(Credit: Fadeaway World)

Having a strong second unit is a must for teams that are looking to contend for an NBA Championship. Even if rotations tend to get shorter in the playoffs, every team needs some scoring spark off the bench to compete at the highest level.

Therefore, general managers need to dig deep into the market to find their Sixth Man. Those guys may not start the game, but end up having starting minutes and most importantly, closing out matchups night after night.

This season, we’ve seen some great performances off the bench on a nightly basis, and today, we’re going to let you know about our top 10 candidates for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.

 

10. Jordan Clarkson

The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have many things to brag about this season, but Jordan Clarkson’s play has been one of the few bright spots of their offense, being a scoring threat off the bench yet again.

Clarkson doesn’t bring much to the table other than his scoring, and perhaps the Cavs should look to trade him to a contender for a couple of 2nd rounders. Thus far, he’s averaging 14.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.5 dimes per game.

 

9. Tyler Herro

(via QFM96)

Tyler Herro isn’t your ordinary rookie. Since the preseason began, he showed his grit and grind and determination to get better, and he’s had an immediate impact for the Miami Heat thanks to his sharpshooting abilities.

So far, the rookie has been a major steal for Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, averaging 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2.1 three-pointers per game on 45/40/81 shooting.

 

8. Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard is clearly playing with a chip on his shoulder this season. He’s bounced around the league over the last couple of seasons, so he’s eager to prove that he can still be a solid piece on a Championship team.

So far, so good for D12 at Los Angeles. He’s been a stud on both sides of the glass and has truly put his body on the line. He’s setting picks, boxing out, and just playing winning basketball, with averages of 6.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game in just under 20 minutes a night.

 

7. Bogdan Bogdanovic

(via Yahoo! Sports)

It’s pretty safe to say Bogdan Bogdanovic could be a starter in most teams in the league, but the Sacramento Kings have found more success with him coming off the bench to let Buddy Hield carry the load in the first unit.

Bogdanovic does all the little things that can help your team win. He’s an underrated defender and a solid scorer from all three levels, averaging 14.8 points, 4.7 dimes, and 1.4 steals per game on 40% from the floor.

 

6. Dennis Schroder

(via sports.yahoo.com)

For years, Dennis Schroder struggled to prove that he was capable of successfully running a team’s offense and being a consistent scorer, but now that he’s moved to the bench, he’s thriving and playing at his best.

Schroder is a much better defender than people credit him for, and he’s been surprisingly aggressive in both ends of the floor this season. So far, he’s averaging 15.5 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game.

 

5. Goran Dragic

(via Heat Zone)

Surprisingly, the Miami Heat decided to move Goran Dragic to the bench, but so far, he’s embraced that role with a great attitude, leading the second unit and taking a step back to let Jimmy Butler run the show.

Dragic had been struggling to be at his best for a couple of years and is now flourishing again with averages of 15.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game on 46/40/71 shooting splits.

 

4. Montrezl Harrell

Credit: Getty Images

Montrezl Harrell is backing up Ivica Zubac in the paper, but he’s been the Clippers’ go-to-guy down low all season long again. He’s a beast on both sides of the glass, and has shown no signs of slowing down since his breakout year last season.

Harrell out-hustles all of his rivals and is a nightmare as an offensive rebounder. He’s made great strides in the defensive end as well, averaging 18.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game on 59% shooting.

 

3. Derrick Rose

(via MLive.com)

Derrick Rose is finally back, or at least it looks like it. The former MVP has been aggressive and eager to put his body on the line. He drives through the lane, looks for contact, and is scoring at a high clip.

The Pistons may not be one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the league, but they sure are when Rose is running their offense. So far, he’s averaging 16.3 points, 1.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 0.9 steals per game on 49/38/87 shooting splits.

 

2. Spencer Dinwiddie

(via NBA.com)

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Spencer Dinwiddie near the top of the Sixth Man of the Year race again, as he’s become one of the league’s best backups since joining the Brooklyn Nets.

Kyrie Irving’s arrival did little to hurt Dinwiddie’s value, as they both coexisted through stretches. Moreover, with Irving healing a shoulder injury, he’s played lights out with averages of 20.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game.

 

1. Lou Williams

And last but not least we find Lou Williams, the ultimate Sixth Man. Sweet Lou has already won the award three times and this is just becoming usual for him, as he’s just the league’s most prolific and impactful backup.

Williams can put the best defenders in the world in skates. He’s just going to get buckets, especially with the game in the line. Thus far, he’s averaging 21.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game on 42% from the floor.

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