Ranking Every NBA Team’s 6th Man


Today I’ve ranked every sixth man from all 30 NBA teams. This was a three-day journey, so please don’t be mad if you think some players are ranked too high or too low. I tried to base these rankings on how good the player is, team success, and player impact on the team. Happy reading!

 

#30: Aaron Nesmith, Indiana Pacers

When he was first drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2020, scouts called him “the best shooter in his class.” Unfortunately, the draft class of 2020 was on the weaker side (which is why Nesmith was given this projection), and players like Tyrese Haliburton, Patrick Williams, LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Maxey, and former teammate Payton Pritchard have all proven to be better shooters. Nesmith was dealt to Indiana after two years with the Celtics in a deal for Malcolm Brogdon.

Nesmith is averaging 7.5 points and 35% from three this year, with career highs in many statistical categories. He has a solid role with the Pacers, averaging 21 minutes per game, but still isn’t the impactful player scouts thought he would be. He’s only 23, however, and still has lots of time to improve.

 

#29: Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder

Williams is a 21 year old, 6’6″ rookie shooting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. In 13 games, Williams is averaging 9.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists on 51.5% shooting from the field. This isn’t bad for a rookie averaging 24 minutes per game, but his game has a long way to go in terms of development. Williams still needs to adjust to the pace of the NBA, and work on his three-point shot. He’s been a streaky shooter so far, and is averaging 27.3% from downtown. Once he gets more reps and fixes his shot, however, he’ll be a much more complete player. If he’s not starting in a few years, then he’ll at least be much higher up on this list.

 

#28: Justise Winslow, Portland Trail Blazers

I almost had Shaedon Sharpe in this spot as the Blazers’ 6th man, but for now, we’re going with Winslow. Winslow’s been in the NBA for eight seasons, but for some reason, it feels like he’s a 12-year vet. His statistical output has increased and decreased depending on the team he’s playing for at any given time.

While Winslow is an important presence for the Blazers, his productivity has dropped this year, as his minutes per game, points per game, offensive box plus/minus, PER, three-point percentage, and rebounds have decreased while his turnovers and fouls have increased. I doubt he peaked last year, but something tells me he just hasn’t found his groove yet; once he does, he’ll be playing much better.

 

#27: Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers

I had Dean Wade as the Cavs 6th Man at first, but Osman’s been playing a lot more and a lot better recently, so I went with him. Osman’s beginning to enter his basketball prime at the age of 27, and while he’s had to take a step down with a new infusion of talent on this team, he’s still been playing well. Osman’s shooting splits are at career-highs, and he’s had some big performances recently, including a 20 point-12 rebound outing against the Miami Heat, and 23 points against the Atlanta Hawks. Osman is not an elite sixth man, but he’s continuing to improve.

 

#26: Kenyon Martin Jr, Houston Rockets

K-Mart fits the mold of the Rockets pretty well; a young team going through a rebuild that has yet to figure out their identity. Like Jalen Green, Kevin Porter, Jr, and many of his other teammates, Martin is a gifted athlete, and it shows every time he steps on the court. He’s young and has the potential to be better than his father, but his shooting needs to improve first. He’ll grow with this Rockets team (hopefully), but for now, while he’s fun and exciting to watch, he’s just simply not better then the players further down this list.

 

#25: AJ Griffin, Atlanta Hawks

Griffin has really surprised me so far this season. Before the past week, I would’ve ranked him #29, or maybe I wouldn’t have even counted him as a sixth man. However, Griffin’s recently been given more opportunities to shine, and he made national headlines when he caught the game winning alley-oop from Trae Young against the Toronto Raptors. He also had an impressive 17 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 steals against the Cavaliers a few days ago. While Griffin’s averages of 8.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.7 assists seem modest at first, the Duke product has a 16.2 PER, putting him in the top fourth of NBA players. He also is shooting 51.1% from the field, and 38.1% from three. As Griffin continues to step up his game, his fandom in the NBA will increase, along with his ranking here.

 

#24: Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans

Murphy has had an amazing start to his second season, improving in every major statistical category. The already solid shooter is now averaging 48.4% from the field, 42.9% from three, and 95.5% from the free throw line. His improvement is obvious to everyone within the Pelicans’ organization, including CJ McCollum, who said, “Trey is not gonna speak to the work that he’s put in but you can see the transformation and the confidence.” Murphy’s young and still has more time to improve, and I can’t wait to see if he takes an even bigger leap next year.

 

#23: Taurean Prince, Minnesota Timberwolves

Prince is 28 years old and a certified NBA veteran, but his play has begun to decline recently. Throw in a recent shoulder injury, an arrest back in May, and he’s higher up on this list then I initially pegged him. In fact, I had him at 19, but after taking a closer look, I simply couldn’t justify him over these next few players.

 

#22: Alec Burks, Detroit Pistons

In complete honesty, I absolutely slept on Burks when I started creating this list, and forgot just how good he is. The 31 year old is averaging 16.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on solid shooting splits. He’s been great while Cade Cunningham‘s been out, and shown he’s still productive past his prime. It’s debatable whether Burks should be a starter, but as a sixth man, Burks is doing great.

 

#21: Cameron Payne, Phoenix Suns

Payne started off his NBA career as a backup to Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, before bouncing around many different NBA teams. He’s finally found his home in Phoenix, however, serving as Chris Paul‘s backup and a key piece on a championship contender for the past few years. He’s 28 and averaging the best numbers of his career, which I expect to go up even further since he’s in his basketball prime. He’s not super athletic, but Payne provides veteran leadership, as well as solid three-point shooting and passing.

 

#20: Josh Richardson, San Antonio Spurs

Richardson has played for the Celtics, Mavericks, Heat, 76ers, and now the Spurs in his NBA career, and everywhere he’s gone, he’s been a productive scorer. The 29 year old is averaging solid numbers this season, and has shown to be a deadly three-point threat and great at kicking out the ball to open players once he’s sucked in the defense. Unfortunately, since he’s 29, he’s probably almost (if not already) reached his peak, while many of the players ranked higher than him have even more room for growth.

 

#19: Tyus Jones, Memphis Grizzlies

Ja Morant‘s faithful backup is actually quite underrated, averaging. a solid 10.6 points and 4.2 assists in just 24 minutes per game. However, what really makes Jones one of the most underrated point guards is how careful he is with the ball. Jones is among the top 15 players in the NBA in assist to turnover ratio, and only averages 1.1 turnovers per game. For his career, it’s even lower, with a career average of 0.7. This makes him a more valuable player than anyone behind him on the list, but it’s still not enough to match the players higher up. This is when the list really starts to become more competitive.

 

#18: Dennis Smith Jr, Charlotte Hornets

Smith has been possibly the best comeback story of this year so far. After finding a home early in his career in Dallas, a generational talent by the name of Luka Doncic came along, which ended with Smith being part of a trade to the Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis. From there, Smith didn’t mesh well with the team, and even requested to be sent to their G-League team at one point. From there, he had minor stints in Detroit and Portland, but his NBA options were slim. He was ready to go tryout for the NFL, since he was a star football player in high school. However, he went to an open run, got seen by the right coach, and got a gig with the Hornets, in his hometown state of North Carolina. From there, once LaMelo Ball went down with an injury, Smith got his chance to shine, and show the league that he was back. Now that Ball’s recovered from injury, he’s become a very solid sixth man.

I’m so glad Smith found success again, and I’m sure as he continues to progress, he’ll find even more success on this list; but for now, I have him here.

 

#17: Seth Curry, Brooklyn Nets

Steph Curry’s brother is one of the best shooters in the game, but this year, he hasn’t had as much of a chance to show it. While Curry is still deadly, Kyrie Irving is back full time (when he’s not suspended), and so is Ben Simmons. This means that both the point guard and shooting guard starting positions are taken, whereas last year Curry started in every game he played for the Nets. Now, the 6th man role is where he lives, hunting for shots off the bench. His three-point percentage has decreased this year, but I’m assuming that he just has to find his rhythm and the right kind of shots. After all, he is a Curry.

 

#16: Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors

Here begins our segment of forwards that all seem somewhat similar to one another. Boucher first caught my attention a few years ago, when I was looking for good underrated players for fantasy basketball. Someone drafted Boucher, who I’d never heard of, and pretty soon he was doing damage against other fantasy teams. He took a big leap in Toronto, his third real season in the league and at the age of 28. However, what I thought would be a path to an All-Star career simply ended up being a productive big man off the bench. He’s a great bench presence, but now being at 30, his best season is likely behind him. At least he got paid while he could.

 

#15: Bruce Brown, Denver Nuggets

I almost had Bones Hyland in this position as he continues to develop and improve, but I had to go with Brown. Brown’s played for the Pistons, Nets, and now the Nuggets. He continues to improve every season, he shoots the ball quite well, and is such a good presence on defense. I just love Brown as a player, and while he isn’t an All-Star, he’s a complementary role player that every title contender would be lucky to have.

 

#14: Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards

If you’ve been watching the Wizards recently, then you might be telling me that Jordan Goodwin (Jordsanity) should be the team’s 6th man. However, as much as I’ve loved watching him recently, that’s simply not his role yet (though it could be; keep it up Jordan!). Hachimura is a power forward who could technically play stretch five, much like Boucher; however, Hachimura does his damage on the elbow in the form of mid-range jumpers, while Boucher plays inside the paint. Hachimura had a great first two years, then missed some time due to personal reasons. From there, he’s begun to play like his old self, though his stats have taken a dip to the team having forwards like Kyle Kuzma, Deni Avdija, and more.

Since he’s 26, I expect him to take a leap to near All-Star level player either this season or sometime in the next two. I really believe in him, and can’t wait to see what he does.

 

#13: Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks

Portis is another solid power forward, who can also play as a stretch five. This year, he’s averaging a 13-point 10-rebound double-double, while only 27 years old. Portis started out as a young unproven player in Chicago, but has evolved into a veteran who’s seen it all and won a championship with the Bucks. If he ever leaves the Bucks, then he carries that championship pedigree with him, which teams will value. He’s not amazing, but his championship experience, spacing, and double-double get him to this spot.

 

#12: Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

Quickley has been solidified as the Knicks’ sixth man with the arrival of Jalen Brunson. However, in his third year, Quickley’s shooting has worsened, and so has his efficiency. He’s doing well on the defensive end, yet he still could be traded any day by a wacky New York front office. Quickley has great potential (which is why he’s ranked so high), but he may be a better fit on another team.

 

#11: Malik Monk, Sacramento Kings

After a turbulent season with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and the Los Angeles Lakers, Monk solidified himself as one of their good free agent acquisitions, and one of the bright spots of an otherwise horrendous season. So, Monk was able to sign with the Sacramento Kings in free agency for 2 years, $19 million. This year, Monk has continued to shoot and score well, while bringing Sacramento a nice spark off the bench. It’s showed in the team’s record, as they recently had their first winning streak since the 1800s and are the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Plus, he’s only 24 years old, which means it’s only getting better from here. Monk has All-Star potential.

 

#10: Malik Beasley, Utah Jazz

Beasley had a great run while playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, most notably averaging 20 points per game during the 2019-20 season. However, he was traded to Utah in the giant Rudy Gobert trade, which included him, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt, and a few other players and picks. Now, on the Jazz (which have been the surprise of the entire league), Beasley is thriving as 6th man, averaging 14.4 points and 4.0 rebounds on solid shooting splits. His performances are part of the reason why the Jazz are 12-8, and still one of the best teams in the Western Conference. The team’s success combined with his role and knockdown shooting is the reason why he ranks this high on the list.

 

#9: John Wall, Los Angeles Clippers

I toyed with the idea of putting Kawhi Leonard at the sixth man spot for the Clippers, because he’s barely played for the team and when he has, he’s been coming off the bench. However, Wall is the team’s true sixth man, coming off the bench behind Reggie Jackson.

After sitting out all of last year, Wall is playing at about the level people are expecting of him, which is really good. He’s averaging a solid 12 points and 6 assists off the bench, which includes an incredible 15-assist performance against the Spurs a few days ago. It’s great to see how well he’s accepted and embraced his new role, similar to Bill Walton in the 1980s on the Boston Celtics. Now we just have to hope the Clippers will win a championship.

 

#8: De’Anthony Melton, Philadelphia 76ers

Yes, I have Melton very high on this list. But after how he’s been playing recently, it’s more than warranted. With Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey all out with foot injuries, Melton’s been stepping up even further. I went into a lot more detail here in this article about the 76ers bench (I’d give it a read!), but rest assured, he’s earned this spot.

 

#7: Max Strus, Miami Heat

This spot used to consistently belong to Tyler Herro, but he’s solidified himself as a starter. Kyle Lowry is the team’s starting point guard, which means Strus gets to be the team’s 6th man! He’s progressed every year since he got to the league, and is now averaging 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on solid shooting. He’s also being trusted more, as his minutes have continued to increase. At just 26 years old, Strus is young and already better than 70% of the 6th men in the entire NBA; his future is bright. Once Lowry or Jimmy Butler retires, I’d expect him to become a full time starter.

 

#6: Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics

Brogdon has proven to be a dose of just what the Celtics needed. Despite losing Head Coach Ime Udoka, the Celtics are playing their best basketball yet. It’s actually incredible how well they’re doing; they’re ranked number one on ESPN’s power rankings, they have the best net rating of any Celtics team in NBA history, Luka Doncic personally shouted out Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as the league’s best duo, and they don’t even have Robert Williams back, who will only make this team better. But even without Williams and Danilo Gallinari, the Celtics are not only the best team in the NBA right now, but have one of the best teams in the history of the NBA.

And Brogdon is their sixth man.

That’s a pretty sweet position to be in.

Brogdon’s doing well, averaging 13, 4, and 4 on good shooting (like always), and being that spark off the bench that the Celtics just didn’t have last year. Without a deep bench the team made it to the NBA Finals and pushed the Warriors to six; imagine what they can do with Brogdon.

 

#5: Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls

Caruso’s stats don’t reflect those of a sixth man whose number six on this list, but his impact simply can’t be denied. He’s still doing an amazing job on the defensive end, and his shooting splits have steadily improved from last year. In fact, I’m actually kind of surprised Ayo Dosunmu is starting over him; sooner or later, Caruso will be off this list. Get healthy soon Lonzo Ball! Ball and Caruso is a backcourt I really want to see again.

 

#4: Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers

Russell Westbrook the starter is possibly the worst player in the entire NBA, as evidenced by the beginning of this season. But, Westbrook the 6th man? He’s the beast I remember. During the first three games of the season, when Westbrook was starting, he shot 28.3% from the field and a horrendous 8.3% from three! At that point, he didn’t look like he belonged on an NBA court. However, once he started coming off the bench, Westbrook is averaging 15.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 8.1 assists on 41.5% shooting from the field and a league average 35% from three. Westbrook still has fallen off a bit from his former self, but at least he’s developed into one of the best sixth men in the league.

 

#3: Christian Wood, Dallas Mavericks

When the Mavericks got Wood from the Houston Rockets, I expected him to be a starter, not a 6th man behind Dwight Powell. Nonetheless, Wood is doing extremely well in his 6th man role, averaging 17 and 8 while making some deadly pick-and-rolls with Luka Doncic. He’s a pretty good fit with the Mavericks, and it’s just a matter of time before they start winning.

 

#2: Bol Bol, Orlando Magic

It was a little difficult to choose a 6th man for the Magic given all the injuries they’ve been dealing with, but we’re going with Bol. And how amazing has he been?! He’s basically what everyone’s expecting from Victor Wembanyama. In Denver, Bol didn’t get the opportunities he deserved playing behind Nikola Jokic. But now, in Orlando, Bol has become a new basketball player. He’s shooting at career highs, averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds per game, and doing it all. I’m so happy to see the success Bol has had in Orlando, and I think we’ll see a lot more from him before his career is over.

 

#1: Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors

Come on. Who else was I supposed to have at number one?

Poole’s going to be the Warriors’ 6th man as long as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson play for the organization. Poole’s an amazing player, and already at 23 was a contributor on a championship winning team. He’s not a splash brother, but he’s definitely a splash cousin. Poole’s my favorite to win 6th Man of the Year right now, unless Thompson or Curry gets injured and Poole becomes a starter near full-time. Until then, he remains the best sixth man in the league.

 

Don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

Picture Credit (in order):

Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Justin Ford/Getty Images

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Rick Osentoski/Getty Images

Jonathon Bachman/Getty Images

David Berding/Getty Images

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Avelar | AP

NBAE via Getty Images

AP Photo/Corey Sipkin

STEVE RUSSELL / TORONTO STAR

Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Sam Forencich / Getty Images

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Getty/Jim McIsaac

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

AP Photo/Chris Szagola

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Chris Elise/Getty Images

Tony Gutierrez/AP

Mike Watters/USA TODAY Sports

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

 

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s