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LeBron James: Dwyane Wade 'Probably No. 1 Candidate' for Sixth Man of the Year

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)    LeBron James #23 and Dwyane Wade #9 of the Cleveland Cavaliers look on against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on November 13, 2017 in New York City. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 104-101. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The NBA season just reached the quarter pole, but LeBron James already has a front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year in mind. 

Speaking to reporters Saturday prior to the Cleveland Cavaliers' tilt against the Memphis Grizzlies, James campaigned for Dwyane Wade as the league's top reserve. 

"He's probably the number one candidate," James said, according to ESPN.com's Nick Friedell"Not even being biased, that's one of my best friends. Just looking at the teams."

Wade opened the season as the Cavaliers' starting shooting guard, but that experiment lasted three games. 

Since then, Wade has come off the bench and helped stabilize a second unit that ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (40.5 points per game) and third in plus/minus (60). 

All told, Wade is averaging 11.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.0 steals while shooting 43.5 percent from the field. 

"I think any role that has to do with winning suits him," said Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, who coached Wade between 2008-2016, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor. "That's what he's been about his whole career. And it shows the kind of guy that he is that he's willing to sacrifice in this role to provide something different that he's done before in his career. You can see that he's playing that role well."

While Wade is certainly in the mix for the hardware at this early juncture, the Denver Nuggets' Will Barton may have something to say about that. 

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Through 21 games, Barton is pouring in 15.4 points per game on 48.0 percent shooting from the field, including a career-best 43.1 percent from three. 

Utah's Rodney Hood (17.7 PPG, 40.2 3P%) and the Los Angeles Lakers' Jordan Clarkson (15.4 PPG, 49.4 FG%) also can't be overlooked, thanks to their voluminous scoring contributions off the pine. 

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