NBA / Jan 11, 2010 / 3:27 pm

All-Foxhole Team

Derek Fisher (photo. NBA)

Sometimes he’s the enforcer. Sometimes he’s the fullback. Sometimes he’s the safety outlet. Sometimes he’s the emotional center. Whatever you want to call him, he’s usually not the star of the team; he’s the guy the star can’t win without.

The NBA is set up for each team to have its superstar (or two), who is then surrounded by role players. And truth be told, there isn’t that much difference between the superstars — Kobe and Brandon Roy can go shot-for-shot on any given night, same goes for Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki, and so on — but what separates stars with rings to stars without are the role players.

And while each superstar is his team’s go-to guy, ideally, each star has his own go-to guy. He’s not always the #2 scoring option on paper, but he’s the first teammate the star would take into a foxhole with him when everything is on the line. Here’s the All-Foxhole Team:

Derek Fisher, PG, L.A. Lakers
Minus a three-year hiatus in Utah and Golden State, Fisher has been in the trenches with Kobe since Day 1, when they were both drafted in ’96. He won three ‘chips with Sidekick Kobe from ’00-02, he cried on the bench next to Kobe in ’03, lost in the Finals with him in ’04 and ’08, and reached the mountaintop again with Kobe in ’09. Sometimes he’s a jacker, and his defense has slipped over the past couple of years, but he still hits clutch shots and is still one of the veteran leaders of the Lakers. Last week, when Kobe was single-handedly trying to erase a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit in Portland, I noticed the few times he did pass, it was to D-Fish.

Thabo Sefolosha, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
When I interviewed Kevin Durant for his DIme #51 cover story over the summer, he told me that Thabo was the heart and soul of the Thunder. The designated defensive stopper and one of the oldest guys on the team that actually plays, Thabo can stick anybody from Danny Granger to Kobe Bryant to Rodney Stuckey from game-to-game without a double-team, using his quick feet, active hands and long limbs to make them work for everything they get. While he isn’t much of a scoring threat, you hardly see OKC playing in crunch-time without Thabo on the floor.

Carl Landry, SF/PF, Houston Rockets
The NBA’s John Henry is compiling tall tales in just his third year in the League. He got shot in the leg, and played three weeks later. He got five teeth knocked out — with two of them lodged in Dirk Nowitzki’s elbow — and didn’t miss a game, reappearing with a mouthful of teeth. The superstar-less Rockets are full of role players and glue guys, and Landry (16.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg) is the second-leading scorer and a top candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.

David West, PF, New Orleans Hornets
Like D-Fish is to Kobe, D-West is the one guy Chris Paul still looks for after he’s gone into “I’m scoring all the points now” mode. As the Hornets have slipped from a darkhorse championship contender to a fringe playoff team, West has remained a reliable option on that deadly pick-and-pop, is good for a few game-winners and 40-point scoring nights every now and then, and is N.O.’s designated tough guy, whether it’s slapping an opposing star in the face or smacking his own teammates around when they need it.

Anderson Varejao, PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers
You hate him for his flopping, his hair, and the whiny face. LeBron loves him for his post defense, rebounding, basketball IQ and willingness to lay his body on the line even if it means getting dunked on or catching a sack in his face.

Honorable mentions: Kenyon Martin, Denver; Shane Battier, Houston; Will Bynum, Detroit; Udonis Haslem, Miami; Matt Barnes, Orlando.

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  • izzy

    “catching a sack in his face” LOL.

    thats an awful, awful price to pay just to be a glue guy.

  • Promoman

    How Shane didn’t make this list outside of a honorable mention is insane. Kenyon’s OK but I wouldn’t say he’s even an honorable mention.

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    this list is weak. i mean seriously, Thabo Sefolosha?

    no tyshaun prince? no james posey?
    having a key role player is NOT just about someone who can SCORE austin.

    it also includes players who make (it seems) every defensive rotation assignment. or a player who can get the stop defensively for the team.

    of a player you can count on to grab a key rebound in traffice.

  • silky

    raja bell and kendrick perkins

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Enjoyed the bit on John Henry. I think Disney made it a cartoon once and that was cool too when I was younger.

    I can agree with the list, only thing is who is Carl Landry’s player that is the go-to-guy…Brooks?

    Honestly with Houston it can be argued Scola or Landry or Shane?

  • control

    Valgina?

    I wouldn’t take that guy ANYWHERE with me, let alone a fucking fox hole. He’s the weakest guy in the NBA and one of the most annoying. He has NO legit basketball skills at all. It’s a shamtravisty that stupid bitch got PAID. First fucking woman to play in the NBA…

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    WORD. who is the star in Houston who’s gonna ask Carl Landry into the foxhole?
    does Houston have a star?!!?
    hahahahaha

  • Prof. TX

    I would have put Battier on the list instead of as an alternate; a lot of coaches and gm’s have called him ‘the ultimate glue guy.’

    You could also just call this ‘The Robert Horry Award,’ as he seems like one of the best role players that this generation has seen. He wasn’t a star, but a lot of teams probably wouldn’t have earned their titles without him.

  • rathauneak

    I 2nd the vote for Kendrick Perkins

  • http://twitter.com/therealknowbody GABRIEL BROGDEN

    Andy for the Cavs is the definition,
    Landry (you can actually throw Scola in there, Lowry even),
    Artest for LA — Odom too for LA,
    Wallace for the Cats,
    NeNe for the Nugs,
    Kidd for Dallas,
    Johnny Boy for the Bulls, Noah maybe,
    Demar for TDot,
    Terrance or ChrisDouglas for the Nets…
    Maxiell – Detroit

  • LakeShow84

    @ Control

    If Varejao developed his game on ur squad you would love him lol

    Same with Ginobli haters.. yeah you hate the man but that dont mean you wouldnt want him on your team.. I’d take Varejao in a second.. with a “you arent allowed to play offense” clause in his contract lol

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Hey lol, off topic but Remember when they had the article about Scottie Pippen in the movie with the midgets last week.

    I don’t know if any of you or the DIME cats watch it, but the Cleveland show actually had Scottie Pippen as a character (his actual voice) singing a song called “Balls Deep” in their episode last night. Hilarious and sad.

    Is dude in need of a check that bad or is he trying to get his celebrity back up?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waS35geSwMk

    Hope the link works and quality ain’t the best but dang Scottie come on. LOL.

  • LakeShow84

    The shoulder check Fish threw at Scola was some of the stuff dreams are made of lol

  • machineflesh

    It’s sad to say it, but the Fish’s game has deteriorated dramatically this last season. Recent seasons his strength and smarts have made up for being that step too slow, but that step too slow is now 2 or 3 steps. And 37% from the floor (35% from deep) when you’re the 5th option and the D is entirely focussed on Bryant, Pau & Bynum just doesn’t get it done. Time for the old dog to hang up the boots methinks.

  • thunderfan

    If you don’t think Thabo Sefolosha belongs on this list, you aren’t watching enough basketball. When the Thunder sneak into the playoffs this season, you’ll figure it out!

    Spot on!

  • Brown

    @ Austin

    “What separates stars with rings to stars without are the role players. And while each superstar is his team’s go-to guy, ideally, each star has his own go-to guy.”

    Of the 10 names listed, how come only two of those guys actually have rings? I’m confused. Shouldn’t it be players who’ve helped a superstar get a ring?

    If David West is NO’s role player, what does that make the rest of the team? Maybe that’s why they suck.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @Brown — It doesn’t have to be guys who have rings, just guys who are invaluable to their teams and (except in the case of Landry) to the superstars who are trying to get rings. Above probably anyone else on the team, Kobe trusts Fisher, LeBron trusts Varejao, Durant trusts Thabo, etc. Whoever Landry winds up playing with next year (Yao, Bosh, Joe Johnson?) will trust Landry above probably anyone else on the squad to get the job done.

  • sh!tfaced

    The Houston Rockets with their lineup right now is an all-foxhole team.

  • hahns

    david lee will be the leagues best fox hole guy when lebron comes to ny next year.

  • http://www.nba.com Jay

    Derek Fisher is probably the most overrated player of the past decade… well done continuing that trend.

    Yeah the guy has hit big shots, but the guy also takes terrible ones throughout every game he plays in. Maybe if he had played a more efficient game, they wouldn’t need game winners at the end.

  • Promoman

    @ Jay

    You’re not kidding. People damn sure crucified Kobe for years about gunning but Derek’s flown under the radar for years. I wonder if Shaq dogged him like he dogged Kobe.

  • Thype

    Yeah, no Battier on the top five is just flat out criminal.

  • Dapro

    Austin- Bynum is hard nose cat but I think Maxiel is the Pistons desigated tough guy. I know he hasn’t performed the same this year but I’d luv a guy like that on my team.

    I’d also put Joakim on this list, I hate the guy even though he plays for my city but he brings it every night and he stood up to Lebron

    I’d put Perkins in over West. Perkins is the best low post defender in the league. He does the dirty work for the big 3

  • RC

    Tayshaun Prince is a better candidate than David West because West is a star in N.O. specially when C.P. is injured. Tayshaun never got the respect he deserves. Also Kendrick Perkins is a good candidate specially he delivers the toughness and grit that the Celtics have. Derek Fishers is an awesome pick in this article he is the perfect role player, a class act.

  • Ian

    lakeshow
    i would take varejao on the spurs without thinking about it

  • http://www.petsocietyhelp.com Pet Society Help

    Will Bynum hasn’t been getting any love lately, Stuckey would rather have Gordon as his wingman.

  • AdvancedMind

    @ CONTROL
    I agree VaJayJay is terrible.
    @ Lakeshow
    No really honestly Cleveland can keep her, Chicago already has a female on there team her name is Noah.