Red Auerbach pretty much invented the sixth man role with Frank Ramsey and John Havlicek. It isn't always used as effectively as it should but teams are starting to put more emphasis on the role lately.
The Revenge Of The Sixth Man: Why They're More Valuable Than Ever In Today's NBA - SBNation.com
Some of the best teams in the NBA are winning games thanks to the contributions of bench players. You know about Jason Terry for the Dallas Mavericks, but he's not the only one. In Oklahoma City, James Harden is producing at an all-star level despite not starting over Thabo Sefolosha. In Philadelphia, three guys -- Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams and Evan Turner -- make up what Philly faithful call "The Night Shift," a devastating talent infusion that dominates the late-first and early-second quarter. In Los Angeles, Mo Williams, a former all-star, has accepted his role as the bench sparkplug and is having easily his most efficient scoring season as a pro. Those cases, plus the Nuggets' unique scenario, are the most striking, but they're hardly the only ones. The Sixth Man is back, with an all-new infusion of talent.
The Nuggets situation referenced above is George Karl's decision to start a couple of bench warmers in order to maintain his bench rotation - a tactic that Doc Rivers has used in the past when his starters have had short term injuries. That is also why I'd be tempted to start Wilcox if/when Jermaine O'Neal were to suffer an injury. I'd rather keep Brandon Bass attacking the opposing teams' second lines to provide some scoring punch to our defensive minded bench.