Blogtable: The Super-est Sub

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Big Apple busts | First off your bench | Blazers-Pacers

Ray Allen of the Miami Heat

Ray Allen of the Miami Heat (Issac Baldizon/NBAE)

You have a solid, balanced starting five. Who is the one reserve you want first off your bench?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comJamal Crawford. Isaiah Thomas is bringing scoring so far off Sacramento’s bench but I’d like a bigger sample size and, speaking of size, a bigger player (he’s 5-foot-9). I’m assuming Ryan Anderson will be racking up starts in Anthony Davis‘ broken-hand absence in New Orleans. I’m partial to game-changing big men off the bench, such as Denver’s Timofey Mozgov and Chicago’s Taj Gibson. But of the 100 or so true “super subs” (at least a dozen appearances, four starts or fewer) so far this season, Crawford remains the gold standard. At 16.0 ppg, 38,6 3FG% and 26.9 mpg, this is his side of the street – other guys are just working it.

Fran Blinebury, You said I already have a solid, balanced starting five. So I’ll take Ryan Anderson off the bench filling up the hoop with all those 3s. That’s a valuable wild card.

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford
(Noah Graham/NBAE)

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comJamal Crawford. Instant offense. The guy averages 16.0 ppg in 26.9 mpg. He’s devastating beyond the arc, can break ankles and can dish it, too. What else is there?

Scott Howard-Cooper, If I don’t have any obvious glaring holes in the opening lineup that create an obvious need – scoring, rebounding, playmaking, etc. – I want someone who can play multiple positions. To be able to plug my top reserve into two spots, depending what is needed at the moment, is an obvious advantage. Wanting versatility and someone who can make a quick impact brings me to Jamal Crawford. A former starter at the point, a former starter at shooting guard, a current scoring threat.

John Schuhmann, Ideally, I’d like a guy who can shoot and play defense. But I can’t find a bench guy out there who does both at an above-average level. So give me Ryan Anderson, an elite shooter who will complement the playmakers in my starting lineup. He’s not a good defender, but he can rebound. Depending on the exact makeup of my starting lineup, I’d also consider Omer Asik for rim protection.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comWow. Great question. And with the entire league to choose from, that would require me to know exactly what my starting five looked like and what sort of reserve help I needed (scorer/floor spacer, defender/rim protector, rebounding specialist, etc.). Whoever the guy is, I need him to be a game changer who has the experience and savvy to aid my team in whatever capacity is asked of him. I need a guy like Ray Allen, who even at this stage of his career can still work at a high level and in clutch situations (see his work in The Finals last season). If my starting five is as solid and balanced as described, I’d have the luxury of deploying a specialist and floor spacer like Allen into my lineup as a sixth man without worry that he’s not a great defender and doesn’t have the greatest size or range to work at several different positions. But I’d take solace in the fact that he’s arguably the greatest shooter the game has seen and has championship pedigree oozing out of his pores. There are plenty of guys who are younger and could probably do more on both ends. But when I needed that clutch corner 3, well …

Lang Whitaker, All Ball blog:  Elton Brand. I know he’s kind of toiling in obscurity with the Hawks this season, but whenever I see the Hawks play I’m struck by Brand’s versatility and professionalism. It’s hard enough to find quality bigs in the NBA, but to have a guy who can play the 4 or 5, who is smart enough to be physical without immediately fouling out, is a bit of a luxury. Also, Brand would be fun to have around just to explain technology to him.

Adriano Albuquerque, NBA Brasil: That seems opportunistic since I just posted a Sixth Man of the Year ranking on NBA Brasil! Still, even though I have Isaiah Thomas as the best reserve so far and Manu Ginobili isn’t even in the top 10 for this season, I’m always picking Ginobili when you ask me this question. Ginobili was a borderline franchise player when he got to the NBA, and even as he’s gotten older and injuries have slowed him, he still has such a great basketball IQ that he makes the game easier for everybody. He’s not as fast as he used to be, but still hustles on defense and gives you his best. And even though he looked like he was done for much of last season’s playoffs, he’s been pretty good so far this season with the Spurs.

Akshay Manwani, NBA India: I think Jamal Crawford deserved to win the Sixth Man Award last year and he sure is a contender this season as well. I know there is a lot of buzz about Nick Young, Mo Williams, Nate Robinson, but Crawford is averaging 16.0 PPG while playing on a Clippers team that has scorers all-round. Crawford is my man.

Aldo Aviñante, NBA Philippines: I like the way Taj Gibson has been playing for the Bulls lately. He is a really solid big man off the bench. He defends well, grabs boards and scores in an efficient manner. He knows his role and plays within his limitations. But Jeremy Lin when healthy is a great option as a sixth man because he can really run a team on offense — if he can improve on his defense he will be the perfect player off the bench for the Rockets.


  1. Eddie C says:

    No mention of Harrisson Barnes? Young, athletic, can get buckets and an improved physical presence after gaining muscle in the off-season. Unlucky to move off the starting 5 after his play-off play last year and only moved to bench because of an added all-star. There’s a lot to like

  2. JGrizzly says:

    Isaiah Thomas, Rodney Stuckey, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson – ALL FROM SEATTLE!

  3. RyMic says:

    …..aaaannnd nobody said Rodney Stuckey? Fire them all.

  4. etol says:

    Ginobili, he may not be an offensive bullet like Jamal Crawford however he is the capatin of the second line, he commands that bench when they are on the floor and he fits well with the starting line up. You want a guy coming off the bench to be a leader and to know his role in the system.

  5. eazye1011 says:

    I.T. for sixth man. Bank on it.

  6. Robert says:

    no love for Nick ‘Swaggy P” Young. He is having a great year so far.

  7. Iyer says:

    If I were to choose someone for my team, it’d probably be Jamal Crawford. HOWEVER, I don’t think Isaiah Thomas is getting the recognition he deserves. He leads the NBA in bench scoring with 17 or 18 PPG, which is pretty good. Then you factor in how he’s only 5 ft 9 and some of the shots he makes IN THE PAINT. Every single time he steps on the floor, the whole game changes. When he’s not shooting well he decides to distribute the ball instead, which shows some maturity for a guy only in his 3rd season. Thomas is by far the second best player on the Kings, and sometimes plays like the best on the floor. Just take the game against the Thunder. 21 points in the last 9 minutes or so, and was 1 shot away from TYING THE GAME. He outscored the whole Thunder team in that quarter, He’s just one of those guys who can just catch fire, who doesn’t get all of the recognition he deserves just because of his team’s record.

  8. PM says:

    Elton Brand might be professional but he is washed up no way I’d have him over Anderson or Crawford

  9. Jose says:

    The way that Nick Youg is playing, deserve at least a mention Here. The guy is balling really well, He is scoring, but finding teammates, playing decent defense. IMHO.

  10. Frank says:

    Spurs’ foreign legion deserves a mention, specially Diaw and Bellinelli. And Manu too of course. And as a Spurs fan I have to agree with Sekou Smith (sadly)

  11. dustydreamnz says:

    Ginobli/Crawford. Tougher decision than I thought though.

  12. einstein says:


  13. Jake says:

    In agreement on Isaiah Thomas, Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford.

    To add to the conversation, Reggie Jackson has been on a tear this year and is playing like a starter. He has been effective playing 1 or 2, plays active defense and can finish at the rim. That pace and energy is something you want out of a reserve that can spark a run and put pressure on the opposing defense.

  14. Matt says:

    Isaiah Thomas leads the Nba in bench scoring when will this guy get the credit he deserves. He out scored the WHOLE OKC team in the fourth quarter alone. Open your eyes people

    • asdf says:

      typical sportswriters and coaches around the nba, they dont respect a guy that is under 6 feet. if you are 5’9 you get stapled as a guy that cant play in the league, isiaiah thomas is a really good player and he went last in the kyrie irving draft.

      Same with Nate he played great with chicago last year, carried them in the playoffs, and what offers did he get? 2 year 4 million deal from denver. Isiaiah and Nate will always be undervalued in this league, It will be interesting how much interest Isaiah draws when his rookie deal is over.

  15. c man says:

    question is a no brainer= == jamal Crawford = can actually carry a team =one of the few on the floor at crunch time my only question abt Crawford is why isn’t he a starter???? and with his play he can change the actual energy of a game

  16. Campbell says:

    What about Stuckey? Leading all Eastern Conference players in points off the bench.

  17. Wilson says:


    • chandler says:

      He’s been a stellar six man so far in the year. If he keeps it up, he’s gonna be in the running for sixth man of the year. Only reason he’s not right now is because his name isn’t as big as Crawford, Anderson, Allen, or Gibson off the bench.