The NBA regular season is almost over which means the awards will be rolling out soon enough. A popular award given out every year is the Sixth Man of the Year Award, which is given to the player who contributes the most off the bench. Typically, a sixth man will enter in the later part of the first quarter and is talented enough to even start a game if necessary. This year one candidate seems to be running away with the award but nothing is set in stone quite yet. With that, I give you the top five candidates for Sixth Man of the Year.
5. Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
Taj Gibson is a great defender and a big reason why the Chicago Bulls have the best record in all of basketball. Gibson is known as a defensive specialist who always guards the game’s top playmakers, but he is also capable of contributing on offense as well. In 19.8 minutes, he is averaging 7.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. His length is great for defending quality shooters and his high-energy forces his teammates to play at a higher level. Statistically, Chicago gives up 11.1 fewer points while Gibson is in the game.
4. Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks
Jason Terry helped the Dallas Mavericks win their first NBA Championship in franchise history last season with his solid play in the playoffs. Terry has been outstanding again this year as the Mavericks hope to defend their title in the postseason. In 31.3 minutes, Terry is averaging 15.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game while converting 43.3 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from 3-point range. Dallas is currently the seventh seed in the Western Conference but there is still time left for them to move up. Terry will have to play better than ever in order for that to happen.
3. Lou Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
Lou Williams is having a great season for a Philadelphia 76ers team that has not been this good in years. In 56 games this season, Williams is averaging 15.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 42.0 percent and 36.3 percent from beyond the arc. Currently the 76ers have dropped drastically in the Eastern Conference standings but that is not because of a lack of effort on Williams’ part. He is still putting up solid numbers and shooting a decent percentage from the field. However, he will have to up his game if the 76ers want to stop their current four-game losing skid.
2. Mike Dunleavy Jr., Milwaukee Bucks
Mike Dunleavy Jr. is having a phenomenal season coming off the bench. In 26.3 minutes, he is averaging 12.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range. Dunleavy went off in the month of March averaging 15.3 points per game while converting 56.9 percent from the field and an astonishing 54.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Milwaukee Bucks had a crucial 10-game stretch in which they had to keep winning in order to remain in line with the New York Knicks for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. In those 10 games, Dunleavy averaged 17.9 points per game while converting an astounding 63.9 percent from the field and 58.9 percent from 3-point range.
1. James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden has the Oklahoma City Thunder in line to finish first in the Western Conference. He is averaging 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 31.7 minutes while converting 49.1 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from beyond the arc. Harden is the heavy favorite to win the award due to a mixture of healthy stats and the fact that is his team is in first place with a good shot at going to the NBA Finals. Without Harden in the lineup the Thunder would be a good team but nowhere near where they currently stand in the West.