Wilson Chandler, Knicks
Why Wilson is not starting is beyond me, but Knicks’ Head Coach Mike D’Antoni and his staff see a benefit to sitting him at the start, over the likes of Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov. Right now, with the numbers Chandler is putting up, he will garner all of the attention from the voters in the 6th man race. Voters love big numbers and Chandler is posting them with regularity while still coming off of the bench. However, at some point, the Knicks have to consider placing Chandler in the starting line up when he is consistently out performing those that start in front of him; especially if the Knicks continue to lose.
Serge Ibaka, Thunder
In terms of scoring, Ibaka doesn’t fit the mold of recent 6th man award-winners, however, he fits the bill in the energy department. Ibaka is the Thunder’s enforcer in the middle and energizer off the bench. He might be young, but he knows his limitations offensively, which is displayed in his 59% shooting from the field. Like Chandler, Ibaka is another guy whose reasons for coming off of the bench I don’t understand. Especially if he is getting starter’s minutes, and playing like one.
Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, Pistons
Whipping the ball through the twine is Ben and Charlie’s specialty; some would say that they really don’t provide much else. Respectively, they rank second and third on the team in scoring. It might seem as if one would cancel out the other in this situation; nevertheless, they are both legitimate contenders for the award, and would probably be a shoe in if they had an award for best bench duo in the league.
Other notable mentions: Hakim Warrick, Suns; Louis Williams, 76ers; Thaddeus Young, 76ers; Daniel Gibson, Cavs; James Jones, Heat.
6th Man Award History
As I stated earlier, voters for this award love big numbers; specifically scoring. The last four winners have averaged at least 18 PPG and over the last 20 years, only two players have averaged less than 12 PPG. The last time someone averaged less than Shannon’s current average was the Knicks’ Anthony Mason in 1995, when he only averaged 9.9 PPG, but he also added 8.4 RPG and shot 56% from the field. Additionally, no player has ever won the award playing less than 20 minutes per game, which in this case, is cause for concern, since Shannon is currently averaging 18.7 minutes per game. History doesn’t provide a positive outlook for Shannon in terms of winning the 6th Man Award. As it stands now, Shannon is averaging 10.7 PPG and with the Lakers incredible depth, it might be hard for Shannon to get the additional minutes necessary to boost his numbers into award-winning territory. The good thing about focusing on the end of the year awards early, is that Shannon has the whole year to improve on his numbers.
Case for Shannon:
In the sprit of the 6th man Award, I believe that it should go to a player that comes off the bench in limited minutes to support the starters and bring added elements that are capable of sustaining the team’s play while the starters sit. That is exactly what Shannon brings to the table. What you usually see with winners of the award, however, are de facto starters that come off the bench, but get starters minutes. Of all the aforementioned competitors, Shannon is getting the least minutes and plays a true back up role to the starter Kobe Bryant. In the short period of time that Shannon does see court time, he is very efficient and productive, which is more in line with someone that would be considered a true 6th man. Another point to be taken in Shannon’s case is that his contributions off the bench come on a team that is playing for much loftier goals and in more meaningful games than most of his competitors.