Malcolm Brogdon Is a Throwback—and Deserving—Candidate for Sixth Man of the Year

The race for the NBA awards at the end of the season depends on a huge set of factors that allow opinions to be divided among deserving candidates. MVP voters evaluate a player’s stats, availability, and team performance. Defensive Player of the Year voters balance points numbers, tracking data, and reputation. The voters for the most improved players must determine the improvement parameters themselves and whether, say, second-year players should be considered. And this is only a small part of the criteria used by voters.

But one reward seems to manifest itself much more simply, at least in terms of observed results over years of voting. A sixth-man race doesn’t care about extended stats, teammates, or anything other than one basic question: Which player on the bench has the most points?

No other reward at the end of the season depends so much on one statistic. The overall points per game champion has been named MVP in only four of the last 20 seasons. The blocks leader hasn’t been the Defensive Player of the Year since Dwight Howard in 2009-10.

However, in the past 16 seasons, the Sixth Man winner has finished first or second in points per game among eligible players 14 times. Over the past five seasons, the only winner not to have led the reserves in scoring was Montrezl Harrell in 2019-20, when the then-Clippers lost the scoring title by just 0.3 points per game.

Results of sixth-place winners among reservists

Year Sixth winner PPG Rating
Year Sixth winner PPG Rating
2022 Tyler Herro 1st
2021 Jordan Clarkson 1st
2020 Montrezl Harrell 2nd
2019 Lou Williams 1st
2018 Lou Williams 1st
2017 Eric Gordon 2nd
2016 Jamal Crawford 4th
2015 Lou Williams 3rd
2014 Jamal Crawford 1st
2013 J. R. Smith 1st
2012 James Harden 1st
2011 Lamar Odom 2nd
2010 Jamal Crawford 1st
2009 Jason Terry 1st
2008 Manu Ginobili 1st
2007 Leandro Barbosa 1st
2006 Mike Miller 2nd

But that apparently unbreakable rule of the Sixth Man award may not apply this season. As of Wednesday, Celtics defenseman Malcolm Brogdon ranks only sixth* among benches in scoring with 14.8 points per game, and yet he is the favorite in Vegas to take home the trophy.

(*This ranking includes Philadelphia defenseman Tyrese Maxey, who is technically ineligible at the moment as he played 22 games as a starter against 19 in the reserves. However, since Maxey now comes off the bench on the powerplay games, he is likely to qualify by the end of the season; if a player has more games in the reserves than in the starting lineup, he is eligible.)

Brogdon’s victory would add a bit of flair to a solid reward. Sometimes this reverence for points is normal because the top scorer on the bench is also the most valuable; For example, Tyler Herro was a great pick to win a sixth man last season, and thus made it to Miami’s starting lineup for the 2022-23 season.

However, this often leads to more cryptic results that look even worse in retrospect. The year before Herro took the win, Jordan Clarkson became the sixth winner despite teammate Joe Ingles being better in defense, passing and shooting efficiency, all because Clarkson scored more points. On a broader time scale, Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams share the record for the most Sixth Man trophies, with three each, while Manu Ginóbili has only won once—naturally when he led the bench in scoring—and Andre Iguodala has never won for the Warriors. .

By the way, Ginobili and Iguodala have two highest career score plus or minus off the bench for any players since 1996-97 (beginning of game after game era). They both played incredibly important roles on championship teams, but voters didn’t reward them for their all-round contributions. Other individual awards, such as MVP and All-NBA ballots, are important to bilateral work. But the last Sixth Man tournament winner who was even average defensively was… maybe Eric Gordon in 2017? Lamar Odom in 2011?

This myopic focus on glasses has not always been the norm. Bobby Jones of the Sixers became the first sixth man in the 1982-83 season, when the “Secretary of Defense” averaged only 9.0 points per game, but played a key role in the best team in the league. A few years later, Bill Walton was only 7.6 points per game, but he still had the honor of lifting the Celtics’ championship. Throughout the ’90s, players like Toni Kukoch and John Starks won the accolade despite not being the NBA’s highest-scoring reserve players due to their contributions to dominant regular season teams.

The profile of the typical winner has clearly changed over the past decades, but the Brogdon trophy represents a throwback to the past. The Celtics sixth man is much more versatile than recent sixth man winners; This season, he is the only player on the bench (other than Chris Middleton, who has played far fewer games due to his slow recovery from injury) averaging at least 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 36 minutes.

He also leads the league in three-point shooting with a staggering 46 percent on 4.4 attempts per game. Thanks to his teammates, Brogdon has admittedly benefited from a rather plain appearance, but he also ranks third in three-point shooting, according to Second Spectrum, or the difference between his actual and expected percentage based on factors such as location and distance to protector.

Best 3-Point Shooters Compared to Expectations

Player Actual 3P% Expected 3P% Shot
Player Actual 3P% Expected 3P% Shot
Isaiah Joe 45.3% 34.8% +10.6%
Stephen Curry 42.7% 33.1% +9.6%
Malcolm Brogdon 46.4% 36.9% +9.5%
Centavius ​​Caldwell-Pope 45.1% 36.6% +8.5%
Darius Garland 42.1% 33.8% +8.3%
Norman Powell 42.1% 34.6% +7.5%
James Harden 39.3% 32.0% +7.3%
Clay Thompson 40.9% 33.8% +7.1%
Buddy Heald 42.6% 35.7% +6.9%
Lauri Markkanen 40.9% 34.1% +6.8%
Doug McDermott 41.4% 34.6% +6.8%
Michael Porter Jr. 41.0% 34.2% +6.8%

According to the second spectrum. Minimum 200 attempts.

And Brogdon serves as the perfect link for third-place Boston’s offense, raising the possibility that they don’t. 1 seed, filling the stars where he is…


Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker