The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award has been Lou Williams‘ to lose in recent years. Williams has earned Sixth Man honors twice in a row and three times overall in the past five seasons.
Williams is a strong candidate for Sixth Man of the Year once again in 2019/20, leading all bench scorers with 19.1 PPG in 55 games. However, his scoring numbers aren’t quite as gaudy as they’ve been in past seasons, and his .414 FG% and .351 3PT% represent his lowest marks since the 2015/16 season. On top of that, if there’s any voter fatigue with the Clippers guard this spring, there are several other viable candidates to choose from.
One is another Clipper, Montrezl Harrell, who has nearly matched Williams’ scoring rate this season. In 57 games, Harrell has posted new career highs in PPG (18.6) and RPG (7.0), and if L.A. uses a center in crunch time, it’s Harrell rather than starter Ivica Zubac. Harrell isn’t the league’s most talented rebounder or rim protector, and centers with size can give him problems, but he has arguably been the NBA’s most productive backup big man this season.
The other contender for that title would be Davis Bertans, who has had a breakout year playing at the four and five for the Wizards. Always a strong three-point shooter, Bertans has maintained an impressive .421 3PT% in 2019/20 while nearly doubling his previous career high in three-point attempts per game, from 4.4 to 8.4. He has been a crucial floor-spacer and scorer (15.0 PPG) for Washington on offense and has held his own on defense.
In Oklahoma City, meanwhile, the Thunder have an All-Star point guard (Chris Paul) and a second point guard who received All-Star consideration (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander), meaning the team’s third point guard, Dennis Schroder, has flown somewhat under the radar. Schroder has been better than ever this season though, with 19.1 PPG off the bench to go along with 4.1 APG and 3.8 RPG. His shooting rates of 47.3% from the floor and 38.6% from beyond the arc are both career bests, and the team has a +6.6 net rating when he plays, compared to a -3.1 mark when he sits.
Finally, Zach Harper of The Athletic wrote today that his current pick for Sixth Man of the Year would be Pistons guard Derrick Rose. The former MVP has missed a little time due to injuries, and Detroit isn’t a playoff team, which hurts his case. However, Rose has been arguably the Pistons’ best player this season, with 18.0 PPG and 5.7 APG, and he has produced consistently despite a ton of roster upheaval, Harper notes.
One other issue with Rose’s case is that he has been a starter since mid-January, which isn’t likely to change going forward. If he starts the Pistons’ remaining 22 games, Rose would end up with 35 starts and 35 games off the bench, making him ineligible. I expect he’ll miss at least one game before the season ends, but if he ends up with 30+ starts, voters may not view him as a true “sixth man.”
There are a few other candidates who I believe should receive Sixth Man of the Year consideration, including Heat guard Goran Dragic, Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, and even Lakers center Dwight Howard. But Williams, Harrell, Bertans, Schroder, and Rose look to me like the favorites at this point.
In today’s poll, we want to know what you think. If you had to place a Sixth Man of the Year vote today, would you pick Williams for the three-peat? Or do you think one of his challengers has a stronger case?
Vote below our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!
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