The announcement of the NBA MVP winner is the highlight of the NBA’s Annual Awards show. But while the MVP is handed out to the best player in the league in a particular NBA season, there are other awards that mean as much.
No NBA team can achieve success without a good supporting cast. For sure, the starting unit will play an important role in every NBA franchise but having a good bench will be a huge difference maker for any team. Every bench has its leader and the first man off that bench is called the Sixth man. The best 6th man is hence called the Sixth Man of the Year in the NBA.
Since its inception, 30 different players have won the award. Bobby Jones ofthe Sixers was the first winner. The most recent winner is Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers who has won the award twice already. Jamal Crawford is the only three-time winner while Williams, Kevin McHale, Ricky Pierce and Detlef Schrempf are the only two-time winners.
This season, we have an interesting batch of players who deserve to be called as the league’s top Sixth Man. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll only take up the Top 8 players whose names have been thrown in the arena:
When the Cavs traded Derrick Rose to the Utah Jazz last season and the Jazz waived him almost immediately, we thought it would be the end of Derrick Rose’s NBA career. However, former Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau gave him a chance in Minnesota and he finished the season strong. Rose got the call to return this season and he’s made the most of his chance, playing his best basketball in years. Although he started the game, Rose scored a career-high 51 points last October 31 in a win over the Utah Jazz. Add in a couple of game winners and game sealing baskets, and Derrick Rose is one of the top choices for Sixth Man of the Year. D-Rose is averaging 18.0 points and 4.3 assists per game this season but what’s more impressive is that he’s making 37% of his three pointers, a career-high for the 2011 NBA MVP.
— Derrick Rose (@drose) January 30, 2019
Derrick Rose’s chief competitor is none other than the reigning Sixth Man of the Year winner. Lou Williams has won this award twice and he is a favorite to win it again this year. Sweet Lou is a sweet shooting scoring machine who can put up points in a hurry. He is like the modern day version of the Microwave, Vinnie Johnson. Williams keeps on putting up starter scoring numbers consistently in a bench role. He is one of the reasons why the Clippers are going to the playoffs despite trading their top scorer Tobias Harris. Williams is currently averaging 20.4 points and 5.2 assists per game while playing just 26.5 minutes per game off the Clippers’ bench.
Montrezl Harrell has come out of nowhere to become one of the vitag cogs on the overachieving Los Angeles Clippers team. Harrell is having the best season of his four-year NBA career. The former 2nd round pick of the Houston Rockets in 2015 (32nd overall) has improved his numbers every season. But this year, Harrell has been impressive with 16.4 points and 6.7 rebounds while leading the Clippers with 1.4 blocks per game. Although he isn’t the favorite in both awards, Harrell has a legitimate shot at being the first player since Darrell Armstrong in 1999 to win the Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved Player of the Year award.
Sabonis came to Indiana along with Victor Oladipo in the Paul George trade. And while many are saying OKC won that trade, I would like to disagree. The Pacers didn’t just get a new franchise player in Oladipo, they also picked up an outstanding role player in Sabonis. The son of basketball legend Arvydas, Sabonis has developed into a reliable contributor for the Pacers. Sabonis ranks 7th in field goal percentage (.596) and is tied for 4th in points per shot (1.53). He is a potential double-double machine at 14.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game off the Indiana bench this season.
When Schroder was traded to the Thunder, we thought he would have a hard time adjusting to a back-up role since he was the main man in Atlanta. But playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George has taken the pressure off Schroder and he’s still putting up big numbers and playing big minutes despite coming off the bench. Schroder is averaging 15.4 points and 4.2 assists this season, while playing just two minutes fewer than his average when he was a pseudo-star in Atlanta.
Seriously now, Dwyane Wade is a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year and what a way to close a legendary and Hall of Fame career if that were the case and he would end up winning the award.D-Wade is averaging 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game for the Heat while coming off the bench in every game he’s played so far this season. He’s been clutch too, as always and the first thing that comes on top of mind is that game-winning three-point bank shot that sank the Golden State Warriors last month.
Although they are going to miss the playoffs , the Sacramento Kings have their best season in years and have a lot to look forward to next year. Credit Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic for making excellent personnel decisions. First, they traded Boogie Cousins for Buddy Hield and then drafted De’Aaron Fox. Also, they acquired the rights to Bogdanovic from Phoenix in exchange for the draft rights to Marquese Chriss. Playing in his first NBA season, Bogdanovic is averaging 11.8 points and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 39.2% from behind the three point area. But it’s not his numbers that make him special but his ability to take over down the stretch and make big baskets.
Being able to come off the bench and put up points right away isn’t easy It’s what makes Lou Williams special and it’s the reputation that Terrence Ross has gotten in his second season with the Orlando Magic. Ross is averaging 14.5 points and making 1.4 three pointers per game off the bench for the Magic. Both stats are career highs for the 7th year guard who was the Raptors’ 8th overall pick in 2012.