Even if you have a solid starting five, a team needs something to carry the load off the bench in order to have a shot at winning games, and most importantly, Championships, especially during playoff time when rotations get shorter.
A solid sixth man can get you back in the game in no time, and even though some players don’t start the game from tipoff, they wind up playing starter minutes, playing through crunch time and having a bigger impact than some starters.
Moreover, this season has shown us some great performances off the bench, and it looks like this year’s 6th Man of the Year Race is going to be one for the ages. Today, we’re going to give you our top 6 candidates to take that award home.
10. Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet has been quite solid again for the Toronto Raptors, especially now that Kyle Lowry is struggling with his shot once again. This season, the third year point guard has improved in every important category.
Up to this day, VanVleet is averaging 9.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 0.9 steals per game while shooting 41.3% from the floor and 34.3% from three-point land while playing 24.0 minutes a night.
9. Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade is coming off the bench is something really odd to watch if you ask me, but even so, the Flash has been outstanding on limited minutes for the sluggish Miami Heat on his Last Dance season.
So, wouldn’t it be great to watch him take the award the very same year he’s announced his retirement? Well, with his averages of 14.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 three-pointers per game, he might as well pull it off.
8. Spencer Dinwiddie
Even if the Brooklyn Nets have been a disaster once again, Spencer Dinwiddie has proven that he’s one of the most underrated backup point guards in the game and that he could even start at some point.
Yes, he may not be an impressive player with the rock on his hands, but he always seems to make the right play at the right time. Up to this day, he’s averaging 16.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 4.9 dimes a contest.
7. Eric Gordon
The Houston Rockets are a huge mess and Eric Gordon hasn’t been nearly half as prolific as he was last year, but even so, he’s been one of the few bright spots in Mike D’Antoni’s offense with his spark off the bench.
Gordon is a reliable source of three-pointers, dimes, and even steals, and his nightly averages of 15.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.5 steals, and 2.7 three-pointers have been quite solid.
6. Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson is a walking bucket, even though he’s not been the same player since he left the Los Angeles Lakers. Either way, it seems like he’s having a bounce back year now that he has no pressure with the Cavs.
Clarkson can really score in bunches and has even improved as a facilitator, posting nightly averages of 16.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 three-pointers and 0.6 steals, way better than what he did last year.
5. Montrezl Harrell
Montrezl Harrell is having the best season of his career and proving to be an X-Factor for the Los Angeles Clippers, vastly improving as an offensive rebounder and a shot blocker for Doc Rivers team.
Harrell has made great strides this year and is even logging starting minutes, posting averages of 15.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 0.9 steals and 1.5 blocks per game on 63% from the floor.
4. Lou Williams
If there’s a 6th Man of the Year award, then Lou Williams is always a part of the conversation. He’s money in the clutch, plays starters minutes and is one of the best one-on-one scorers in the game right now.
Sweet Lou has made a living out of leading the second unit in scoring on a Jamal Crawford fashion. This season, he’s posting averages of 17.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.2 three-pointers on 25.2 minutes a night.
3. Dennis Schroder
The fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder managed to trade Carmelo Anthony for Dennis Schroder is just crazy. The German point guard has been playing the best ball of his career, either stepping up for an injured Westbrook or coming off the bench.
Schroder has been the consistent scorer off the bench the Thunder has craved since James Harden was traded away, posting averages of 16.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 triples and 1.1 steals per game in over 29 minutes a night.
2. Julius Randle
Even despite the fact that the New Orleans Pelicans haven’t been nearly as sharp as expected this year, Julius Randle has been even more impressive coming off the bench that we all thought to start the season.
Randle has been aggressive, smart, and very consistent from all three levels, also stepping up in the starting five when needed. So far, he’s averaging 19.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.7 dimes, 0.6 triples, 0.6 steals and 0.6 blocks on 27.4 minutes a night and 55% from the floor.
1. Derrick Rose
He’s back. He’s finally back. The Derrick Rose we all knew and love is back for the Timberwolves and even though he’s not eligible to win the MIP, he’s a frontrunner to take home at least the 6MOY. Rose even scored a career-high 50 points to start the season and he should definitely be starting for Jeff Teague.
It looks like he finally has his confidence back and he’s not scared to get hurt anymore. He’s been aggressive while attacking the lane, posting averages of 18.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.6 triples and 0.5 steals per game on 49% from the floor, 46% from three and 29.5 minutes a night.