams

Lou Williams is a regular name we here when we’re talking about the league’s best sixth men due to his incredible offensive skillset, ability to draw contact and finish through it, and pull up from everywhere in the floor to send the rock to the bottom of the nets.

Well, this season he’s been quite good for the sluggish Los Angeles Clippers, especially considering the absences of Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic. So far, he’s made 18 appearances off the bench on his way to averages of 19 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1 steal and 4.6 assists per game on 44% from the floor with a 20.4 PER.

Read More

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1. Tyreke Evans

One of the newest members of the Memphis Grizzlies has been a major bargain for him, and one of the lone bright spots in a team that’s quickly falling down in the standings after Randolph’s departure and Mike Conley’s injury.

Regardless, Evans has been as good as he was during his first season in the NBA when he looked like the league’s future star, filling up the stat sheet with his averages of 17.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal per game on 47% from the floor, 43% from three-point territory and a 21.7 PER, highest among qualifying substitutes.

Unless otherwise cited, all stats are courtesy of NBA.com or Basketball Reference and current leading into games on Dec. 8.

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