Milwaukee Bucks small forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. is having a phenomenal season and he is doing it all while coming off the bench. There has not been much consideration for Dunleavy to be voted Sixth Man of the Year but I believe there is a strong case that can be made for him.
The Bucks are currently in a dog fight for the eighth seed and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A loss to the New York Knicks Monday night puts them two and a half games back but that does not mean they will rule themselves out. The bench has been nothing short of outstanding this season and it all starts with Dunleavy’s determination and ability to knock down shots at will.
Dunleavy is currently averaging 26.5 minutes, 12.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while converting 49.6 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from behind the arc. Those percentages are off the chart and they are nothing compared to what he has done as of late.
In the month of March, Dunleavy is averaging 15.8 points per game while making 57.5 percent of his shots and 51.8 percent of his three-pointers.
Over the last ten games, including Milwaukee’s season-high six game winning streak, he is averaging 17.9 points per game while converting an astounding 63.9 percent from the field and 58.9 percent from behind the arc. Those numbers are absolutely ridiculous and are a good foundation to build a case for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Now Dunleavy’s teammates need to help him out by winning games and getting themselves in line with the postseason. In order to receive the award the statistics will not be enough because voters will want to see where his stellar play has gotten the team. If the Bucks can make a deep run with 17 games left on the season, and assuming Dunleavy continues to play exceptionally well, there is no reason why he should not be honored with the award.
It is also important to realize Dunleavy has some stiff competition when it comes to being the best sixth man in all of basketball. There is no doubt guard James Harden, point guard Lou Williams and shooting guard Jason Terry can all make legitimate cases for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Harden has the Oklahoma City Thunder in line to finish first in the Western Conference while also averaging 17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 32.1 minutes. Williams is a part of the Philadelphia 76ers best season in years with 15.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in 26.4 minutes. Then there is Terry who helped the Dallas Mavericks win an NBA championship last season and continues to shock people that he does not start. In 30.9 minutes, he is averaging 15.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
All of these players are very comparable in statistics except Dunleavy tops them all in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. Points, rebounds and assists are all wonderful statistics but field goal percentages show how good a player really is. The fact that Dunleavy is not wasting shots like most NBA players do and converts at a high-rate is clearly helping his team win.
The race for the best sixth man in the NBA will come down to the wire as Dunleavy, Harden, Williams and Terry will be proving why they should be considered No. 1 over the next few weeks.