The race for Sixth Man of the Year is a tight one as usual. However, the names that we’re used to seeing are nowhere in the picture. We’re accustomed to names like Manu Ginobili and Jamal Crawford, who’s the defending champion and three-time award winner. But this season we have a few new players in the picture who are looking to take the crown.
Wilson Chandler has been around the league for quite some time. Despite dealing with numerous injuries and taking his talents overseas, Chandler has found himself back in the league and having quite the season. He’s playing a vital role on a Denver Nuggets team that’s holding on for dear life to the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Although Chandler has been frustrated with his role, he’s made the most of his minutes. Wilson Chandler is having his best season since 2010-2011 averaging 15.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The forward position is getting tight for the Denver Nuggets. With guys like their leading scorer Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, and the emerging Nikola Jokic, the forward position is beginning to clog. However, Chandler is doing himself a service with having a great season. The market for his style of play is wide open and come this off-season, the Denver Nuggets may have some barters who’s open to deal.
Enes Kanter is one-half of the dynamic duo that has taken over the paint in Oklahoma City. His service on this Thunder team is to be an inside threat on the second unit and he’s done that. On the season Kanter is averaging 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds shooting 56.3% from the field. His presence in the paint along with Steven Adams has complimented Russell Westbrook well. However, the Thunder are missing what Kanter brings to the table. Their record before his self-inflicting injury was 28-19 but ever since his departure, they have a 3-5 record. Westbrook needs all the help he can get with Kevin Durant gone. Enes Kanter is the 3rd-leading scorer on this team and if the Thunder want any hopes of staying in this playoff race, they’re going to need Kanter back on the court.
Over the years the Memphis Grizzlies have stuck with their ‘grit and grind’ mantra but this season they’ve made a slight adjustment and that was to use Zach Randolph as their sixth man. I don’t think anyone envisioned Randolph coming off the bench but this sacrifice from the 15-year veteran has served huge for the Grizzlies. They now sit at 33-23 just 2.5 games behind home-court advantage in the playoffs. On a nightly basis, Memphis is getting approximately 14 points and 8 rebounds in 24 minutes from Randolph which is exactly what the doctored order for the Grizzlies’ second unit.
Lou Williams is no stranger to the sixth man award. He won the award back in 2015 for the Toronto Raptors where he averaged 15.5 points and 2.1 assists per game. Now he’s on the Los Angeles Lakers and he’s having an even better season averaging 18.4 points and 3.1 assists shooting 44.0% from the field. Williams has played a huge veteran role on this young Lakers team and they’ve trusted him to lead their team late in games. Lou is ranked 6th in fourth quarter scoring with 7.5 points which is more than some of the league’s best like Kevin Durant, James Harden, and even LeBron James. The statistics point in the favor of Lou Williams to win the sixth man of the year award once again but I wonder if the lack of wins for his team will diminish that opportunity.
This guy right here is my clear cut favorite for the sixth man of the year award. Eric Gordon has battled with injuries consistently throughout his career but it seems he has resurrected himself this season. Playing alongside one of the possible candidates for the 2017 MVP award has benefited Gordon heavily. He’s ranked 2nd in 3-pointers made off of catch-and-shoot opportunities behind Klay Thompson with 158. He’s also ranked 3rd in 3-pointers made altogether with 181 3-pointers made. Eric Gordon is averaging 17.3 points per game which is the 2nd highest of his career. He’s shooting the ball at a 42.0% clip and shooting the deep ball at a 38.7% clip. With a plus/minus of 5.1, the Houston Rockets are thriving when he’s out on the floor. Although he’s the 3rd highest scoring player off the bench in the NBA, I believe he’s the current leader for the sixth man of the year award.