Sheridan Hoops’ Sixth Man Rankings — Week 6

manu ginobiliIt’s time for people to start taking notice of the rejuvenated Manu Ginobili and his impressive start to the season.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had good reason to rest Ginobili on Thursday night in Golden State. After all, through eight December games, Ginobili has averaged 14 points, 5.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds.

Those numbers are impressive for any bench player. When you consider that Ginobili has put them up in just 22.6 minutes per game, it ranks him among the best in the league in impact on the game per minute played. 

Ginobili has always been a good distributor. This season, however, he has been distributing at elite levels for shooting guards. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 8.1 assists and is assisting on 28.6 percent of plays revolved around him.

To put those numbers in perspective, point guards Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard are averaging a full assist less per 40 minutes. Meanwhile, Ginobili is also distributing more efficiently than John Wall — the second leading assist man in the entire NBA.

With his reckless drives to the basket and daring passes, Ginobili has always been a unique player. He won the Sixth Man award in 2007-2008 because of his dynamic playing style. This season, the Eastern Conference cannot even find a viable Sixth Man candidate — let alone another Ginobili.

Reigning winner J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks cannot get untracked. On Wednesday, Smith attempted a franchise-record 17 3-pointers and only recorded 19 points to show for it. I suspect it is going to take much of the season for him to recover from last summer’s knee surgery.

Still, he doesn’t seem too concerned with his slow start:

Now, on to the rankings.

1 Oklahoma City Thunder REGGIE JACKSON, G, OKLAHOMA CITY: OKC has the NBA’s best record and Jackson’s emergence is a big reason why. The 23-year-old is playing so well, many pundits believe the Thunder are better than they were with James Harden as sixth man. His role is growing, averaging 11.5 shots in December.  
2 Spurs MANU GINOBILI, G, SAN ANTONIO: Had his best game of the season Wednesday with 24 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes at Phoenix. Sure, he’s 36 and looked finished after the NBA Finals. But his PER is back up to 20.22 – better than Tony Parker’s 3
3 UTA_Williams_Mo MO WILLIAMS, G, PORTLAND: Turned 31 this week but you couldn’t tell based on his play. Over his last five games, averaging 10.6 points, 5.2 assists and just 1.6 turnovers. His ability to space the floor has been crucial: shooting 45 percent from deep in 22 wins but 11 percent in five losses.  
4 LAC_Crawford_Jamal JAMAL CRAWFORD, G, LA CLIPPERS: Moved into the starting lineup as J.J. Redick continues to rehab and has delivered with 17 points in each of his last three games. Clips have won five of six and back on track after a 1-3 start this month.  
5 PHI_Young_Nick NICK YOUNG, G, LA LAKERS: With Isaiah Thomas now a starter in Sacramento, Young is the NBA’s leading bench scorer with 16.6 points. Shooting over 40 percent from deep, and the Lakers are 10-9 when he comes off the bench. Most importantly, LA is outscoring opponents by six points per 100 possessions with him on the court.

DROPOUTS: Jeremy Lin, G, Houston (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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