While the NBA won’t announce this year’s award winners until late in June, we’re making our picks for the year’s major awards now.
The Hoops Rumors writing team has weighed in with our choices below, but we also want to know which players, coaches, and executives you think are most deserving of the hardware this season, so jump into the comments section below to share your thoughts.
We’re keeping things going today with the award for Sixth Man of the Year. Here are our selections:
Clark Crum: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Williams won Sixth Man of the Year three seasons ago while averaging 15.5 PPG and sporting a .404/.340/.861 shooting line. If that’s any indication, then this award is Williams’ to lose this year. Williams posted a career-high 22.6 points and 5.3 assists per game while also improving his shooting numbers across the board (.435/.359/.880) from his award-winning 2014/15 season.
All in all, Williams led all bench players in scoring, was second in assists, and maintained a top-40 PER, the best of any reserve averaging over 25 MPG, while almost leading a depleted Clippers squad to the playoffs.
Dana Gauruder: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Williams came off the bench in 60 of 79 games and averaged career highs in scoring and assists. Volume had something to do with it, as he also averaged 16.9 shots, four more than he had in any previous season. But no one fills the role of “instant offense” like Williams.
Arthur Hill: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Williams did a little bit of everything this season. He even made a compelling case for why he deserves this award.
“First player to lead the team in scoring and assists off the bench,” he said in a late-season interview. “I had an opportunity to be in the All-Star talks and just for us to be competitive with the way that everything went. Honestly speaking, I had a lot to do with it.”
After the season Williams turned in, it’s hard to argue. He put up starter’s numbers coming off the bench and is an easy choice for Sixth Man of the Year.
Chris Crouse: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Eric Gordon, who has continued to play a vital role for the Rockets, and Fred VanVleet, who led arguably the league’s best second-unit, cannot go unmentioned. In reality though, they’re playing for second place. The Clippers appeared destined to fall deep into the lottery after seeing injuries pile up and shipping Blake Griffin to Detroit, but Williams wouldn’t let that happen. He carried the offensive burden night after night, averaging 22.6 points per contest, and helped Doc Rivers & Co. remain in playoff contention through the final stretch of the season. Williams believes he deserves the award — after his year of work, he’s right.
Austin Kent: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Williams gets better with age, the product of a shifting NBA landscape and teams finally playing to his strength as a volume scoring combo guard. While the 31-year-old is a head above the league’s next most productive reserve, it’s hard to be all that satisfied with his selection considering that he’s his team’s best player (sorry DeAndre) and plays starter’s minutes anyway. Can we just all agree to start limiting this award to players who play fewer than 30 minutes a night from now on?
Luke Adams: Lou Williams (Clippers)
In another season, Eric Gordon would’ve had a strong case for this award. He averaged 18.0 PPG for the 65-win Rockets, pouring in 3.2 three-pointers per game and providing stability in the backcourt while James Harden and Chris Paul dealt with injuries. He also played solid defense all season long, which can’t necessarily be said for Williams. But Williams’ offensive output – and his overall importance to the Clippers – makes him the clear-cut favorite for the this award. Williams’ case for Sixth Man is similar to Victor Oladipo‘s for Most Improved — there are other candidates whose seasons should be recognized, but one candidate is far above the field.
Who is your pick for Sixth Man of the Year? Share your choices and your thoughts in the comment section below!
Still to come:
- Rookie of the Year
- Defensive Player of the Year
- Most Valuable Player
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.