More and more NBA player props are being rolled out daily so today this handicapper looks at which players are favorites to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award, ie. the best substitute off the bench.
Crawford First with 3 Wins?
Frankly, the Sixth Man of the Year Award is an honor just about every player doesn't want. All NBA players have egos, and they all want to start. There's not much glory in being the best substitute off the bench (plus you don't get introduced to the crowd before the game).
The Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, winning it for the second time in his career. He also took it home five seasons ago while with the Atlanta Hawks. No player has won it three times. Hall of Famer Kevin McHale, Ricky Pierce and Detlef Schrempf are the other two-time winners. Crawford led the all NBA reserves in scoring last season, averaging 18.6 points. He came off the bench in 45 of the 69 games he played in. He will do so again this season as J.J. Redick is the Clippers' starting shooting guard. Crawford was the runner-up for the award the previous year. He is the +150 favorite on NBA odds for this season.
The Chicago Bulls big man Taj Gibson and San Antonio swingman Manu Ginobili were second and third in last year's voting. Gibson was looking like he would start this season when the Bulls amnestied Carlos Boozer, but those plans went up in smoke when Chicago was able to lure free agent Pau Gasol. Still, Gibson will be on the court pretty much the entire fourth quarter of most games because Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau loves his defense. Gasol isn't close to Gibson's level in that regard. Gibson played all 82 games in 2013-14, averaging 13.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 28.7 minutes per night.
Ginobili was the Sixth Man of the Year in 2007-08. Last year the Argentine played in 68 games and started three of them. He averaged 12.3 points and 4.3 assists in 22.8 minutes per night. Those were his fewest average minutes since his rookie year. Expect Coach Gregg Popovich, the betting favorite for NBA Coach of the Year at sportsbooks, to limit those minutes again. He wants to keep the 37-year-old Ginobili fresh for the postseason. He also will get some games off so he's not a great NBA pick here. Gibson is +350 at sportsbooks and Ginobili +500.
Thunder guard Reggie Jackson is at +350 with Gibson while there aren't any odds for some reason on Suns guard Isaiah Thomas at sportsbooks, there should be.
The broken foot suffered by Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant could be Jackson's gain as he figures to see more minutes and more shot attempts with Durant out anywhere from 6-12 weeks. Jackson started 36 of his 80 games last year, averaging a career-high 13.1 points, 4.1 assists and 3.9 rebounds. Jackson will become a restricted free agent after the 2014-15 season if he and the team don't agree to an extension by Oct. 31. Jackson probably will want to play the market because he's stuck behind Russell Westbrook with the Thunder.
Meanwhile, the Suns somewhat surprisingly acquired Thomas from Sacramento in a sign-and trade deal this offseason and then gave Thomas a four-year, $28 million contract. I say surprising because Phoenix already has two very good point guards in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. Dragic can become a free agent after this season and Bledsoe was a restricted free agent this offseason. But Thomas, the last player selected in the 2011 draft, will be coming off the bench. He averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists last year with the Kings, one of just six players to average at least 20 points and six assists in 2013-14. He started 54 of 72 games. Perhaps Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, who likes to play up tempo, will use a three-guard lineup at times.
NBA Free Pick: Jackson is the choice on NBA odds. He should have a season like James Harden did in 2011-12 with the Thunder when he was named Sixth Man of the Year.