Humans have five senses, but there’s the much discussed phenomenon of owning a sixth sense that would greatly enhance your life or certain situation or make you Bruce Willis.
National Basketball Association teams have five starters, but there’s a weapon of quality destruction to the opponent that resided in roster member number six, and that is the Sixth Man.
And the Mavericks are usually set and set well at this spot.
In the Mark Cuban-Donnie Nelson era, we have seen playoff contending teams equip some of the best 6th man in the entire league on a consistent year to year basis.
Since the major winning duh began in 2000-2001, the Dallas Mavericks have brought several names off the bench but exclusively these players to fortify a second unit and leave little wiggle room to the-starters-are-out-oh-crap gap that plagues even the best teams except the Spurs.
Eduardo Najera was one of the highest hustling, non-stop energy players in the league who was great at what he did on the defensive end and didn’t dare challenge himself offensively. He knew what he was and it worked.
Nick Van Exel was a sharpshooting veteran with toughness thicker than a phone book and grit thicker than the previous phone book and heart bigger…you get it. He was a serious weapon and often played alongside Steve Nash. Like below (thanks to total NVE-fanatic @JakeW31 for sending me this video unprompted and unrelated and before I even started writing these a few days ago)
Antawn Jamison was a huge weapon in 2003-04, he won the NBA 6th Man of the Year award, becoming the second player to do so in Mavs franchise history (Roy Tarpley in 1987-88) but ultimately did not mesh well with Dallas’ long term plans alongside budding superstar Dirk Nowitzki and headlined a package to acquire the 5th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft that Dallas used to select Wisconsin point guard Devin Harris.
Put a pin in DH34 because the best is yet to come…
In trading Jamison, the Mavericks front office addressed several needs:
1. They replaced Jamison with Jerry Stackhouse, who would slot directly and nicely into the vacated 6th Man of the Year role and perform very well for two seasons before his spot was taken by stay tuned why don’t you?
2. They replaced departed point guard Steve Nash with rookie Devin Harris.
3. The acquired the remaining life forms of Christian Laettner to appease semi-fans only in this thing for name value.
Stack was superb as the team’s 6th Man and honestly if you didn’t know him/he wasn’t on your team the guy scares the ish out of you–even while chewing gum–which he seemed to be doing a lot. (Expert Analysis)
In two years exclusively as the team’s first bench weapon, Stackhouse averaged 13.9 points a game but more importantly went to the free throw line 4.7 times a game, something usually foreign in North Texas basketball territory.
You remember Mark Cuban sporting the “Free Stack” shirts and rocking the Jerry jersey for Game 5, right?
Stack’s run as the team’s elite 6th Man culminated with a laughable NBA Finals Game Five suspension that succeeded a flagrant foul on Shaquille O’Neal and preceded one of the worst phantom foul calls ever for Miami’s Dwyane Wade.
…and the best is here.
Quickly though, in 2003 the Mavericks traded the left handed Ace Feltman birthday sharing Raef Lafrentz and stuff and a first round pick (that would become Delonte West) to the rebuilding Boston Celtics for Antoine Walker and some more stuff. Like Tony Delk and and Jiri Welsch kinda stuff.
Walker was kind of a bum in Dallas. You can find his stats here. Viewer discretion is not advised.
In 2005 the Atlanta Hawks took shimmy shakin’ skin a’jugglin’ Toine Walker off our hands in exchange for the greatest 6th man in Dallas Mavericks history.
Jason “JET” Terry.
In eight seasons with the Mavericks Jet became a huge fan favorite and fan motivator and fan interaction and fan friend and fan everything as well as eventually ending up the sidekick to God of Fadeaway in the memorable and never forgetful 2011 NBA Championship run. He was family for the good and the bad (2006, 2007) but is undoubtedly and indubitably one of the greatest and most colorful Dallas Mavericks ever.
In those eight years, Jason Terry averaged 18 points a game, but even more impressive is his 17 ppg in playoff games, always a surefire hotshot off the bench.
From a 6th man you want energy, hustle, toughness, heart and of course basketball scoring skills or at the very least a basketball skill specialist in some facet of the game. Jason Terry had it all. Sorry Monta. Jet won the 2008-09 6th Man of the Year award and was in the running ever season he donned Mavs blue and for like five minutes green.
Unfortunately players age and dinosaurs couldn’t dodge a flaming death fireball (unrelated but equally sad) and after the 2012 season the Mavericks let their “runway man” walk away for a contract the Celtics gave him, and as much as I love Jet, the results in Boston then Brooklyn then being in the Kings 2014 media guide do the talking.
In his place stepped up a new 6th man, Vince Carter.
Before joining the Mavericks in 2011, Vince Carter has appeared in 925 NBA games and started all but 18 of them. After a so so first season in Dallas where he was sharing a bench with a bunch of scattered parts, he emerged as the 6th Man in 2012-2013 and totally rocked and role’d (ha!) with the job in 2013-2014, including the shot of the season.
Inspired by the rich history of successful and award winning Mavericks sixth man, he embraced–wanted–the role in Dallas, realizing his starting days were behind him and making the most, and becoming that valuable weapon, off the bench. He first got the #Shaqtin A Fool moment well out of the way.
Despite a downtick in his overall numbers from Vince’s final Mavs season to the one prior, his importance was immeasurable to a team grasping for a playoff spot and all three years ended up being very good basketball seasons for an extremely friendly contract that many doubted giving the man formerly dubbed “Air Canada” to begin with. Although his stay was short lived and his career accolades took place in other places, VC will forever be endeared to the Dallas Mavericks community.
Similar to Jason Terry leaving the team in 2012, Vince Carter took a contract that gave him financial security for three years as opposed to the Mavericks offer of no more than two, and reasonably so. I love Vince, I assume you love Vince therefore we love Vince Carter, but there’s a ton of tread on those tired and one wonders how much more revving up can be done.
The big shuffle to the impending Dallas Mavericks roster has sculpted the team in a different fashion than years before.
The starting lineup is as good and balanced as it has ever been, the bench is stocked with a bunch of helpful hands.
HOWEVA the typical 6th Man candidate isn’t so easy to find. You could argue Richard Jefferson, Al-Farouq Aminu or even Raymond Felton (I wouldn’t) but after the signing of Jameer Nelson to slot into the starting point guard spot, it appears that a player the Mavericks traded for a decade and about 800 words ago using a reigning 6th Man of the Year, Devin Harris, is the predictable choice to be the first and biggest punch off the bench for this season’s Dallas Mavericks.
Devin Harris isn’t your prototypical jump shooting 6th Man, but instead offers a defensive presence and energy as well as a charge taking ability bar none as well as elite rim attacking skills with athleticism and fearlessness that will compliment the other point guard in the rotation, Felton, and Harris will surely see many minutes at the two guard, the prototypical 6th Man spot.
A lot of DH34′s value will depend on his inconsistent but capable ability to knock down the long distance J like Zac Efron and of course, stay healthy, but this is absolutely a different kind of 6th Man than the norm for the league and the Mavs.
But can it work? Can Devin Harris, former Mavericks starter years ago who returned last season to be a 7th or 8th man become significant weapon and consistent contributor as a 6th man in his 11th NBA season? I think so.