Sixth Man candidates by the numbers

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Kia NBA Sixth Man Award is a lot more straightforward than the Most Improved Player Award, in part because the field is limited. To be eligible for the Sixth Man Award, players need to have come off the bench in more games than they started.

If you eliminate players who have started at least half the games they’ve played and also players who haven’t played at least 1,000 minutes, you’re left with fewer than 100 guys (even if you add a few guys — like Steve Blake — that can get under the 50-percent threshold by continuing to come off the bench over the last two weeks). And since there aren’t too many great players coming off the bench, it’s not too hard to determine the *cream of the crop.

* Luke Babbitt, though?

The Sixth Man Award often goes to the eligible guy who averages the most points per game. And while instant offense is an important part of bench play, it’s not that hard to go beyond that and look at total production, in terms of basic boxscore stats …

All stats are through April 1, 2014.

Highest total efficiency, players eligible for Sixth Man Award

Markieff Morris 73 0 1,922 13.8 6.0 1.7 51.1% 1,097
Taj Gibson 74 8 2,132 13.3 6.9 1.1 48.5% 1,094
Anderson Varejao 60 29 1,698 8.6 10.0 2.2 49.4% 1,024
Enes Kanter 74 33 1,955 12.1 7.0 0.9 49.0% 971
Tyreke Evans 65 15 1,804 14.0 4.6 4.9 44.1% 961
Reggie Jackson 71 33 2,038 13.3 3.9 4.2 48.0% 955
John Henson 62 23 1,648 10.9 7.3 1.6 52.9% 926
Jamal Crawford 66 23 2,002 18.6 2.3 3.2 49.9% 923
Vince Carter 74 0 1,810 12.1 3.6 2.7 50.0% 883
Timofey Mozgov 74 22 1,531 8.7 6.1 0.7 51.7% 869

Minimum 1,000 minutes played
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
Efficiency = PTS + REB + AST + STL + BLK – TO – Missed FGA – Missed FTA

That list includes a few names that you’d expect, as well as a couple that you can certainly eliminate because they play on really, really bad teams. But it’s an easy way to look beyond points per game, which, by itself, would indicate that Jamal Crawford is the runaway favorite for the award and that Dion Waiters has been the Cavs’ best reserve. Anderson Varejao has averaged 2.7 more rebounds per game than any other Sixth-Man eligible player in the league.

If we want to adjust for pace and minutes played, we can look at the PIE statistic from, which takes a player’s numbers (with weights added to each) as a percentage of the overall numbers that were accumulated while he was on the floor.

Highest PIE, players eligible for Sixth Man Award

Anderson Varejao 60 29 1,698 8.6 10.0 2.2 49.4% 13.3%
Kris Humphries 66 28 1,338 8.6 6.0 1.0 50.2% 13.3%
Manu Ginobili 62 3 1,418 12.3 3.0 4.4 53.8% 13.0%
Jordan Hill 64 24 1,268 8.8 7.1 0.6 55.2% 12.7%
Tyreke Evans 65 15 1,804 14.0 4.6 4.9 44.1% 12.6%
Markieff Morris 73 0 1,922 13.8 6.0 1.7 51.1% 12.5%
Andray Blatche 67 6 1,504 11.4 5.4 1.5 48.3% 12.4%
Taj Gibson 74 8 2,132 13.3 6.9 1.1 48.5% 12.1%
Chris Andersen 66 0 1,294 6.8 5.2 0.3 66.9% 12.0%
Patty Mills 74 1 1,364 9.9 2.0 1.8 56.2% 11.8%

Minimum 1,000 minutes played

Four guys — Tyreke Evans, Taj Gibson, Markieff Morris and Varejao — are on both lists. Crawford ranks 16th in PIE (11.1 percent), while Manu Ginobili ranks 16th in total efficiency (838), having missed 12 of the Spurs’ 74 games.

But there’s one more thing we need to look at, because the ultimate job of a team’s bench is to build on a lead or at least sustain it. And when we look at how their teams perform with them on and off the floor, a few candidates rise to the top of the list (which I cut down to 10 guys who appear on at least one of the lists above).

On-off court efficiency differential, Sixth Man Award candidates

Player GP GS MIN OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
Anderson Varejao 60 29 1,698 +5.1 43 -5.6 15 +10.7 13
Manu Ginobili 62 3 1,418 +9.4 8 -0.1 113 +9.5 23
Andray Blatche 67 6 1,504 +4.3 59 +0.0 121 +4.2 72
Reggie Jackson 71 33 2,038 +0.4 137 -3.0 54 +3.4 86
Taj Gibson 74 8 2,132 +3.0 84 +0.2 126 +2.8 96
Markieff Morris 73 0 1,922 -1.2 162 -3.0 53 +1.8 109
Chris Andersen 66 0 1,294 -2.4 185 -2.8 56 +0.5 130
Vince Carter 74 0 1,810 -2.9 191 -1.4 84 -1.5 160
Jamal Crawford 66 23 2,002 +1.1 129 +3.2 189 -2.1 167
Tyreke Evans 65 15 1,804 +0.3 141 +3.2 190 -3.0 181

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Rank = Rank among 235 players who have played at least 1,000 minutes for one team.

So Varejao comes out as the biggest difference maker, with the Cavs almost 11 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the floor than when he’s on the bench. Ginobili hasn’t played a ton of minutes, but the Spurs’ offense receives a huge boost when he’s in the game. It’s also interesting to note that Gibson’s impact has been on offense (mostly because the Bulls have been great defensively no matter who’s on the floor).

On-off-court numbers obviously need some context, especially when you’re looking at a guy like Crawford, who has two teammates (both starters) who are top-10 players in the league. He’s played 1,415 minutes (71 percent of his 2,002) with Blake Griffin, but only 955 (48 percent) with Chris Paul. And though the Clippers have been better with Crawford on the bench, they’ve still outscored their opponents by 6.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. So his scoring numbers are far from empty and he is helping his team build on leads.

Still, if you look beyond points per game, the numbers see Ginobili and Varejao as guys worthy of first place votes, while Morris and Gibson should also be near the top of the list.


  1. bpguay says:

    why is Vasquez not on here.. and for those of you saying it should be Jamal crawford im pretty sure hes ineligible.. u can only start so many games i can’t remember who said it but im pretty sure by NBA rule, hes crossed his quota

  2. jabomosley says:

    Jamal Crawford should get 6th man of the year averaging 18.6 points a game & he’s helping the Clippers with off the bench productivity.

  3. Inferno says:

    Why isn’t Nick Young a candidate, he is having his best season, yet averaging 17 point per game??? They gave him no credit

  4. clips city says:

    Are you ppl serious yes taj is a great 6th men but, Jamal is second behind kd in 4th quarter point , & is helping the clips my team on the of the conference .
    “I reward winning ” in the words of Charles Barkley

  5. Kim says:

    Manu for another sixth man award. His contributions for his team on and off the court are very significant. No doubt, when all is said and done, he’ll be the greatest one who played that role.

  6. Z for # says:

    Taj’s impact both offensively and defensively has put the Bulls in a position to make noise in the playoffs even without Rose being there. Of all the Bulls that stepped up the most in the weeks following Deng’s dismissal, Gibson had the largest impact. Without question, his impact is larger than anybody else’s on this list

  7. overTHERE says:

    Would Marco Bellinelli be a candidate? Think he’s been the most improved, can do pretty much everything. Awesome bball IQ and dangerous from everywhere.

  8. Mike Siegel says:

    After 60 games played (all off the bench ) D. J. Auguestine should win this award hands down.
    He is the Bulls leading scorer,and totally responsible for their successful season

  9. bloodnest says:

    It should go to Taj, I’m a bull’s fan but I can make the case past any bias that the Sixth Man Award doesn’t just go to the person with the prettiest numbers but to the player who can make the most difference by being on a winning team. Second pick however would go to Manu, any year after this year or any previous year the Sixth Man Award is always likely to go to him. Varejao hasn’t played that much games and certainly his team doesn’t help him win the award.

  10. defdun says:

    Neither Manu nor Jamal are real subs, as they frequently play in the 4th Q crunch time. This award should go to a “real” bench player. Markieff looks like a good pick, but seeing that Taj’s numbers are similar and he’s been producing off the bench for a number of seasons, I’d give it to him. (Next one on my list is Reggie jackson, who has really been holding up the fort when RW went down)

  11. 5ft5 says:

    wish nate wasnt injured wouldve been nice to see how he wouldve done competing for this award

  12. jdub455 says:

    a toss bet morris and gibson… i’d go with gibson though…

  13. NBADiva says:

    Ginobili isn’t a true sub; he’s the third best player on the best team in the league. I think he’s due for another 6th man award.

  14. Jamaal says:

    Blatche should win

  15. Eugenio says:

    Manu Ginobili is the best of the list, cause the number, cause personality, and others. But he s more than 6° player.

  16. okc2014 says:

    Reggie Jackson. Not Swaggy P.

  17. Nope says:

    No love for Mo Williams in Blazers? He is basically the Blazers bench himself.

  18. Evelyn Gatlin says:

    Anyone on this list could win,but being a Bulls fan I’m bias so I’m pulling for Taj.

  19. laf32 says:

    I am from Portland and would DEF give Mo Williams a serious look at the 6th man award.

  20. dustydreamnz says:

    Any of those pretty much would be good choices. I think along with ‘most improved’ it’s the hardest award to judge.

  21. dd def says:

    no love for mo gotti? what up with that?

  22. NBAFan says:

    Markieff Morris for 6th man….

    am not suns looking into their winning and play…suns is one of the best teams in west…all they need is one star player and good that Stoudemire moved out of suns 🙂

  23. Bill says:

    How is it possible the Nick Young of the LAL’s fails to get a mention in this article?

    • lakeshow says:

      inoright! he is the leading scorer in the league off the bench. wow

      • uhmmmmmmm says:

        i dont think they give the award to a losing team but he does deserve a mention. i doubt any player above thats not in the playoffs will win.

  24. Bucks4Life says:

    6th Man award should go to Taj Gibson or Manu. They’re playing for the best teams out of anyone on the list, and the team play stays consistent while they’re out on the floor. Pop should get Coach of the year nod.

  25. spursfan says:


  26. KaashMoneyy94 says:

    The 6th man award has to go to Taj Gibson. He’s one of the best big men coming off of any bench in the NBA. And I’m not even a Bulls fan saying this

    • BullsFan6969 says:

      Exactly, if the sixth man of the year award is anything like the mvp award, where playing at a specific level that adds wins in a season (especially in the 4th quarter for Taj) Than hands down Taj is the msot likely player to win the award.

      • dd def says:

        how about mo williams though. he’s been consistent off the bench, defensively and offensively, the “numbers” don’t look as good, but it shouldn’t just be about what’s on paper. that doesn’t fully reflect what actually happens on the floor.