It’s not where you start, but when you play. Like a baseball middle reliever shoring up the mess a starter left behind or holding the lead the starter built, the best Sixth Men hold the line given them, then build on it with their own play. There’s a certain distinction that goes along with being a starter, but there’s something devastating about changing the flow of a game at the first substitution. These 10 all have that capability, and it’s why they’re the top 10 candidates for 2012-13 Sixth Man of the Year. All week Dime has counted down the best rookies and best coach for our awards predictions. Today, let’s look at the super subs.
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10. MARSHON BROOKS, BROOKLYN
MarShon Brooks is already on record as saying that his goal this season is to win the Sixth Man Award. In 2011-12, Brooks showed that he can create for himself off the dribble, averaging 15.5 points per 36 minutes with a .502 true shooting percentage, but the rest of his game was less impressive. Most omnibus stats suggest that he was a below replacement level player: 12.9 PER (Hollinger), -4.1 Simple Rating (82games.com), and -1.0 WARP (Basketball Prospectus).
It’s important to note, however, that these numbers came in 29.4 minutes per game as Brooks started 47 of 56 games for the Nets last season. This trend is unlikely to continue given the addition of Joe Johnson to the Nets’ starting five. His playing time was further complicated recently by talk that CJ Watson might be first reserve guard for Brooklyn. How his productivity might be affected by these changes is an open question at this point. Thus, in order to earn (back) time in Avery Johnson’s rotation and become a true Sixth Man award candidate, Brooks will need to become more efficient in the minutes he does receive to start the season. This begins with better shot selection (5 percent of Brooks attempts were blocked), and hitting the open jumpers afforded to him by the presence of Johnson, Deron Williams and/or Gerald Wallace (he made just 27.9 percent of spot-up three-pointers last year, as reported by Basketball Prospectus).