If the pattern holds true, it’s Jamal Crawford’s turn to win the NBA’s Sixth Man award – which he’s done in 2009-10, 2013-14 and 2015-16. If not, it’s more of the usual suspects – including Eric Gordon, who took the honors last season after averaging 16.2 off the bench for Houston.
Gordon and Lou Williams, who took the trophy two seasons ago, will still have plenty of opportunities to repeat the feat this year. Williams was part of this summer’s Chris Paul mega-deal and after winning Sixth Man with the Raptors in 2014-15 and spending part of two seasons with the Lakers, will try to do it again with their crosstown rivals.
But some new names could emerge into the conversation this year, speaking of the Lakers. With prized rookie Lonzo Ball running the show in L.A., Jordan Clarkson becomes a powerful offensive threat off the bench. The fourth-year guard from Missouri played in all 82 games, coming off the bench in all but 19 – averaging 14.7 ppg.
Flying under the radar in Denver over the past couple years, Will Barton has quietly become one of the league’s most efficient reserves – averaging 14.4 points off the bench in 2015-16 and 13.7 ppg last year. Of course, Barton is no secret to the Cavaliers, who he’s averaged 22.0 points against in the last four meetings.
The Cavaliers have at least two viable candidates for the award this year.
Tristan Thompson, who will start this season coming off the bench, has excelled in a reserve role before. But it’s difficult for a center to take Sixth Man honors. The last time a big man won it was Cliff Robinson in 1992-93.
J.R. Smith is a previous Sixth Man winner, earning honors with the Knicks in 2012-13, averaging 18.1 points in 80 games off the bench – leading New York to the postseason, where they fell to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat in the first round. Swish is coming off his lowest mark since his second season in the league and will be looking to bounce back in a big way.