Despite still being months away from the start of the regular season let alone the award announcements, premature predictions make the off-season all that much more entertaining.
Now that the draft is over, the big-name free agents have signed, summer league is over, and trades have been made, the NBA is in somewhat of a quiet period. Sure, the off-season is not nearly over. Teams will continue to invite players to their training camps and sign free agents that may potentially be the perfect role player in their respective schemes.
Rather than bore you with the little stuff, here are some predictions for who may be in the running for the NBA’s 6th Man of the Year award next season.
Luis Scola – Indiana Pacers
- Per Game: 12.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 16.8 PER
Scola has never been mentioned in the Sixth Man of the Year race for good reason. For the majority of his career, the Argentinian power forward has served as a starter. Most recently in Phoenix, Scola has demonstrated the ability to play within his role without forcing much else.
With David West returning to the Pacers, the trade that brought Scola to Indiana also sent him to the bench. The good news for Indiana is that not only did they add a crafty veteran with the ability to score in the low post and high post, but they added one that is willing to accept his role as a reserve in order to contend for a championship.
Scola will likely see quality minutes, especially if the Pacers decide to go down the route that involves preserving David West for the postseason without compromising. While currently flying under the radar, expect Scola’s name to be in the mix at season’s end for the award.
Jamal Crawford – Los Angeles Clippers
Crawford finished second to only J.R. Smith in last year’s voting and is likely to be a factor once more. His ability to score in the half court makes him irreplaceable in Lob City. The majority of the Clippers offense comes in the form of highlights in transition. NBA teams have figured out a game plan for Los Angeles now: limit live-ball turnovers, mix in some zone defense, and force them to score in the half court.
Enter Jamal Crawford. Besides Chris Paul, the Clippers lack players able to create their own offense. While Blake Griffin has taken leaps and bounds in the post since his rookie campaign, he is still a work in process.
If anything hurts Crawford’s case for the award this year it would be the Clippers’ depth. With a potentially 12-man rotation, the streaky shooting guard may see a decrease in minutes. His effectiveness may not drop, and either will his value to his team, but his numbers may suffer.
And the winner is…
Jarrett Jack – Cleveland Cavaliers
Jack finished behind just J.R. Smith and Jamal Crawford in last year’s voting. Smith has had knee surgery and may miss up to four months, and Crawford is on an extremely deep Clippers’ bench that may result in him losing minutes.
The veteran guard left Golden State where he was backing up Stephen Curry to back-up another budding superstar point guard in Kyrie Irving. Cleveland is viewed as one of the up-and-coming teams in the Eastern Conference with a very talented, young nucleus.
Jack’s versatility will allow him to see time alongside Irving as well as giving him a rest. Despite having a core of young and promising players, the Cavs bench is not all that deep yet, meaning Jack should see plenty of the court. With that said, Jack will undoubtedly be in the running again. Perhaps this is his year.