The 2013-14 NBA season has officially ended, so now it’s time for regular season awards before the real season starts on Saturday. There’s a lot of wiggle room before we’re able to name some of the winners, which is why for Dime‘s 2014 NBA Awards we had our writers and contributors provide their top-three choices in an abridged version of what the NBA does with certain media members. First up, the hotly contested Sixth Man of the Year award.
Players were awarded three points for first place, two points for second place and one point for third place. Their point totals determined their placement.
3. Manu Ginobili
The Argentinian wing for the Spurs is beating Father Time back with his destroyed sneaker. Manu turns 37 in July, but he’s sporting some pretty spectacular per-minute numbers this season, despite seeing his minutes decrease as Pop prepares him for the playoffs. His production is right in line with what he’s given San Antonio throughout his Hall of Fame career: 20 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 1.5 steals a night. Unfortunately, he just didn’t see enough playing time to warrant the top spot — at least according to Dime’s writers. That being said, the Spurs Goliath is scoring a monumental 112.4 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court then when he’s off, and pretty much everyone shoots better, too. Just a lot to love as the Spurs seem to have found the elixir of life for their veterans.
2. Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford has done everything you’d want in a sixth man this year: he’s filled in more than ably as a starter during the absence of Chris Paul in the backcourt. He’s improved his passing out of the pick-and-roll and tried a lot harder while learning Doc’s defensive schemes (which are just transferred from Tom Thibodeau‘s time with Boston). There’s been some noted improvement in his defensive effort, but he still remains a minus on that end. The Clippers give up 103.4 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, and 100.6 when he’s off.
Still, Crawford’s offense is nearly unmatched. He’s a top-10 player in isolations and top-20 as the pick-and-roll ball handler, per Synergy, and even at 34 he can shimmy by almost everyone when he wants to get to the bucket and force the defense to collapse. That’s exactly what you want in your first guy off the bench for the second team: seamless transition while playing with the starters, but still capable of carrying the offense with the second team.
If it were up to us, Jamal would win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for his play and his graciousness. But our contributors and interns disagreed, believing it was Chicago’s stalwart PF who deserved the top spot.
1. Taj Gibson Chicago’s Carlos Boozer replacement isn’t having a particularly amazing year. His rebounding percentages (the percentage of rebounds he grabs while he’s on the court) are down from earlier in his career because he’s averaging more minutes per game than he ever has before. But teamed with Joakim Noah in the Bulls frontcourt, and Chicago is almost impossible to score on.
But it’s on offense where Gibson has made the most strides, despite a PER (16.0) that’s below the other two players on this list (and just the second best of his career), the Bulls — often stagnant when Noah isn’t running their offense through the high post — score 101 points per 100 possessions with Gibson on the floor and just 97.9 when he’s on the bench. He’s a threat in the post now, and has developed a pretty nice touch from mid-range to buttress a handful of post moves. Gibson’s also played more than Crawford or Manu, helping the Bulls overcome the loss of D-Rose and the trade of Luol Deng for tax purposes. He’s not a bad choice for Sixth Man of the Year, even if we’d go with Crawford — who just missed out.
Here’s how Dime’s voting turned out for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year:
1) Taj Gibson 1st place (2), 2nd place (3), 3rd place (3) = 15
2) Jamal Crawford 1st place (3), 2nd place (2), 3rd place (1) = 14
3) Manu Ginobili 1st place (1), 2nd place (2), 3rd place (1) = 8
4) Gerald Green 1st place (0), 2nd place (1), 3rd place (2) = 4
5) Vince Carter 1st place (1), 2nd place (0), 3rd place (0) = 3
6) Reggie Jackson 1st place (1), 2nd place (0), 3rd place (0) = 3
7) Markieff Morris 1st place (0), 2nd place (0), 3rd place (1) = 1
Who will win, and who should win, the NBA’s Sixth Man of Year in 2014?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.