With just two days left until the 2018-19 NBA season starts, we’re now taking a look at the final few season awards on offer. Today we shift our focus to the best bench players in the league, as we give our preview and best bet for this season’s NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.
The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award is an annual award given since the 1982–83 NBA season to the league’s best performing player for his team coming off the bench as a substitute. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of this seasons main contenders!
Eric Gordon: Since joining the Houston Rockets at the start of the 2016-17 season, Eric Gordon has flourished in his role as the leader of the second unit. He won the Sixth Man award in his first season with the Rockets and backed it up with another impressive 2017-18 campaign where he averaged 18 points per game. It’s still not clear whether we will see Gordon in the same role this season with Carmelo Anthony joining the roster, but if nothing changes then we expect him to be right in the mix once again.
Lou Williams: It’s becoming a theme in today’s NBA to have one of your best players coming off the bench to provide instant scoring for your second unit, highlighted by Lou Williams winning the award in the 2017-18 season with an impressive 22.6 points per game. It was his second time winning the award, with his first being in 2014-15 with the Raptors. The Clippers have lost even more star power over the off-season, which could see Lou’s numbers climb even higher from his epic 2017-18 campaign.
Tyreke Evans: An intriguing candidate for this season’s Sixth Man award is new Indiana Pacers recruit, Tyreke Evans. Evans is coming off arguably his best year in the league where he averaged 19/5/5 and shot an impressive 38% from beyond-the-arc. He’s expected to come off the bench for the Pacers and run the show when Oladipo takes a seat, which should see him excel and maintain solid numbers. Evans’ bad run with injuries makes him a hard man to trust, but if he can stay healthy he’ll be one of the favourites for Sixth Man award.
Dennis Schroder: Our final fancy for the Sixth Man award is German point guard, Dennis Schroder. After his impressive 2017-18 season where he led the Atlanta Hawks in both points (19.4) and assists (6.2), Schroder was shipped off to Oklahoma City to play second fiddle to Russell Westbrook. Immediately, Schroder’s new role makes him a contender for this award. He’s a proven scorer and playmaker and will get plenty of recognition playing for a championship contending team. Definitely one to watch.
The Sixth Man award is always a tough one to pick because there’s so many things that factor in to it. A simple role change mid-season can have a heavy favourite become ineligible at the drop of a hat. However, there are certain players roles that we can’t see changing this season and one of those guys is Lou Williams. Over the course of his career he’s proven to be a lot more efficient when coming off the bench and running the offence for the second unit. He was a runaway winner of the award last season and there’s no significant evidence to suggest he can’t repeat that feat in 2018-19.
Lou Williams 6MOY +350 at FanDuel
Jaylen Brown was a major reason why the Celtics took the Cavaliers to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Brown is still just 21-years-old and is coming off a year where he averaged 14.5 points and 4.9 rebounds a game. There’s talk about him moving to the second unit now that Gordon Hayward is fit, which could have him in the mix for the award.
Jaylen Brown +1700 at DraftKings
In a similar circumstance to Brown is Phoenix Suns forward TJ Warren. Warren averaged a career high 20 points per game last season and at 25-years-old is approaching the prime of his career. With Ariza signing for the Suns there’s talk of Warren moving to the second unit to provide some instant offence. Could be worth a cheeky play.
TJ Warren +2500 at William Hill