Denver Nuggets: Al Harrington Making a Case for 6th Man of the Year

Aliyaho PearceContributor IIJanuary 24, 2012

The Denver Nuggets have been one of the more entertaining teams to watch this season for a number of reasons.

They are constantly looking to push the tempo of the game, they are full of athletic defenders and they score in big bunches.

But when you consider who the most valuable contributors on this team might be, there are the usual suspects, and then there is this guy.

That's right. Al Harrington. The man with a used car salesman's first name. The man with the K-Mart shoe deal. The man who is willing to go the distance.

Historically speaking, I am not a fan of Al Harrington.

Over his career much of what he has brought to the floor represents exactly what I dislike in an NBA player.

Don't get me wrong, he has always been able to score the basketball; however, there have been those black-hole stretches where chucking the ball without any conscience was the norm.

It's not really my place to judge, but this is a guy who would have been better served by spending a year or two playing in college before the NBA.

Anyway, now that I have run Big Al's game through the dirt, allow me to describe exactly why he is my Sixth Man of the Year.

Al Harrington has found himself another niche in the NBA.

Over the course of his career, his value has never been higher than when he is coming off the bench as a nice complementary piece. So too is the case here in Denver.

He is not burdened with the brunt of the scoring responsibility night in and night out, and as a result, Harrington is able to enter a game and take over for short bursts. This provides the Nuggets with some relief in moments of stagnancy.

Scoring is what he hangs his hat on; he has a nice jumper, clever ball fakes, an excellent handle and has a real nose for getting to the hoop. 

Take for example this past weekend. The Nuggets and the Knicks in New York. A double OT thriller. How many times was Al Harrington there to bail the Nuggets out late with a score? He finished with 24 points off the bench. Impressive.


What has been most surprising this season is the efficiency with which Harrington is scoring the ball.

In just over 25 minutes a game, Al is averaging 16 points a game while shooting 53 percent from the field.

Mind-boggling numbers.

Along with that he is shooting just under 40 percent from three-point range.

And Harrington's shot selection has been on point so far this season as well. He is averaging about 3.5 makes at the rim, and about 1.8 from behind the arc.

He is taking high percentage shots (and more importantly) making high percentage shots, and he has been able to react to situations based on the defense rather than just bailing out with an ill-advised, contested jumper.

Are you impressed yet?

It seems like when the pressure to score is removed, Harrington thrives. This comes from the balanced roster that the Nuggets have amassed, thanks to Carmelo Anthony.

The Nuggets are using Al Harrington as the role player that he is—a straight up scoring threat.

If he keeps this type of production up, the Nuggets will be able to make a run in the playoffs.

Keep your eyes on Al Harrington and his Denver Nuggets. They are going to be a very large thorn in somebody's thigh come playoff time.

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