ROUNDTABLE: Sixth Man of the Year
Nine members of the OTG staff give you their pick for Sixth Man of the Year
We only need to turn to famed Canadian rap superstar, Drake to know who this year’s Sixth Man of the Year will be:
“Boomin' out in South Gwinnett like Lou Will 6 Man like Lou Will, 2 girls and they get along like I'm (Lou Will) Like I'm Lou Will.”
Lou Williams isn’t just going to win the award because Drizzy said so but because he’s the league’s prototypical sixth man. He has taken the mantle from Jamal Crawford as the premier bucket-getter off the bench, and if you look at the history of the Sixth Man award it generally goes to players who put up big points off the bench. Williams won the award for the 2014-15 season and history is going to repeat itself again this year and he'll join only four other players (Jamal Crawford, Kevin McHale, Ricky Pierce, Detlef Schrempf) in NBA/ABA history as multiple winners of the award.
Derrick Rose: We are all familiar with the Derrick Rose narrative. MVP to knee injuries. While Rose may never return to the peaks he once enjoyed earlier in his career, the man is still an above average point guard in the league. Last season he averaged 18 points a game in the triangle offense. Think of what he could with the spacing that playing with the Cavaliers shooters will provide. With Isaiah Thomas likely to be sidelined for a good portion of the season, D. Rose will have the chance to put up better numbers than most guys coming off the bench. Add that to the probable late season run the Cavs will make and Rose’s desire to prove himself on the veteran minimum, and we might just see Derrick establish a new role for himself in the NBA. The only thing standing in his way will be his ability to stay healthy.
Jamal Crawford is a three-time winner of this award and has won two of the last four years with the Los Angeles Clippers. And with Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets winning last season, that means we are in store for another win for Crawford. At 37 years old, he is the record holder for Sixth Man of the Year awards with his three wins, so one would think Crawford does not have to prove it anymore. But he is on a new team in Minnesota. A team that should be much improved from last season. And, most importantly, a team that will be eying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Crawford averaged only 12.3 PPG last year, his lowest since the 2002-03 and will be looking to rebound on this upstart Timberwolves team. If he can rebound and help get this team into the playoffs, it could mean adding one more award to his collection.
As lineups adjust heading into the season, a definitive 6th Man of the Year is hard to pin down. The winner typically helps a team overachieve or helps a playoff team dominate. Buckets seal the deal so guys like Andre Iguodala might be the best (41% of GM’s said he is most impactful bench player in the A), but don’t put up the right stats. With such a nebulous award, I’m going to cheat and lay out a few options:Two teams in the West could overachieve and fight for the playoffs and media attention: the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers have two flashy bucket fiends who could score enough to pull in votes: Jordan Clarkson (who already got Magic Johnson’s vote) and Summer’s very own Kyle Kuzma. For the Timbs, Jamal Crawford will always be a prime candidate as his well never seems to dry.Meanwhile, the East’s top two seeds might have the rotations to earn 6th man consideration. The Cleveland Cavaliers rotation lists three starters from last year off the bench: Derrick Rose, JR Smith, and Tristan Thompson. Of the three, JR has the scoring potential to get into award consideration (barring a serious comeback by D-Rose). For the Celtics it’s simple: If Jayson Tatum somehow ends up on the bench instead of starting, and somehow ends up not starting by the end of the season, he will be 6th Man of the Year because those buckets do not lie.
Jonathan Ebrahimi/ @awrashoo
“Six man like Lou Will, two girls and get along like I’m,
Like I’m Lou Will, I just got a new deal.”
Lou Williams is back in Los Angeles, entering the final year of his aforementioned new deal. After the Clippers roster shake-up this off-season, Williams now finds himself occupying the spot once held by Jamal Crawford – a man who won the Sixth-man award twice during his five year stint with the team. Williams’ is no stranger to the award himself, having won the honor in 2015 as a member of the Toronto Raptors – and arguably should have won the award over teammate Eric Gordon, last year. After bouncing around the league, however, he now finds himself in a position to reclaim the award after a two-year hiatus. With both JJ Reddick and Jamal Crawford leaving during the offseason, Williams is likely to see starter minutes, while coming off the bench for the Clippers. The team’s backcourt is relatively thin so expect Doc Rivers to give Williams the green light on most nights.
Greg Monroe was huge for the Milwaukee Bucks last year. He measured out as one of the best bench players last season in every conceivable statistic including points, rebounds, win shares, etc. He helped them get to the playoffs and raised his game up a level in the playoffs increasing his scoring and rebounding to help a young Bucks team think about upsetting the Raptors. I feel that Monroe has become underrated even though he is such a huge part of the Bucks team. He is a player that knows what he does well so he sticks to it. He is a throwback big man that punishes people down low and will rebound. He has upped his defensive effort and has become a light in the darkness for post scoring big men without quick feet. Jahlil Okafor should watch tape of Greg Monroe. The Bucks are going to need big minutes from Monroe because they will be missing Jabari Parker and will rely on him to provide some 2nd unit scoring. He does not have the flash of usual 6th man winners like Lou Williams or Jamal Crawford, but Monroe is going to be a big part of the Bucks success or failure this season. If he can continue to play energetic defense and score in the paint he should get some serious consideration for 6th man.
Nick Young will be the Sixth Man of the Year in 2017-18. He is coming into a great situation with a great team in Northern California. Some might be concerned that there will not be enough touches for Swaggy P to put up the numbers that a sixth man would garner. That is just untrue. He will get plenty of opportunities, especially when the Warriors get in rest mode heading into the playoffs. Young is a true professional that knows how to score. If the former Laker can stay healthy he will surely put up the numbers to be the Sixth Man of the Year.
It is easy to forget that the Warriors players put up really great numbers individually. Young will be a welcome addition to the Golden State bench. Last season with the Lakers, Young averaged just over 13 points a game with a bad team. As long as Swaggy P buys into the Warriors’ system, he will definitely be a part of their attack. The Warriors will be a top team again this year and Nick Young was brought in to be one of the first guys off the bench to spell the stars.
Sixth Man of the Year is a tough one to predict. There are the usual suspects in Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala, and Jamal Crawford, but give me Eric Gordon this year. Gordon was the winner last year, and I don't think it was a fluke, I expect him to do it again this season. He is the perfect fit for Mike D’Antoni’s offense, and he should benefit from the addition of Chris Paul. Paul and James Harden will get so much attention, and they are both such good passers, that Gordon will get a lot of clean looks from three. Most importantly Gordon is not afraid to let it fly, last year he attempted 8.8 threes per game on 37% shooting. Advanced stats were good as well, as Gordon posted an impressive 55.7 true shooting percentage. His attempts may go down a bit this year, as Houston has added more wings and Paul will take some shots, but I expect his percentage to go up. Gordon will still get lots of minutes and be a crucial part of Houston’s small lineups. Last season he averaged 16.2 points per game, and I expect around the same if not more for this season. Houston will also be one of the best teams in the league, and a player who contributes to winning will get more notice. Gordon is a tremendous offensive player; defense is his weakness. Luckily that’s usually not a factor in the sixth man of the year voting. Anyone he shoots 37% from deep and 84% on that many attempts is an excellent and efficient scorer. This year he will be even more productive. That should be enough to win this year's Sixth Man of the Year award. His most significant challenge will come from his old teammate Lou Williams, now with the Clippers.
This offseason, the Los Angeles Clippers lost Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and J.J Reddick. They replaced these players with guards Austin Rivers, Patrick Beverly and 30-year-old rookie Milos Teodosic. To say the least, the Clippers may be a little thin in terms of offense from their guards. They will need some firepower or else it’s going to be a long season in Los Angeles. Enter Lou Williams. Despite sharing time off the bench with Sixth Man of the Year winner Eric Gordon on the Rockets, Williams scored 14.9 points per game in 25.7 minutes. Williams will now have plenty of minutes available to him and he will drop buckets. Sweet Lou is a rapper off the court and has good relationships with various rappers including being close friends with Bow Wow, being featured on a Meek Mill track and being shouted out by Drake. After he wins, his second Sixth Man of the Year Award maybe Kendrick Lamar or another California rapper will feature him on a track titled “Two Times”