NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award: James Harden and the Top Five Candidates
A good team in the National Basketball Association can have a pure point guard, a star shooting guard or a dominant center. However, a championship-winning team must also have at least a solid bench.
Excellent bench play usually starts with a guy known as the sixth man. The sixth man can bring energy when their name is called after the first break of the game. He can be as clutch as a starter when given the opportunity, and yes, he can be starting on about half of the other teams in the league.
The Sixth Man of the Year award goes to the player who can fill all of the above qualities, and this year is no different.
Here are five players who stand out more than the rest to have a shot at winning this award.
5. Mo Williams
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If the depth chart was made according to positions all the time, Williams would be listed as the third-string point guard on the Clippers.
It is ironic how he can start on most teams in the league.
He is scoring 13.7 points per game, hits a couple of threes per game and has an impressive PER of 15.66. Williams can score when needed to. Even with Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups on the team, Williams is still one of the more talented players for the Clippers.
He brings energy into the game and is one of the better point guards to be coming off the bench in the league.
4. Al Harrington
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After a disappointing 2010-11 campaign, Harrington has come back to Denver stronger than before.
His aggression on the offensive end has led him to attempt 12 shots and earn a surprising field-goal percentage of 45 after a couple years in the low 40s. Harrington has been a big part of the Nuggets success this season.
He shoots only 66 percent on free throws; imagine if he got that to around 72 like his career percentage. Harrington has nights where he is unstoppable and can’t be defended.
On those nights, it seems a tad bit harder to beat Denver.
3. Jason Terry
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Age has not caught up with Terry like it has with a few other players on the Mavericks. He remains one of the backbones on the squad.
Besides the field-goal shooting, Terry can hit from beyond the arc and his free-throw game has been as solid as ever. Clutchness is the Jet’s game. When Dirk Nowitzki needs someone to call late in games when he’s off, you know Terry will have his back.
Terry has more playoff experience than anyone else on this list. That will be a huge factor in the postseason with this aging Dallas team.
2. Lou Williams
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Normally the leading scorer of a team is a scoring 2-guard or a ball-dominant starter, but that’s not the case in the city of brotherly love.
Williams ranks among the top tier of bench players in the whole league. He leads his team in scoring and sits on the bench for the opening tipoff. That might be one of the more impressive stats in the league.
He scores nearly 16 points a game while averaging 3.6 assists off the bench, too. Williams attempts around four three-pointers per game, but we can't blame him when he averages 39 percent from back there.
1. James Harden
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When a team has Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook leading the franchise, can it really ask for more? The Thunder did, and they got more.
Harden is one of the better shooting guards in the NBA, and he comes off the bench. As Harden is also a lefty on a championship contender, he can be compared to a younger Manu Ginobili.
Not only does he average 17 points off the bench, but the efficiency for Harden has been incredible—48 percent from the field, 39 on threes and 84 at the charity stripe.
Don’t think Harden is all about the scoring, though. He also racks up four boards a game and nearly four assists. He will definitely be the X-factor for Oklahoma City come playoff time. He will be the 2012 NBA Sixth Man of the Year.
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