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6th Man of the Year
- Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics – Thomas doesn’t have the lengthy track record as an ace sixth man that either of his counterparts in the race do, but the 5-foot-9 guard has the best single season numbers by a strong margin. In both Phoenix and Boston, Thomas has thrived chiefly as a reserve, making only one start, and he is averaging 16.2 points and 4.1 assists per game in only 26 minutes per contest. His usage rate (31.3%) is through the roof to allow for that volume of production, but Thomas in an efficient way (20.12 PER, 57.6% TS) and he is the definition of what a sixth man should resemble as someone who carries the second unit offensively.
- Lou Williams, Toronto Raptors – Williams is sustaining arguably the best year of his career, and because Toronto is solidly a playoff team, many are leaning his way as the favorite in this category. The former Hawks and Sixers guard is averaging a career-best 22.1 points per 36 minutes (15.4 per game) this season, and a return to free throw volume (7.1 attempts per 36) facilitates that uptick. The knock on Williams is that he is a suboptimal defender, but Toronto has desperately needed his scoring punch this season, and the veteran guard has provided.
- Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers – Crawford is a perennial contender in this category, and despite the fact that he has missed the past 17 games with a calf injury, the 35-year-old is in the mix. Crawford was very durable before this latest stint, playing in 60 games, and he is set to come back this week in time to prepare for a playoff push. Efficiency has never been Crawford’s greatest strength, but the veteran is averaging 16.4 points per game in a reserve role, and with a weak class this season, that is more than enough to warrant a look.
Next: Defensive Player of the Year