Wednesday, May 1

Best Sixth Man in Seattle Supersonics History: EJ, Downtown, or ?

Paul had a nice mention of Eddie Johnson’s birthday today – which brings to mind the question: Who was the best Sixth Man in Sonic history?

It’s a tough one to answer, tougher still because games started information doesn’t exist prior to the 80s. Assuming that Fred Brown automatically receives a nod as co-champion of this phantom trophy, who else deserves the honor?

Here’s some quick numbers on players who started fewer than 30 games for the Sonics in a given season:

7.1, Sam Perkins, 96-97
6.9, Sam Perkins, 95-96
6.8, Antonio Daniels, 04-05
6.7, Shawn Kemp, 91-92
6.0, Vincent Askew, 93-94
6.0, Dale Ellis, 97-98
6.0, Nate McMillan, 93-94

20.5, Xavier McDaniel, 88-89
18.5, Tom Chambers, 85-86
17.5, Ricky Pierce, 90-91
17.4, Eddie Johnson, 90-91
17.1, Eddie Johnson, 91-92

21.6, Shawn Kemp, 91-92
19.3, Ruben Patterson, 00-01
18.6, Xavier McDaniel, 88-89
18.4, Eddie Johnson, 90-91
17.7, Fred Brown, 82-83

WIN SHARES/48 minutes
.197, Danny Fortson(!), 04-05
.188, Ricky Pierce, 93-94
.177, Shawn Kemp, 91-92
.173, Sam Perkins, 96-97

Best Rebounder: Shawn Kemp, 21.2 TRB%, 1991-92
Best Scorer: Ricky Pierce, 26 points per 36 minutes, 1993-94
Best Passer: Nate McMillan, 9.3 assists per 36 minutes, 1990-91
Best Blocker: James Donaldson, 2.9 blocks per 36 minutes, 1981-82

I think you’d have to choose Shawn Kemp (1991-92 Edition) as the winner of best performer in a single season. You’ve got a guy averaging (per 36 minutes) 13 rebounds, nearly 20 points, two and a half blocked shots, a steal and a half, shooting above 50 percent from the field, and 75 percent from the line … yes, I think I’ll take that sort of production.

For a career choice, though, it’s a bit trickier. Sam Perkins’ numbers are certainly representative of his overall contributions to the mid-90s Sonics, Nate McMillan’s yeoman’s work for so many years certainly deserves a mention, and who can forget Ricky Pierce’s instant offense in the early 90s, but I think – with no influence from the fact that today’s his birthday – Eddie Johnson deserves the nod.

EJ’s 20+ points a night (per 36) for 3 consecutive seasons is pretty sensational, and unmatched in the team’s (documented) history. With that in mind, I think it’s safe to say that Eddie Johnson and Fred Brown are the two best Sixth Men in Sonic history.

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