With last year’s 6th man of the year, James Harden, now enjoying a starting role in Houston, he will not be able to defend his award this year. Let’s take a look at which players, coming off the bench, have made the biggest impact on their teams so far this season.
(Stats format: Points Per Game, Assists Per Game, Rebounds Per Game, Player Efficiency Rating, Blocks per game)
10. Jason Terry, Boston Celtics (11 PPG, 1.8 APG, 1.6 RPG, 14.39 PER)
Jason Terry was the ultimate 6th man in Dallas, winning the award in the 2008-09 season. He has embraced the role and is now defined as a potent scorer off the bench. Terry was signed by the Celtics in this off-season to essentially replace Ray Allen. So far the road has been rocky for Terry, as his scoring average is the lowest since his rookie season. He is, however, taking significantly less shots for his new team and is shooting over 50% from the field. If he gets more looks on offense and picks things up, he might very well be a contender for the award at the end of the season.
9. Ramon Sessions, Charlotte Bobcats (16.4 PPG, 4 APG, 3.8 RPG, 18.64 PER)
Sessions didn’t really work out as the starting point-guard for the Lakers last year, and was let go in the off-season. In a rebuilding effort, Charlotte Bobcats decided to sign Sessions, in order to add depth to their backcourt. So far it seems like Bobcats have been a good fit for Sessions, as he has come up with some solid scoring efforts, averaging a career high in points. However, Sessions has not shot the ball that well from the field, averaging 39 FG%.
8. Carl Landry, Golden State Warriors(14.8 PPG, 7 RPG, 59.5 FG%, 22.70 PER)
Landry seems to have settled into a 6th man role this season, coming off the bench in each of the Warriors 14 games. The 6ft 9 power forward has a great player efficiency rating, is shooting a stunning 59.5% from the field and putting up overall solid numbers across the board. He could very well earn some votes in this year’s 6th man of the year voting, if he continues to play like he has.
7. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs(11.2 PPG, 4.1 APG, 2.9 RPG, 16.42 PER)
After an injury-filled 2011-12 campaign, Manu Ginobili is once again coming off the bench for San Antonio. Manu won the 6th man of the year award in the 2007-08 season, so he is familiar with the role. He is still a key player for the Spurs, but at 35 years of age, one might wonder how much the Argentinian guard has left in his tank.
6. Kevin Martin, San Antonio Spurs(15.7 PPG, 1.7 APG, 2.5 RPG, 18.19 PER)
Martin has been a starter for the majority of his career, but after moving to Oklahoma City he is now expected to fill the void left by James Harden. With pretty big shoes to fill, Martin has looked great. He scored in double digits in the Thunder’s first 8 games and has provided consistent scoring off the bench. He has struggled in his last 3 games, but it definitely looks like he has embraced his new role.
5. J.J Redick, Orlando Magic(14.8 PPG, 5 APG, 1.9 RPG, 16.68 PER)
With Dwight Howard out of Orlando, most expected the Magic to be the worst team in the league. At 5-8, the Magic is still showing some competitive edge and J.J. Redick deserves some credit for that. It is worth noting that Redick has started in 4 games this season, but when Aron Afflalo is healthy, Redick comes off the bench.
4. Ray Allen, Miami Heat(12.8 PPG, 2.2 APG, 3.2 RPG, 19.48 PER)
Ray Allen was noticeably unhappy with coming off the bench in Boston, but with the notion of winning another ring in Miami, he seems to have put the ego out of the way. Allen has been extremely efficient this season, shooting over 50% from the field and from 3-point land. He has also hit a couple game winners, most recently against Cleveland with this 3-pointer.
3. Louis Williams, Atlanta Hawks(13.3 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2 RPG, 20.24 PER)
Louis Williams was the leading scorer for the Philadelphia 76ers last season, despite coming off the bench. He certainly knows how to score, and has been filling out his role for the Hawks pretty well this season. Despite struggling with his 3-point shooting, he still has a very high efficiency rating. Williams has been a serious contender for the award for the past few years, and this year should be no different.
2. Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers (18 PPG, 1.1 APG, 2 RPG, 19.60 PER)
Jamal Crawford is another player that has won the award before, being the 6th man of the year in the 2009-10 season for the Hawks. Crawford has provided a reliable scoring option off the bench for the Clippers. Even at the age of 32, he is capable of beating most players off the dribble and has been getting to the free-throw line a ton. In November Crawford is shooting an astounding 96.4% from the charity stripe. He has been a key contributor to the Clippers’ early success, and will definitely be one of the main contenders for the award this year.
1. J.R. Smith, New York Knicks (14.7 PPG, 2.7 APG, 5.6 RPG, 17.39PER)
New York Knicks have started the season surprisingly well and J.R. Smith has been a key contributor to that. He has been doing a little bit of everything for the Knicks, most impressively shooting 46% from behind the arc. Smith has often been in the voting for the award, but has never managed to get over the hump. He has always been known for being capable of big scoring nights when he catches fire, as well as being a great athlete. His minutes will quite likely go down once Iman Shumpert returns to action, which could hurt his numbers.
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