With the season now two months old, there’s an interesting look at candidates for the season awards, including Sixth Man of the Year.
Among players regarded as 2013-14 candidates for the best of the bench players at the beginning of the season were last year’s award winner J.R. Smith from the New York Knicks, Jarrett Jack who left the Golden State Warriors to land more money with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Jamal Crawford from the Los Angeles Clippers that’s always a solid option for the award.
However, quite a few new players have become part of the mix, surprising the league and may even be surprising to their own teams.
Nick Young – Los Angeles Lakers
Amidst a Lakers season filled with injuries, Young has been a pleasant surprise for the team searching for any kind of offense. Though at a 42.9 field goal percent clip, he’s delivering a team-high 16.2 points a game.
Aside from putting up points, Young hasn’t done anything of note. If he doesn’t win the award, his 2.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists will most likely be the reason why. Though he hasn’t proved much else besides being a shooter, the Lakers can’t complain with the production he’s giving the team.
Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs
For someone known for the crucial turnovers in the postseason last year, Ginobili has done a great job of staying efficient. His 4.4 assists per game are second on the team behind Tony Parker, and he’s also shooting 47.9 percent from the field for 12.5 points per game.
Ginobili’s been sharing the two-guard duties with Danny Green and Marco Belinelli, while also working as a ballhandler while he’s on the floor. Averaging just 23.8 minutes per game, he’s also been reserving his energy to keep him in good form throughout the season.
Reggie Jackson/Jeremy Lamb – Oklahoma City Thunder
Jackson had been emerging as a sixth man candidate, averaging 14.3 points and 3.7 assists per game for the Thunder, who possesses the league-best record currently. However, with the Russell Westbrook knee injury, Jackson has been inserted into the starting lineup, putting the focus on Jeremy Lamb as far as sixth men go.
Lamb has been scoring 10 points per game so far, but is coming off a career-high 22 points and five assists against the Houston Rockets on Sunday. With Westbrook out, Lamb will have to provide more scoring. It remains to be seen if he can keep consistent numbers that are even close to his game against Houston, but he’s one to keep an eye out for in the coming months.
Mo Williams – Portland Trail Blazers
Williams has also been used in a limited role like Ginobili so far this season, but has been productive in his minutes. In the last ten games, Williams has averaged 24.2 minutes and posted 9.4 points and 5.5 assists in those games.
Sharing the minutes at guard with Damian Lillard takes a load off of Williams, and he provides combo guard minutes behind Wesley Matthews as well. Though his numbers aren’t spectacular, the Blazers must be happy with the production of the player the team signed for 2 years and $5.8 million this summer.