Mid-season award discussions can range from super interesting to incredibly annoying. If you don’t watch yourself, you end up just going in circles trying to argue one guy over another and trying to include context, yadda, yadda, yadda -- it’s a headache.
For the 6th Man of the Year award, it’s far less intense, and so, much more fun to have a conversation about. The races the past couple of years ended with the obvious choices winning such as Jordan Clarkson and Tyler Herro in 2021 and 2022 respectively, but every year is different.
Malcolm Brogdon is the clubhouse leader for the award according to Vegas odds, but with a few weeks left in the season, let’s break down his competition.
Stat line: 14.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 62.2 TS%
Vegas Odds: -175 (as of 2/24)
When the Celtics acquired Brogdon back in July, this was the dream scenario: efficiency, health, clutch shot-making, and a quality veteran for the locker room. It’s all gone according to plan so far. The -175 line from FanDuel for him to win makes total sense and aligns with most people’s preseason expectations.
What most people probably didn’t expect was him shooting 46.2% from 3. I don’t even need to dress that up with some fancy advanced analytics — he’s 106-of-228 from behind the arc, good for 1st in the league. His simple, 8th grade history teacher, style of play has fit perfectly into the Celtics system. Some of his on/off numbers are a little concerning, but as are most with any 6MOY candidate since they are usually playing with the bench. Anyone who watched Brogdon with the starters during their OT win with the Pacers will have seen what he can do when he’s surrounded by the best on the team. His per-36 numbers are also pretty nuts; 20.9-5.9-5.3 are all either the highest or 2nd highest of his career.
Stat line: 17.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 62.3 TS%
Vegas Odds: +370 (as of 2/24)
The context around Powell’s season is very unique. He’s played 50 of 61 games and has helped keep the Clippers above water while Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have missed big chunks of time. He’s the 3rd leading scorer on the team and leads the active roster in 3P% at 41.7%. But, as with every award, team performance matters, even as a 6th man. At 33-29 and 4th in the West, it’s hard to expect the 6th man on that roster to be the winner. However, George and Kawhi are both healthy for now. If they can put together a solid 20 or so game stretch to close out the season, those Vegas odds might start to dwindle a little bit and close the gap. As we’ve seen with the Clippers, that is a huge if. They also just added Russell Westbrook and who knows how that is going to change the guard rotation for head coach Tyronn Lue.
Stat line: 19.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.6 APG, 56.5 TS%
Vegas Odds: +460 (as of 2/24)
Maxey is an interesting candidate because it all depends on what you qualify as a “6th man.” He’s started 22 of the 39 games he’s played and is 4th on the team in MPG at 32.9. (Classic Doc Rivers by the way, only 4th on the team in minutes at 32.9. Harden is at 36.5!) Maxey’s play certainly warrants a mention on this list. Year 3 has seen jumps for him in FGA (15.7), Usage rate (25.5), and PPG (19.7) despite his role changing heavily next to James Harden in their first full season together. His TS% is a little on the lower side than you’d like, but with a 15.7 PER and 2.5 Win Shares, he’s been a very good player for them all season. Is 39 games enough to qualify for this award? For me, probably not, but I don’t make the Vegas lines.
Stat line: 12.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 56.2 TS%
Vegas Odds: +12000 (as of 2/24)
Before you start on the, “+12000?! why is he here” tangent, I’ll toss in that I don’t think the line has caught up to the Quickley hype yet. He’s been very consistent all season long, but he caught fire heading into the All-Star Break. He put up a 49/38.5/79 line while dropping 14.3 points per game and 3.0 assists per game. For the purists out there, he’s played in 59 of 60 games this season and only started in 10 of them, so he fits the profile. The Knicks as a team probably aren’t good enough for him to beat out Brogdon or Powell for the award, but don’t be surprised if you see him finish in the top-3. Plus, New York media bias can never be ignored!
Stat line: 14.4 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 57.1 TS%
Vegas Odds: +10000 (as of 2/24)
I was originally going to put Christian Wood on this list, but Sam Amick made a great argument for him in The Athletic and I think I’m on board with it. He helped keep the Bucks afloat during Middleton’s injury and his importance to that team from a culture and locker room perspective can’t be ignored. Not to mention, he’s having a damn good season. 14-10-2 on only 26.8 MPG is very impressive and despite some recent injury issues, he’s been as consistent as any bench big in the league. Remember when Bobby Portis punched Bulls teammate Nikola Mirotic in the face and gave him a concussion? We’ve come a long way from that.