Mid-season picks for Sixth Man of the Year
Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, right, looks to drive to the rim as Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
As much as starters get most of the recognition, these unsung heroes deserve the same credit.
Many names come into play when you talk about who deserves the Sixth Man of the Year award this season. There’s still three-time awardee Jamal Crawford, Greg Monroe, Wilson Chandler. However, if I were to submit my ballot for the award at this moment, here are the three names I would vote for.
#3 Patty Mills (SAS)
9.6 points (45.2 FG%, 43.4 3FG%), 1.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.8 steals
Came off the bench in 50 out of 54 games
This has been a long time coming. Finally, Patty Mills gets into this conversation.
Shadowed by the Spurs big three (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili) in the recent years, plus the emergence of Kahwi Leonard, Mills has always been a quiet, steady contributor to this team. Though his averages of 9.6 points and 3.2 assists this year don’t exactly pop off the screen, he has been one of the key pieces in the Spurs’ backcourt. Tony Parker, 34-years-old, still has moments of brilliance (though not fantasy-wise) on the court with his leadership and experience. But given how the Spurs like to pace their players, Patty has been playing a huge role for them. Given his $3.5M contract this year, he deserves a big raise this offseason, be it from the Spurs or another squad. That said, if he opts to move elsewhere, he should be able to be promoted to a starting role.
#2 Zach Randolph (MEM)
14.1 points (45.5 FG%), 8.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists
Came off the bench in 46 out of 49 games
Z-Bo opted to take a step back this year by coming off the bench. That benefited JaMychal Green, who’s been starting for Memphis, to the tune of 9.1 points and 7.3 rebounds. But for Randolph, a 16-year NBA veteran, taking the ‘Andre Iguodala route’ by taking on a reserve role works wonders for himself, and the team.
Playing just 24.3 minutes a game keeps Randolph fresh, and he’s still putting up nice numbers, 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds. Those are quality minutes for a 35-year-old! He’s also still tough to guard thanks to his trademark post game, allowing him to match up well against younger defenders.
As of writing, Memphis is in the sixth seed out West, and though I believe the team will have to play him more down the stretch for its last push for seeding, Zach just has to be healthy enough to be able to do that.
#1 Lou Williams (LAL)
18.5 points (44.2 FG%, 38.0 3FG%), 2.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals
Came off the bench in 56 out of 57 games
Williams reminds me of Jamal Crawford in his prime - quick, agile, shifty, with aa killer scoring mentality. While he’s shorter by about four inches, Sweet Lou has a more versatile skill-set that makes up for that.
Averaging 18.5 points, Williams is the leading scorer for the Lakers. He also contributes three assists and a steal. He’s also doing all that in just 24.2 minutes a game, while shooting at an efficient clip from the field.
Crawford, it has often been said, is the poster-boy for this award. Well, Williams is definitely in the same mold, and so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 2015 Sixth Man winner, add a second trophy to his mantle.