Projecting regular season rotations before the games start is more art than science. Players step up and carve out roles for themselves, injuries take their toll, opening up opportunities for others. All this makes it hard to make accurate predictions for Sixth Man of the Year so far in advance — a player must start less than half of the games in which they appear, adding a layer of complexity you don't have in projecting things like MVP and Rookie of the Year where impact is the only thing that matters.
Still, here are a handful of high-scoring players likely to spend most of their time coming off the bench, but put up impressive enough stats for impressive enough teams to get themselves in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation before the season is over.
5. Malik Monk, Sacramento Kings
Monk may actually have had a better chance at Sixth Man of the Year last season, when he averaged 13.5 points, 3.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game off the Kings bench. Sacramento has brought in some additional pieces — Chris Duarte, Sasha Vezenkov — which may result in tighter bench rotations. In addition, expectations will be higher on the Kings this season and simply replicating last season's success may not be enough for the Kings or for Monk to generate the same kind of enthusiasm from award voters.
But there's also a strong case to be made that Monk has a lot more to offer. He's still just 25 years old and this will be the first time in his career he's been a core, consistent part of a team's rotation for two consecutive seasons.
And, as good as he was last season, Monk can been better. He made just 35.6 percent of his 3s last season after making 39.4 percent over the previous two. He drew 207 free throw attempts last season, more than the two previous seasons combined and he's still learning how to leverage his athleticism and driving ability from the weakside, off dribble hand-offs and against a defense that's already been bent out of shape.
Monk has a lot more to offer and if we see it this season he should absolutely be in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation at the end of the year.