Sunday, September 27, 2015

2015-16 Season Preview: Picking the Sixth Man of the Year

The Sixth Man of the Year has predominantly been a small man's award.  A player listed solely as a center hasn't won the award since the 1985-86 season, when Bill Walton took home the honor in its fourth year of existence.  Lamar Odom's the only player in the last nine years to win the trophy without being listed as a guard.  Lou Williams was last year's Sixth Man of the Year, which he won on the back of a 15.5 PPG season.  He finished ahead of Isaiah Thomas (16.4 PPG) and two-time award winner Jamal Crawford (15.8 PPG).  There's also always room for a newcomer in this race, as Jamal Crawford is the only player to have won the trophy twice ('10, '14) since Detlef Schrempf secured his second Sixth Man award following the 1991-92 season.  Here's my take on this year's Sixth Man of the Year race, and the top five candidates:

1: Isaiah Thomas - PG - Boston Celtics

My vote would have gone to Thomas last year, based on his superior raw numbers and efficiency.  There weren't any major areas, aside from turnovers, where Williams had better numbers than Thomas.  Don't expect that to change either, as Thomas has established a pattern of efficiency in his four years in the league.  There isn't a player who comes off the bench in the whole NBA I would want over Thomas.  His energy and scoring is exactly what you want from a reserve, size be damned.

2: Dennis Schroder - PG - Atlanta Hawks

Schroder took a big leap from his rookie season, improving his overall play and efficiency.  His role as the leader of the Hawks' second unit is cemented, so he'll get plenty of possessions to improve upon last year's 10.0 PPG and 4.1 APG.  He's a better passer and defender than the other lead guards on this list.

3: Nikola Mirotic - F - Chicago Bulls

The first-team All Rookie from a year ago will continue to come off the bench in a deep Bulls frontcourt.  If he can come anywhere near his post-All Star break numbers from 2014-15 (16.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG on a 56.0 TS%), he just might win the award.

4: Andre Iguodala - G/F - Golden State Warriors

The 2015 Finals MVP came off the bench in all 77 of the regular season games that he appeared in last season, and that probably won't change this year.  He's the best two-way player on this list, but probably won't generate the raw offensive numbers to win.

5: Mo Williams - G - Cleveland Cavaliers

Williams, who averaged 14.2 PPG and 6.2 APG last season with Minnesota and Charlotte, probably would have received more votes had he played for two teams relevant to the playoff picture.  He'll get that opportunity this year.

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