NBA AM: Who’s The Sixth Man So Far?
Who’s The Man?: It is still very early in the season, so trying to nail down anyone as an award winner or any team as a lock for the postseason is not only silly, but down right impractical. However, as the first week of the NBA season is in the books, there are some guys making an early pitch for Sixth Man of the Year candidacy, and given the history of some of the guys that are standing out today, they may be there all year. Here are your notables:
Jamal Crawford – LA Clippers
24.0 ppg 1.0 apg 2.0 rpg
Get used to seeing Jamal Crawford at the top of the Sixth Man of the Year list. He is a career Sixth Man contender and, with his role on the Clippers this year, he should not only put up the stats to be considered, but it looks like the Clippers could win the number of games it takes to win the hardware. Crawford has been a killer from the bench for almost all of his career and in L.A. that’s exactly what they want from him. So far, he is delivering. Crawford is arguably your frontrunner, simply because of how much he impacts the game from the bench.
J.J. Redick – Orlando Magic
22.5 ppg 6.0 apg 2.5 rpg
If Crawford is the top guy, Orlando’s J.J. Redick is a very close second. The Magic are 2-0 on the season and Redick as a playmaker from the bench is a big reason why. The team’s play has changed for the better when Redick comes in to the game and he is really moving the ball well. Redick is not only scoring in bunches, but he’s the guy making the extra pass and that’s getting his teammates looks as well. If Redick can keep this pace, it’s going to be hard not to acknowledge how good he has become this season and how important he has become to Orlando’s offense, especially as a playmaker.
Kevin Martin – Oklahoma City Thunder
20.7 ppg 2.3 apg 2.0 rpg
The first thing most people said when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden is that Kevin Martin is no James Harden, which is true. Harden last season averaged 16.8 points per game on 49.1 percent field goal shooting and 39 percent from three to win the Sixth man of the Year award. Martin so far on the season is averaging 20.7 points per game on 53.1 percent field goal shooting and a scorching 70.6 percent from three. The Thunder are not winning, so of course Martin will shoulder some of the blame, but the truth of the matter is Martin is crushing it for the Thunder and is a serious contender for Sixth Man, especially if he can maintain this kind of pace. Martin justifiably has his critics, but looking strictly at his performance for the Thunder, it’s hard to not include him at the top of the Sixth Man list.
Lou Williams – Atlanta Hawks
20.5 ppg 4.5 apg 2.0 rpg
Williams is putting up nice numbers offensively, but his shooting percentages are terrible. He will have the role to contend for Sixth Man, but he’s going to have to get sharper than 38.7 percent from the field and 27.2 percent from three to be a serious contender. Williams is putting up a career-best in terms of scoring and shot attempts. If he can get the percentages a little higher, he’s got the numbers for Sixth Man consideration.
Marcus Thornton – Sacramento Kings
18.0 ppg 2.8 apg 3.5 rpg
Like Williams, Thornton has the averages to be a contender, but his percentages and the fact that the Kings are losing makes him a dark horse for serious candidacy. Thornton is getting the minutes and the shot attempts to be a Sixth Man, he’s just going to have to do better than 40 percent from the field and 25 percent from three.
There are several others guys to keep an eye on as the NBA season rolls on. Miami’s Ray Allen is looking solid, he just isn’t putting up the numbers some of the others are. Boston’s Jason Terry is always in the Sixth Man hunt. Terry has been struggling to find his groove in Boston, but he is capable of bouncing into the discussion quickly. Golden State’s Carl Landry has been impressive from the bench for the Warriors. Landry is putting up some of the best numbers of his career, which are good enough to make the list.
There is still a lot of basketball to be played, but the Sixth Man of the Year frontrunners so far have been impressive. It will be interesting to see how sustainable some of these numbers are over a bigger sample of games.
Not Built To Lose: The Orlando Magic sit at 2-0 on the new NBA season, not exactly where the pundits that predicted doom and gloom post-Dwight Howard thought they’d be. It helps that Orlando faced two fairly dysfunctional teams in Denver and Phoenix that are trying to remake themselves this season, but the fact that Orlando won isn’t nearly the story. It’s how they are winning that is compelling.
The Magic created a rally cry for their season, proclaiming this year to be the “We Will” season and so far many of the promises made around that statement have been true.
The Magic said they “WILL” play hard and they have. The Magic said they “WILL” play together and they have done that too.
New coach Jacque Vaughn has a radically different demeanor and approach than former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. He has not only gotten his guys ready to play, he has them playing incredibly fast and incredibly hard.
The Magic are pushing the tempo of the game and they are playing fundamentally sound basketball built around screens and hard cuts at the basket, a system that suits guards like Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, who have looked reborn under Vaughn’s cut-and-go offense.
Magic big man Glen Davis begged for a bigger role last season under Van Gundy and he has found himself with an unlimited green light to score under Vaughn, and he has made the most of it.
The Magic have also gotten inspired play from second-year big man Nikola Vucevic. He is clearly no Dwight Howard, but Vucevic has played well and played tough. The Magic are going to give up size and weight in many cases to the power front court players in the NBA, but Vucevic has played well in his opening two games for Orlando.
The Magic said from the start of training camp that they were not going to accept losing, and that building or constructing a team with the goal of losing would be bad for their culture.
Two games is not a season, but through two games the Magic have proven a few things. They are going to play hard. If you turn the ball over, they will be ready to capitalize. They are not going to make many mistakes.
The Magic don’t have the talent some teams in the NBA are going to bring to the court, so they are not going win a ton of games, but if you thought Orlando was built to lose, you may want to re-think your stance. They are built to play hard and that’s what they have done through two games.
How many wins this Magic team collects is still very much up in the air, because if this squad of guys continues to play the way they have through preseason and the first week of the regular season, the Magic may have themselves a few more attractive trade chips to spend at the trade deadline and that’s always going to be a factor in the total outcome of the season.
The Magic say they are not letting any of the outside commentary affect how they are going about their business, but you have to think that being 2-0 when so many talked about them being a 20-win team is at least a little rewarding.
This Magic team was not built to lose – although that may change at the trade deadline – it was built to compete and to work hard and so far in the first month under Vaughn, the Magic have done that. The Magic are far from title contenders, but they are an inspired bunch and that’s fun to watch.
It’s Hard Being A Rookie: When Phoenix Suns’ rookie Kendall Marshall started his path towards being drafted into the NBA, he had a very good sense of his own limitations. He was open and honest about his flaws as a player and hoped to be drafted by a team that could turn his unique skill set into a long NBA career.
When the Suns, a fast, up-and-down team drafted him with the 13th overall pick, the fit from afar couldn’t have been better. However, the start to Marshall’s NBA career has been anything but smooth. Marshall hoped for a big role on a team that clearly matched his skill set, however with the arrival of Goran Dragic as a free agent, Marshall’s role in Phoenix has become one of afterthought not focal point.
Marshall talked with HOOPSWORLD about his situation and how he is trying to be ready when his number is called.
Speaking of rookies… HOOPSWORLD’s weekly NBA Rookie Watch is up. Who is the top rookie so far in the new NBA season? It may not be who you think. Stephen Brotherston will update you every week as the NBA’s newest stars try and establish themselves in the league.
Flop Status?: The NBA tracks a number of statistical things for internal use and for the media, some of those include the number of technical fouls a player has, ejections, flagrant fouls and the like.
A new report is showing up that is a little bit more than amusing by way of title than some of the others. The Flop Status report has been released and it seems Minnesota’s J.J. Barea and Cleveland’s Donald Sloan have already been warned about “flopping,” making them the first infractors of the NBA’s new anti-flopping policy.
Both players were warned about actions in games on November 2n and if the league, after review, finds that they continue to flop, they could face a $5,000 fine for their second offense.
The league office will review all actions suspected of being a flop and will determine if the resulting action was a legitimate foul or an overreaction or fabrication on the part of the player.
Calling “flops” is no easy thing, because there are dozens of factors. The NBA, in an effort to curb the growing number of acting jobs on the floor, has decided an after-the-fact review and a subsequent possible fine is the best way to curb what has become a common problem in the NBA.
It’s a sad state of affairs that we have to track the Flop Status of NBA players, but the report is there and the NBA is taking this new rule seriously.
Week 1 of HOOPSWORLD’s Weekly Pick’em Game is complete, and there were six winners [check the winners here]. A weekly winner gets a cool Adidias HOOPSWORLD T-Shirt. Week 2 of the Pick’em Game is now open, so click here to log your picks.
More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNYC, @SusanBible, @DPageHoopsWorld , @stevesraptors, @TommyBeer and @YannisHW.
NBA Chats: There will be two NBA chats scheduled for today featuring HOOPSWORLD’s Anthony Macri at 10am. Coach Macri works with The ASEAN Basketball League in Southeast Asia and is based in Jakarta. Coach Macri is involved in all aspects of the leagues operation as a consultant and has worked with dozens of NBA players developing their game. Travis Heath will hold down his bi-weekly NBA Chat at 4pm EST. Travis is a practicing psychologist, a former consultant for the Timberwolves and a long-time contributor to HOOPSWORLD. You can always find the next upcoming chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats. If you are looking for a completed chat, check the Chat Archive.