The players who are considered as candidates to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award don‘t required to be the first players from the bench in the full sense of the word. There is just one mandatory requirement – those contenders who are under consideration to win this award must come off the bench more often than they play in starting line-ups.
Since 2000s most winners of this trophy with several exceptions were guards. This regular season we witnessed the same picture – guards had the biggest influence on their team’s game. And from all these guards distinguished – Lou Williams from the Los Angeles Clippers and Eric Gordon from the Houston Rockets – both of them mostly came off the bench and made tangible benefit with their scoring.
Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers
The 2017-2018 season for the 31-year-old Lou Williams from the Los Angeles Clippers individually was his career peak. All regular season long the Clippers guard showed solid numbers even comparable to those who played in starting line-ups.
Although this season for the Clippers was quite chaotic and they missed playoffs for the first time since 2011, but personally Williams had one the best stats almost in all categories. He finished regular season averaging 22.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 5.3 assists with 43.5 field goal percentage.
In addition Williams was the leader among bench players in efficiency, scoring, field goals made, field goal attempts, free throw attempts, free throws made. He also was the second in assists among reserve players.
Despite his role as a substitute player he played starters’ minutes and had the Clippers coaches’ trust to play the ball even at the decisive moments. And that is why Lou Williams has one of the highest probabilities to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award. If it happens, he will win this award for the second time during his thirteen-year NBA career (he won the title in 2015).
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
Speaking about the Sixth Man of the Year Award you cannot forget the Houston Rockets bench player Eric Gordon, who is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. The 2017-2018 season was tremendous both for the Rockets as a team and for Gordon as a player. And that is why he definitely deserves to be under consideration to become back-to-back winner.
Last year Gordon averaged 16.2 points per game with 40 field goal percentage during regular season meanwhile this season he averaged 18.2 points per game with 43 field goal percentage but did it in the same amount of minutes as last year.
Also it should be noted that Gordon was the third player in all of NBA in 3-point attempts and made 36 percent of them in regular season. All these numbers made Gordon the third best scorer in the Rockets team and a significant offensive force which alongside James Harden and Chris Paul allowed winning 65 games in regular season.
Despite the fact that Gordon has less counting stats than the Clippers guard Lou Williams, he plays in a championship level team and that might look more significant when voting for Sixth Man of the Year Award. Thinking about next season if Eric Gordon avoids injuries and makes some progress, the Rockets will have their own Big-three.