NBA Power Rankings: Sixth Man of the Year Candidates
It's the last leg of the 2011-12 season, which means that voting on regular seasons awards is just around the corner.
One of the league's most prestigious awards, the Sixth Man of the Year, is up for grabs with a large pool of candidates to choose from.
Here is a list of the best reserves around the league.
Goran Dragic, PG Houston Rockets
Goran Dragic is an underdog for this award, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers that he’s put up this season in Houston.
A scoring point guard by nature, Dragic is averaging 10.6 points per game this season. While that might seem pedestrian, he complements his scoring by dishing out 4.9 assists per contest.
Dragic filled in wonderfully for starter Kyle Lowry during Lowry's one-month absence from the team and deserves a lot of praise for assuming the starting role and keeping the Rockets in the playoff hunt.
Mo Williams, G Los Angeles Clippers
Though his biggest contribution to the Clippers might still be getting Baron Davis’ contract off the books, Williams is having a solid season in a reserve role and could snag a vote or two come awards season.
The addition of Chris Paul has really helped Williams’ game this season, as Paul loves to find Williams on the perimeter for quick catch-and-shoot opportunities. Williams is averaging 13.6 points this season off the bench and has become a crucial cog in the Clippers' rotation with Chauncey Billups out for the season.
Taj Gibson, F Chicago Bulls
Taj Gibson is the epitome of a Tom Thibodeau system forward. He’s mobile, athletic and puts himself in the right position on every defensive possession. While casual basketball fans might only notice his highlight real dunks, Gibson is a favorite amongst analytics experts.
While Gibson’s lack of an offensive game limits him to a reserve role behind Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer, he finds ways to fill the stat sheet with his rebounding and shot-blocking. He’s one of the most efficient defenders in the league and deserves to be in the sixth man conversation.
O.J. Mayo, SG Memphis Grizzlies
O.J. Mayo was initatially frustrated in his move to the bench last season in favor of defensive specialist Tony Allen, but he has since transitioned quite nicely to a reserve role, becoming one of the most prolific scorers off the bench in the league.
Mayo is a solid all-around scorer. He excels at getting to the rim and finishing, and has a good enough jumper to be a threat around the perimeter. His scoring numbers might be a bit down (12.5 points per game) compared to his rookie and sophomore seasons, but Mayo helps give the Grizzlies a chance to win night in and night out.
Al Harrington, F Denver Nuggets
Al Harrington was starting to show signs of age with a disappointing debut campaign with the Nuggets last year, but he has revitalized his career in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.
Harrington is averaging 14.6 and 6.3 rebounds per game, and his three-point shot looks spot on. He makes excellent decisions on the court with his shot selection and very seldom takes a low-percentage shot from distance.
If Denver was a bit higher in the standings, Harrington would have a legitimate shot at taking home this award.
Jason Terry, G Dallas Mavericks
Last year’s sixth man runner-up, Terry is having another stellar season off the bench for the reigning NBA champions.
The aging combo-guard still has one of the best jumpers in the league and is a lock from mid-range at this point in his career. Terry is averaging 15 points per game in his eighth season in Dallas and will need to play a crucial role for the Mavericks if the team is to make another deep playoff run.
Still, both Terry and the Mavs have showed their age this season and it’s highly unlikely that "The Jet" will come out with the award at this point.
Lou Williams, G Philadelphia 76ers
His scoring abilities and electrifying quickness make Lou Williams a fan favorite and a sixth man award candidate.
Williams possesses one of the best pump fakes in the game, and his shoot-first tendency makes him a threat to go off on any given night. Williams, who tends to draw a lot of fouls on the perimeter, furthers his value to the team with his constant trips to the charity stripe.
Williams doesn’t share the ball or play defense as well as the Sixers would like, however, and the team’s recent struggles will probably keep him from taking home any hardware at season's end.
James Harden, SG Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden stands in a class of his own. With all the offensive talent he has, it’s difficult to fathom how Thunder head coach Scott Brooks manages to keep Harden in a reserve role.
Harden is a dangerous two guard who can score from just about anywhere on the court a deadly jump shot and ability to penetrate. He has a knack for drawing fouls while finishing, handles the rock well and can distribute the basketball if he's in trouble.
Averaging 16.7 points, 3.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds per contest for the Thunder as they gear up for a championship run, Harden is the clear choice for the Sixth Man of the Year award.