As the season rears into its final month, it is time to start thinking about awards and those who will be receiving them. First, I’m going to be tackling the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Though it is not a huge award, Sixth Man of the year is an award that goes to the player that can come off the bench and contribute in a positive way. Who out of these three players do you think will bring home the award this year?
Jeremy Lin, Charlotte Hornets: Four years after the fiasco that was Linsanity, Lin is still in the NBA and thriving with the Charlotte Hornets in Buzz City. Known to be a solid scorer, Jeremy Lin went to the Hornets with the expectation of backing up Kemba Walker with strong offensive contributions off the bench. Thus far, Lin has exceeded expectations with his consistent play and leadership on the young Hornets team. Averaging about 12 points, three assists, and three rebounds in 25 minutes, Lin has been very helpful as Charlotte’s leading scorer off the bench. Though his stats are not gaudy, no Six Man’s ever are, and more importantly, Lin is helping a scrappy Hornets team fly into the playoffs with a solid sixth seed spot. Whether Lin wins the award or not, he has done well with his limited role on a new team, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder: After being a solid starter for all of his career, Enes Kanter was traded to the Thunder last year and elevated his game to another level with the starting job. Kanter was averaging career highs in every major category as the starting five for OKC; unfortunately for him, Kanter took a trip to the bench this season with the Thunder. Most expected his numbers to plummet and to see him force his way out of Oklahoma; most were wrong. Kanter has matured exponentially and his numbers clearly reflect his ability to understand where his talents lie, and the fact that they are more useful off the bench. Kanter’s 12 points and eight rebounds has been a major help to the Thunder, a team that many say is the third or fourth best in the NBA. Kanter is also shooting a very efficient 57% from the field in only 20 minutes a night (his third lowest MPG average since rookie year). Though Kanter is not a household name, his willingness to take a smaller role in order to help his team further their chances of contending for a Championship means a lot, and is something I feel will help him later on.
Evan Turner, Boston Celtics: Evan Turner came into the league with big expectations, after a few stints with some solid teams, it seems Turner has finally found a home in Beantown. Turner is coming off the bench for Brad Stevens averaging a strong ten points, five rebounds, and nearly five assists. Turner is getting these numbers in 27 minutes a night as a Small Forward, an impressive feat. More importantly, Turner has helped the Celtics push into the playoffs as a fifth seed while leading the Celts second unit in more than one category. Turner’s contributions to Boston have been key in the Celtics run this year, and I believe they will pay off at the seasons end.