Today’s NBA is full of unguardable superstars that want all of the limelight and accolades. However, there are a few players who carve out niches in a supportive role for their teams. Being a player off the bench isn’t a glamorous job, but when a spark is needed on the second unit, they are always the first option to go to. The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award looks like it will come down to the wire between a few quality guards, and these are our five players on the shortlist to win the award in 2019.
5. Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors: 10.7 PPG, 4.7 APG
Fred VanVleet was a tough defender in college at Wichita State, and his athleticism and quickness have translated well to the NBA in Toronto. He is averaging nearly 11 points per game to go along with almost five assists, and the offense doesn’t miss a beat when he steps on the floor. He will need to spike up his numbers the rest of the way to get into strong consideration for the Sixth Man of the Year Award, but there is no doubt he is the driving force behind the Raptors second unit.
4. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics: 13.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG
Brown was one of the stars of the Celtics playoff run last year, averaging more than 18 points per game in the postseason. That excellent play hasn’t translated over to this season, as Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are taking shot opportunities (Irving) and minutes (Hayward) from the third year man out of Cal. However, Brown still provides an excellent spark off the bench and can get points in a hurry if the second unit is struggling to score.
3. Derrick Rose, Minnesota Timberwolves: 18.0 PPG, 4.3 APG
Derrick Rose is resurrecting his career in Minnesota. A career-high 50 points earlier this season shows he can still take his game to an MVP level, and he has provided amazing play off the bench for the Timberwolves. He is putting up 18 points per game and is shooting over 48% from the field, the second-highest percentage of his career. Those are the kinds of numbers that him a contender for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. The Timberwolves have been in disarray much of the season, but there’s no denying Rose has been a valuable piece off the bench.
2. Dennis Schroder, Oklahoma City Thunder: 15.4 PPG, 4.2 APG
After spending the first five seasons of his career in Atlanta, Dennis Schroder luckily found his way to Oklahoma City as part of a three-team trade. Going from one of the worst teams in the league to one of it’s best, Schroder has thrived in his role off the bench. He is putting up 15 points per game to go along with four assists and three rebounds.
He has also helped the Thunder become one of the best defenses in the league with 2.2 defensive win shares (the number of wins a team earns by a player’s defensive contributions). If Oklahoma City is going to push Golden State off the throne, Schroder will need to play at an A-plus level on the second unit.
1. Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers: 20.4 PPG, 5.2 APG
The record-setting reigning Sixth Man of the Year is still the front runner for the award this season. You would think Clippers coach Doc Rivers would allow Williams to start since his numbers per 36 minutes average out to 27 points, seven assists, and four rebounds per contest. However, he’s just too valuable in his role coming off the bench. Williams is arguably the best sixth man in league history and should continue to thrive in that role for the next couple of seasons.
Who do you think will win the Sixth Man of the Year award?
This list is full of players deserving of the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Whether it’s contributing to their team’s success on defense or putting up points in bunches, all of the players are pivotal to their team’s success. Will one of these players walk away with the hardware this year, or is another player more deserving of being the league’s best bench player?