They say a team should have a solid starting five. It is as important to have a player—or players—capable of bringing that same heat from the rotation.
A team with no sixth player can’t win a championship. Or at least it is really unlikely. A franchise with no production from its secondary players will be tired, overwhelmed, and outmatched by one that has it.
In other words, a sixth player can be as important as any starter, sometimes even more. Legendary players like Manu Ginobili and Toni Kukoč thrived in this role.
Other active players like SG Lou Williams and SG Jamal Crawford are the ones with most Sixth Man of the Year awards. Each has won three.
In this article, you’ll find the best candidates to take the Sixth Man of the Year award home in 2021. The NBA has short rosters, unlike soccer or football. Every player matters.
Especially those who exceed expectations or have an added value coming from the bench.
A group of journalists and sportswriters is in charge of voting who becomes the winner of the Sixth Man of the Year.
Each voter has three places to determine. The first place gets five points, while the second vote is worth three points. Finally, the third spot gets one point.
The player with more votes, regardless of who gets more first-place votes, is the winner. Just one more thing, to be eligible, the player must come off the bench in more games than he starts.
A sixth man is not only a scorer. He can be a facilitator, a big guy getting the all-important boards, or a player that has a big impact off the bench.
We have seen pretty much all positions win the award. But, who are the names to watch to win the award for the 2021 NBA season?
Jordan Clarkson – The reigning sixth man of the year is a strong presence from the bench. He also happens to play in a contender team. Clarkson was unreal playing for Utah, who ended as the best seed in the whole league.
A seventh-year veteran, Clarkson was a lethal weapon. He averaged 18.4 points, four rebounds, and 2.5 dimes a game.
Clarkson played on 68 games out of the 72, but only started on one of them. He was dedicated to burning second units all day long.
Joe Ingles – Another Jazz player, this Australian is a three-point threat. He can pull the dagger from outside the arc; the SF is also a good perimeter defender.
He may not have the looks of an NBA player, but if you leave him uncovered, he can kill you from a distance.
Ingles is the best example of someone whose stats don’t tell the whole story. He’s only scored 12.1 ppg, but he only shot eight times a game.
He is absolute fire when he releases that unorthodox jumper. He is a 45% three-point shooter and also dishes 4.7 assists. Ingles is the definition of a team player.
Kevin Huerter – Huerter started in 49 out of the 69 games he played. Last year, he wasn’t even eligible to be a sixth man of the year.
However, the Hawks’ shooting guard might take that role, because Bogdan Bogdanovic should enjoy a healthier season.
Still, he has to be a lot better than he was in 2020. He is supposed to be a prolific three-point shooter but only shot 36% on 5.6 threes a game.
Scoring almost 12 points a game, Huerter needs to find himself in open looks and make sure he drills those shots.
Atlanta just went to the Eastern Conference Finals, and they are aiming for another big season. For that to happen, Huerter needs to ball.
Goran Dragic – It’s difficult to think of Goran Dragic as the sixth man of the year winner. Dragic is an aging player playing for a bad team. He was in this role for a playoff team like Miami, but in Toronto, things are harder.
Getting in rhythm for a team with scarce talent is tough.
He came to Toronto scoring 13.4 ppg, with 4.4 APG. The Raptors need more than that for Dragic to improve this team drastically.
That’s the only way he can win this accolade. He is a 35-year-old veteran on a new team. It’s a complicated situation.
Tyrese Haliburton – Oh, this one is exciting. Haliburton was in the mix to be the Rookie of the Year. He had 58 games played, coming from the bench in 38 of those. Haliburton was sensational. He scored 13 points, dished 5.3 assists, and stole 1.3 balls a game.
Not only that, but he drilled 41% of his three-pointers. Haliburton was a pleasant surprise to the highest of levels.
The Kings are a team who might just be able to pull a playoff berth, and Halliburton is a key component to that.
Coby White – This is a brilliant contender for being the best sixth man in basketball. The addition of PG Lonzo Ball to the squad, and having SG Zach LaVine and SF DeMar DeRozan leaves the Bulls with a solid starting five.
This means White will come from the bench. Oh, boy, the sight of this point guard dancing through second units is an exciting view.
He scored 15 points a game, and now facing rotation players, he can get even more. Same with his assists tally, that was 4.8 per night. He can be a real weapon off the bench.
Terrence Ross – Ross left us an unforgettable meme last year. But don’t mistake his hilarious reaction for him being a bad player—he definitely is not.
He is 15 points per game scorer. A guy like this, in his prime, on a team that has not much talent, can grab the spotlight.
The Magic expectations are not that high, but Ross is the one bright light in that second team.
Derrick Rose – Wouldn’t it just be amazing to see Rose winning a Sixth Man of the Year award? The youngest MVP in the league’s history, a three-time All-Star and a fan favorite of all, Rose shined with New York. He averaged a 14.7 piece with 4.2 assists.
Here’s why Rose is intriguing. Last year, he was a bench player, but everybody knew he was the one making plays for New York. The Knicks changed Elfrid Payton and brought the box office, PG Kemba Walker.
He will drain defenses, but that leaves Rose a tired defense to work with and he can do wonders for a team that always has eyes on it.
Patty Mills – At the beginning of this article, we told you no team can win without a reliable sixth man. Even the Nets, who have PG Kyrie Irving, SG James Harden, and SF Kevin Durant, went and got Patty Mills.
Mills is an absolute treasure to have on the bench. He is not a big scorer, but he can be. With more than a decade in the NBA, the best scoring ability we’ve seen from him is in the Olympics.
He is the heart and soul of Australia. In the NBA, he has never been needed to be the first option.
Now, though, he needs to keep the offense going while the big three rest. He is a good three-point shooter, a dynamic player, and a veteran that knows how to handle himself on the court.
Bobby Portis – A big man that played in tanking teams his whole career, Portis’ big break came when the Bucks signed him last season. He is an NBA champion now.
Portis was a valuable player coming off the bench, totaling 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds a game. His game is basic but effective.
That’s what Milwaukee needs. A basic, big presence that can do what it takes. But, to get the sixth man of the year, a lot more is required.
|Year||Player||Team||Stat line (ppg, rpg, apg)|
|2020||Jordan Clarkson||Utah Jazz||18.4 / 4 / 2.5|
|2019||Montrezl Harrell||Los Angeles Clippers||18.6 / 7.1 / 1.7|
|2018||Lou Williams||Los Angeles Clippers||20 / 3 / 5.4|
|2017||Lou Williams||Los Angeles Clippers||22.6 / 2.5 / 5.3|
|2016||Eric Gordon||Houston Rockets||16.2 / 2.7 / 2.5|
|2015||Jamal Crawford||Los Angeles Clippers||14.2 / 1.8 / 2.3|
|2014||Lou Williams||Toronto Raptors||15.5 / 1.9 / 2.1|
|2013||Jamal Crawford||Los Angeles Clippers||18.6 / 2.3 / 3.2|
|2012||J.R. Smith||New York Knicks||18.1 / 5.3 / 2.7|
|2011||James Harden||Oklahoma City Thunder||16.8 / 4.1 / 3.7|
To bet on the Sixth Man of the Year winner, follow this step-by-step:
1. Log into your sportsbook account.
2. Select the ‘NBA Betting Odds’ tab.
3. Click on the ‘Player Futures’ submenu.
4. Pick ‘Sixth Man of the Year.’
5. Submit your bet in the bet-slip window.