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The "sixth man" is a term in basketball that refers most of the time to the best man off the bench. He doesn't start the game, but when a started comes off the court (except a center in most cases), the "sixth man" is the player the coach selects to put into the game. This is not a rule, but it is adopted by many coaches of the NBA. Below are some of the top sixth men of the 2001-2002 NBA season.


An award is also given every year to the best sixth man.

There are a few categories which most sixth men fall into:

  • Scorers: A prime example is Dell Curry of the Toronto Raptors, who can usually be counted on for some good long-range shooting in order to get his team back in a game.
  • Defenders or Rebounders: Defensive specialists are often found as sixth men on teams needing a solid defensive presence. Dennis Rodman was an example of this, coming off the bench as a rebounder for the Dallas Mavericks in 1999-2000, who today are still in need of a solid defensive presence....
  • Super Subs: Extremely versatile, the reason why they are so great as sixth man is because they can sub for many different positions. An example of this is Aaron McKie of the Philedelphia 76ers, whose well-rounded skills allow him to play as a combo guard, as well as small forward.
  • Rookies: Rookies with incredible skills who simply need more practice often find themselves playing as the sixth man. An example of this is Kobe Bryant of the L.A. Lakers, who started at the NBA All-Star game in his rookie year.
  • Energizers: These guys are known for their hustle, and they can come off the bench and immediately increase the pace of a game, thus forcing turnovers and creating offensive opportunities. An obvious example of an energizer is the Mavericks' Eduardo Najera, whose nickname is "Eddie Energy".
  • Former All-Stars: Basically, these are guys who used to be incredible, but are slowing down some due to injuries, aging, etc. Often, they are more effective in limited minutes. An example of a former All-Star as sixth man is Hakeem Olajuwon, also of the Raptors.

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