As all great basketball minds know, the sixth man position is just as valuable as a starter. Every team needs someone capable of providing a spark of instant offense off the bench when their team is down, or when the starters are taking a breather. There have been numerous winners since the award was given out in 1982 (25 to be exact), from former Celtic great Kevin McHale all the way to Ben Gordon â€“ who became the first rookie to win the award.
Last season, Hawks swingman Jamal Crawford took the award home after averaging 18.0 points per game. This season, there are a few new names looking to bring home that trophy. With that, here are my top five sixth man candidates for this season.
Chase Budinger, Rockets
Budinger has a real shot at becoming a sixth man contender this season. After the injury bug struck both Shane Battier and Trevor Ariza last year, Budginer took advantage of the opportunity by averaging 16.2 points through his first six games as a starter. During the Summer League this offseason, Budinger averaged 15.3 points and 4.3 rebounds along with 2.0 assists. With Ariza traded to New Orleans, there’s no reason not to consider Budinger as a possible candidate this season.
Ben Gordon, Pistons
After Detroit went out and paid big bucks for the former Chicago Bull, he didn’t provide much help. After a nagging ankle injury slowed Gordon for most of the season (missed 20 games), his stats were also down. One season removed from averaging 20.7 points per game, Gordon averaged 13.8 points on 41 percent from the field in just 27 minutes, 11 minutes less than he played with the Bulls. In a recent interview with Detroit News, Gordon says he’s healthy and ready to attack the basket a lot more. If he can develop consistency with his playing time, expect Gordon to knock down some big shots this season for Detroit.
Anthony Randolph, Knicks
Don Nelson never let Randolph fully develop, and back and ankle injuries only allowed him to play in 33 games last season. After being traded to the Knicks in part of the David Lee trade, I expect big numbers for the human UFO this year. Randolph will thrive in the Knicks’ uptempo system playing along side point guard Raymond Felton. He’s one of the most versatile players in the League, and depending on his minutes and health, Randolph has the potential to average a double-double this season.
Lamar Odom, Lakers
Lamar Odom arguably just as important to the Lakers as a big man is to Kobe. The 6-10 forward instantly provides offense and defense off the bench for the reigning champs. In just a little over 31 minutes per game last season, Odom averaged 10.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. This season, Odom is ready to add another trophy to his mantle.
Manu Ginobili, Spurs
After being named the Sixth Man of the Year during the 2007-08 season, Ginobili showed he has the ability to be one of the best players in the League coming off the bench. Last season was one of the better years for Ginobili, after managing to play in 75 games and average 16.5 points and 4.9 assists per game. Manu can be as dangerous as Kobe at times during a game, and if he can stay off the injury list, he could easily come out as this year’s winner.
What do you think?
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