Sheridan Hoops Sixth Man Rankings — Week 5

Isaiah ThomasWell, it happened.

After speculating last week that Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas would fall out of our Sixth Man Rankings despite his impressive stats, Thomas fell out by default as he was elevated to starter.

With Greivis Vasquez shipped to Toronto in the Rudy Gay deal, Kings fans can breathe a sigh of relief that Thomas won’t get screwed out of this year’s Sixth Man Award.

As a result, for the first time in a long time, the five best Sixth Man candidates come from the five best teams in the Western Conference. While the order does not identically reflect the current standings, it’s no coincidence that the best teams are thriving with quality sixth men to start the season.

In the Eastern Conference, Dion Waiters deserves a shout-out for his turnaround to the season.

After sulking his way out of the starting lineup to begin the season, Waiters has thrived in his bench role, averaging 14.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 10 games. The Cavaliers have won their last two and are finally starting to look respectable after a disastrous start. With the East looking worse than ever, it is not inconceivable that the Cavaliers could snag the fifth seed.

One of the biggest questions I have going forward is the role of Danny Granger with the Indiana Pacers.

The former All Star announced he plans to play Friday night and understands that he will be entering a limited role. Still, with the Pacers at 19-3 and looking like the best team in the NBA, it’s almost scary to think that this team could actually get better.

People have suggested Indiana will look to trade Granger. In reality, his expiring contract seems perfect for a front office that will have to commit a considerable chunk of money to Lance Stephenson in the near future.

Now, on to the rankings.

1 Oklahoma City Thunder REGGIE JACKSON, G, OKLAHOMA CITY: OKC is still undefeated at home and Jackson has upped his scoring to 12 points a night. But it’s his defense keeping him atop the rankings. Per 100 possessions, Jackson’s lineups have outscored foes by 18.1 points, the best net rating for any reserve playing big minutes. 
2 UTA_Williams_Mo MO WILLIAMS, G, PORTLAND: The Blazers still lead the West at 19-4. Until that changes, Williams’ ranking isn’t going down. His stats aren’t the flashiest but he’s still averaging 4.3 assists and accounting for 27% of his team’s assists when on the court.   
3 SAS_Ginobili_Manu MANU GINOBILI, G, SAN ANTONIO: He’s 36 and having one of his most efficient seasons, averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and a career-high 7.2 assists per 36 minutes. He’s also shooting 74.1 percent on drives, best in the NBA. Did I mention the Spurs are 17-4 despite a slow start from Tim Duncan? 
4 LAC_Crawford_Jamal JAMAL CRAWFORD, G, LA CLIPPERS: His 3-point shooting has fallen off a bit (25% in December) but still finding ways to score. Crawford has logged double-digit shots in the Clippers’ last 10 games. He also showed off some defense in Boston with a season-high two blocks. 
5 Jeremy Lin headshot JEREMY LIN, G, HOUSTON: Until Thursday, Lin hadn’t played since Nov. 27 so his ranking has taken a hit. The good news is Houston survived in Lin’s absence, going 5-2. Lin only got 15 minutes of action in Thursday’s loss to Portland and looks like he’ll need a little time to catch up to full speed. 3

DROPOUTS: Isaiah Thomas, G, Sacramento (5).

FIVE TO WATCH: Tyreke Evans, G,  New Orleans; Markieff Morris, F, Phoenix; Ramon Sessions, G, Charlotte; Rodney Stuckey, G, Detroit; Dion Waiters, G, Cleveland.

PREVIOUS RANKINGS: Rookie | Most Improved | MVP | Sixth Man | Power

Jacob Eisenberg is a student at Emory University and covers the NBA for Check out his website and click here to follow him on Twitter. 

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