Sixth Man Rankings: How Westbrook’s Injury Impacts Jackson’s Chances

Reggie_JacksonJust as Reggie Jackson looked to be solidifying himself as the NBA’s best sixth man, Russell Westbrook got injured again.

Now, with Westbrook sidelined until at least the All-Star break, it’s unclear whether Jackson will remain eligible to win the award. After all, to even be considered for the Sixth Man Award, a player must start in no more than half of his appearances.

Jackson has seven starts in comparison to 25 games off the bench. As of now, his eligibility isn’t a concern. But the Thunder have 23 games between now and the All-Star break. With the status and nature of Westbrook’s injury so unclear, we decided to remove Jackson from the rankings until we get a better idea of when Westbrook might return.

As recently as 2011, the Sixth Man Award went to a player who started nearly as many games as he came off the bench. Lamar Odom had 35 starts for the Lakers, yet still won the award. And Manu Ginobili won the award in 2007 despite starting 23 games for the Spurs.

As it stands, Jackson will probably get 25 to 30 starts this season. This will both keep him in contention for the award and (more importantly) will give the Thunder an added leg up on the competition come playoff time with two capable starting point guards on the roster.

So, as Jackson takes a well-deserved break from sitting atop the list, let’s see our new top five. 

On to the rankings. 

1 Spurs MANU GINOBILI, G, SAN ANTONIO: Ginobili has averaged 17 points, 4.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds over his past 10 games despite playing a meager 26 minutes. While he continues to distribute at a career-best rate, his scoring prowess has started to return as well. 
2 UTA_Williams_Mo MO WILLIAMS, G, PORTLAND: Williams moves up after an absolutely dominating performance Thursday night. He scored 15 points and dropped 10 dimes in only 21 minutes. He’s heating up and the Blazers have the most wins in the NBA. 3
3 PHI_Young_Nick NICK YOUNG, G, LA LAKERS: Young has averaged 21 points in his last 10 games. Still, the scoring numbers don’t begin to tell the story about how drastically his game has evolved. He’s in the top three in the league in points per touch. The other two? Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. 
4 Phoenix Suns MARKIEFF MORRIS, F, PHOENIX: After a short hiatus, Morris has regained a spot in the rankings. He posted a monster game in the Suns’ rout of the Clippers in Staples Center. For the season, he ranks eighth among reserves in scoring and second in rebounding. By the way, the Suns are 19-12. 
5 LAC_Crawford_Jamal JAMAL CRAWFORD, G, LA CLIPPERS: Crawford had a rough week from the field as he shot only 30 percent. The Clippers went 2-1, however, so his poor performances clearly didn’t affect the team too much. He has averaged 17.9 points as a starter in place of J.J. Redick. 4

DROPOUTS: Reggie Jackson (1).

FIVE TO WATCH: Tyreke Evans, G,  New Orleans; Gerald Green, F, Phoenix; Alec Burks, G, Utah; Rodney Stuckey, G, Detroit; Dion Waiters, G, Cleveland.

OTHER RANKINGS: Rookie Most Improved | MVP| 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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