The guards are still surging in our latest Sixth Man Rankings.
After another week of Western Conference dominance, it makes sense that the top five candidates for Sixth Man are coming from West teams.
The role of sixth man continues to evolve from the longstanding “super scorer” stereotype into one better designed for all-around contributors.
Of the top five players in the rankings, only Jamal Crawford is considered a pure scorer. Three of the other candidates are in the top five in distributing.
The correlation between a good team and a good sixth man are as clear as ever; four of the five players represented in these rankings come from top teams out West.
Out East, Jordan Crawford is having a career year as the Celtics’s new starting point guard. Last year, could anyone have guessed Crawford would be recording trouble-doubles? Now he has three for his career. What will Rajon Rondo’s return mean for Jordan Crawford’s role? Can he become a Sixth Man candidate?
One thing to keep tabs on is how other players returning from injury will integrate back into their rotations. In Atlanta, the Hawks have struggled to take full advantage of Lou Williams’ return to the lineup. In New York, reigning Sixth Man Award winner J.R. Smith remains stuck in an early season funk.
How will Kobe Bryant’s return affect the Lakers’ rotation? Jodie Meeks continues to shoot well over 40% from deep. Will the Lakers keep him in the starting lineup?
In Brooklyn, what will Deron Williams’ return mean for Shaun Livingston’s role?
Only time will tell.
Now, on to the rankings.
|| JEREMY LIN, G, HOUSTON: Between his gaudy numbers and his team’s success in the West, Lin has done enough to nab the top spot. He’s in the top five for bench scoring and assists and is also shooting 50% for the first time in his career. Did I mention his True Shooting Percentage is ahead of Ray Allen’s?
|| REGGIE JACKSON, G, OKLAHOMA CITY: OKC has won five straight thanks to Jackson, who’s has been a jack-of-all-trades: He’s averaging 10.8 points and leads all bench guards with 4.4 rebounds. More impressive is OKC outscoring opponents by 21.7 points per 100 possessions with him on the court.
||ISAIAH THOMAS, G, SACRAMENTO: If Sacramento had a better record, Thomas would have the top spot. Still leads in bench scoring with 17.9 points and is top three with 4.6 assists. His outrageous PER (23.16) and 42.2 3-point shooting suggest he’s having his most efficient season.
||MO WILLIAMS, G, PORTLAND: With the Blazers at 13–3, a lot of the team’s improvements can be attributed to their revamped bench. Williams still leads the league in bench assists at 4.8, which has allowed Damian Lillard to play more minutes off the ball in a scoring role.
||JAMAL CRAWFORD, G, LA CLIPPERS: Crawford’s hot shooting has tapered off but he’s still hovering around 40% from deep and is arguably LA’s third most important player. When on the court, he’s scoring over 25% of his team’s points and is responsible for 46.1% of his team’s 3-point makes.
FIVE TO WATCH: DeJuan Blair, F-C, Dallas; Markieff Morris, F, Phoenix; Jared Sullinger, F, Boston; Nick Young, G, LA Lakers; Rodney Stuckey, G, Detroit.
PREVIOUS RANKINGS: Rookie | Most Improved | MVP | Sixth Man
Jacob Eisenberg is a student at Emory University and covers the NBA for SheridanHoops.com. Check out his website and click here to follow him on Twitter.